Just Breathe – Keeping Your Cool in the Midst of Chaos

The pace of life can be overwhelming.

Add to that the state of the economy and the stress of financial burdens or of unemployment lurking like a shadow in the darkness…the result can be a disconnection with our true nature or essence.

Think this is silly?

I know  cynics out there  think references to our true nature (or whatever term you like) are ‘new age nonsense’, but I insist on persevering.

If you are not grounded in your connection to your own center of being, you will find the process of job search or career transition even more difficult than usual. If you are not grounded, you are more likely to be controlled by stress and this will most certainly effect your health in a negative way. There is scientific evidence of this (in case you need a metric).

If you are a leader in an organization right now, but are out of touch with an interconnection between yourself and the world…you may find yourself living a superficial life that can be shattered very easily.

We must find ways to reflect and find connection. Not connections through the internet or with our constituents (although these may be wise from a business standpoint) – but a deeper connection with something bigger than ourselves.

Many executives and professionals are turning to meditation techniques to find some calm in the midst of never-ending stress. Others are learning yoga. Many turn to nature to find connection.

How do you find it?

Stay tuned. More to come.




I found this great  information about Twitter today:

  1. Ask questions to your readers. What do they think about the topics you are covering, covered or plan to cover? Thoughts? Opinions?Since microblogging networks put a limit on how many characters you can write people have to get to the point. Keeping it simple means all the feedback you get is meaningful.
  2. Answer questions. Ok, so answering all your e-mail is going to lead to e-mail bancruptcy pretty quickly. By having a Twitter account or maybe even your own dedicated network you can crowdsource your community questions. You may not know the answer, but I’m one of your followers does. Or one of his followers. Microblogging lets information circulate quickly, giving people the i nformation they need – when they need it.
  3. Share the passion and linkup. What makes a real community are shared interests and passions. Your readers may love reading your articles, but why stop there. Link up other articles on the topic you cover. Give your readers a chance to explore videos, PDFs. By doing so, you strengthen your relationship with them. There on the inside, and you’re one of the guys sharing the good stuff.
  4. Follow the trends and create hashtags. Trend such as #FollowFriday have become rituals in their own right. By participating in them you can gain exposure since a lot of users monitor certain hashtags. Also, you can create your own meme. Love movies? Start #ThrillerThursday and encourage people to recommend interesting thrillers.
  5. Monitor the Twittersphere. With the help of Twitter search, you can monitor Twitter for terms relating to your topic. Say you write about stocks. Monitoring the term “stocks” lets you engage people who are interested in your topic. They have a question? Well – go on – help them!Your Community + Microblogging
  6. Be accessible yet private. With a blog, you become a public figure. Yes, your blog gives you a celebrity-like status to your readers. You the blogger. With time, people want to know more about you, but forums and e-mail make it hard. Microblogging on the other hand gives your community a backchannel into your life. So we discovered that Jason Calacanis loves his dogs and Kevin Rose drinks a lot of tea. The same applies to your own followers. They do want to know those little interesting quirks that sum you up as a person. Through Twitter you can share the little moments you want to share, while still keeping your privacy.
  7. Host contests and offer goodies. Namecheap runs “Fun Facts” Twitter contests. Every hour on the hour Namecheap asks a question and if you answer it correctly you get a $10 credit to your Namecheap account. Two of the players who answer the most questions in the period of two weeks get a Dell Inspiron Netbooks. Basically, they are teaching their community to pay attention. Their tweets don’t go unnoticed. Hosting a contest in terms of getting a response from the community is not hard since there’s basically no entry barrier.
  8. Feature your fans and retweet. Retweeting is also part of the Twitter culture. Basically, if you find something interesting on Twitter, you quote or “retweet” the message, crediting the user who posted it. With your own community you can do the same thing. When a prominent blogger features one’ tweet its like saying “This guy /gal is cool, and this tweet is even cooler”. Social proof you need to use.
  9. Offer them the world. By letting people engage you through Twitter or your own microblogging network you’re introducing them to a whole new level of social networking. By teaching things like how to retweet, use various tools and so on you’re impowering the community. People like to learn stuff and they respect people who show them things. I know I still respect the guy who taught me what RSS feeds were, and yes – I follow him on Twitter.
  10. Let them speak. Giving your community a chance to speak is at the essence of each and every of the things we went through in this article. In that spirit, what would you do to build your blog community with Twitter and microblogging?
  11. ShoutEm, Mar 2009

You should read the whole article.

Getting Laid Off – Taking the High Road

It’s not every day that I meet with a client  (Jennifer) who got laid off and is okay with it. Today was such a day.

These are troubling times for many.  Losing one’s job is no picnic, especially when you have two small children and a mortgage to pay. Yet there is something about being grounded in who you are and in the reputation you’ve built so far in your career.

Many are understandably angry and scared when they get the news that their position has been eliminated. Surprisingly enough, Jennifer wasn’t one of them.

Here are a few hints as to why Jennifer is okay.  First of all, Jennifer has been building her career portability for 15 years.  She is in the energy industry and has purposely been volunteering within her organization to work on the most highly visible renewable energy projects – even though they were risky. For example, she launched a renewable energy products initiative.

Sure enough, since the renewable energy project is not considered the company’s core business, the business unit is being dissolved because of the economic crisis.  Jennifer was offered another job inside the company – the one she had prior to this exciting role. Yep, it’s definitely a good feeling to have “another job” in your pocket and a choice.

Jennifer slept on it for one night.  When she talked with her husband, he agreed that it didn’t make sense for her to go “backwards” and take a demotion – and most importantly, do work she didn’t enjoy. (By the way, Jennifer’s husband is a stay-at-home Dad).

Jennifer called her boss and informed her that she would not be accepting this position. The boss was surprised. At first, Jennifer panicked a bit and thought “What did I do?”.  But after a couple of days, she has concluded that she did the right thing. She has been building momentum in her career and working towards a place in Clean Energy. If she stepped backwards, what would this do to her momentum?  How would that position her for moving forward?  It’s a moment of truth.

As a matter of fact, the company President called her and told her that he admired her integrity because she did not take the other position, just for the sake of having a job now – only to leave it a few months later when she found something else.  Many colleagues inside the company have praised her courage and her integrity.

Some may say Jennifer is crazy – but she certainly is leaving the company with a strong and positive reputation, and many people in her network who would be happy to help her in any way they can. Sounds smart to me.

Oh yes – by the way.  One BIG reason why Jennifer is in a position to make this choice is that she has diligently saved over the past several years and has built a comfortable financial cushion for herself.  This gives her the freedom of some time. Smart moves, Jennifer.

Networking: A Good Reason to Stop Smoking

Why on earth am I talking about smells? Seems silly, but smells can ruin a networking meeting or interview. It’s true, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

In a previous post, I talked about the dire consequences of wearing strong perfume. Here’s another ‘smelly’ story. Jason (not his real name) came into my office reeking of cigarettes. It turned me off immediately. Intellectually I could rise above the smell, but on an emotional level, whenever I think of Jason, I think of cigarettes.

Now, mind you, I have a certain amount of sympathy for smokers. I smoked in my younger days and liked it. I quit twenty years ago, based solely on the predictable negative health consequences.

Smokers don’t usually realize that they smell – so listen up. If you smoke, you can’t hide it with a mint or gum. Your hair and clothing latch onto that smell with every fiber and it follows you around like a cloud over Pigpen, the Peanuts character.

Don’t let denial get in your way. If you can’t stop smoking, try to avoid it before you arrive for a networking meeting. Be very sure that your clothes are cleaned regularly (take those suits to the cleaners even if they are not soiled – just to get rid of the smell). And whatever you do, DON’T try to hide the smell with powder, perfume or shave lotion.

Try to quit. You’ll be a much healthier person.

Official Job Title vs. Reality

Job titles are funny things. The same role in two different organizations could carry very different titles. Why does it matter?

It may not matter very much in the scheme of things. But when job searching, it might matter a lot.

Take Melissa, for example (not her real name). Melissa was the COO for a multi-national corporation (MNC) for 15 years. She is still working there. MNC had several business units that functioned as separate entities as far as profit and loss.  Melissa was the COO for one of these businesses.

Here’s the catch.  MNC recently centralized all of its businesses. Melissa no longer holds the title COO – now she is Director of Operations. However, Melissa still functions as the COO.

How does Melissa handle this as she pursues another position?

There are several ways to skin this cat.  But one thing is extremely important.  There must be congruence between what Melissa articulates her title to be, and the title that is on her resume. If one hears COO, and then reads Director of Ops on the resume, a big bell will go off.

Take time to think this through and figure out what makes sense.  If a networking contact or potential employer notices a difference between what you say and what is on the resume, it will be a problem for you.

Congruence is important.


Drawing the Line

Reputation is everything. We have an obligation to make responsible choices about who we put in touch with our personal contacts.

Last week I received a request from a distant acquaintance (Frank) to introduce him to one of my contacts, a very high level executive named Sara.

The only context that Frank mentioned is that he wanted to connect with Sara because he wanted to get his company’s products in front of her.

Ouch. This felt uncomfortable.

Sara is someone I know through my personal circle. I don\’t know her extremely well, but we have a couple of friends in common and have had dinner together once or twice. I have a great deal of respect for her and what she has achieved. Sara is a very powerful person in the business community.

Frank is a good person and a highly competent professional. I\’d be happy to help him. But I couldn\’t justify putting him in touch with Sara so he could give a sales pitch.

I called Frank and explained why I couldn\’t pass along his LinkedIn request. He understood.

For the most part, LinkedIn is about being open and helping people stay connected. But we need to be thoughtful about our requests and respecting peoples\’ privacy.

Sometimes we have to draw the line.

Networking Meeting Squashed by Perfume

Networking is a lot about giving back. I keep myself in check, always trying to be open-minded. But perfume stuffs up my head.

I met with a woman,Trina (not her real name) who was networking today. She was entrepreneurial, smart, talented, experienced and knew exactly what she wanted. I admire that.

Unfortunately, I was so distracted by the smell of her perfume that I could not pay close attention to Trina’s quest for a particular company contact. I’m not joking.

I had a headache within 2 minutes of our meeting. I couldn’t concentrate. I just wanted fresh air.

Guess what I will remember any time I hear her name?

Please, do NOT wear any perfume (or powder, or after shave lotion) while networking or interviewing. You may think it smells delightful, while someone else might want to chase you out of the room.

It’s not worth ruining a meeting over a smell.