Is This What’s Stopping You From Chasing Your Dreams?

Maybe you’re thinking: “I have no time … to learn a new skill … to follow my passion … to develop a passion … to build my dream … to dabble in a new sideline business (that I can grow into my retirement empire!”

No time. Too busy. This piece then is for you. Also have just written CVs for several very high earning Executives and am amazed at how much they pack into their days and months. Astonishing. They’re focussed alright. Maybe that’s a key. First knowing what we want. Then going for it.

I’m rambling. Read this rather. Thought provoking piece from Seth Godin.

But it’s better than TV

At the local health food store lunch buffet, they offer stir fried tempeh.
I never get it. Not because I don’t like it, but because there are always so many other things on the buffet that I prefer.

That’s why I don’t watch TV. At all. There are so many other things I’d rather do in that moment.

Broadcast TV was a great choice when a> there weren’t a lot of other options and b> when everyone else was watching the same thing, so you needed to see it to be educated.

Now, though, you could:

  • Run a little store on eBay
  • Write a daily blog
  • Write a novel
  • Start an online community about your favorite passion
  • Go to meetups in your town
  • Volunteer to tutor a kid, in person or online
  • Learn a new language, verbal or programming
  • Write hand written thank you notes each evening to people who helped you out or did a good job
  • Produce small films and publish them online
  • Listen to the one thousand most important operas
  • Read a book or two every evening
  • Play a game of Scrabble with your family

None of them are perfect. Each of them are better than TV.

Clay Shirky has noticed the trend of talented people putting five or six hours an evening to work instead of to waste. Add that up across a million or ten million people and the output is astonishing. He calls it cognitive surplus and it’s one of the underappreciated world-changing stories of our time.

[http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/03/but-its-better-than-tv.html]

Oh and remember – if you’re not sure what you want, if you feel directionless and a bit lost – go to “Life’s Greatest Question” here: it’ll guide through the exact steps you need to get the focus and passion high achievers always seem to have naturally. The link is safe. Go there now.

Encouraging: Honda Video, “Failure: The Secret to Success”

Job hunting can be demoralising. For the first time in your life you can feel like a failure. You wonder if you’ll ever succeed again. The truth is this: you can. And not only you can. You can come back wiser, more successful, with more insight, more empathy, more of a grip on what’s important in life. A better person. More valuable.

By the way – I wouldn’t be being a friend if I weren’t to also just make it clear that sometimes we’re the architect of our own demise/crisis. Through a lack of direction, poor choices, bad habits. I recommend this to help you turn it around – to help you ID what you love and how to chase it.

It’s called “Life’s Greatest Question” – life is too short for a crisis, check it out:

http://movingup1.jmGracia.hop.clickbank.net

Do You Threaten the Interviewer/Future Manager?

Got this question from “L” about interviews …

Hi Gerald

Would you agree that one must never oversell himself at an interview, as
that might be a threat to an interviewer and lower your chances of
getting the job.

Thanks
L

Here’s my reply … read carefully. There’s important stuff in the few lines ahead – for application in every job hunting situation.

Hi “L” – Thanks for your mail. I have some comments on “overselling”:

Dealing with people who may feel threatened by you is difficult. We’re all driven a little by fear that someone else will come in and steel our ‘thunder’. It’s natural to some degree.

So what’s the solution? It’s multifaceted. On the one hand it’s about dealing with people. And on the other it’s about how we go about looking for a job.

  1. When dealing with people it’s critical to respect them, show personal interest in them, make them feel validated, show deference, be humble, etc.

    An “I’m so great, in 2 years I want YOUR job” approach won’t go down well with a fragile interviewer/potential future Line Manager/employer. Some of the greatest people I know are humble and they’re great because they make people feel important and valued.

    It’s a rare character/skill to be like that, to have that mindset. No matter how fragile, abrupt, impolite and aggressive (all signs of fear) an interviewer is – they’re still valuable people, with something to offer. Ask them how long they’ve been in the business. Ask them where they started.

    Try to shine the light on them in whatever way you can. Ask their opinion: “what do you really want from ther person in this position?” “what’s important to you?” “how have people failed in this position before – what can you not live with?” “what advice would you give the person on day 1 in this job?” Then listen.

    It’s not a question of “overselling” yourself or “underselling” yourself to avoid this problem. It’s a question of reassuring the interviewer that they can work with you, you’re going to make their job easier, they’re going get the credit for hiring you. And you need to feel sincere about it.

    Obviously you’re there to get ahead yourself. But there are ways to do that without throwing people under the bus. Being nice doesn’t mean being stupid.

  2. The fact is that not every job/company culture/interviewer/potential Manager will be a good match. Simple. So it’s best not to get too ‘invested’ in any one interview.

    Take them all seriously, sure. Follow up, sure. But one of the biggest keys to job search success is having a long list of interviews lined up (how to do that is a big topic covered in my new book – will let you know about is soon).

    The worst interview strategy is to have just one interview. It’s a recipe for high stress, high tension, bad interviewing and just plain failure. More interviews gives more options.

Hope this helps! All the best, stay in touch.

2 Clues to Motivation

Doing my hill sprints this morning – with a bit of a drizzle and in a gentle cool breeze (life!!!) after a major heat wave – I was thinking of why we do stuff.

I asked Ethan (my 5 year old son): “Hey, why don’t you come with me?” And he said: “I’m too sleepy” while lying in the warm spot in my bed I had vacated at 5:39. Cute. But NOT cute when we’re adults and our response is the same.

Why stay in a lousy job instead of moving? Why don’t we do the very things that can give us our desired result (like a new job), why don’t we like trying new methods? I get this a lot with job hunters – just doing the same old things, over and over and over. They’re not motivated to try new things or to persist.

Why don’t we exercise when so clearly it’s good for us? What motivates us for more than a day or two to make a change? What keeps us going through the hard yards … to the finish … to our ideal?

2 Clues That Occurred to Me

Just plain “maturity” can sometimes get us going: knowing that life involves some tough assignments, so knuckle down and get them done; and “progress” is another: once we start seeing positive results we’re motivated to keep going. But it’s complicated with fear playing a big part too.

A Scary Observation

It’s pretty scary thinking that perhaps we’ll look back on our life and see – too late – that our ‘dream life’ or just a ‘better life’ was just a few steps away all the time. We missed it because we just weren’t motivated enough to take and keep taking steps in the right direction.

Ok, I’m getting way too philosophical! But it’s important. If you’d like to read more on the topic you should check this out. Some real lightbulb moments ahead on the topic of motivation.

A forgotten key to interview success

Had an interesting meeting with a client yesterday. She has a top government post (non-political) and carries massive responsibility working with Gov. ministers.

She mentioned something interesting:

When she recruits people she looks for “likeable” people.

Why is this exciting? And it is. Because it means that the playing fields are much more ‘level’ than we think.

It means that your “likeability” – smiling, looking people in the eyes, being relaxed but well organised, professional but still with a sparkle in your eye – can win the job for you in the face or better qualified competition.

Make It Even More Powerful

And this factor is made even more powerful when you don’t only rely on recruiters for job opportunities (they put a greater emphasis on exactly the right qualifications and experience.)

It means that if you’re meeting people, attending seminars, participating in forums, keeping contact with colleagues in your industry and on LinkedIn.com and you’re being “nice”, “likeable”, “agreeable”, “amiable”, “kind”, “polite” there’s a MUCH better chance of early success in the job market.

Another Interesting Fact

Oh, and by the way this high performing client – has no degree, no diploma – and yet has served 3 Presidents. The playing field indeed is flatter than we think.

By the way … see a copy of a CV I wrote that got the client (who had no qualifications and patchy experience) 3 job interviews immediately, a choice of offers, and the highest seniority position (Group Procurement Manager) he’s ever had. Go to www.wowcv.net/johnjonas.pdf

PS Being likeable isn’t that easy when all you can think about is how tough things are and you’re feeling unhealthy and stressed. Exercise is often a key to turning this around. I recommend this: click here

Why You Should and How to Track (and Shout-Out) Your Value

Yesterday I said you should just do one thing right. The next thing. This is how to cope with a bad situation at work. Just do the next thing right. Do it well. And feel satisfied.

How to Build on This

But now … build on that. How? Track all the good things you do. Record them. Write them down. Keep a journal of things you did well and felt satisfied by.

Whether you’re CEO or a cleaner, this applies. Track how you ‘did good’. This will serve to bolster your own confidence and self-belief (in a job crisis this frequently takes a big knock). And why not make your record public?? Create a showcase for your good work. To demonstrate you’re a valuable resource.

How to do This?

How? Start a blog. It’s free at wordpress.com. Or at iblog.co.za.

If you’re a PA … PA-Joanne.wordpress.com – where you highlight how you make a difference every day for your employer. Come new job time, all you have to do to differentiate yourself from your competition is direct an employer to your blog.

If you’re in Sales you can share your techniques for winning trust, making presentations and some successes – what you did right to secure the deal.

If you’re in customer service – you can keep a record of all your tough customers, how you pacified them and how you turned a negative situation positive. Instead of moaning about it you jot down your thoughts for your blog. Your blog will “shout-out” your expertise.

The benefits? You’ll come across as serious about your career. You’ll come across as professional (yeah, the blog is NOT for holiday pics and trivialities). You’ll come across as a total expert. You can list links to journals/websites and other blogs that position you brilliantly: link to CNN, New York Post or job specific sites like www.theUtterlyProfessionalPA.com.

This is a good idea. Do it.

Why I Ran Away from Home – You May Relate

[Job Search Success | 2010]

Did you drag yourself to work today? You feel kinda trapped? You wish you could just escape? It’s a lousy feeling.

I Ran Away Once

I ran away from home once. It was 7:15am. Summer. And I didn’t want to go to school. I was 5 years old. School was a drag. I hated the routine. I had a feeling of dread in my gut. It’s still vivid in my mind.

And in my career I’ve felt the same way a number of times. But now I’m big, running away isn’t really an option. There are responsibilities.

1 Strategy to Cope

So how does one cope? Well, for one thing, one can make a planned escape. But this is for another post.

Short term – today – the strategy with the best results – you WILL be surprised – is the one where you just do the next thing you have to do, and you do it right.

Forget the pressure. Just do one thing right. Get the satisfaction of doing something right.

Switch off the phone. Shut down your e-mail. Just for an hour. And do something right. Plan something. Complete something. Cross something off your list.

You may well need to change jobs. But for now … your short term goal should be to develop positive momentum.

Changing job or career is tough. Rather do it off a base of strength than off a base  of being disgruntled, weak and slow. And here’s the kicker: you may find that a new mental approach helps you be happier, even
now.

Personal Reason for the Topic

The reason for this topic – my daughter Zoe (7) although top of her class, is waking up every day saying: “I don’t want to go to school.” And I’m reliving my experience.

Interesting Links

1) See a copy of a CV I wrote that got the client (who had no qualifications and patchy experience) 3 job interviews immediately, a choice of offers, and the highest seniority position (Group Procurement Manager) he’s ever had. Go to www.wowcv.net/johnjonas.pdf

Just remember – EVERY CV is different. This one was right for him. Something else may work better for you. That’s why in my CV writing I take a personal approach.

2) There’s nothing quite like feeling fit and strong to pep up one’s performanace at work or chances of coming across ‘switched on’ and bright in an interview. I recommend this, it gets results and doesn’t take more than 15 mins. Click here. [Funny link, I know, but perfectly safe.]

Over the last 4 months I’ve completed my new book – being edited as we speak. It’ll be like nothing else you’ve ever read in terms of practical, step-by-step job search tactics. Will let you know more soon.

One of my Favourite Things – and yes, it has a job hunting angle.

So yesterday I came across this quote:

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.” – Harold Wilson

I, for one, reject change. It’s nice when things are comfy. Predictable. No stress that comes from not knowing – fur sure – “what the heck’s gonna happen now?!”

But as you also know, life has this way of jabbing one in the eye if there’s no forward movement.

So if you’re feeling a bit jaded or stale – perhaps in your job, or your job hunt – then here’s what you need to do. And as it happens it’s one of my favorite things to do.

Yes, so the idea is to get a brand new hard-cover exercise book (R8.99 at PnP) (can you hear it “crack” as you open it?) Then you carry it with you wherever you go. And you collect your thoughts.

  • If you’re job hunting, you collect ideas about what difference you make in your present/past company (with a view to transferring your findings to your CV.)
  • If you’re unhappy in your job you collect ideas on what you would really like to be doing, and some ideas of how you can get closer to doing that. Maybe take a course. Read a book.
  • If you’ve just come out of a job interview – you can jot down what you felt went well, and some ideas on what questions you battled with, and how you can improve.
  • While you’re traveling around, or surfing the ‘net, you can jot down the names of companies that look exciting to work for, and your ideas on how your skills could be valuable to them.

Here’s what I find with this exercise:

I always get excited by what I think of. I go to a coffee shop. I sit down. Sit back. Think of a topic. And within 20 minutes I always have a sense of possibility and a few practical ideas of how to move an idea forward. I love it.

And ideas occur to me all the time when I have my book close. It’s like a direct (wireless!) connection to my brain. And it pokes* my creative brain to come up with fresh ideas.

[* poke vb an action of tapping and/or softly jabbing another person using a finger, stick, or similar object to gain their attention, relieve boredom or just to be annoying.]

So although change is tough, and if we don’t do it we’re the “architects” of our own “decay”, it can be exciting. And this little exercise can help – inspiring us to do new things and come up with new ideas.

Pictures of my current black book below here (I have a pile of old ones on the shelf).

One of the many idea collectors.
One of the many idea collectors.
Mind map mayhem!
Mind map mayhem!
Zoe's been busy in my book!
Zoe's been busy here too!

A Telesales Story (I’m Not Proud of) With a Critical Job Search Lesson

Do you get telesales calls? I got one the other day, and they chose the wrong day.

Here’s what happened. I’m not proud.

[phone rings]

Me: Hello

Telesales Guy: I’m looking for Mr G le Roux

[Ok, like 3 seconds into the call and he’s already in trouble.]

Me: Yes (but in a tone that’s already showing impatience)

Telesales Guy: Good day Mr le Roux, how are you?

[That’s me, over the edge. Why, why, why do the sales people at CellC, Mastercard, etc who do this professionally, think that asking anyone how they are is going to go down well? Or is it just grumpy me?? ‘Cause when he’s calling me “Mister” (no-one does that usually) and when it’s followed up by “how are you?” it’s like a huge button gets switched off in me. I get irritable. Impatient. Impolite. Un-christian (I will try to improve.)]

Me: Look let’s just get to the point here, what do you want from me? Why do you ask how are you? Can’t you just get to the point? What are you selling?

Telesales Guy: Um, just a few minutes to introduce to you CellC’s offer – that you’ve been specially selected for – which features a free phone, 100 sms’s …

Me (interrupting): No thanks. I already have several contracts. Thanks anyway. (A bit of the christian in me is starting to feel bad at being rude, “he’s just doing his job” etc.)

Lesson 1

One has to do with the scripts Telesales people use. Do they really work? To me they just invite rejection. And I feel for the people who have to use them. I think it probably invites burn-out and high staff turnover.

Lesson 2

But the second is more important (to job hunters). It’s about how you present yourself in your CV and in interviews. Here’s the thing. What irritated me about the telesales call? It wasn’t the call. I can take a call. I can say no or yes. No problem so far.

Here’s what it was: they guy didn’t get to the point. He wanted to have an irrelevant, meaningless conversation first. My wife complains I don’t talk to her enough. And now I must talk to this guy?

I’m actually a willing consumer. A buyer. But I’m only interested in stuff that’s relevant to my life. Just like employers are only interested in things that are going to help them in some way.

And that’s the key. Relevance. So, in your job hunt are you:

Getting to the point – can you quickly and clearly convey what you want to say?

and …

Are you making a relevant offer – are you making the employer an offer – “I’ll give you this certain benefit/advantage/solution if you give me Rx per month.”

Here’s how the Telesales guy could have done better, I think, at least with me.

  1. Assumed it was Mr le Roux instead of having to first confirm (wasted time and flagged the call as a telesales call in my mind).
  2. Not asked “how are you?”
  3. He should immediately have made his offer:
  4. “Mr le Roux, I want to give you or someone in your family a free cell phone, 100 sms free, 100 free talk minutes on the cheapest contract possible. Should I keep talking?”

Much better. Dont’cha think?

It’s worth brainstorming a little around this point as it relates to your job hunt.

Are you getting to the point in your CV – or do you start out with all sorts of irrelevant details? Do you anywhere at all actually come out and say what you’re offering – in interviews, and in your CV and covering letter?

Need some help with this? Check this 5 point test/guideline out on this page: http://www.wowcv.net/cv-success-tests/cv-test-5-steps/ – it’s focussed on a CV but it applies to your entire ‘personal marketing’ or job hunting campaign too.

Hope this helps a little.

Leave your comments – see the “Leaver your comments” link at the top of this post just under the title.

Including Testimonial Extracts in Your CV – Why, How?

Your CV exists to influence. You may not like the concept of ‘selling’ yourself.

But actually if you do a good job of selling yourself, you’re helping everybody. You’re giving them what they need. Then the decision is theirs to buy or not. To hire or not. To call in you in for an interview or not.

Bury all your talent and expertise in 13 pages of detail – and all you’re doing is making things hard for the reader. And for yourself – you’re not doing yourself justice.

So here’s another tactic to ramp up the power of influence in your CV by maybe 10x. It’s a well known and well used tactic by the best advertisers. It’s the power of a testimonial. It’s someone who worked with you, or a Manager, or a Client, saying:

“Hey, Bob here was great, he really came through for us” or,

“John was outstanding in bringing in new business – in his first year with us he was 2nd on the list of Achievers of the Year” or,

“Angie really was a reliable, dedicated PA. With her in charge of the office I had nothing to worry about”, or

“Michael kept our accounts in outstanding shape. He frequently was commended by our Auditors for his attention to details and timeous submissions.”

Why would one want to hide that stuff away? It has strong power to ‘influence’ – to twist the arm of the employer, or to make you stand out in a sea of other applicants.

But how to include it? There are any number of ways.

  • You can inset a little text box in the CV with little quotes like the above.
  • You can add them in at the end of the CV.
  • You can include them as an ‘end off’ to each position listed on the CV.

When I write CVs – which I do a lot (see details of my service here) – I try to include these sort of extracts all the time. But I choose them carefully – with a strategic eye. They have to help you create the right impression.

WARNING! Sometimes a poorly chosen quote, although positive, may not be heavy-weight enough to position you correctly. Like using a quote that says you’re “reliable and steady” may not do the job for you when pitching for a high energy sales job.

If you’d like help with your CV, call me, mail me or go here for more info.