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TEAM: Together Everyone Annoys Me

I declared war on annoying people in 2017 with the release of my book Managing Annoying People.  Now it seems everyone wants in the act and it’s a hot topic — how annoying!  So let’s get going.

My special mission in life, my super-power if you will, is to help you get un-annoyed.  And yes, even the New York Times has gotten into the act.  The good news is that as experts we are all rowing in the same direction and providing actionable advice.  For the record, I’m just a little bit more annoying which yields just a little bit better advice.

So this holiday season, as tensions rise and your auto-physiological response kicks in…. remember:

1. Your Reactions Speak Louder than Your Actions

How you respond says more than how you approach situations.  Because you are the team leader, boss or new kid on the block, everyone is watching you.  Just slow down and be cool.  Don’t get annoyed.

2.  Keep Those Boundaries Clear

Stay in your own lane.  So hard to do.   Here’s a visual: when I point one finger at you, there are three pointing back at me. (Pro Tip: Point now and look at the three pointing back at you.)  Stay focused on your own role, goals and actions. 

3.  Smile Like You Have A Secret

I love this one.  It makes people wonder what you know that they don’t.  It also has the added benefit of making you appear smarter than you are when you keep your mouth shut.  You know it’s true.  So smile, like you know something and zip the lip.

4.  Send My Book to Your Loved Ones – It ALWAYS gets a Chuckle…

Who doesn’t want to give a gift that makes someone laugh and at the least smile?  Order it with one quick click on Amazon or Barnes&Noble,  Yes that’s right Barnes&Noble, you can support the underdog and get your shopping done.  I know what you are thinking, I have MANY people who can use this book — in this situation just shoot me an email and I’ll give you a deal.  Who doesn’t want a deal?  Deals are not annoying.

What’s Next:

Shameless plug – buy several copies of the book and give as gifts.  Believe me, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Un-Annoy yourself and cross off all of your holiday gift shopping.  Shoot me an email or call me and I’ll be happy to provide an author note.  Just don’t annoy me!

 

2

Battle Fatigue

Commonly known as PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder according to the Mayo Clinic is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.   

Unfortunately, I have firsthand experience with it.  Both from childhood events and as a 9-11 evacuee.  It was my experience in 9-11 that brought on the full-blown systems and was finally diagnosed and treated.  It was not a surprise when my friend Nina, and all around inspirational person created her latest body of work called “Battle Fatigue” that I was drawn into the story.  And it’s a good one. 

In Nina Lipkowitz’s own words:

One year ago I became concerned that my father’s scrapbook from WWII might fall apart and disappear into dust. I thought about writing a book but not being a writer I decided to use the material in a much more personal way. I photographed and scanned all of the pages, made photo transfers from many of the images and bought paint and canvas and took a leap into the complete unknown.

My lessons:

Leap Into the Complete Unknown

This statement alone is transformational.  Take a chance.  Move forward.  Leap without looking. Miraculous things can happen when we go to a place we have never been.

Battle Fatigue vs. PTSD

Is there a difference?  Does an updated name change the experience? When I look at the struggles in my life (really who hasn’t had their share) I think of those that were so extraordinary that I didn’t realize how brave I was while I was right in the thick of it.  Now I see it a little differently.  Bullets flying at soldiers from all sides, no ability to turn it off.  That doesn’t just tire you out after the fight.  It rewires and defines you as you go through it.  It takes a driven, determined person to get through the “battle” to the point where there is a “post” to suffer from.  

Our Life Is Our Work

It doesn’t matter if you are an artist, a CEO, or a window washer.  Watching Nina’s process of literally taking the “scraps” of her Father’s experiences and going through her own artistic process, trusting the canvas to see what would be created is the true miracle.  Taking the pieces, we have of our lives and figuring out how we show-up is the main event.

What’s Next:

Take your own leap into the complete unknown.  Explore your deep past, fears and history.  Visit Nina’s website and read about the show by clicking here.

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Why Thanksgiving is the Best Invention Ever

Lately there is no escaping talk about politics.  There is so much debate between viewpoints, pundits analyzing each action.  It’s so annoying to hear all day long.  Once you start nit-picking, and complaining it becomes your norm.   Quickly it becomes ingrained in each comment,  you don’t even realize you are doing it.  Stop doing it.  Turn it around.  Focus on what we do well, not un-well.  Find what makes us unique and differentiates us in how we live our lives.

Sure every culture, country and religion has it’s own rituals.  Everyone has an Independence Day.  Some cultures even have a few including May Day.   But not a one comes close or beats Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the greatest American holiday ever.  Focus more on what makes it great:

1.  Tradition

Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, knew this all too well. Our traditions, no matter how simple, crazy or weird, bind us us a people, a family a culture.  Thanksgiving with an all day buffet, parades, football, early dinner, lots of pie, and leftovers.   I repeat pie….

2. Time Off

We have to face the truth, when it comes to holiday and siesta, American workers are lacking.  We work more than almost any other culture.  Solopreneurs, rarely get a day off; as well as those working retail and customer service. Many companies are trading and choosing holidays.  For the most part Thanksgiving is UN-touchable. 

3.  Time with Loved Ones

We all have our peeps – be it friends, family or the animals we love.  Many people need to fortify themselves to spend family time; but somehow we get through it.  And we are stronger for it.  Remember to love yourself first and be thankful for what you have.  My old feet kill me after a day of cooking, but I love that I have my feet!

4.  The Melting Pot

America took pride in being the melting pot.  The symbol of a place where all are welcome and fit right in.  Now-a-days students learn about the tossed salad — we all got thrown in and retain our flavor while we all work together to make something even more delicious.   The melting pot is like a high performance team, each with a speicfic role and each adding something unique and valuable to the whole.

5.  A Lazy Day

This is the official permission for a lazy day.  Even me, who does the cooking and cleaning and entertaining, somehow on Thanksgiving, I have permission to do it in my pajamas.  It’s just a little bit easier with fluffy slippers.

What’s Next:

Remember what makes America great.   Try to put a little Thanksgiving into everyday.

4 Reasons Coffee is Always the Correct Answer

You may remember reading the 3 Reasons the Perfect Coffee Ritual Matters. The cliff notes are:

  1. The ratio between cream and coffee makes the perfect balance.
  2. Getting what you expect, with no surprises, sets you up for success.
  3. When you set yourself up for success, you show up as your best self.

Now there is a 4th reason:

#4.  Coffee will extend your life!

And as an added bonus, this study found that in the summer it will hydrate you.

Read below, why coffee is the go-to and helps you succeed.  Click here to read the article on The Ladders.

Sip slowly and enjoy. 

No Place for Hate

Adding my voice to say:  No place for hate.  This means all the time, in all you do, especially in the workplace.  

Watch Your Words. 

We say things we don’t really mean – in the heat of a moment, when we are hurt, when we feel slighted, just because.  Choose your words carefully.   Say what you mean and mean what you say, just don’t say it meanly.

Accept Diversity.

In the day-to-day this means that it is incumbent upon us, when we do not understand to respect an other’s beliefs, values and actions. 

Choose Kindness. 

Not always easy to do the right thing. But, do it you must! You never know when you will be the difference in someone’s day.  When you will be the one who shows up and makes the right impact in someone’s life. 

What’s Next:

As Eli Wiesel, prophetic writer of the atrocities he witnessed and survived during the Holocaust said: 
The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference. 
Don’t be indifferent.

What if I Have No Problems?

Lately every blog, news, mode of social media is telling me how to do something better or giving me steps to fix something or a list of ideas to try.  What if I have no imminent problems, issues or concerns?  I’ll tell you what to do…Learn how to do nothing.

1.  Savor the Moment

Enjoy. Be in the moment. No lists, meetings or drama.  Just sit there. 

2. Make a Mental Note

When things go wonky; because they will – it’s the circle of life.  Use this memory to bolster your resolve and know it can and does get good. Make a memory of the feeling. 

3. Trade Up

I’d like to pass on a lesson from one of my mentors. A kindred soul – I met Cheevah Blatman, a Southern Bell from Richmond VA, during my first year in Grad school.  I have lived by her words of wisdom ever since. Some of it too juicy for this blog. Here’s one piece I can share: “Trade-Up”.  When something goes wrong, when righting the ship, just don’t mend it, fix it.  Make it better, hence “trade-up”.  When something goes right; make it even tighter and “trade-up”.  Take a lost earring for example.  Don’t just look for a replacement, get a better pair.  Computer on the fritz?  Upgrade to what you need and truly want: hot color, more memory, lighter weight. This also applies to goal setting. “Trade-up”.   Dream it bigger.  Build it better. Choose something of greater importance.

What’s Next:

Nothing.  Savor, enjoy and just sit there. 

The Truth About Friction with Millennials: It’s Jealousy

Managing millennials evokes strong feelings.  Like most truths, there is an incredibly simple explanation.  No matter how much rationalization, exploration and justification you do, this is what it comes down to.  We are jealous!  It’s that simple.

Jealously is a very powerful feeling, often leading to serious actions, such as huffing, puffing and overall frustration.  I find if I can deconstruct the source of my emotions, I can let go and be even a better manager.  I have also picked up a few lessons from my millennials that make me happy.

1.  I Wish I Had Me for a Parent

Unwavering support.  Medals for just showing up.  A house like Disneyland where everything one needs magically appears – clean laundry, favorite foods, streaming video on demand and rides to wherever you want.  Need I say more?

2. An Accomplishment is an Accomplishment

Seriously, when stapling a few pages together or doing menial tasks makes one feel fulfilled and righteous.  I want that feeling.  That is what you get with millennials.  Look at how I attached that document, so easily….  Millennials don’t necessarily distinguish between tasks.  It’s almost like the opposite problem of drama queens – can’t distinguish between a broken nail and a broken arm.  They are both equally distressing events.  We know the arm is much more time consuming and serious, but perhaps not to a millennial.  So whether I put together three packets of sales material or I come up with a new algorithm for selling our products, they are accomplishments and a millennial will celebrate both, as equal events. 

3.  Working on Their Own Timetable

Millennials are not lazy, not sure why that misconception exists.  In my experience, they just have their own timetables, which may or may not be based on reality.   No rushes, no emergencies, used to a world where somehow it’s always ok (refer back to point 1, I wish I Had Me for a Parent).  Keep Calm and Whatever…has caught on.

4. Full Belief in Self

Because of their access to everything, and the world being such a bigger place, millennials, are acculturated to totally believe in themselves.  Knowing I am worthy.  Understanding that I did good, no matter what I hear or see.  Celebrating the small acts, no matter the task, builds character and self-esteem.

5. Worth Not Determined by External Validation

This is the true gift that millennials have.  They know their internal value.  They may have trouble expressing it and show up as “inflated” but the truth is they know who they are and they relish in their authenticity. 

6.  They Embrace What They Love and Bond With It 

This part is really easy:  Figure out what you love and you may find you have more in common with a millenial then you would have believed.

  • Starbucks:  It’s a culture, not just a drink.  Exposed brick, warm woodwork, cool music, stay as long as you want.  What’s not to love?
  • Trader Joe’s:  Where else can you find carrot cake spread on demand when your mom isn’t around to give you just what you need?  Add-in delicious ethnic food to heat at home on the cheap.  What a deal.
  • Podcasts:  Learning by true osmosis, and multitasking – relaxing while learning; learning while commuting; learning while exercising.  
  • Loyalty Programs: Don’t you want to be rewarded for what you value and get free stuff besides? 
  • SnapChat and Insta: It’s not the endpoint.  Millenials, know it’s the journey.  Be the leading person in your own life.  Each pose is special, each caption is meaningful.  They live, love it and freely share their discoveries to relate to others.

What’s Next:

Managing millennials at work or home got you frustrated?  Think about what drives you and what you love and then forge ahead.  Encourage your millennials with kindness and cheerfully say: “That’s amazing! You did two loads of laundry -now fold them and put them away – Wow that’s terrific!” They will follow directions and you will be amazed.  Remember the old saying:  “You catch a lot more bees with honey than vinegar”.  And besides, if you can’t beat them, figure out what to love about them.  It will make your day a lot easier.  

 

 

Part IV – The Finale: Diary of a Millennial Job Seeker

Our millennial is offered the job!  Isn’t that the goal?  Yes and no.  We need adequate income, purpose and clarity.  Finding a position that can pay the bills, nurture growth and make a contribution to society is the gold metal.  The lesson takes us back to where we started: 

  • If the interview process is convoluted – RED FLAG
  • Not every job is for every person – Know your own “best fit”
  • Power dynamics are ALWAYS at Play in the workplace – Figure out your own win strategy

IV: Throwing Sand

As we leave the room where I had my final interview with the manager I’m told not to “act too excited because we’re not offering the position to everyone.” What should have been a red flag sales tactic felt good and had the manager’s desired effect.

As soon as I am in the elevator I feel awful. Did I just sign away my Saturdays? Who has a 9-hour work day? How will a commission based salary support me? I’m warm, overwhelmed and completely enveloped by an impending doom of the wrong decision being made.

2 Hours Post Interview:

The reality sets in. I do not have to accept a position simply because I enjoyed everyone I met and they choose me. I think about the situation from a sales perspective and realize every part of the interview process was essentially designed to make me feel special, important, and like I was being offered the most sought after position in the tri-state area. They had crafted a competitive scenario and in essence told me I had won.

I know the right thing to do is send a lovely email as soon as possible apologizing and thanking everyone for their investment and time. I can’t stop thinking about how sad I am as in one day I was: in multiple boroughs, had several interviews, was given a position, accepted a position and then processed I needed to go back on my agreement of said position. After reflection, I clearly see every indicator of a toxic process: who and how many are in the interview process, drama around setting up the interview, they talk at you, have an over eagerness for you to start, and the job description and reporting line are murky.

Someone wise (who is expert in Managing Annoying People) told me:

Do you want to be the kid in the sandbox who is getting sand in their eyes, OR the kid throwing the sand in everyone’s eyes?

Honestly, I don’t want to be either kid, sandboxes are gross; however, I have my take away. Through the interview process I was made to feel insignificant but now I am in the upper hand and that is better and a different sadness than rejection.

I craft an email and edit it with the help of three trusted friends because I want to have the wording just right. I thank, I laud, I apologize, I complement, and I speak for the best of everyone’s interest.

No response. This part of the apparent Odyssey has passed. I process the positives: interview experience, privilege of being offered a position and practice saying no to people I truly admire.

The quest for the quality and right fit position continues for this millennial job seeker. Wish me luck.

Best,

A sand throwing, dog loving, not excellent at public transportation, competitive, almost-employee

Thanks to Our Millennial Guest Blogger:

Our readers appreciate the report from the front line, your insights and showing us not every win is a win. 

Good Luck and may your find an office with a dog, an easy commute and an employer who harness the skills you offer with a good pay!

Part III: Diary of a Millennial Job Seeker

This is the story that just keeps on giving.  Next our Job Seeker is asked to come for a full day with comfortable shoes because she will be chasing clients.  Could that be right?  Read on and see if you can catch a few clients yourself.

Part III. Comfortable Shoes

I arrived for my second round interview confused as well as on time without any issues or complications finding the address. This time the receptionist knows me which puts me at ease. The email I received with follow up information states that the third round will be a full day affair and that I should wear comfortable shoes to be prepared for client interaction. 

Shouldn’t I be asked to wear nicer shoes to be respectable in a client facing environment? What a strange request? Why would I need comfortable shoes to meet a client? 

My mind is racing as I see other prospective employees my age all trying to look professional while clutching their morning Starbucks cups. The reception area is packed and I hear the interviewers behind the door being pumped up for their upcoming day. Their enthusiasm at 9am was akin to raised voices watching the super bowl. The screaming and excitement was out of place against the quiet conference rooms and white walls. 

The employees come rushing out, calling names, and putting us into groups of 2-4. My group was composed of myself, another prospective candidate and our interviewer; a young employee who just began two months ago. 

During introductions I am instantly very aware of the urgency, time crunch and pressure of the day. Throughout the day we are given and asked to present 5 tasks made up of applied marketing concepts. It is explained that the day will be intense and we will be traveling to a site to represent a client. If we make it to 3pm, we will be asked back to the offices for a third and final round interview with the manger. The interviewer is a fast walker and makes very intense eye contact.  The interviewer says things like: 

  • “If I do not feel your responses at any point today are not a good fit, I will terminate your interview”
  • “Please stay off your phone for the duration. If I see you on it I will assume you are not interested in the position and your interview will be terminated” 
  • “Don’t forget, you’re in competition with one another, if you’re speaking I will assume you’re speaking to one another about the tasks and that will be grounds to terminate your interview”
  • When I asked a question, the terse response: “That is the type of question that you can ask the manager if I decide to send you back for a 3rd round interview” 
  • “I am taking a picture of your task to send the manager to see if your responses exhibit potential and meet requirements for the 3rd round interview”

My adrenaline is racing throughout the entire day as I am instructed into a competitive anxiety kept in place by constant remarks reminding me that I am powerless and the final say is out of my hands. 

I have no idea what the company does but realize as the preliminary corporate structure is explained that the position title I applied for was a title intriguing enough to attract applications but vague enough to umbrella a wide range of tasks. In essence: the company used “marketing coordinator” to entice me to come have a sip of their kool aid. Their is no marketing coordinator position. The company does not believe in external hiring which is why every person must start at the same very base and remedial level. This position is entirely commission based and has insurance of promotion within a month. 

Red flag: I remained confused throughout the entire day. Although I asked many questions, the responses were vague and limited. 

We travel through multiple types of NYC transportation and I deeply regret my choice of shoe as I struggle to keep up and feel blisters forming and blood trickling on my toes. I execute a quick shoe-change while the interviewer looks away for a brief moment. I have no one to blame but myself as the email clearly states the necessity of comfortable shoes.  

Five hours later at the end of the 2nd round it is explained that now will be a 1 on 1. I’m exhausted. I’m asked to go second and the other prospective employee and interviewer disappear into the throngs of NYC masses. I wait. And wait. I wait so long that I begin to have fear I’m being ghosted by an interviewer. The interviewer comes back without the other prospective employee in tow, no explanation. 

After a full day of being told the interview could terminate at any moment, I’m told I have made an outstanding impression and that the manager is looking very forward to meeting me for a third round interview. The tone of my interviewer completely changes as I’m told that before the third round interview there will be a quiz asking some of the key concepts about the company explained throughout the day. I race to meet the pen to the paper as the 8 steps to success are rattled off quickly followed by the steps for a guide to sales. 

I am told that I must rush back to the office for the third round, send a text that I have arrived and prepare to meet the manager. The interviewer breaks character and releases a smile and a quick “I’m rooting for you! Good luck!” before again disappearing back into the crowds. 

On the trek back to their offices I regress to university mode as I create acronyms and little tunes to commit my memory to the page of information I will be quizzed on. I rush, cram, memorize, reflect, text a couple friends and accept the confusion.

This interview is different and I’m ushered right through. The pug from the last interview is asleep on the couch next to me and the manager’s thick British accent hits me. As compared to the last two interviews this is completely different as the act is dropped and the sales voice is turned on in full force. I feel the power dynamic in the room change as I realize: they want me. 

I am relentless and ask questions about corporate structure, branding, ownership, and compensation. The manager brings up several people by name to discuss financial goals and similarities between myself and the other employees. I recognize the sales tactic and notice how by doing this we both use phrases as if I’ve already been given and accepted the job. The manipulation through confusing information and language registers but my body ignores it. Working 6 days a week because it’s an accelerated leadership track? Makes sense. 8:30am to 6:30pm? The hard work pays off. No sick days or breaks? Well of course not, it’s important to learn everyday. No benefits? Well yeah, that’s temporary until I am prompted of the initial position into a higher ranked role. I’m excited they want me and … I drink the kool aid. “Sounds great!” I insist over and over again to the manager. 

My phoned is blowing up with messages from my friends: “Don’t sign anything!!” and “Pyramid scheme!!!!”

After the manager gives me an hour I know I’m their priority. The manager explains that 2,000 applications were accepted, 200 people were called in for a second round interview and 30 were called back in for the final third round interview. The closing pitch: “Well, you’ve impressed myself and both of your previous interviewers. You did really well today and after a glowing and very strong recommendation based on your the work you produced on the tasks, I’d like to offer you the position on the spot. Additionally, we don’t do this for everyone but I hear you and want to address your concern about transportation costs on a mostly commission salary and I am willing to give you a stipend of $500 a month for transportation.” 

I’m impressed that the manager was able to see the deep concern I felt about the commission based salary and was willing to supplement the income. My brain churns the percentage of positions of selected and I think I’m 1/30 out of an initial 2,000 people. Wow. I quickly think to myself that hard work pays off and 6 day weeks and 10 hour days will be worth it. 

I am asked for my decision and I affirm I’m excited to start with an enthusiastic hand shake and agree to coming in the following Saturday to begin orientation and sign papers. 

What happened on the commute back home.  Did our millennial start work on Saturday?  Just like this interview process, this story goes on forever.  Stay tuned for Part IV  next week.

Part II: Diary of a Millennial Job Seeker

What happened on the interview?  Thanks again to my guinea pig we have a view from the inside.  I actually think our job seeker is enjoying this workplace mating dance of who fits with whom. 

Back to our story.  Our millennial seeker had found the office after using every minute of the 3.5 hours for a 2 hour commute….

Part II. Unicorns & Scribbles 

There is pulsating pop electro remix floating throughout the room.  There are 2 other people in the room waiting to be interviewed. One about my age but younger looking. He was wearing black jeans, a button up and nice sneakers with his backpack. Did I wear the right thing? Is that what business casual means in 2018 for a young company? The other is a man is 10 years my senior wearing a professional suit, briefcase included. Is he here for the same interview? Am I in the right place? Nowhere in the room does it say the name of the company; there are no handouts, posters or content or anything with the workplace name. I’m confused and hoping I’m in the right pace. 

Me: “Hello, I’m here for an interview at 5:00pm” 

Receptionist: “Can you show me your confirmation?” 

Receptionist“Okay, now if you have a resume please staple it to the back of this sheet and please fill out the front page”. 

The sheet:

Are you currently employed? 

When are you available to start? 

What qualifications do you have for this role? 

What position did you apply for? 

Where did you attend college and when did you graduate? 

What are your hobbies/interests? 

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? 

I immediately think: what kind of rèsumès are they receiving that these questions aren’t answered? I fill in my response for the last one: “A unicorn because their blood has healing powers; they are rare and unique, and their associated color is rainbow.” Any answer I write would be ridiculous? The whole point of questions like these is to see how you think, right? Or your personality to assess workplace and culture fit? Here’s to hoping that Unicorns say that I don’t sit in bed and binge netflix like every other 20-something, always pick up my phone on the first ring, am a morning person, and that I always have my projects completed on time.

I sit, finally stop sweating, and chat with the receptionists. I try to fish for information and although the woman’s English is very much rough around the edges I put together that there are 12 offices in the back all renting space, one of them being the company for which I’m interviewing. I try to ask if this is an outsourced recruiting firm? My English is lost on her. While I’m trying to get information both the man in the suit and the kid in jeans have finished their interviews. 10 mins at most. I have a moment to breath and bask in the on timeness of it all.

Although the email said I’d be meeting with the CEO, a young man wearing the suit calls my name at 5:17pm. 

Interviewer:: “Nice to meet you. Also, here is our office mascot” 

**Interviewer points behind a glass door down to an adorable French Bulldog.** 

Me: “ooooooomg that caught me off guard, adorable!”

We go into an office, it’s messy, there aren’t windows, the name on the desk doesn’t match his, and there is no additional explanation about who he is, or the process. He has the page that I filled out along with my rèsumè stapled behind it. 

Interviewer: So, what are you looking for? 

Me: I spent the last year traveling and freelancing but most currently I’m working as a legal assistant.  I’m ready to begin building a career and getting back to the roots of what I studied in college.

Interviewer: Are you currently employed?

Me: Yes…… I’m working as a legal assistant 

Interviewer: Right, right, you just said that

***Interviewer writes legal assistance on the top of the page ****

Interviewer:: Right, right. so, what makes you an asset? 

Me: I’m able to see the bigger picture as well as the smaller details which makes me excellent as executing tasks on a timeline. I’m able to see each individual tree as well as the overall larger forest. 

Interviewer:: Great, great. How soon before you could start? 

Me: The normal 2 week’s notice so I can give time for a replacement 

***Interviewer writes 2 weeks at the top of the page***

Interviewer: okay, so here’s what we’re doing. 

**Interviewer flips my résumé over to use the blank page*** 

Interviewer: We work with Fortune 500 and blue chip companies in order to support markets we haven’t yet entered. There’s a lot of demand but we don’t have enough people in leadership positions. 

***Interviewer begins to furiously scribble boxes and lines and arrows which i’m sure to him represent flourishing markets and prospering management and supply chains. His diagrams couldn’t make LESS sense but his brow looks so furrowed in concentration I didn’t want to break his focus***

Interviewer: so what we’re doing is training people and we’re hoping to do a fast track. Obviously putting people in management positions without training is setting people up for failure so what we’re hoping to do is create a fast track in about 25-40 weeks to management 

Me: that’s fast. 

***I open my notebook for the first time because it sounds like he’s about the throw some numbers out. He doesn’t. 25-40 weeks is the only number. ***

Interviewer: Yes, uh because companies need management and we’re training for that. Like Um back office as well as client meetings and projects and management. So basically we fast track you to management and then you’re able to take on a client waiting to be serviced because we have more business than we do teams. 

My mind is racing. Am I in the right interview? They have my name down but does this man work for an events company? What is this company? Are they a training company that provides candidates to other companies? Should I tell him i’m confused? He drew scribbles? He’s rushing? The e-mail said the interview would be 25 minutes long? Would those scribbles mean ANYTHING to me if I was a business major? I really don’t think so?

Interviewer: does any of this sound exciting to you? 

Me:**Panics and takes the easy route**  Yes, very much so. I chose my major to enjoy a career that is centered on critical thinking and I especially like that what you’ve talked about. It sounds exciting because it’s variation and an escape from mundane or ritual work, I like to exercise my brain and I think it’s exciting to build your own career. 

Interviewer: totally; that’s really cool. Okay so we’d actually like to train as quickly as possible. Are you available on Monday? 

Me: I’m very flexible but actually unavailable on Monday 

Interviewer: Tuesday? 

Me: Tuesday works

Interviewer: Great, so when you hear from us and hopefully that’s good news the second round will be on Tuesday and it will be a full day from 9:30am to 3pm. This will include clients, and training and it will also be at this location. We will have more information about the corporate structure and the salary. You’re actually the last person we’re interviewing and we are making all of our decisions in the next half hour by 6pm. 

Me: wow that sounds like a crazy half hour! Sorry to keep you so late on a Friday in that case haha…

Interviewer: Oh no no, and yeah, we have a lot of decisions to make

Me: good thing you have the dog! 

Interviewer: yeah, she’ll definitely help 

Me: should I let her like smell me to make a decision? 

Interviewer: hahahah, exactly, exactly. So we’ll be in touch. Is this the best email to reach you at and phone number? 

I say yes. He walks me out and I shake his hand again and thank him for meeting me. 

As I walk across the street, maybe 6 minutes after I got out of the interview MAXIMUM, I hang up abruptly on my friend to pick up on an unknown caller who turned out to be the receptionist from the front desk wishing me a congratulations and in finding out that the company “is very excited about you as a candidate.” 

They send me an email with follow up information for my second round interview. I have less idea what this company does than I did when I applied because then at least I had the word Events as guidance for the services provided. Glad I shlepped 3 hours out of my way to meet a cute bulldog. 

What will happen next? Has this ever happened to you? Write in with your interview experiences and predictions about the outcome of what the second interview has in store for our guest blogger!

Diary of a Millennial Job Seeker

Honored to have a true millennial guest blogger.  The names and places have been changed to protect everyone!

Part I. What happens when you use Linkedin like it’s Facebook: 

I applied for this “marketing coordinator” position at an Events Company using the “easy apply” function on LinkedIn on Tuesday with my generic rèsumè. No cover letter. No visit to the website or direct contact with HR. In essence, the fakest of applications to the vaguest of job descriptions. Wednesday, less than 24 hours later, I wake up to an email in my inbox inquiring if I can come in the next day. I ask to come in on Friday instead, they comply. 5pm it is. 

On Friday I got a text for a confirmation about the interview AND AN EMAIL. Two mediums of confirmations?  The e-mail says business professional/business casual. It’s in JERSEY CITY bc the office in manhattan is under construction. 

The train ride to Jersey City is uneventful besides 2 factors: 

1) My mom called and for a brief moment I felt relief from the fit I had in the parking lot of the train station. There was not a single spot in the 400 spot lot and I missed the train and had to uber to a neighboring station. Good things mom can talk us down.  

2) I hadn’t prepped for the interview at all since it was on such short notice and I figured I’d have time to research the company during the 3 hour commute. I’m trying look up the company on my phone and my DATA ISNT WORKING. No safari, no “About Us” section, no client testimonials, no LinkedIn searching the HR manager who emailed me, no insta stalking the company. I later find out the data was blocked because my baby sister who is also on the plan used up all the family data. Who can relate?

It’s at this point that I text two of my fastest responding contacts to request they google information so I don’t walk in unprepared and without research. They begin to google, click links and send me screen shots. Nothing is substantial related to the company. No images of events…. no insta account… I find that it was started in 2018…. the CEO has no pictures… basically it’s a fake company. 

I use google maps to walk the 6 minutes from the subway to the office. I’m so pleased that I have so much time to spare that I go and relax at Starbucks with wifi to only to continue finding bupkis. No employees state or link the company as their place of work on Linkedin, the language used on the website is vague, no past clients are listed, the company does not characterize itself as a start-up, and there’s no blog which is very commonplace for events or marketing companies who are always interested in discussing market trends. I walk back to the exact spot that my phone indicated was one minute away from the company office. I change into my heels, find a mint at the bottom of my Mary Poppins inexhaustive purse, blot my forehead from sweat, take a couple deep breaths before heading in to be nice and early and calm and sweat free. I walk the extra minute and look up. I’m in the middle of a parking garage. Panic tears it’s way through my chest as now I’m 20 minutes before the interview and very aware that i’m in the vicinity of the interview and yet; so far. 

I call an Uber for $5 rationalizing that Uber HAS to take me door to door. The Uber app says the driver is 5 minutes away and that the trip is 1 minute. This further frustrates me because I know the office must be in plain sight and that I JUST. CANNOT. SEE. IT. And then, pure luck — a mailman! Unlike the 4 previous Storeowners I asked that led me in conflicting and incorrect directions, he must have an idea! Afterall, isn’t it a mailperson’s job to know the neighborhood? I am flustered with 11 minutes left until my interview time. He points to the tallest building in the area two blocks away. get charged $3 for my cancelled uber and take off running.

In the elevator a man steps in with me and sees my clammy hands clutching a folder and pen. Obviously I took out the necessary materials ahead of time because I don’t think it the interviewer’s business that I have tattered five below receipts, straw wrappers, flip flops and leggings in my purse. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t speak to the professionalism of my character.

“Are you here for an interview?” the man in the interview asks. My heart sinks as in this moment I’m all the sudden very aware that this is the man that will be conducting my interview. I’m so fired up from the stressful succession of events of the previous hour I ask “Why, are you my interviewer?” He looks taken aback and I realize my immediate assumption is wrong and I’m giving major  attitude. I apologize and tell him yes all the while being immensely thankful that I still had luck left. I exit the elevator on the 5th floor with 6 minutes to spare before 5pm interview laughing at the irony that I have used EVERY minute of the 3 and 1/2 hours I left for a 2 hour max commute.

What happens next?

Does the interview start on time?

Is it a real thing?

Can you relate?

Tune in Next Week!

5 Clues on How to Spot a Toxic Interview Process

How much do you really know about the interview process? There seems to be a lot of movement in the job force lately.  I’m receiving tons of emails from recruiters looking for talent.  I’m also getting lots of individual questions on how do I know if I should make a jump to a new workplace.  Many factors, personal, financial and emotional are in play when making a job decision.  Can you spot a toxic interviewing process? Here’s some information to think about during the interview process to assist in figuring out your next step.

1. Who and How Many are in the Interview Process

Have you met so many people that you feel this is hire by committee?  Just figuring out how many thank you notes to write feels like an uphill battle (yes, you still need to write notes).  Have you met so few people that you are not sure how many people actually work in this unit or position.  Is your only connection the person interviewing you.  This is a key indicator of how “team” operates in this environment.  Look carefully for clues about group process.

2.  Drama Around Setting Up the Interview

How exciting, you got a call that your resume impressed and they want to take next steps!  And then the lack of process or way too much process sets in.  First an email about scheduling a call.  Then a call about the process.  Then they have to check everyone’s calendars (don’t they know about calendaring apps) to arrange a phone interview.  And finally there is confusion if you should call them, how many people will be on the phone and how big is the funnel they are actually filling to get to a short candidate slateMaybe on-boarding will be a better process.  Maybe not. 

3.  They Talk at You

Throughout the entire interview they are “over-explaining” relationships and work products.  Thrown in are comments disparaging others in the company and why this position is needed.  You are 20 minutes in and still have not been asked one question.  Get the picture of the management style.   Run away quickly.

4.  Over Eager to Have You Start

Your availability is a bigger topic of conversation than your skill set.  It seems that hiring is the metric, not propensity for success and culture fit.  They don’t seem interested in leaving your current employ in good stead, they want you to start now.  In the big picture, a few weeks here and a month there, depending on the position will have minimal impact.  Why is your start date, not the resources, on-boarding and timing of what works for you as well as the company at the heart of the discussion?

5. Job Description and Reporting Line is Murky

After several conversations, the details of what you will be doing and who you be working for are still unclear.  You have done your best to understand the organizational chart, team structure and culture.  You realize there are a lot of statements about working out the details, people who need to be informed and figuring out exactly where you will be stationed.  While in start-up mode, this may be acceptable, be honest with yourself about the questions that are not directly answered.

What’s Next:

Remember, the interview process is like dating.  It’s a chance to see how you fit together and if you believe you will be better together or separate.  Note: What can be acceptable process during start-up phase, should not be confused with on-going process.  While every situation will not be black and white, make sure to take a deep look at the gray and see if it is a color you can live with on a day to day basis.  

Amazon’s Response to Hiccups

Without fail I can predict that something will go wrong.  Small hiccups, freak accidents, and human error.  It often feels that it’s amazing things go right as often as they do.  Anticipating and planning for contingencies is second nature for productive, competent people.  For managers, it’s a litmus test for separating the leaders from the rest of the pack.  What can we learn from those who have this skill?

You don’t need me to tell you that Amazon is a giant  — a best in practice, keep it fresh type of company.   You do need me to show you this absurd adorable dog picture (featured on my blog page) that somehow makes whatever went wrong okay.  

1.  Spin It and Spin It Well

Can you hone in on the silver linings play book and quickly explain to others the opportunity presented by the situation?  The valuable skill is finding that hook to turn the situation around.  When something goes wrong the last thing the management team wants is to be around a group of lamenting Debbie Downers.  

Just look at that cute dog Amazon trots out with their error message.  I immediately liked the dog.  No use yelling at a cute dog that just made a mess.  He won’t listen. The spin – redirection to the adorable picture that makes you smile even after losing everything in the shopping cart.  So while I’m still in the smile, I just re -open the app.  Why did Amazon choose that picture?  Unexpected spin, and re-direct. 

2.  Act Quickly and Decisively

Show no fear.  Face what went wrong head on with determination and gusto.  Show your team and the presenting problem that you mean business.  This is not the time to take a back seat.  Step up.  Think on your feet.  Be “the”  player. 

3.  Under Promise and Over Deliver 

Take a lesson from another icon, Captain Montgomery Scott  of Star Trek fame.  Known affectionately as Scotty by his shipmates, he was the go to guy for fixing mistakes and managing the Captain’s expectations.  Scotty would say:  “Captain, if I had 3 days and 4 men I couldn’t get the warp drive back online in two weeks and you want it in 24 hours!  I’ll get to work right away.  It’s an un uphill battle captain, but i will give it my all.”    Less than a day later Scotty would have the problem fixed: “Captain, we have all the pieces ready to go and are ready to test it”. Captain Kirk would just smile and say:   “Scotty you are a miracle worker!”   Be a Scotty.  

What’s Next:

When something goes wrong, use it as a BIG chance to show your team what you are made from.  Just follow these three easy steps and be a Scotty.   Don’t forget the adorable dog picture.  

Everything Old is New. Not Really.

I read it on social media so it must be true.  EverQuote is the new tech darling. There it was, highlighted in trending stories on my screen.  Occupying that coveted real estate in the top right column.  As all New York Times readers know, the place your eye naturally goes first. The ad very alluring, and just one click…so much easier than turning the page of the paper beast and trying to tame it.  I clicked through; score DoubleClick.

Apparently, young hot entrepreneurs have broken the insurance industry malaise with the founding of EverQuote.  As a first time car buyer, after leasing for 16 years (who doesn’t love a new car every three years?) I was up to the task, engaging my finely honed analytical skills and googleness.   I researched and read reports.  Multiple test drives on multiple vehicles were involved.  I chose a car.   

Next, find insurance.  I was like Henry Hudson navigating upstream.  I sprung into action.  Armed with one of my favorite lines from the iconic movie Fried Green Tomatoes as our heroine looses her parking spot at Piggly Wiggly and smacks into the car that zipped into her spot:  “I’m older and I have more insurance”.   My 40 year clean driving record would do the talking for me.  And then the fun began.

1.  Call Who You Know

I called my current company who couldn’t manage to get my car registered in a new state.  After three trips to the RMV – I sent my insurer a bill.  The email is still unanswered.  The featured picture is the document highlighted by the RMV worker on the mistakes made by my insurance company.  Sadly, this is the third document with just as many green highlights. 

My refund of $3.32 promptly arrived.  It doesn’t make up for the over $700 dollars a year more I paid because the insurance company couldn’t distinguish between state rules; or correctly fill out a routine RMV form.  Thanks, Travelers, I enjoyed that red umbrella for 23 years.  No more.

2.  Go Local – They Have Office Hours and Keep Them

Living in the boondocks has perks.  You never pay for parking and get a spot right in front every time. My banker, insurance agent, plumber and barista are all truly serviced focused, extremely competent and take care of  any issues on the spot.  Let’s be honest there are always issue but. addressed on the spot, amazing.

In a small town, you will share friends, see each other at the market, post ofifce and town events.  No one wants stress.  We are civil and all agree we want each other to be happy and have a good experience. Thanks Wheeler&Taylor, you now have my business.

3.  Engage in the National American Past-time of  Shoppers Regret.  Enter EverQuote

Sexy and seductive, a cute bot sticking out from the sign up boxes, nicely done.  My head whirling. Why did I find this the week after I bought insurance?  Thinking like a true American, I’ll just get a quick comparison so I can really regret my well-researched decision. 

I start entering my info.  Two screens in I decide it’s too onerous.  I make the emotionally sound decision to be happy with the process I just went through.  After all I did compare quotes from five companies and analyze coverage options.  My process was good, ergo my results should be good.  Besides, I am not giving out my email.  I know where that goes.  I abandon EverQuote and the second favorite American past time.   

4.  Figure out Its the Same Old Same Old.  

On my commute home, I receive a perfectly timed call from a local number.  Unsuspectingly I pick up.  A pleasant woman was calling me from EverQuote to see if she could help me with my automobile insurance needs.  I was driving and just a little curious, so I proceeded.  I congratulated her on working for a “disruptor”.  Disruptor, the word that had spurred me to click through the first time.  She replied “we don’t have that product”.  A red flag?

Had I entered my phone number prior to quitting the EverQuote application ?  I don’t recall doing so.  I rarely give the right number because I know where that goes.  It could have happened in the early stages of the application when I was gunho .  I was eager and they got me.

The same questions I had abandoned on the website were asked.  Too quickly she said, “I have the perfect insurer for you”.  Click, click and I was transferred to the Mutual Insurance Agency.  Barely a few more questions and I was provided with my competitive quote.   Deja vu?  Was Travelers on the line?  I politely declined and matter of fact said:  “I currently pay $700 annually less. Please do not call me again”.  I received several more emails, as well as a few additional phone calls from EverQuote over the next several days.   

What’s Next:

A little disappointment.   I always root for the underdog and had sincerely hoped that EverQuote was a true disrupter, like my favorite car service VIA, that does make my life easier.  But alas, just another call list and email spam I have to block.  Lesson learned.  Curiosity really does kill the cat, or your time at the very least.  

 

The Ultimate Revelation About Trusting My Instincts

Loud, engaging and right in the middle of things has always been my style.   I call them like I see them, shoot straight from the hip and diligently pursue outstanding results.   SO why am I afraid to tell it like it is and dole out my special brand of advice?  Can you relate?  Do you feel like you have to adjust your style or tone down your thoughts?  While everyone needs to account for “culture” how can you not lose the uniqueness of you?

In a twist of fate, although you already know I am trans-location (country girl in big city), all of my analogies are western today.   I love analogies, they make sure the point gets across with a frame of reference.  Analogies provide insight into the twisted workings of my thought pattern.  That’s part of the uniqueness.  Analogies work for me.

1. Stop Being Gun Shy

I have been working since I was underage to work.  I understand the basics of attitude.  Being able to please my boss or clients is second nature to me.  Making an impact is always the goal.  So why now do I feel that I have to watch every step?  Well, life happens.  Unanticipated events, such as your long-time boss embezzling and going to jail, changes your vantage point.  Soap opera dramas that happen in real life: Is it art imitating life or life imitating art?    I don’t know, but it just seems to happen more and more.

Life experiences are designed to throw you for a loop.  Gun shy – afraid to shoot because of past experience.  Well the past is the past.  Don’t let it define your future, or mine for that matter.  Just shoot.

2. Remember:  Not My First Rodeo

Sizing up situations quickly is fine-tuned skill set.  If you make your income as a manager this skill set is a basic survival tool.  And that’s where the trouble begins.  I often address topics and concerns that others aren’t even conscious about yet.  Yes, it’s a little psychic. I’m just doing my thing. Saying my thing.  Telling it like it is. Often, when I make a comment or a recommendation, it may seem out of left field to others.  For instance, when I say:  “I can tell that guy is going 9.3 seconds on a bull”,  others think I’m guessing.  I’m not.  My intuition tells me and I has a good long track record behind me.  

3.  As said by John Wayne:   “Courage is Being Scared to Death and Standing up Anyway”

When I am in the zone, I don’t even have to think about my actions, they are automatic.  In this SarderTV interview, it just comes out naturally without judgement.  If I have to explain how this impacts you being you — you really do need help.

What’s Next?

Move forward one step at time.  Take the next right action and build evidence that trusting yourself yields results.   Go get’em cowboy.

 

Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Annoying and Dysfunctional

I’ve managed a lot of people.  I know first hand that anyone that distracts from driving your business goals is of concern.  That’s why I started writing about Managing Annoying People.  They certainly fall in that category.  Lately, I’ve been dealing with a different breed; dysfunctional people who engage in circular thinking.  This not only impedes moving the business forward, but makes you crazy!

Managing annoying people requires consistency and setting very clear boundaries.  The technique is repeatedly enumerating priorities and the actions needed.  Try it, it works.  Managing dysfunctional people proves to be much more difficult.  Their behavior is manipulative, cunning and baffling.  Annoying people are usually consistent in how they annoy you, compared to those who are dysfunctional.   The hallmark of the dysfunctional behavior is that it is confounding, you never know what they will do next.

Understanding the difference between dysfunctional and annoying behaviors can save you a lot of time vis-a-vis your management efforts and co-workers.  I made a handy dandy chart so you can clearly see the subtle differences of the behaviors:

Subtle Differences between Annoying and Dysfunctional Behaviors

Surviving  Dysfunctional People

Notice I was careful not to say managing dysfunctional people.  Often these type of personality traits are deeply inbred.  Your best bet is to recognize the behavior, you will not change it.  What you can do is stop the time drain by not reacting to their twisted reality.

1.  Just the Facts.

They are competent but certainly not superstars.  Often they believe that their work is superior and they have an inside track to information.    Yet, because of their dysfunction, they do not see situations clearly.   Use the facts and just the facts.  Document their actions without labeling it negative or positive.  For example:  The report you sent was empty.  Please populate and resend.

2.  They Believe that Everyone Else is the Problem.

Dysfunctional people are quick to label and complain about everyone around them.  It’s actually one of the surest signs of dysfunction – they label their own behavior by blaming it on others.  They tell you that you are the one with the problem.   When a co-worker starts saying, “you are manipulative and rude,”  it’s a safe bet that they are really talking about themselves.  The old saying holds true here:  when I point one finger at you, there are three pointing back at me.  (Pro Tip:  Point now and look at the three pointing back at you.)

3.  They Complain Constantly.

This is the crucial time drain.  Because they do it all the time, I find myself listening, because it’s just easier.  In the long run, this is a huge offense to the whole team.  Once that language starts circulating it can spiral out of control.  Statements like, “If Libby just did what she was supposed to,” or “if the central office followed orders” or “if the IT people fixed that program” are misdirected.  They never believe that it is their responsibility to make things work.  It’s  hard for them to give and forgive a little.   They think everything should work around them in a perfect world all the time.  Isn’t that a lovely bubble.

4. Don’t Let Them Get Away with Rude Comments.

When called out on their behavior dysfunctional people swing back.  Often they exhibit aggressive behavior and usually do some bullying.  Of course they don’t see it that way, they think they are protecting their bubble.  But it is what it is.  Label their behavior and let them know, you know what they are doing.  Be clear and concise, “Louis, why are you being so aggressive?”  No reason to get into it, the back and forth is not necessary.

What’s Next:

Time is your most precious business commodity.  Our effectiveness depends on our ability to closely manage those that steal our time. Once you know the difference between annoying and dysfunctional, you can choose how to spend your time, and who is worth your while and worthwhile to manage.  This puts you in the driver seat.  That’s the bubble you want to be in.

 

What You Need to Know About Selective Listening in 5 Minutes

Why do people hear what they want to hear and leave the rest?  Why does selective listening happen and how can we lead and manage through it?  This question, almost as profound as which came first — the chicken or the egg, plagues us all.  This phenomenon is particularity perplexing to those of us who lead and manage others.  The result is we focus on a CYA (cover your ass) mentality, which interestingly enough still leaves holes.  Equally confounding is the lack of a pattern or predictability to selective listening.  The confusion usually comes out of the blue sky without warning.   What I’ve learned is that even with my professional radar, I still get surprised by who didn’t hear what and when they choose to mention it.   As a result one of my signature phrases is:  “It’s never what you expect that actually gets you”.  Monty Python  nailed it; “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition”.

When selective listening happens, I recommend:

1.  Act Quickly

Letting it fester is the worst approach to take.  Akin to freezing and looking like a deer in the headlights.  This is an opportunity for you to showcase your humility while using your strong leadership skills to get to the root of the issue. In these situations, it’s never black or white.  There is a big gray area, that will continue to grow without your action.     Check out the 4-Fs in Managing Annoying People.

2. Do a Jessica Fletcher Timeline

If you don’t know who Jessica Fletcher is, Google immediately.  Star of Murder, She Wrote, J.B. Fletcher, international best selling mystery novelist always starts with creating a time line.  Who was where?  When did it begin?  When did it really begin?  What evidence exists… emails, texts, pictures, voice mails, documentation, meeting notes.  You get the idea, let’s just hope it doesn’t boil down to crime scene photos like J.B. has to deal with.

3. Label It To Discuss It – Selective Listening

If you can’t categorize it or name it, you cannot discuss it.  Use phrases such as “we have a case of misunderstanding” or  “he-said; she-said” or “old-fashioned telephone” (often that has to be explained to millennials).  Feel free to use my favorite: “we’re not on the same page literally”.  By the same token, you do not have to immediately fix it.  By labeling it, you demonstrate that you understand there is an issue and you are working to resolve it. 

4. Stand in the Selective Listener’s Shoes

In the light of day, this can be incredibly powerful.  Owning up to our own responsibility when someone else hears what they want to hear takes practice and a lot of work.  Sometimes we are not as clear and concise as we think.  Or even if we are thorough and have it all documented, it is possible it can be misconstrued.  Moreover as we stand in their shoes, we see they may have been acting on old information or as it happened previously.  Their shoes maybe painful and hurt to walk in.  Perhaps they are going through tough economic times, a health scare or relationship troubles.  Others may have a vested interest in not hearing the information because it doesn’t make sense in their world right now.  They need it to be the way it makes sense to them.  Those with selective listening cannot see anything else at this time.

5. When Possible Find a Graceful Exit

The goal is not to be right.  As a matter of fact, it is to have the right outcome.  The outcome that will not weaken policy and procedures.  The solution that treats same people in the same circumstances in the same manner.  The resolution that leaves the relationship in tact without compromising principles or setting an unwanted precedent.   Again, easier said than done.  Remaining cognizant of what a graceful exit actually looks like will increase the likelihood that you will achieve a graceful exit.  

What’s Next:

Remember, it’s not you.  It happens to everyone.   Be as clear as you can moving forward.  Ask for feedback on what people heard you say.   Keep your cool, deal with it head on and make a graceful exit. 

 

3 Things Everyone Knows About Waiting That You Don’t

Time it right or you will miss blueberry season.  Waiting for those plump, fresh, delicious purple jewels to reach full flavor.  I picked, ate and baked.  Who could wait?  Fresh blueberry muffins, right out of the oven.  Delicious.  Four hours later, a second blueberry muffin.  And you know what?  It was even was more delicious.  Who knew that waiting would make it better?  Waiting matters when you want maximum results.

Wine lovers know the perfect time to open up a bottle.  How long to let it breathe.  And they know exactly what to pair it with to make it even more delicious.

Deal makers wait for that precise moment in the negotiations to turn a disadvantage into an advantage.

Managers instinctively navigate team dynamics.  Knowing just when to push back.  When to build confidence.  What to explain.  Resulting in each person doing their best.  They use tools like my How Do You Annoy Your Co-workers Quiz.

So why am I so impatient?  Why do it I want it right when it comes out of the oven?  Why can’t I wait?

1.  I Know What I Want so Why Wait?

This gives me free reign to go get it.  I am the boss after all.  I’m in charge.  I can get what I want.  I’ve earned it.

2.  I Assume I will Get Results.

It will work out.  Competency trumps negativity.  The plan will come together.  If it goes sideways I can handle it.  Haven’t I been through worst before?  I will make sure it works.  Remember the famous line from the original TV series the Odd Couple?  When you assume you make an ass out of you and me.

3.  There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day.

Seriously.  Sometimes I don’t want to have to wait.  I just want to get on with it.  Cross it off my list.  Put it in a file.  Stick it in a draw.  Get it done so I can move onto something else.

What’s Next:

Even a bad blueberry muffin is a pretty good thing.   I can make it better by learning to hone my timing.  Striving to get the full flavor, the full intent and the full experience of the muffin.  I won’t assume hot out of the oven is always better.  In the immortal words of Tom Petty…the waiting is the hardest part.

Stop Talking Now

Stop Talking Please.  How many times have I seen people look at me and I just know what they are thinking?  You’ve guessed it.  Way too many.  Why me?  Looks to me that other people jabber on and never get that look.  When I talk it’s different.  I had to go inside to find the answers.  Turns out I had to go inside my hurt and my emotions that is.  Seems like in my role of providing advice, talking is not always the answer.  So, I had to think about how I can do better.  Here’s what I found:

1. My Timing Stinks.

Once it’s in my brain, it’s on my lips and out of my mouth.  I guess that’s what shooting from the hip really is.  Without thought or instinct, I blabber it out.  Often its too soon.   Too soon, because the other person hasn’t finished talking.   The other person has not thought through the impact of what they are saying.  I am already onto solutions.  The other person is just beginning to process what is going on and I am talking about what is going to happen next.  Too soon. 

2.  Too Much.  Too Fast.

You know exactly what I mean.  It takes me a lot of words to say something that can be put more succinctly.  In my defense, they are complicated thoughts and I want to make sure you get the full gist.  How can I do that faster?  So I start talking faster.  That never works.  It has the opposite impact.

3. Trying Too Hard. 

It’s important to me that you know I understand.   As a result, I think about what I want to convey.  The t-shirt with the slogan ” Do me a favor.  And Stop Talking.”  pictured on my blog  is about what you want.  I really want what you want.  So I’ll stop talking now. 

What’s Next.

A little reminder that a look inside doesn’t always tell us what we want to hear, but we need to hear it.  And then honor it.  Now I am really shutting up.  Have an easy week.

 

 

 

 

Reactions Speak Louder than Actions – Guard Your Body Language

It doesn’t matter why they irritate you, when you are annoyed – whether you are the boss or the employee or a peer, it evokes a fight, flight or freeze response.  Your entire body literally displays your feelings.  Your reactions speak louder than your actions. How your body portrays your thoughts matters. As said by Blanca Cobb, body language and people watcher extraordinaire

This is the power of body language. Silent messages CAN be more credible than spoken words. There are situations where words whould sell you out before your body language.

People who “annoy you” make it difficult to work together.  Even if you think you are doing your best poker face (as in no reaction, no response), think again.  Your boss, the team and your coworkers see your reaction. Reactions speak louder than actions. 

This unspoken yet noticed actions make it difficult to work together.  In a strange turn of human behavior, although it was the other person that started this chain of events, it turns out that it is your response that matters.  You have  now become the annoyer.  Usually people annoyed by the same behaviors will coalesce around your reaction.  They will flock to you and hang on your words and actions. This is good right?  Wrong. 

It’s just human nature.  Eventually team members will start to feel bad for the under dog.  Especially if you are the boss and you are the one reacting negatively.  Over time staff become fearful that it can happen to them. That you will react to them and treat them in the same way you react to the annoyer.   This sets off an environment of mis-trust, mis-Communication and fear.  As a result that definitely means no teamwork. 

There are several way to deal with your own reaction to annoying people:

1 – Instead of Reacting Have a Direct Conversation

Let the annoyer know how their behavior impacts you.  Be very specific in your conversation. For example you can say: “At yesterday’s team when you interrupted me I didn’t get to finish and that frustrated me and made me not want to hear you had to say even though it might have benefited the team.”

2 – When you are Irritated by Someone, Ask Why They Act That Way

Often people don’t realize their behaviors set others off.  Once again the more specific, the better. You may ask: “why do you always bring a mound of files to the team meetings, I find it distracting.”

3  – Smile Like You Have a Secret When Annoyed

Finally advice that is easy to do in every situation that annoys you. Smile a big smile (ear to ear) like you know something.  I like to say, Smile like you have a secret and let the annoyer wonder what you are smiling about. That alone often changes their behavior and fosters teamwork.    Even when you can’t help yourself, your smile will hide strong feelings.

I actually wrote a whole book on behaviors that make it difficult to wok and manage teams!   You can find some new tricks to change your reaction and drive your work forward in my book and blog posts.  Or be old fashioned and send a text!

 

Get Business Networking Results

Happy July 4th!  Summertime brings lot of chances to get business networking results.  With parties, events and summer games there are many conversations to have. This leads me to think about how much business chit-chat is too much?  How do you network to be get results.  How do you make yourself memorable?  The answer is easy.  Anything that feels like work is work and should be limited in networking opportunities.   Networking conversations should be easy, breezy and fun. 

The key ingredient when discussing networking is value.   To find your sweet spot when networking think value. What is a good conversation worth to you?  The best way to network is to share a laugh or a thought or an unusual fact.  When you network with these goals in mind, you will be professional, appropriate, relevant and most importantly memorable.  Who doesn’t want to be memorable?  Memorable gets results.

Network to Learn and Laugh

Learn what others are engaged in, how they got where they got and what makes them tick.  When you network from the perspective of learning, you take the emphasis away from yourself.  This not only opens you up to see the world in another light, it’s is much more enjoyable for the random people you pony up to.  Don’t be so serious, have some fun.

Network for Insight to be Memorable

Get out of your head and see what insights you can apply to your situation by listening to others.  Show up interested.  Especially in business conversations people can tell when you are genuinely interested.  Get results by networking with those you value.

Network to be of Service to Others to get Results

It seems that people tend to network when they need something.  The time to network, is when you have something to give.  A funny story, a joke, an insight, a helping hand.  Think about it as part of your pro Bono arm.  I can’t explain how it works, but those that give the most, get the most back!

 

With over 30 years in C-suites, and many July 4th Work picnics, I know how to annoy.  That’s why I speak on building powerful engaged teams and managing annoying people who steal your energy and time, even though they are competent.  I help managers drive their agendas and bring joy back to the workplace.

Network with a funny story or a unique fact and be memorable!

 

Never Start By Saying No!

Newsflash:  Despite global warming it is officially Summertime.  The signs are everywhere.  Kids are off from school.  There are many more outdoor activities and the days are longer.   This all adds up to less reasons to be stuck working.   You’ll need a boost to get the time away from work you need.  Try this productivity hack to spend your time off without stress.  Learn how to say “no” to your boss so that you can enjoy your downtime.

The Advice

Never start by saying “no”.   Learn how to say “yes” and accomplish the “no”.   Learn to meet both of your needs by setting boundaries and figuring out what you must and can accomplish.

This is funny advice from me.  Since I have a whole chapter in my book Managing Annoying People about how to just say NO.  Last week I urged you to say “no” for cleaner focus on your priorities.  Click here to read  why your efficiency hacks are not working, This advice  is a subtle twist on the concept.

Why Listen to Me?

I write, speak and mentor on workplace dynamics; building powerful engaged teams and managing people/teams that annoy you and steal your energy and time, even though they are competent.  I counsel people to learn to use boundaries.  We work on how to distill the situation and then be able to clearly and concisely communicate to get results.   I understand how messy it is out there folks.  Everyone is doing more with less time, staff and resources.  How your react sets the tone for your relationships.   I know, I managed 10,000 people and had to learn who would get it done, even if not my way!

How Do I Use this Productivity Hack?

The trick is to meet your boss’s needs (or your employee’s needs) and do it on your timetable and rules.

Let’s say the Boss wants you to work over the weekend to finish a project.  You have to quickly scan  — is it doable?  What resources do I need? How can I get this done?  The goal is to figure out other ways to finish the project without sacrificing your own time and needs.  It’s really helpful if you think about the instructions for putting on an oxygen mask on an airplane.  Put your oxygen mask on first and then attend to those around you.

The Conversation Sounds Like This:

Boss: I need you to stay all weekend and finish the XYZ Project.

Response: Of course (the more enthusiastic the better).   I’ve been wanting to hammer that out and get it done all week.

Boss:  Great I can count on you?

Response:  Yes, you can.  Let’s talk about the specifics.  I can tackle it hard on Thursday and Friday and then if needed, Sunday night.  We will have it bright, shiny and ready Monday morning!

Boss:  Great, so you’ll be in the office on Saturday?

Response:  Probably not especially since the plan I outlined will work —  we will have what we  need.  The goal is to get the project finished by Monday morning.  I can do that.  Do you need anything else?

Specific Time and Place Events

In a situation when it’s an event or coverage on a very specific date and time and it conflicts with with your needs – remind  your boss that if you don’t have some breathing room and downtime, you will not be fresh and peppy to do all the other things you need to do for the job, The idea is for the boss to be able to relate personally to your situation.  It would help to remind your boss that you need to take care of yourself (and your family) so that you can “rock” your work place responsibilities.

In these situations:
  • Express your disappointment.  Reiterate that you are re so glad that they asked and you would love to do it you’ve been looking for those opportunities.
  • Problem solve on who else may be available or a good fit; don’t look at all the obvious options that your boss has thought about.
  • Describe how you will connect to people at the event or follow up even though you won’t be there.
Remind your Boss – they can count on you to get accomplished what needs to be accomplished.
If you are interested in talking more about this, please email me at ilene@alignedworkplace.comor reach me at 212.787.8581.

3 Reasons Your Efficiency Hacks Are Not Working

Who doesn’t want to get more accomplished in less time with less effort?  Efficiency hacks have been a hot ticket for the past several years.  So why do I constantly hear workers complain about their workload, no time for vacation, and the amount of hours expected at the office.  Why aren’t these hacks making it better?  Why have we yet to find efficiency mantras that actually work?  

We are following the wrong advice.  It’s the negative hacks that work; not the positive seeming actions.  Let’s start with this truth:  It’s not what you are not doing that is holding you back.  It’s what you are doing. Like trying to open doors that will always stay closed to you.  So stop spending time on the wrong things, like pitching funders that don’t fund you or offering jobs to those who reject you.   Start focusing on the things that work and your efficiency will soar.

Understand how to stop doing what’s not working:

  1. Its Counter Intuitive. 

As Americans we wrote the book on MORE, MORE, MORE.  The concept of doing less and getting more is counter intuitive.  We think one more go at it and this time it will work. Just not so.  Think about a much needed vacation, or rest.  After the vacation of actually doing less,  you can actually do more.

2. We Focus on YES, not NO.  

We are trained to say Yes.  As in, “yes i am a team player”, “yes I will help my neighbor” and the ultimate “‘yes i can do that’.  We don’t want to be the Debbie Downer that says No.  And yet it is the No that makes more space for our Yes.  Can you wrap your head around this?  No, leads to more Yes.  It hones your priorities.

3.  Maybe, Someday, and Tomorrow  are the Bermuda Triangle of Efficiency. 

In classic Yoda fashion “Do or Do not”.  Anything else is a waste of time.  Choosing an action, regardless if it’s an active DO or passive DON’T Do, puts you on a clear path with a concurrent action plan.  Waiting, undecided, lingering just slows you down and clogs your brain, your calendar and your energy.  Last fall I was featured on Marc Guberti’s (Teenage Entrepreneur) Virtual Productivity Summit.  My most liked efficiency hack was: ” Do what you hate first. Once you get it done everything else will open up”.

To make your hacks work, make them purposeful and easy.  Follow my advice on Maroon Oaks Blog – Lead Your Workday with 12 Efficiency Mantras.   

Maroon Oaks connects  Women – Entrepreneurs,  Job Seekers & Relaunchers through a free member network.  Developed for Women who ant a level playing field and a chance to achieve family-work-life balance

It’s a little of a spiritual concept to grasp.  Only the doors that are meant to open, do open.  It doesn’t matter how much you knock, honk, sneak in and try to get access.  When it doesn’t work, stop doing on it and spend time on efforts that yield results.

If you focus on the people, companies and workers who understand you and your products and say “No” to those who don’t, you will have more time to say “Yes” to those who want to work with you.  And as a by-product you will be happier.

Try No and grow your business.

 

 

Lead your workday with 12 Efficiency Mantras

 

Do I Annoy My Co-Workers? Take the Quiz and See.

I’m so  excited, I finally did it.  I created an annoying quiz just for you!

With 100% certainty I know what is going to happen to you in the coming weeks.   You will annoy a co-worker.  Usually not purposeful, but the end result is the same.  It gets in the way of the work.  Although we often don’t intend to offend, it happens.  We don’t always look at our behaviors or understand  our actions that annoyed our colleagues.

Who wants to spend their time being annoyed?  That’s annoying already.

I know what you’re thinking.  How can Ilene know my situation? My team’s irritating idiosyncrasies?  The specific nuances of my workplace?  The truth is, I don’t.   What I do know is human nature; human nature as it particularly relates to being part of a team and managing workplace dynamics.  And I clearly know about being annoying (have you met me?)

My new quiz will provide insight into how your co-workers interpret your actions.

With 50% certainty, I know you are going to struggle with honesty when taking the quiz.   When the words resonate, pick that answer or you will only be annoying yourself.

Aligned Workplace mentors business leaders and managers to drive their agenda and build workplaces where success, inspiration, kindness, and joy define the culture.   We provide specific actionable advice to put you on the path to being less annoyed at work by using tactics to instantly transform the relationship dynamic.  Because being annoyed takes away from you driving your business agenda and wastes your time.

What’s Next:

First step is to know your “annoying type.” — the quiz will help you.

Start the quiz and in 7 questions you will know your annoying personality type.

Take the advice and share, share, share your results.

The world wants to know:  What is your annoying workplace personality?

 

What Everyone Ought To Know About Why I am Out of Sync and Need Help

I need your help.  I’m out of sync!  The funniest part is that’s how I made my living for years.  I knew exactly how to line things up and make them work.  I could spot what was out of whack much earlier than my colleagues.  That made me annoying.  Now I am out of sync.    

Four years ago I created Aligned Workplace, assisting C-suite Execs and Managers align their resources, team skills and messaging to quickly drive their agendas and grow their organizations.  Big shout out to those of you who bought my services!  And know how to drive your agenda, I did.  I was intense, pushed too fast, and was hard on you.  

Then something amazing happened. Managing Annoying People:  7 Proven Tactics to Maximize Team Performance was born.  The book officially launched January 2017.   It’s a fun, easy read handbook to deal with people in the workplace who suck your energy, time, and Zen.     “I built the book.  The book built the business and the business is building me” as said by Dean Minuto of Yescalate. Thanks Dean!

And now I’m not in sync. The book and business did really build me.  I’m different now.  More purposeful, relaxed and open.  I am at crossroads of what to do next.  Where should I be focusing my efforts?  Who is the exact customer that needs me and what should I be doing?

Data Points

I love data points, so here are mine.  Here’s what’s been happening:

  • Close to 500 copies of my book have made it into readers’ hands.
  • I speak and train new audiences on how to be better managers and handle difficult workplace situations (gentle reminder, send opportunities my way).
  • My radio interviews, guest blogs and articles (such as Glamour.com) give career advice to new workers, mid-level managers and millennials on how to jump start their leadership journeys.
  • Through coaching, I provide CEOs and team leaders with action plans to broaden their spheres of influence.

My unique ability is to provide services, just in time.  I am in your corner as change occurs:  be it environmental, personal or workplace shifts that alter the existing rules.  What I find interesting is that everyone thinks their solution is so unique and yet they all want that one silver bullet  – the actions they can take to propel them forward.  They want answers.  They want shortcuts.  They want it wrapped up and delivered with a bow. 

So now the ball is in my court.  How do I reach and serve those who need me?   Originally targeted to CEOs and team leaders,  I now seem to be more useful to sandwich managers.  This is a term I coined.  Like the sandwich generation, stuck in the middle of two masters.  Sandwich Managers have to manage up and down and are usually annoyed all the way around!  I find these to be newish managers, late 20’s to early 30’s.  Particularly complicated now that everyone is gluten-free.

Here’s Where I Need YOUR Input:

  • Who should I be speaking to – where are the associations, populations connections to people and service organizations who could use my services?
  • Where are the right training opportunities with groups of 30 – 50 people?
  • What do you think of the creation of on-line “paid for course”?
  • Who would benefit most greatly from my services?
  • Who is willing to pay for this content?
  • Would it be fun to have more short videos with annoying situations played out?
  • How about more guest pod casts?
  • How annoying are these questions?

I am out of sync.  Now that I have repeated that three times – I think, you got it.

Hit REPLY and tell me what you think.  And a truly radical idea, pick up the phone and let’s have a conversation and catch up.

The lines are open 212.787.8581.

Spoiler Alert – next week’s blog will be a survey on How Annoying are You in the Workplace? 

Looking forward to connecting.

Un-Annoyingly Yours,

Ilene

5 Things To Do Immediately About Annoying Misunderstood Habits

Being misunderstood sucks!  The worst part is we often don’t realize why our intent is not coming across loud and clear.  Do you know your everyday habits that cause people to form inaccurate or negative opinions of you?   Can you identify your behaviors that annoy others and repulse instead of engage?

I speak and mentor on how to turn annoying situations into amazing experiences, especially in the workplace.   Coaching managers over and over again, three distinct patterns repeat themselves.  The complaints, the explanations come in different forms, but they boil down to these annoying workplace habits: 

  • Being Anxious

Most of us live with some level of anxiety. We’re not really aware of how this shows up to other people. We think we’re covering it up.  You may talk too fast, too loud, or too much.  In reality it shows up as an annoying habit.

  • Controlling Behavior

For over achievers, it usually takes the form of micro-management.  Habits such as being aggressive, only wanting things your way and hovering over your direct reports run rampant.  Really you just want to be appreciated and of service, but to others you appear inflexible, tough, controlling.  Not fun for others.

  • Insecurity

For those who are frightened of not being good enough, it shows up as needing constant reassurance. The habit is asking the same question over and over again. It makes others think you are insecure. Your friends or coworkers, or even your boss feel that you are continually saying the same thing over and over.  You don’t hear yourself and it’s frustrating to them. 

It is important to pay attention as to how you’re being perceived.  The vibe you give off has a direct impact on  advancing your career and your personal goals.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to be around an annoying person.  Take it from someone who thought she was being helpful, although I couldn’t help hammering points home, again and again.  Being anxious, controlling and insecure gives mixed signals.  Instead of making people more sympathetic to you, it turns them off. 

What can you do right now?  

1.  Be Aware.

Follow this analogy.  Body Dysmorphia is a disease where a person doesn’t see their physical self as they exist in reality.  This article on Bustle explains that it’s a much deeper issue.   Consider that you may have “Workplace Dysmorphia” and not see your actions clearly in business situations.  Sometimes, I overwhelm people with my excitement.  I didn’t see that my enthusiasm could be a turn off.  To start to change, I had to be aware that I did not see my habits as they appear to others.  Do you know how your behaviors appears to others?

2.  Breathe and Take a Moment.

This is always good advice whether you are entering a team meeting, an annual review or bungee jumping off of a cliff.  Take a moment, to breathe in success, breathe out fear and  ground yourself. 

3.  Apologize

Not necessarily for the behavior, but for the impact it has on others.  Tied together with awareness, you can tell when someone is not responding in a positive way to you.   In that moment say , “I’m sorry if we are not connecting right now” or “I see we are not on the same page right now”.  Or the line I often need to use is: “I know my ideas are overwhelming, lets start again.”  This will change the dynamic right away. 

4.  Ask for Help

From a friend or colleague you respect.  From your HR department, or from your mother.  Email me!  Ask others for information about how you come across and what would help you to be better heard and understood. 

5.  Replace it

Change your behavior.  If you are the one who keeps asking the same questions about yourself, turn it into questions about others.  If you interrupt when others are speaking (my most annoying habit) write down on a piece of paper what you want to say, instead of saying it aloud.  If you repeat yourself incessantly, say it once and count to 100 in your head, before you speak again.  

What’s Next:  Find a new behavior that doesn’t annoy others.  Take responsibility for your actions.   Understand that others may not grasp your intent.  Adjust your behaviors and see what happens.  What will you change today?

The Ultimate Guide To 4 things to Remember to Learn from Your Mistakes

What's next?  That was always such an easy question for me.  The situation was basically irrelevant.  I sprung into action.  I was on the ground running, ​brain and body immediately creating a road map.  And you know me; we are not talking about a straight line to a pot of gold.  This map was multifaceted with twists, turns and surprises.  Not much room for the unknown.  And usually it went according to plan. Usually until a few years ago.

​Last week, I had an interesting conversation with a Social Work colleague​​ about an article she read.  The gist, apparently as we age, we make more and more mistakes.  This was shocking to me.  Wasn't I supposed to be smarter, stronger, nimbler?  

As I thought about it, it began to make sense.  ​In my younger years while I honed my craft, raised my kid and enjoyed my life, I did things I knew how to do.  I got better at them over time.  Now, semi-retired, there are so many things that are new to me.   Suddenly, this making more mistakes thing has merit.  I've realized it is absolutely true for me.  Don't get me wrong, some of those early mistakes were doozies. Lessons long learned.  ​Now I am open to making totally new mistakes.  I'm in a space I've never been before.  This time being off-road means I travel without GPS and no maps.  What's next?  Usually a mistake... (and that includes proofreading!) 

​Research on being successful hails grit as the key ingredient.  I'm very gritty. I've learned it's just not enough. ​ ​​​My recent blog post on how to have a great second act​​​ takes a look at people who springboard from mistakes.  When I think about what's next ​and how to get there, I grit my teeth and say GGRR.  ​

The full GGRR explanations can be found ​in my Sixty&Me Blog Post.  GGRR isn't a roadmap, it won't tell you what to do.  It is a guide on how to use hindsight that propels me forward.  And hopefully you too:

1.  Learn to GIVE: Your SUPER PURPOSE™

2. GROW from your mistakes, don't just recover, evolve.

3.  Find you own REDEMPTION​.  Your inner peace.  That place where you are good at what you do and are truly comfortable in your own skin.  .  

4.  ​Know your  RELEVANCE​ and live it everyday.  

What's Next for you?

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3 Reasons the Perfect Coffee Ritual Matters for Your Best Self

The perfect coffee ritual sets a tone for your day and gets you engaged, focused and grounded.  Good cup of coffee, good day.  Bad cup of coffee, not such a good day.  If you drink coffee, you know exactly what I mean.  If you don’t, pick your poison.   Day off, late start, retired, sipping that steaming cup of nectar with your ideas and thoughts swirling around.  Already at the office, running errands or in a meeting gulping that java while going over your mental to do list.   It doesn’t matter if it’s coffee, Matcha Latte, a smoothie or water.  This morning beverage gets you going and sets the tone for your day.

Originally published on my monthly blog on Sixty&Me where I blather about mindset, setting yourself up for success and taking what comes.  Really it’s the good kind of blathering.  The perfect cup of coffee is about balance.  Finding it, keeping it and tweaking it. 

1.  Get What you Want

Starting your day with a ritual makes you comfortable.   Being comfortable is key to being engaged. While I am not a fan of the “over a buck” for a cup of coffee, make your choice.  Know what it is, how you like it and what to expect.  This small ritual will put you in the right framework for the start of the day and let you worry about non-coffee related issues.  

2.  Maintain the Temperature

Just because you get what you want doesn’t mean it will workout.  Focus on the big picture and what else is going on.  We balance lots of things in a day.  Just be aware and know when to regroup, add cream or a little sugar metaphorically.  Go back and start again if you need to.  It’s just a cup of coffee – not the purchase of a car or a place to live. 

3.  Tweak It

Changes happen.  It is the only inevitable, everything changes.  Now finally in Spring the weather impacts your body and your mood.  Every change influences how you feel about your morning ritual.  It may be like it always was, but you may not feel it.  So make small changes.  Let me say that again, small changes.  Tweaks.   Tweaks will set you up for a better response to whatever comes your way in your day.  Still wanting more, supersize or have a second.  Problem at the team meeting, just make a small change – let someone else talk or let something that annoys you roll off your shoulders.  Make small changes for a big impact.

The perfect cup of coffee is about balance.   Remember these simple, easy steps to have an even keeled and perfectly balanced day.

Read the blog on What my search for the perfect cup of coffee-taught-me-about-finding-balance/ on Sixty&Me.

What small tweaks did you make today?  How did it go?

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What Everyone Must Know About the Bull on Your Team.

Do you know who the bulls are on your team and how to handle them?  Can you tell which team members are driving change and who is tangling-up the team process?  This blog originally titled Everything Looks Weak Next to the Bull is about how to get out of the way when the Bull is breaking all the China in the place.  It’s about those team members who are always raring to go.  They jump start the project.  They get things flowing.  They take a lot of credit for their efforts.  Eventually these are the team members who tangle up the process instead of driving it forward.  There are a confluence of factors that lead to this situation.  As a team leader or team member, you can learn to recognize the factors that stop process.  Learn which of these you can control and when you need to run and take cover.   Read the full article on Thought Leaders LLC.  to see why everyone looks weak next to the bull.

Sometimes the person on your team who is “driving change” is actually driving everyone crazy. How can you figure out the difference? What do you do when you learn they’re making everyone nuts?

1.  You Let Them Get Away with Whatever.

And I mean whatever. It doesn’t matter if you are the team leader or a member.  It’s too hard to stand up to them.  Actually, it’s just easier to not deal with it based on prior experience.  It will take too much of your time.  You can just deal with it later, whatever the fallout is.  Either way, they have the ball and you let them run, run, run.  And run all over you, they do.

2. Take Cover. 

You have that gut feeling that you will be collateral damage.  Run and take cover.  It doesn’t mean you don’t care about the team or the project or the outcome.  It just means you need to lay low until it becomes clear, how and what you can contribute.   There is an old saying for when a team member goes rogue “our job is to sell rope and let them get tangled”.  Because you care, cover your assets.

3.  Live with the Chaos. 

A certain amount of chaos during a new project is expected and during a change process, a given.  If you can’t live in the grey, then this is not the job for you.   Even when chaos is expected and real, it takes a talented manager to point the chaos in the right direction.  The direction that will align the team to work together and reach even better than intended results.  If you can live with the chaos, you can be the one to take the team forward when it counts.

Read the full article on Thought Leaders LLC.

 

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Featured in Glamour.com: The Single Most Important Advice for Your Career

Good career advice and career guidance are like a good hairstyle.  You want to know where to get it and how to keep it.   The single most important career advice, after being competent which is a baseline “give-me”  is don’t annoy your boss.  If you learn the common mistakes most workers make, you can fix them and move up the corporate ladder.  If you annoy your boss It all boils down to one solution.   Honesty.  It’s that simple,  You can embellish, subtract and tone-it-down, albeit it all comes down to this.   A good boss can smell the BS cubicles away.  Fool them once, and there will not be a second time.   Honesty about your abilities, efforts, and work status is key to building your reputation and a good relationship with your  boss.  

Follow the logical career advice of why honesty is truly the best policy.  Or, if you must, follow the yellow brick road but, it’s the long way around.  Learn this simple career advice and be honest with your boss:

Your Boss will win the race

The Boss will figure it out, before you do.  Usually the boss has smarts even if you don’t see it.  This means unless you get a crash course on whatever it is you are lacking, a good boss will figure out that you don’t know before you figure out how to know it. 

Ask your Boss for face-time and career guidance. 

If your Boss is fair and not a jerk, he or she will value the opportunity to show you their way, teach a new skill and mentor you.  A good boss intuitively understands that employees value face time with them.   Therefore, they want you to learn from them.  They may not know you need the help.    Ask for what you need.

Learn to ask without being needy

This is a hard one for most.   Keep your voice, your mannerisms and your tone calm, cool and collected.  Don’t give long explanations.   Just ask for what you need.  For example:  “Can you show me how you would like the pivot table?”   If you ask, your boss will make the time to show you what you need or find someone else to help you.  

See the big picture.   

The boss has to see the forest and all the trees in that forest to keep the forest growing.  Know the type of tree you are and where you fit into that forest.  Make sure you keep your tree strong.  If you don’t get this advice, email me.   You need my help…..

This article in Glamour.com covers the 8 Worst MIstakes That Annoy your Boss More than Being Late.  It’s a quick read and worth it. 

Follow Tip #7 from yours truly:   You say you understand – when you really don’t!    It all boils down to simple honesty.  What do you think?  

I Crossed the Picket Line and Other Tales for Getting Over the Hump.

Thanks to the FastLeader Legion and Host Jim Rembach for a fast paced insightful interview.   Jim’s engaging style moments puts leadership into action.  Leadership is a hard won skill, once your get management right and impacts your workforce every day.  

Click here and listen to this upbeat discussion on the Fast Leader Podcast

Link: http://www.fastleader.net/iTunes

ToTweet:  I helped the Fast Leader Legion get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow with @BeyondMorale – check it out at www.FastLeader.net

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @talkism and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet 

“As the leader, you have to separate yourself from the pack.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet

“Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it meanly.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Avoiding, in an annoying situation is perilous to you and your organization.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Someone at work is going to annoy you, how can you be ready and not react?” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Setting expectations and setting boundaries is extremely important.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“People actually enjoy hearing no sometimes.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Pride of ownership is very important to success.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“How do you help your employees make that idea their idea, not your idea?” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“If employees feel they’re part of the solution, they’re going to be a lot more bought in.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Leadership is a righteous perk, once you get management right.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Good managers are leaders and good leaders are managers.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“What makes you a leader is working with a team, having a vision, and having them own that vision.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Everything is about the integration between my vision and how to put the pedal to the metal.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“I have an economic contract with my employees, and that’s the basis of our relationship.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“I need the job done, it’s not just about being friends.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Make sure you come with your joy and who you are to everything you do.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Most of us have careers that have blended our work and our lives.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“If you don’t bring the joy, what are you doing?” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“If you’re not loving who you are and how you do it, do something else.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“Set the goals, watch the steps and bring your team along.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“If you don’t believe in your ideas, no one is going to.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

“There’s always options, it’s our job to find them and make them work.” -Ilene Marcus Click to Tweet 

Do You Know How to Get Things Done?

Insightful article on how to GET THINGS DONE.  Not just saying that because I am quoted – I’m quoted because I agree that managing process for your team is a cornerstone skill for leaders and managers.   Setting the tone and process for your team is always a timely topic, whether tweaking an old project or starting on a new endeavor – timing and process is key to success.  

Communicating with your team about the priorities is critical to organizational success and moving the work process forward.  Aligned Workplace helps C-Suite Executives, Business Founders and Managers hone their messaging and align resources and tools to get things done.  Being able to define the process to your team, breaking down the process and the hand-offs between departments/units/divisions is a key competency of good leaders.  Make sure you know how to get things done.  

Check out this article on the Wrike Management Blog that includes stories, & new approaches to work management,collaboration, & productivity.

Learn anything new? Let me know.

Attract the Life You Want. Pull Don’t Push: My First Blog on Sixty&Me!

Attract the life you want.  Many business lessons are applicable to our non-work lives.  It’s all a matter of how we understand the lesson and apply it to our circumstances.  My hope is to make the link from the lessons we’ve learned in our professional lives to action for readers based on these sound business principles.

My first monthly blog discusses how to attract what you want.  This is based on the marketing principles of pulling, attracting,  instead of pushing or selling, a strategic marketing tactic.

Honored to contribute to this awesome community.  Check out Sixty&Me Website!  

Read my Blog on Sixty and Me: Want to get more from life stop pushing and start pulling.

Tell me did I hit the mark?

 

 

CEOs Set the Tempo

Who would think Startrek’s Captian Kirk and Whiplash’s Fletcher (J.K. Simmons, current Academy Award Winner) have anything in common? But they do, more than it would seem.

As CEO of the Enterprise and the away team, Kirk always set the pace. He did it through trust, loyalty and instinct.

In Whiplash, Band Leader/Teacher (aka State Farm Guy) set the pace through fear, intimidation and humiliation.

How did both CEOs inspire the best out of their crew?

The answer is simple, know your team. Know how to reach them and build them up. Then take responsibility for your actions and watch them soar or drown based on your tempo.

As leader, you set the tempo. Make sure your team is in sync with you.

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