Lessons here about leadership, careers and the future of work that you can use every day.
If you like what you read here, you should subscribe to my newsletter. It’s where my best work appears first. I value your time and will treat your inbox nicely. The newsletter comes out twice a month, usually the first and third Thursday.
At 70, I’m finding it more difficult to readily identify heroes. Have I become more cynical? Have my standards changed? Why is it so difficult to identify heroes? What is a hero anyway?
“I couldn’t just run around ‘being strategic’ right off the bat…I had to take a breath and figure out what being strategic looked like.”
“After forty years of building relationships and respecting people, and just being interested in them and their development, it plays out well.”
“My curiosity about people let me quickly build high-trust relationships…[where] I was invited to participate in special projects…often beyond the scope of my responsibilities.”
As we mature in our careers, we’re relied on less for our subject matter expertise and more for the strategic value we bring.
In order to remain relevant in the workplace, regardless of our age or where we are in our career continuum, we need to rewire. Failing to do that may bring an early retirement when we least expect it.
Real innovators operate at the edges of the box and move the box’s boundaries outward, creating a bigger box.
Reframing older workers as Modern Elders, the wisdom they bring and their roles as mentors and strategic advisors can complement the energy and technical proficiencies of younger colleagues.
As well-intentioned as “best practices” are, they don’t make candidates stand out, they just become part of the crowd, where everyone is following “best practices.”
The trouble with transitions is that they take time and they often distract from our goals.
The desire to be…part of something bigger than me. Something where I contributed to the betterment of the group I was part of.
People need a framework to convey their value to people who matter — their boss, a hiring manager, a customer or client.
At a time when calcified ideologies are tearing our culture apart, Grant reminds us that one of our most important cognitive skills is the ability to rethink and unlearn.
If you can define your value — your unique value — and align it with an organization’s needs, then you are, indeed, a superstar.
It’s not enough to be a Strategic Thinker and understand the vision. It’s not enough to be able to share the vision with others. The real challenge for Strategic Thinkers is to make sure team members understand their individual roles within that vision.
People need defined processes (algorithms) to guide them in new ways of thinking about the value they bring to an organization and in developing the stories that demonstrate that value.
“Three words to guide your actions to match your goals for the coming year.”
How can you reframe your skills to express more value as you seek the next level in your career?
How do you go from being really smart about what you do to being wise about what you have to offer?
Value trumps responsibility and tenure (years of experience) when talking about your career. Value is about knowing and articulating your unique talent; that which you do better than anyone else.
Assets bring a higher level of value. Assets are wisdom-based. They are adaptive.
“FFTs” or “effing first times,” speak to the anxieties we encounter when stepping outside our comfort zones and doing something for the first time. Or, coming up against a challenge we’re facing for the first time.
The upshot is that you need to convey your value as a strategic asset when responding to that interview question: “What are your strengths?”
I think character could be THE issue for 2021 — in politics, in business, in all of our relationships.
These words will frame the work I do in 2021 as I hone the tools and programs that help you achieve your goals for the year.
“We’re not going back to normal.”
The thing is.. providing value doesn’t take much. Especially in a global disruption. Just “microbursts” of innovation — a tweak here, a tuck there; but always in service to others.
The pandemic provided the opportunity to re-imagine the sales process and provide valuable information to current and prospective customers.
Opportunity + hard work = real luck. And hard work = grit + perseverance.
Folks are leveraging their existing expertise to pivot in new directions that set them apart from others in their professional space.
Even the most successful of us experience disruptions, interruptions, and setbacks; especially in volatile situations.
To Hike Your Own Hike, we need to narrow our focus. Pay attention to the items we can control; those we can impact directly. We need to be clear about goals and not be distracted by issues that don’t directly affect them.
Resilience is adapting to adversity and stress in our lives.It’s bouncing back from difficult experiences.
How are you prepping for emerging from this disruption? Are you feeling that you have control over your professional future?
In these disruptive times, the old ways of doing business, of conducting our careers, won’t work. We’ve entered uncharted waters that require a whole different set of competencies.
We need to keep in mind that “what got us here, won’t get us there.” What will differentiate us from others during this time is defining the opportunities in front of us and plotting new courses.
Best practices are actually rather limiting. They imply the use of standard operating procedures. Standard implies average. Thus, best practices keep organizations and their people average — not exceptional.
What worked pre-Q2 2020, won’t necessarily work now. We need to build for a world that won’t be getting close anytime soon. The world requires upgrades, changes, and new systems to emerge better (not the same) on the other side.
Fortune favors those who can rise above the turmoil and help chart a new course.
If you’re looking to advance in your career, it’s critical that you are able to articulate the value you can provide to a prospective employer, a new boss, or a customer or client.
“If we want to be values-driven, we have to operationalize our values into behaviors and skills that are teachable and observable.” ~ Brené Brown This quarter (April, May, June), I’ve assigned themes to each month. The themes have helped me focus my work. The theme for April was disruption, to focus on how the Coronavirus … Continue reading Clarity, Values, and Value
“Where your focus goes, your energy grows.” ~ Olivia Gamber, Co-founder, Career Attraction I’ve assigned themes to each month of this second quarter of 2020. The idea is that the themes will focus my work and my writing during this disruptive time. The theme for April was disruption. For May it was “What’s Next?” What’s … Continue reading Mindset
“The future in flux always is.” ~ Yoda At a recent monthly leadership meeting that I host here in Portland, ME, our topic was “What’s Next?” The idea was to share thoughts and ideas about what’s going to happen as we emerge from lockdowns and experience varying degrees of reopenings. What were we going to … Continue reading Speculation Fatigue
“There is no going back. The only way out is through — past a turbulent spring, across an unusual summer, and into an unsettled year beyond.” Ed Yong, “Our Pandemic Summer” The other day my wife, Camille, shared a quote by J. Michael Zenn, a health and nutritional evangelist, “What if your old life is … Continue reading What If Your Old Life Is No Longer In Stock?
The world of work will be different than it was in January. It may take a while. While we’ve gone too far to turn back, we don’t know what will be different.
So many people begin their conversation with me with “I just don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. “ These are folks in their 20s, at the outset of their careers; in their 40s, at mid-career; and in their 50s and 60s, in the twilight of their careers. They’re all searching … Continue reading Career Wayfinding: Building Your Way Forward
Being clear about what you do best and how you do it, gives you a competitive advantage in the world of work.
What does ten days mean to you?” ~ Bob (former client) My client, Bob, asked that question over eight years ago. He had just wound up an interview process where the key decision-makers told him they’d be in touch with an offer in the next ten days. Needless to say, he was excited. He was … Continue reading Radio Silence
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy…” ~ George Gershwin Very recently I had separate conversations with a few clients. One will be starting a new job next month; the others have decided to seek new opportunities. These folks wanted to know what they needed to do to prepare for their respective challenges. 100 Days of … Continue reading 100 Days of Summer
“In the past, jobs were about muscles, now they’re about brains, but in the future, they’ll be about the heart.” ~ Nemat Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science The quote above was lifted from my new favorite book, Brené Brown’s Dare To Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. It’s … Continue reading Level Up, Redux
“Imposter syndrome: A collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.” Harvard Business Review, May 2008. I’ve had three recent clients express concern about their abilities to be successful as they progress in their careers. All three have some common characteristics: They’ve either recently transitioned or looking to transition to another industry or … Continue reading Don’t Confuse Your Crisis of Confidence with a Crisis of Competence
“We all have more than one life in us.” ~ Bill Burnett & Dave Evans This is posted on Thanksgiving week, which means there are about 6 weeks left in this year. Many of us use this time to think about the future–next year and beyond. We ask ourselves where we’re headed and how we’ll … Continue reading Odyssey Planning for Your Career
If you’re a Type A personality, are you clear about your expectations and standards? If a Type B, can you get clarity on Type A’s expectations?
In the past, I’ve mentioned the importance of message; how it describes the essence of who you are professionally and allows you to create your own game and define your unique place in the market. When you tell stories around your message, you’re detailing the professional value you bring to an organization – your leadership … Continue reading Build The Right Narrative
“We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do. We don’t spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to stop.” ~ Peter Drucker The higher we go in our careers, the more our problems become behavioral. As we rise, everyone is smart, capable and accomplished. As we advance, behavioral … Continue reading What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” ~ Simon Sinek Simon Sinek was wrong. You may be familiar with his 10-year-old TEDxTalk on the Golden Circle, where he encouraged us to start with “why.” Sinek’s talk has become one of the top TEDTalks, with over 47 million views. Over the … Continue reading Focus on How, Not Why
“Make the words such that they influence your choice of actions, encourage you to decide in favor of your goals, and guide you towards lasting results that you want to experience throughout the year.” ~ Chris Brogan This time of year is often a time for reflection as well as for looking forward. In looking … Continue reading 3 Words for 2020
Each year I choose three words to guide me through the coming year.
“Make the words such that they influence your choice of actions, encourage you to decide in favor of your goals, and guide you towards lasting results that you want to experience throughout the year.” ~ Chris Brogan For the past five years, I’ve selected three words to guide me through the coming year. This will … Continue reading Three Words for 2019
“The evolving you is not a moving target, but pursues a moving target.” ~ Alan Weiss & Marshall Goldsmith In their book, Lifestorming: Creating Meaning and Achievement in Your Career and Life, Alan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith explore what it takes to make significant changes in our lives in order to achieve our goals – … Continue reading Career Storming
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure, that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain (or so we think) Work today overflows with systems, processes, tools, and assumptions that are deeply flawed, that push directly against our ability to express what is unique about each of us … Continue reading Nine Lies About Work
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else. ~ Yogi Berra In their book, The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months, Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington contend that we should abandon annual 12 month planning in favor of developing new plans … Continue reading What If?
Would you prefer to be the smartest person in the room or the least informed?
Leadership is a way of thinking, a way of acting and, most importantly, a way of communicating. ~ Simon Sinek “I almost didn’t reach out to you,” she said. “If Sally hadn’t recommended you, I would have looked elsewhere.” This was a new client. We were wrapping up our initial meeting and talking about … Continue reading Leadership Is A Verb
“…you really need only about twenty seconds of courage at a time.” Scott Mautz, in his book, Find the Fire: Ignite Your Inspiration and Make Work Exciting Again, argues that inspiration is the “most powerful programming we have on our internal hard drive.” It’s more powerful than motivation. With motivation, we take an idea and … Continue reading Find the Fire
In a sentence or two, what is it that you do well?
Are you ready for a strong career start to 2020? You’ve got 90 days to prepare.
“Let thee embrace me, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course” ~ William Shakespeare My pal, Bill Pusey, and I convene the Ascending Leaders’ Network, a monthly gathering of leaders in southern Maine seeking to have a more strategic impact on their organizations. Last fall, our discussion topic was “Embrace the … Continue reading Embrace the Suck
“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.” ~ Peter Drucker One of my StrengthsFinder themes is Input. People with this strength collect and archive all kinds of information that may prove useful to others. Case in point, I recently read two articles that focus on questions intended … Continue reading Questions – About You, About Them
“Argue like you’re right, listen like you’re wrong.” ~ Daniel Pink Here in Portland, Maine, I help facilitate, along with my buddy Bill Pusey, a group of leaders who meet monthly to share the challenges and solutions of leadership that they confront in their roles. A while ago we met and discussed Dan Pink’s … Continue reading The Lesson of the “E”: Shift Your Perspective
We are approaching the final quarter of 2017. How is the year going for you so far? I’m hoping it’s productive, both personally and professionally. I also wish you courage in tackling the challenges that lie ahead in the remainder of the year. We’re all facing challenges. Some will be easy to address, others not … Continue reading Courage
We’re all works in progress; we’re never complete. We need to think of our careers as growing startup ventures constantly adapting to the professional challenges that come our way.
“NO-body expects the Spanish Inquisition. Our chief weapon is surprise. Surprise and fear. Fear and surprise, and ruthless efficiency” ~ Monty Python’s Flying Circus. I received some interesting reactions to the last post. You’ll recall it was a review of Jenny Blake’s book Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One. A … Continue reading Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition
People don’t care about your story, they care about their own. Donald Miller’s Building A StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen has had a significant impact on my thinking and work with clients. Miller is president of StoryBrand, a marketing firm that helps clients clarify their messaging. I picked up the book after … Continue reading You’re Not the Hero
“Virtually everything about jobs and work and careers has changed.” ~ Scott Uhrig I’ve just finished reading Jenny Blake’s Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One. Because careers are no longer straightforward, linear and predictable; pivoting within our roles and throughout our careers is the new normal. A Pivot Mindset Careers have … Continue reading Career Pivot: The New Normal
“The future in flux always is.” ~ Yoda Alert: This is a longer than usual post. Last June I wrote about my son Dave’s thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail – 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME. At the time, he was just about a third of the way into his trek. … Continue reading Re-entry
“It’s not as bad as the Smokies.” ~ Dave Woodard My son, Dave, is hiking the Appalachian Trail. He’s attempting a through hike – the entire 2,200 miles at one time. He began in mid-March at Springer Mountain, GA and will finish up at the trail’s northern terminus, Mount Katahdin, ME in early October. … Continue reading Resilience
I collect quotes…sayings and aphorisms that impart wisdom. The best do so with humor. One of my favorite resources for these is Mark Twain, who just had a knack for pithy sayings that makes one pay attention and sometimes laugh out loud, often at ourselves. Here’s a Mark Twain quote that I recently stumbled onto: … Continue reading Throw Off the Bowlines
Clarity is a critical element of knowing the value you bring to an organization or to a team. It’s a key component of your Leadership Narrative. It’s about knowing and articulating your unique talent, or as Laura Garnett calls it, your “inner genius,” that which you do better than anyone else. Clarity is … Continue reading Clarity and Your Leadership Narrative
This post was fairly easy for me. I didn’t write it. Instead, I’m sharing a quote by Christopher Sommer, a renowned coach of champion gymnasts. A colleague shared Sommer’s quote with me. We’d been talking about the ups and downs of our work and how to maintain focus in a world of nonlinear progress. When … Continue reading Show Up, Do The Work, And Go Home
Here in southern Maine, a number of us gather each month for SMBME (Social Media Breakfast – Maine). We get together to share experiences and learn from each other on a variety of different topics in and around the social media sphere. A recent program was entitled “Making Time for Your Marketing and Growing Your … Continue reading Making Time
“If you aren’t the author of your own story, you’re the victim of it.” ~ Jim Loehr Are you telling the story about your career and your work that you want people to hear? Are you telling it in a way that they can hear it? People remember stories. When you tell stories around … Continue reading What’s Your Story – Your Leadership Narrative?
Recently my client, “Rich,” and I had a conversation about networking. Rich is a senior-level engineer trying to decide what’s next in his career. Like a number of us, Rich is an introvert. He’s not terribly comfortable talking with people he barely knows and asking them for advice. In fact, the idea is abhorrent to … Continue reading Circle of Influence
What do you do? How do you answer this question? Do you provide your job title or occupation: Car sales, plumber, housewife, career coach? Or do you respond with WHAT YOU DO? Do you give what you do meaning and value? I can’t recall where I read this, but it had an impact on me. … Continue reading What Do You Do?
In January, Fortune reported on a Conference Board worldwide survey of 555 CEOs’ primary concerns. The top issue that keeps U.S. CEOs up at night: the ability to retain and attract top talent (the issue ranked #4 on international concerns). Closer to home, my colleague, Bill Pusey, and I have been talking with corporate leaders … Continue reading Leadership Talent: Whose Line Is It Anyway?
You’re looking for a new job and you haven’t been as successful as you would like. That is, you haven’t been hired, in spite of all the effort you’ve put in. The fact is, looking for a new job is hard and stressful, even if you’re not changing careers. And, it’s a lot harder than … Continue reading Accelerate Your Job Search
An interesting dynamic often occurs with new clients. They may sign on, initially because their current job search isn’t working. They have a traditional resume, one that lists, in chronological order, the responsibilities of the positions they’ve held over the years. They may have posted this resume on job boards and used it in applying for … Continue reading The Paradox of the Comfort of Crowds
Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. It’s a day of remembrance for those who have given their lives in the service of our country. The day is to honor their sacrifice. Today is also the nominal first day of summer. It’s when we begin looking forward to vacation time at the beach, … Continue reading Raise The Bar: Defining Your Leadership Narrative
“Come gather round people wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown…If your time to you is worth savin’ then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone; for the times they are a-changin’.” ~ Bob Dylan To many of us of a certain age, Dylan’s 1960s-era anthem of change … Continue reading Boomers and the Future of Work: SoLoMo
I’ve been talking with a number of “Ascending Leaders” lately. And my coaching collaborator, Bill Pusey, and I facilitate a free monthly, invitation only, networking group of Ascending Leaders in the Portland, Maine area. “What the heck,” you may ask, “is an Ascending Leader?” Truth is Bill and I struggled with how to … Continue reading You May Be an Ascending Leader If…
An interesting phenomenon has occurred in the last few weeks. I’ve been seeing a number of clients who are coming in solely to have a new resume. Either they haven’t looked for a job in a long time and don’t have a current resume, or have determined that their current resume isn’t working as they’ve … Continue reading Your Resume Is Not Enough
“If I lose my direction, I have to look for the North Star, and I go to the north. That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star. I just want to go in that direction.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh When I meet with a client for the first time, I ask … Continue reading Finding Your North Star
If you’ve reached a plateau or you’re not happy on your current career ladder, then you should disrupt yourself just as innovative companies do.
Clients often express frustration that they’re not finding meaning in their work. They may have at one time, but no longer. They may feel they have plateaued in their current role and there’s no place for them to go. They may have mastered their work and are no longer challenged. Their workplace may be disruptive or toxic and … Continue reading Are You Laying Bricks or Building a Cathedral?
Are you a fan of TED Talks, the videos that showcase “Ideas Worth Spreading”? I love them. In under 20 minutes you can watch some really smart people talk about key ideas. One of my favorite TED Talks is by marketing guru, Seth Godin speaking about “Sliced Bread and Other Marketing Delights.” In this video, … Continue reading Are You Remarkable?
The beginning of the year is a great time for self assessment and the setting of new goals. Often these goals center around improving current jobs and careers or obtaining new jobs and new careers. Many clients struggle at this time of year with these challenges. They’ve taken stock of where they are and have decided … Continue reading Begin With The End In Mind
I love this time of year…January is full of possibilities. We make New Year’s resolutions, set goals, make big plans. For many of us, it’s a time to take stock of our careers and think of what we’d like to accomplish in 2015…A new job, more responsibility, more pay, a promotion, or all of the … Continue reading What are your 3 words for 2015?
It’s that time of the year…when we take stock of the year winding down and look forward to what improvements we’d like to see in the coming year. One area of self improvement that many examine is advancement in their career — either with their current organization or in someplace new. If you’re looking to … Continue reading Raising the bar for your career in 2015
Alice (not her real name) came in perplexed. “I’m a social policy researcher at the university. The group I’ve been affiliated with has lost its funding. I need to figure out how to market myself in a way that appeals to new funders.” “Great! Let’s talk about what you’ve done.” “Basically I organized webinars and … Continue reading Defining Your Impact; Articulating Your Value
Just over a week ago, I attended the annual Agents of Change Digital Marketing conference, here in Portland, Maine and organized by Rich Brooks of Flyte Media. This was my second time attending the conference, and like last year, I was struck how digital marketing strategies closely resemble success in one’s career. Key takeaways for … Continue reading Are You an Agent of Change?
Your professional brand “is about figuring out who you really are and what you do best, and then living that brand out. It’s the essence of authenticity.” ~ Dorie Clark Over the past few weeks, I’ve written about the cornerstones of your professional brand. So far I’ve addressed Purpose, Clarity and Focus. Today, I’ll address the final cornerstone: Strategy. You will recall that Purpose … Continue reading Developing Your Professional Brand: Strategy & Execution
One cornerstone of your professional brand is Focus – telling stories that convey your value. In his book, The Power of Story: Change Your Story, Change Your Destiny in Business and in Life,” Jim Loehr notes that we tell stories to help us navigate through life because they provide structure and direction. The stories we tell give … Continue reading Focus: What’s the story you tell about your value?
In an earlier post on “Developing Your Professional Brand”, I mentioned Dorie Clark’s quote that your professional brand “is about figuring out who you really are and what you do best, and then living that brand out. It’s the essence of authenticity;” and that there are four cornerstones to be addressed when developing your professional brand: Purpose, Clarity, Focus and Strategy. This … Continue reading Bringing Clarity to Your Professional Brand
In my post, “Developing Your Professional Brand”, I noted Dorie Clark’s comment that your professional brand “is about figuring out who you really are and what you do best, and then living that brand out. It’s the essence of authenticity.” I mentioned that four cornerstones need to be addressed when developing your professional brand: Purpose, … Continue reading Purpose, Meaning and Work
Your professional brand “is about figuring out who you really are and what you do best, and then living that brand out. It’s the essence of authenticity.” ~ Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future There has been a great deal of discussion these days, in the career development field, about … Continue reading Developing Your Professional Brand