Your Life in a Circle

Most people would agree that a career transition is a daunting endeavor.

Yet one of the most challenging aspects of a career transition or a job search is something that most people don’t consider and plan for before I meet with them.

What am I referring to?

Carving out enough time in your life to devote to the process.

I have many clients who come to see me with a great deal of excitement about making a significant career change. They usually have been thinking about it for a while, and have finally made a commitment to themselves to make it happen.

A very important step.

Yet most clients have not yet given any thought to another very important element of the process. Finding and carving out enough time every week to actually devote to the process. (note: this is really crucial no matter what type of change in your life you are considering)

ImageUnfortunately, wanting a career transition doesn’t respond to magic wands. One needs to take many actions: Getting prepared with your career story, identifying potential paths, researching, talking and networking with people numerous times, re-assessing your potential paths, building new alliances, applying to various roles and practicing how you present yourself, etc. etc.

We can come to a decision about changing something about our lives and feel good about it – but nothing will actually change unless we take action. And those actions can’t exist in a vacuum.

Simply charting out your week in a pie-chart format can be very helpful.    Your Life in a Circle

Draw in all the pieces of pie that comprise your life every week.  Do you spend 60% of your time at your current job? 5% at church? 25% with family and friends? 10% at church or community activities?

That’s great – but where are you going to fit in the time to make a career transition (your pie already adds up to 100%+)?

You can’t expect that you will expand the universe and make each day have more than 24 hours. You can try but you will wind up just spinning your wheels and nothing will change. Which is even more frustrating.

That means something has got to go. You will need to make some decisions about what aspects of your daily life you are willing to forego in order to accomplish your goal.

What will you do differently?

  • Awaken an hour earlier each day to get in some morning time for networking
  • Use social media sites to strengthen your network
  • Use your lunchtimes to meet with networking contacts
  • Get to work 60 minutes earlier and use the extra time to research companies and associations online, etc.
  • Stay up an hour later each night to strategize and reach out to your online networks
  • Schedule Saturday mornings for career development activities

What is it?

What are you willing to change in your current daily activities to make room for the actions you must take to make a career transition?     Image

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Holy Fools’ Day: A Spark of Madness

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” ~Robin Williams  

Lately I’ve been wondering if I still, to a certain degree, live some of my life to satisfy others’ expectations. Of course I like to think that I stopped doing that years ago, but I suspect I still do it often without awareness.

Gail Larsen

The following is an excerpt from Gail Larsen, author  of   “Transformational Speaking”, a book that inspires even if you aren’t a public speaker.

This excerpt, about our tendencies to “tame our madness” and suppress our voices, resonated with me, particularly since I recently visited my 94 year old father, whom I hadn’t seen in approximately 40 years. I still found myself concerned about his expectations of who I was and who I became, and I wonder if he had similar thoughts.

Gail’s e-letter says:

Most of us tame our madness to fit into what other’s expect and never use our inherent spark to become the wildly unforgettable speakers and change artists that are needed in these times of shocking transformation.

How would your life be different if you didn’t care what others think?  I sometimes ask that question in my classes and when an astute participant responded, “What if I didn’t care what I think?”  I realized she was on to something.

So armed with both those questions, and assuming you could give up editing and rehearsing yourself around what others may think, or what you yourself may think just for a moment, how then might you express your spark of madness?  Would you be the first to speak rather than first feeling out whether your listeners would agree?

Would you launch a new movement using social media and organize your own demonstration against injustice or corporate domination or nuclear power?  Whatever you do, don’t get attached to the outcome. Just go for it.

I suggest you no longer try to lose or suppress your spark of madness and instead give it a voice on April 1 [popularly known as April Fool’s Day].  

This festive and often annoying holiday suggests we play tricks on others with a jovial spirit and once we’ve duped them to yell with delight, “April Fools!”

Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell talked about the archetype of another kind of fool: the Holy Fool.

The Fool is the most dangerous person on earth, Campbell explained, the most threatening to all hierarchical institutions. He has no concern for naysayers, and no one has power over him (or her). She is not limited, not stoppable, nor controllable. She knows what she has to do and is doing it, no matter what.

I think of the Holy Fool as similar to the Court Jester, the only person in the Royal Court who dares to speak truth to the King without consequence.

Or the Koshari of the Hopi and Pueblo peoples of the Southwest, who in the midst of sacred ceremonies makes us laugh at ourselves by mimicking our behavior so we can see ourselves in a new way.  Their role is to create lessons at the expense of another’s seriousness, recognizing that laughter is a great shape shifter of old habits and patterns.

So here’s a suggestion. How about on April 1 we engage in a dialogue with our inner Holy Fool and Spark of Madness and ask what he/she most wants to express, convention be damned.

Ask where you are being duped day in and day out and not shining the light of your truth.

Let’s stop concealing our greatest passions and be willing to say what we love and what we know without editing and rehearsing ourselves into oblivion.  Let’s declare April 1 Holy Fools’ Day and engage the madly passionate part of us that has something important to say – and just say it.

Rumi said (paraphrased):     

I used to be like you.

Calm, rational, controlled.

Now I am seized by passion.

Watch out

No one’s safe!

Our world is changing, one voice at a time, and yours is needed. I’d love to hear what happens when you connect with your Holy Fool and say what is yours to say. Speaking your truth, especially when convention is expected, opens the door to your liberation.  You might just find you want to be a Holy Fool and reveal your spark of madness every day.

© Gail Larsen 2011

Reprinted from “Real Speaking Power Points” a free e-letter by Gail Larsen, author of Transformational Speaking.  To subscribe and receive occasional insights and ideas to enhance your public speaking and communications, go to http://www.realspeaking.net

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Can you see how this is connected to your career choices and your leadership approach?

Happy Holy Fools’ Day to you all.

For more information about Terry Del Percio’s Career Transition Services, please visit http://www.workstrategies.com or call to schedule a free phone consultation at 978.282.8900

Fear: Our Biggest Obstacle

What would you do with your life if fear didn’t play a role?

“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear.   She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly.    But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle.   

The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons.

The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?”

Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.”

Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?”

Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”

In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. ”

— Pema Chödrön (When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times)

Entering into a Career Transition?  We can help you jump the chasm and beat the fear.  WorkStrategies.com Terry Del Percio | 978.282.8900         

Steve Jobs: Career Advice for Tough Times (Guest Blog)

This is a guest post by Carmine Gallo, Author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success. It offers interesting insights into Steve Jobs’ history of success and new ideas about how you can approach your own career.

The global recession has forced many people to reconsider their careers and life choices. In these turbulent times, where does one turn for career advice? As I was researching the material for my new book, The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs (McGraw Hill) I realized that many of the principles behind Jobs’ breakthrough success at Apple apply equally to the management of one’s career.

Jobs has had his share of setbacks and skeptics. He started what would become a multi-billion dollar brand by sharing his parents’ kitchen table, he was fired from the company he started, and he rebounded from two near-death experiences to become one of the most iconic business leaders in corporate history. He’s learned a lot along the way and he has a lot to teach the rest of us. Here are just a few ways Jobs can teach you to ‘think differently’ about professional and career success.

Put a dent in the universe. Steve Jobs has never underestimated the power of vision to move a brand forward. Vision inspires new ideas and attracts evangelists to your cause. In 1976, Steve Wozniak was captivated by Jobs’ vision to “put a computer in the hands of everyday people.” Wozniak was the engineering genius behind the Apple I and the Apple II, but it was Jobs’ vision that inspired Wozniak to focus his skills on building a computer for the masses.

Jobs’ vision was intoxicating because it had four components that all inspiring visions share: It was 1) bold, 2) specific, 3) concise and 4) consistently communicated.

In 1979, Jobs took a tour of the Xerox research facility in Palo Alto, California. There he saw a new technology that let users interact with the computer via graphical icons on the screen instead of entering complex line commands. It was called a “graphical user interface.”

In that moment, Jobs knew that this technology would allow him to fulfill his vision of putting a computer in the hands of everyday people. He went back to Apple and refocused his team’s effort on building the computer that would eventually become the Macintosh and forever change the way we talked to computers. Jobs later said that Xerox could have “dominated” the computer industry but instead its ‘vision’ was limited to building another copier.

Innovation — the kind with a big “I” that moves society forward — doesn’t happen without a bold vision.

Just as Jobs had a vision for his brand, you must have a vision for the most important brand of all — yourself. What vision do you have for your company or your career? Yes, you need to follow your gut and do something you are passionate about — doing what you love is Steve Jobs’ first principle for breakthrough success — but while passion gives you energy to overcome skeptics and obstacles, vision points you in the ultimate direction.

Kick-start your brain. There’s no dispute that Steve Jobs thinks differently than the rest of us. His creative ideas have transformed not one industry, but four — computing, music, entertainment, and telecommunications. 

Innovation — in products or careers — requires creativity and creativity requires that you think differently about…the way you think. Scientists who study the way the brain works have discovered that innovators like Steve Jobs do think differently but they use a technique available to all of us — they seek out “diverse experiences.”

This reminds me of the story behind Apple’s name. The idea fell from a tree, literally. Steve Jobs had returned from visiting a commune-like place in Oregon located in an apple orchard. Apple co-founder and Jobs’ pal, Steve Wozniak, picked him up from the airport. On the drive home, Jobs simply said, “I came up with a name for our company — Apple.” Wozniak said they could have tried to come up with more technical sounding names but their vision was to make computers approachable. Apple fit nicely. 

Steve Jobs creates new ideas precisely because he has spent a lifetime exploring new and unrelated things — seeking out diverse experiences. Jobs hired people from outside the computing profession, he studied the art of calligraphy in college (a study that found its way into the first Macintosh), meditated in an Indian ashram, and evaluated The Four Seasons hotel chain as he developed the customer service model for the Apple Stores.

Look outside your industry for inspiration. Bombard the brain with new experiences. Remove the shackles of past experiences.

Say no to 1,000 things. Steve Jobs once said the secret to innovation comes from “saying no to 1,000 things.” Steve Jobs is as proud of what Apple chooses not to do as he is about what Apple chooses to focus on. The lesson — don’t spread yourself too thin. 

Find the career that intersects your passion, skill and the ability to make money doing it. Once you find it, focus on it, work at it, and dedicate yourself to excellence in that area. Say “no” to anything else that will distract you from pursuing that career.

If you are looking for a work or frustrated with your current job, there will be plenty of friends, families and colleagues who offer unsolicited advice on what’s best for you. Filter out the ideas that might derail you from the career best matching your strengths and passion.

Master presentation skills. Steve Jobs is considered one of the greatest corporate storytellers in the world. His presentations inform, educate and entertain. By giving extraordinary presentations, Steve Jobs stands out as a leader and communicator.

You are being judged to a large degree on your ability to communicate what you do. The big difference between extraordinary communicators like Steve Jobs and the average leader is that people like Jobs use presentations to complement the message. The speaker is the storyteller; PowerPoint slides serve as a backdrop to the story. That means you must learn to avoid bullet points and to think visually about bringing a story to life. Read The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs (McGraw Hill, October 2009), for tips and techniques.

Don’t let bozos get you down. Steve Jobs knew he had the skills to build a computer that would be simple enough for the average person to enjoy. Few others shared his vision.

Ken Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment, once told Jobs “There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.” Thank goodness Jobs didn’t listen.

When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 after a 12-year absence from the company he started, Apple was close to bankruptcy but Jobs rallied his employees, customers, and investors with the vision of what Apple could become. Millions of Apple fans have Jobs to thank for not listening to critics who believed Apple was destined to fail. If he had, consumers would not be enjoying Macs, iPods, iPads, and iPhones which popularized touch-screen technology.

Many people around you think they know what’s best for you. Only you can be true to your own heart and intuition.

Innovation sits in a lonely place because very, very few people have their courage of their convictions and the self-confidence to tune out negative voices. Perhaps the greatest lesson Steve Jobs teaches us is that risk-taking requires courage. Believe in yourself and your vision and be prepared to constantly defend those beliefs. Only then will you be able to lead an “insanely great” life and career.

© 2010 Carmine Gallo, author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success

Author Bio
Carmine Gallo, author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success, is a presentation, media-training, and communication-skills coach for the world’s most admired brands. He is an author and columnist for Businessweek.com and and a keynote speaker and seminar leader who has appeared on CNBC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC.com, BNET, RedBook, Forbes.com, and in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily, as well as many other media outlets. Gallo lives in the San Francisco Bay area and is a former vice president for a global, top-ten public relations firm.

For more information please visit www.carminegallo.com

Posted by Terry Del Percio, Career Transition Consultant: www.workstrategies.com

Follow me on Twitter: @WorkIntegrity

MYOB: Mind Your Own Boundaries

I grew up learning this lesson:

If someone is in need, don’t ask if you can help – just do it.

Try this approach in your job search or your career transition. Give back more than you get.

Not that you will keep score, but it’s an attitude that might just make you a happier person. Giving back tends to bring its rewards quietly and when you least expect it. Months later doors might be opened that you never knew existed.

People tend to mirror the way they are treated. If you show an interest in sharing information and helping others to achieve their goals, it is likely that those people will want to support your goals in return.

Do we know this already? Of course we do.

But for some crazy reason, we all need reminders about simple things.

The key to all of this is to be an active participant. Look for opportunities to help others and connect people with each other. Look for the chance to cooperate with colleagues or coworkers. Look for the chance to help colleagues that are seeking employment or mentor a young person. Seek out these opportunities.

The truth of the matter is that if you support others, you will seldom experience a shortage of having that favor returned.

One caution: Understand and honor your own boundaries.

What the heck are boundaries anyway? It’s a tricky concept to define. The online dictionary definition from About.com is

The emotional and physical space that we place between others and ourselves. Setting proper boundaries is important to our mental health. When appropriate boundaries are not set, we run the risk of becoming either too detached from or too dependent upon others.

We must always consider both our own boundaries and the boundaries of others in order to establish positive relationships. This is not an easy task, since each person’s definition of an appropriate boundary may differ.

When researching information for this post, I came across a wild story about boundaries. You may already be familiar with it. It was a surprise to me.

Have you heard of Penelope Trunk?

She runs a social networking site for managing careers called The Brazen Careerist, and writes a terrific blog with half a million visitors a month. Yes – half a million…(I highly recommend her blog)

In late 2009, Penelope updated her Twitter feed about having a miscarriage during a business meeting. It read like this:

I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a fucked-up three-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.

As you can imagine, this tweet caused an uproar. You may have read the article in the the Guardian. It is a fascinating read if you have a few minutes.

In the article, Penelope states that she was shocked that her statement created such an uproar.

Really? Shocked? I was surprised to hear that. Penelope is in no uncertain terms a very sophisticated and intelligent business woman. Why would she be shocked?

It seems to me this is an issue about boundaries. There is no true right or wrong, and I am not making any judgments. But we all need to be accountable for our public statements and consider how others will react to them. Penelope didn’t seem concerned. Would you be?

Some boundary basics:

  1. It is crucial to always respect boundaries – both your own and others’. Honoring boundaries is a major component of trust. And without that, you have nothing.
  2. If you feel fatigued when you are interacting with someone, it’s time to reassess whether boundaries need to be clarified. (It’s very easy to convince yourself to ignore this – don’t do it)
  3. If someone becomes so dependent upon you that it begins to feel uncomfortable, it means that they are overstepping your boundaries. Likewise, be careful not to overstep the boundaries of others. Pay attention to cues that your behavior or your language may be making another uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter why.

An example: A colleague, Jason (not his real name) asked me to introduce him to one of my LinkedIn contacts (Joe).  Jason was trying to expand and build his consulting practice. I offered to connect him with two other business contacts, but I told him it wasn’t a good time for me to approach Joe because he had just done me another favor and I knew this was a chaotic time in his company.

Unfortunately, Jason wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. He wrote me at least 3 emails within 1 week, rationalizing why I should introduce him to Joe ASAP.  Jason showed complete disregard for my reasoning.

Needless to say, I was taken aback by Jason’s lack of respect for my clearly stated boundaries. Jason overstepped them. Another surprise was when Jason contacted me again a few months later and repeated the same request.

Can you guess how likely I am to help out Jason next time around?

Has someone you tried to help overstepped his/her boundaries? Have you overstepped yours?

Reluctant Harry: Networking Redefined – Part Three.

True story. (adapted for confidentiality)

One of my clients, Harry, is aspiring to be an academic editor for the latter part of his   successful career. He wants to start by getting his feet wet through freelance writing while he still holds his position as IT Director, and noticed a job posting for a temporary project editor at a book company specializing in textbooks.

Now, just for your information, Harry tends to undervalue his writing talent and underestimate the power of networking.

Harry is in sort of a rut. He has done a darn good job of convincing himself that editing cannot be a part of his future. At least not getting paid for it.

‘It’s too late’ is Harry’s favorite phrase.

Upon seeing the job posting, Harry’s inner critic immediately started mumbling

You’ll never get this job – they probably want editors who are experienced or at least have academic backgrounds.

So Harry didn’t take any action.

After talking about how unproductive it was to dismiss a potential opportunity just because of the negative chatter in his brain, I convinced Harry to apply.  He did.

Did he hear anything back in the ten days? No. The black hole of Internet applications is alive and well.

I suggested he look on LinkedIn to see if he found anyone who previously worked at the company or who works there now.  He reluctantly agreed to look, saying ‘I doubt if I’m connected to anyone in that world – it’s probably a waste of time’.

Lo and behold, there were dozens of people listed and even a few that were only 2 degrees of separation in his network.  I thought I might have seen a glimmer of hope in Harry’s eyes (not sure).

Harry immediately wanted to send a message to one of the HR people at the company, asking for the job. I suggested that he try taking a more subtle approach.

There was a person (Mike) listed that currently works in the department that he had applied to.  All Harry needed to do was ask one person (Sally) in his network if she would be willing to connect him to Mike.

Harry didn’t think that this would work, but agreed to give it a try. He clicked on the  “Request an Introduction” link and wrote his notes to both Mike and Sally. His note was friendly and professional, yet had the tone of a cover letter asking for the job.

“How about just asking to have a conversation so you could learn more about the company”? Good idea.

Harry heard back from Mike within 48 hours, and they scheduled a time to talk by phone. Mike thought Harry was very articulate and they discovered they both had a love for sailing. Harry learned a bit about the company as well as the name of the hiring director. (Mike was very generous in sharing this).

Harry contacted the hiring director, met with her the following week, and is now working on his very first part-time editing project. And yes, he is getting paid for it.

Harry is reluctant no more.

Go Harry.

Networking Redefined: Part Two

Over sixty years ago Dale Carnegie espoused fundamental principles of how to connect with other people in positive ways. Do you believe it’s true that every person has a deep desire to be appreciated and recognized for who they are and what they do well?

If you do, then the most important thing to remember when meeting someone is to take an interest in who they are and what they are trying to achieve. Dale Carnegie taught this in his book and training programs “How To Win Friends and Influence People“.

When we are in a career transition or trying to climb the ladder,we tend to get tangled up in our ego. We    become narcissistic. Everything is about us.  If we can train ourselves to get out of this mode and open our  hearts to others, we will make new connections more easily. Helping someone accomplish his/her goals or  fulfill his/her needs helps build loyalty. What could be more important to any relationship than loyalty?

I find that many clients, when in the grip of desperation (we all know that feeling), take a very short view on relationships. Again falling into the trap of narcissism, they focus on what the person in front of them can do for them right now. Mistake.

Relationships take time. It’s okay to start slowly. It’s a positive move to begin the relationship helping her/him instead of yourself. In fact, you may feel better about you in the meantime. Be interested, ask questions and listen, listen, listen. Really try to help. Follow up. Better yet, take action immediately to put that person in touch with another person or get helpful information. Send them an article or a book or a suggestion.

Let’s not forget Dale Carnegie’s key message. Everyone wants to feel important. Next time you meet a new person or reconnect with someone from the past, focus on making him/her feel important. The caveat in this is that it MUST be sincere. The worst thing you can do is patronize.

Give it time, and if  you approach all of  your relationships this way, I guarantee you will see a change in your career for the better.

If you click this link, you will go to the Dale Carnegie Training site where they are offering a free PDF download of Dale Carnegie’s Secrets to Success.  It’s great. There is nothing earth shattering in it; it’s simple, clear and easy to read. (I would venture to guess that we all need more simplicity in our lives) I’m sure that you will feel that it also rings true.

Dale Carnegie was ahead of his time. Let’s invite his spirit back into our lives – he has a lot of wisdom to share.

For some reason, we all need to hear this stuff over and over to get it through our heads and more importantly, to put it into practice.

Good night, and keep the faith.