This morning

I woke up this morning feeling different. I’ve been living in a state of fear and this morning I woke up feeling different. It was a feeling of “girl get it together”. It was sort of an odd feeling but I thank God for it.

Fear is such a crippling emotion. Once you fall into it you can’t even move or think right. You’re like frozen. There is a scripture in the Bible that says God didn’t give us a spirit of fear. I totally get it now. Without a sound mind you’re lost. I dont care how many degrees you have. How huge your vocabulary is. It doesn’t matter. You are not able to advance any agenda if you’re working in fear.

So I decree on this day that I will not walk in fear anymore. When and if it tries to return I’ll use the tools I’ve learned in therapy to overcome it. I’ll pray. I’ll meditate. I’ll journal. I’ll go for a walk or something but I will NOT stay in the state fear. I will NOT.

You know in life you’ll experience various things and guess what? That’s okay. But during or in the experience please make sure that you’re growing. Don’t become stagnant. Don’t let it make you bitter or angry. Fight through it. Life is not as short as people say it is. But life is very valuable. And if you’re able to experience it, do just that. Experience IT. Be open to the challenges. But don’t let it become a wave that takes you under. There are tools that can help you overcome what ever challenges comes upon you.

I encourage you to visit my blog and read these post. Come back whenever you feel the need to. I’m here to help and not judge. The word of God teaches me that we overcome by the words of our testimonies and by the blood of the lamb. So I don’t mind sharing with the world my testimonies if my savior will get the victory and if I can help someone. Don’t be out here thinking you’re alone. That’s a trick of the enemy to getting you feeling you alone. But let me tell you you’re not alone. Just this past Saturday I got so low I wanted to just sleep away, literally. That’s a dangerous place. I’m always in a state of encouraging myself and I’d love to encourage you.

Be blessed my beautiful readers. This too shall pass. And guess what? If you keep pressing your way hopefully you’ll see a new day tomorrow and you’ll be blessed with some new mercy and grace and that right there will be the strength you need to move on. Don’t give up and don’t look be. Be encouraged!

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10 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Mentor

How can a mentor improve your business and career advancement? Many ways: A mentor can guide you, take you under his wing and teach you new skills. Research has shown that mentoring relationships succeed and are satisfying for both parties when both the mentor and the person being mentored take an active role in developing the relationship.

Here are 10 tips you can implement to ensure you get what you need out of the relationship.

  1. Be clear on why you want a mentor and why you are meeting.
    Define what type of help you’re looking for in a mentor. Are you looking for someone with similar skills or someone with a very different skill set who can coach you? Are you looking for someone who has gone up the corporate ladder and can advise you on the ins and outs of corporate politics?
  2. Establish goals for the relationship.
    Discuss and agree upon the goals of the relationship and what you, personally, are doing to make it a successful venture. Review these goals from time to time to be sure the relationship is working; if not, adjust and refocus.
  3. Network, network and network to find a suitable mentor.
    Once you decide on the type of mentor you need, participate in functions and professional associations where you might find this type of person. For example, scour your chamber of commerce events, alumni and professional associations or even your owncompany. If you do choose someone from your own firm, it’s best to select someone other than your direct supervisor.
  4. Don’t limit yourself to one mentor.
    You can establish multiple mentoring relationships with individuals who can help you grow in different aspects of your life. Think of it as building your own personal board of directors. Also, don’t underestimate the value of a ‘peer mentor’ or someone at your level who has complimentary skills and experiences — even if you think you’re on the same level, you can learn a lot from their previous experiences.
  5. Establish communication methods and frequency of contact from the beginning.
    Talk with your mentor to determine the lines of communication that will work for both of you. Will you meet face to face or communicate mainly through e-mail and the telephone? Make sure you meet/talk enough to suit both of you.
  6. Manage expectations and build trust.
    Mentoring takes time and implies sacrifices for both the person being mentored and the mentor. Be respectful of your mentor’s time and the other priorities in her life, such as family, travel and community activities. Avoid any trust-breaking behaviors such as canceling appointments or not following through on leads and contacts given to you by your mentor.
  7. Acquire mentoring skills and competencies.
    Pay attention to great skills that you notice in your mentors; these skills include listening, guidance, recommendations and wisdom. When you receive corrective feedback from your mentor, don’t be defensive. Listen, digest and take immediate steps to apply what you have learned.
  8. Be respectful of your mentor’s time.
    Do not overburden him by demanding too much time or too many contacts. Understand that the moment you decide you need information might not be the best time for him, so be patient.
  9. Express your gratitude.
    Your mentor is likely to give a lot more than you do in the relationship in terms of time and contacts. Be sure to express regularly that you value and appreciate your mentor’s guidance.
  10. Vary the activities you do together.
    There are numerous activities you can do with your mentor, such as talking about your past experiences, goals, plans, and skill development and attending meetings, conferences, and other events. You can also shadow your mentor at work or exchange and discuss written materials like your resume or an article one of you has written.

Networking Is Your Status Update Still ‘Looking for Work?’

Networking

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of status updates on business and social networking sites that say things like, “Project Manager professional looking for work” or “Looking for work in a tough economy” or “Just received my degree in accounting — looking for work.” While I understand that these job seekers are trying to advertise their candidacy online, I don’t recommend broadcasting this specific message in your status updates. Here’s why:

  1. Blasting this message to your entire network makes you look desperate. You might as well rent a billboard to promote your job search … Yes, I know there are stories about people landing a job this way, but these tactics get old fast. (And by the way, the guy who landed a job by wearing a sandwich board saying he was looking for work is “so 2008.”)
  2. Posting this message makes people in your network uncomfortable. Imagine agreeing to meet someone for coffee and before the coffee is even cool enough to drink you say, “I’m looking for work.” It’s awkward. It places an unrealistic expectation on your contacts to come up with a solution for you. The same thing happens online when you announce that you are looking for work.
  3. Sending this message leaves you little wiggle room for a follow-up message. Think about it. If you are still in a job search next week, what will your status update be? “Still looking for work” isn’t going to cut it.

Status updates on business and social-networking platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are a way for you to build rapport with a community and deepen the relationship with your contacts. Choose messages that showcase your expertise, share valuable information, give kudos to others or broadcast an exciting endeavor you are working on (even if it is volunteer work). Here are some examples of alternative status updates you might want to adapt for your situation:

For a fundraising executive:

  • “Volunteering at the American Cancer Society walkathon on Sunday; hope to raise more than $2M.”

 

For an HR professional: 

  • “Attending a seminar on compensation plans for 2009 and beyond at (share the link)”

For an advertising professional: 

  • “My colleague, John Smith, just landed a major account with a leading luxury goods company. Way to go, John!”

For a CIO: 

  • ”Reading an interesting article on new technologies in health care at (share the link)”

For a financial analyst: 

  • “Boning up on study materials for the CFA Level II exam … looks like it’s going to be a long night!” 

Create status updates that invite questions and further conversation, not ones that make your network run for cover. Remember, online networking, like face-to-face networking, is a process. Whenever possible, give before you get and you will be surprised how quickly you get something back in return.

Tips for Executives Re-entering the Job Market

 

Tips for Executives Re-entering the Job Market

The challenges of returning to the workforce after an absence.

Job SearchSenior-level executives who left the workforce and wish to return face a challenging environment. Whether you’ve seen your savings or retirement decrease and are coming back to the job market for needed income or you’ve decided you’d like to be more involved in your industry’s work, prepare for a learning curve.

Today’s environment is not always welcoming for even the most successful, passionate, capable and proven individuals. There’s a frustrating disconnect between candidates’ expectations and actual employment opportunities.

To be competitive, returnees have some unique challenges – the least of which is the gap in their employment history.

Challenge 1: Automated Screening
The first challenge is often getting past computerized or human gatekeepers. One of the reasons why re-entry candidates face a daunting job search is that companies and search firms use automated candidate screening and recruitment processes to triage applications and resume submissions. These computerized systems don’t accommodate for and can’t appreciate exceptions. For this reason, re-entry prospects may be eliminated before any human actually evaluates their application. Given the obvious employment gap, re-entry candidates may be excluded automatically at this stage.

Your strategy? Bypass automation.

An effective technique for boosting a candidate’s potential is having an inside contact at the company personally usher a candidate through the corporate maze. The prospective employee needs to convey his or her unique value contribution to this intermediary and encourage this contact to champion the candidate up the ladder to a hiring decision maker, not just HR. A personal recommendation goes a long way to grab attention. Then it is incumbent on the candidate to follow up personally and interact directly to nurture a relationship with the hiring authority to develop trust and prove ability.

Your tactics?

  • Show, don’t tell. Persuade decision makers by unmistakably proving that you meet their criteria. Voluntarily prepare presentations, write white papers and garner support from references. Increase visibility and credibility: publish work, comment on blogs, post on listservs and forums, and attend and present at conferences.
  • Specialize a niche expertise to attract more attention. Trying to be something to everyone often results in being nothing to anyone. Illustrate capabilities with concrete solution examples. Support extraordinary skills and talent with compelling achievements that overcame sizable challenges.
  • Put skin in the game. Show confidence in your anticipated ability to deliver with a heavy portion of performance-dependent compensation.
  • Communicate your value with consistent messaging. Your resumes, bios, online profiles and quotes must all tell employers about your potential contribution, reinforce your trustworthiness and highlight your strengths. Demonstrate that you are the first-choice, go-to expert.
  • Think positively. A job search is a marathon, not a sprint. Candidates should be screening prospective challenges as carefully as employers investigate new team members.

Challenge 2: Dry Networks
Returnees may find their networks, once the source of lucrative offers and discreet networking inquiries, are not delivering good leads like they used to.

How will you get from where you are now to where you want to be next? The preferred job search method is the same as ever: connections. Networking is the means to a swift, successful landing. However, your once-reliable contacts have lost their value or left the field. Freshly minted re-entry candidates rarely fit the perfect candidate descriptions listed in advertised job postings. Rarely are these under-the-radar candidates sought out by search consultants or recruiters to fill openings for exacting corporate clients.

Your strategy? Connect with decision makers.
Jumpstarting your search campaign requires designing and purposefully creating a new network of relationships. In today’s competitive and risk-adverse job market, networking purposefully is the way to find a new position that matches your requirements for personal, professional and financial rewards. The critical element for success is getting attention now and then being remembered later by hiring managers and decision makers affiliated with appropriate opportunities. Candidates must carve a direct path to senior management and then present a remarkable and memorable value proposition that fosters a meaningful dialogue about mutual interests.

For candidates with a break on their resumes, personalized introductions explain unusual circumstances and pave the way for meaningful dialogues with prospective employers.

After getting comfortable with a candidate’s abilities, the employer may decide that the formerly imperfect prospect can be a great employee for an opening, or the company may create a new job just for this individual. Notably, the ideal candidate and the ideal employee may be different. Only the hiring decision-maker can bend the requirements, reorganize resources and do what it takes to make an offer. That’s why connecting with the appropriate inside authority is key to generating a new career opportunity, whether a job is advertised or part of the hidden job market.

Your tactics?

  • Target employers within a specific industry niche. These companies are more likely to appreciate your background and recognize your qualifications.
  • Initiate contacts and stay connected. Identify key players; obtain recommendations about who you need to know; research speakers, trade publications and online resources to connect with current industry thought leaders. Cultivate relationships that are likely to generate job leads, increase credibility and provide future mentoring opportunities.
  • Connect with “insiders” affiliated with target employers. This is the best way to be one of the first to learn about and be presented for unadvertised opportunities.
  • Be bold, be persistent. Network Purposefully to make new contacts in your search. Networking is about relationships, not single-use transactions.
  • Give back. Make introductions when you see synergy. Contribute advice, help others and provide counsel before being asked. Networking is not just for job searching.
  • Initiate contact directly with hiring decision-makers. Call outside typical business hours. Use snail mail creatively to attract attention. Leave enticing voice-mail messages communicating what is in it for the employer. Leave them thinking that not returning the call would be a mistake.
  • Follow up on connections. Be courteous and respectful while pursuing leads to new opportunities. If you are not persistent, someone who does follow through is likely to get the job offer that is perfect for you.

For re-entry candidates, these tips can accelerate your job hunt progress.

Hump Day Fallacies!!!

Job Search

The concept of “hump day” has had a long history – too long, in fact. 

For many years employees and managers alike have talked about the importance of getting through hump day (aka Wednesday) and making it to the weekend. Unfortunately, hump day is a career killer. 

Hump-day employees look at every week as the process of starting at the bottom of the hill on Monday morning at 8 a.m., climbing to the top by Wednesday at noon, and then coasting down to the bottom of the hill by 5 o’clock on Friday. These people haven’t gotten anywhere during the course of the week. They are back where they started on Monday morning, week after week after week. 

Imagine a college athlete who performs exactly the same way at the beginning of every season. Those kinds of players never get off the bench, assuming they can even keep their spot on the bench. Intuitively, we know we must continually improve if we want to take our careers to the next level. With a hump-day approach to the workweek, we sabotage productivity and psychologically set ourselves up for a mediocre week and a mediocre career. 

Study Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and a host of other great achievers. They didn’t push forward for 52 working hours and then slump backward for another 52. They raised their bar of achievement, and then set the bar higher again and again. 

Instead of working for the weekend, try filling out a “Leap-Day Worksheet” at noon Wednesday. (Maximum time investment: 35 minutes.)

1.      Make a list of the meetings/activities /events that have occurred so far this week.

2.      For each entry in Step One, answer these five questions in less than five minutes:
a.       What did I do that was effective? 

b.      What did I do that was not effective? 

c.       What could I have done to be more effective? 

d.      What did I learn from this experience? 

e.       How can I use what I learned to perform at a higher level for the remainder of this week? 

From now on, make Wednesday at noon your weekly inflection point to capture key lessons and catapult to a higher level of performance over the remainder of the week. After all, the greatest performers in history didn’t rise briefly and then fall backward. They leapt forward to higher and higher levels of achievement, and hit repeat.

If you are doing this, then STOP

Personal BrandingIt’s so easy to get your name out these days. But to what end? Just like all corporate-branding plans, your personal-branding activities need to be a part of a well-conceived strategy — one that will help you achieve your goals and increase your professional fulfillment.

As I watch people build their personal brands on the Web, I see a lot of personal-branding disasters — efforts that detract from brand value rather than increase it. Here are the personal-branding mistakes I see repeated over and over. Avoid them to build a powerful and compelling presence that increases your brand equity.

1. Be fake.

Personal branding is not about fabricating a persona; strong personal brands are based in authenticity. You can’t start building your brand until you understand who you are, what you want and what makes you exceptional. What are your superpowers? What do others think about you? Don’t create an image; be yourself — your best self. As writer/aviator Anne Morrow Lindbergh once said, “The most exhausting thing you can be is inauthentic.”

2. Be wishy-washy.

Trying to be all things to all people is the opposite of branding. Strong brands take a stand and often repel as many people as they attract. You need to know what you want to communicate and how that message differs from what your peers are communicating. What’s your area of thought leadership? What’s your position? How do you want to express your personality? Answer these questions, and stick to your guns.

3. Act before you think.

Thanks to the availability and ease of social media, you can increase your visibility very quickly. But visibility is not the same as effective personal branding. If you don’t have a clear plan — a message that you want to communicate consistently along with a strategy for expressing yourself — you will create confusion rather than build a fan club. Personal branding requires thinking before acting. What’s your overall communications plan? Which communications vehicles are the best for you? How will you link your communications activities? Answer these questions before putting finger to key!

4. Talk just for the sake of it.

I see some people tweet multiple times an hour — re-tweeting anything they see, reposting their own tweets — just to seem like they have a lot to say. And I’ve seen similar misguided fervor on blogs. People can see through this. It’s better to make a few high-quality posts to your blog or tweets that add value to your brand community than to be associated with content that is vapid, regurgitated or stale. Create content when you have something thoughtful to say that is valuable to your brand community and reinforces what you want people to know about you. Quality trumps quantity.

5. Aim for as many contacts as possible.

Branding is not about fame; it’s about selective fame. The only people who need to know you are those decision-makers and influencers who can help you reach your goals. Trying to be everywhere with your message will exhaust you without adding much value to your brand. Think about your target audience, then research the best places on the Web to express yourself. The scattershot approach isn’t very effective … and it isn’t very fulfilling, either.

6. Switch tools often.

Social media is attractive. So attractive that some people jump onto the latest social-media tool with reckless abandon. I was speaking with an executive the other day who told me that he was a big fan of social media. When LinkedIn came along, he worked hard to connect with everyone he ever met. After time, he lost interest. Then Facebook gained prominence; he began “friending” all his LinkedIn contacts, and he updated his status hourly. He became tired of this as well and switched his attention to Twitter. This approach will not only wear you out, it will do little to build brand value. Choose the social-media tools you are going to use and commit to using them regularly.

7. Forget traditional vehicles.

The ubiquity of social media has convinced some that personal branding is an exclusively Web-based activity. Sure, social media has made it much easier to express yourself to a much larger audience, but it doesn’t replace real-world relationships and communications.

I started my personal-branding business, Reach, almost a decade ago — long before Facebook, blogs and Twitter existed. Before social media, personal branding was focused on real-world activities, like public speaking and publishing books. A lot has changed in the world of personal branding since I founded Reach, but the core principles remain the same.

Those who are most effective in building their brands combine the real with the virtual. They continue to write and provide content for traditional media; they speak publicly, attend professional association events, volunteer for professional organizations, sit on boards and so on. The trick is to connect the real and the virtual — expanding what you are doing locally by making it visible on the Web.

8. Do it yourself.

If you think people who are making decisions about you are impressed by the photo your mother took of you at last year’s family picnic or the poor-quality video you posted to YouTube, you’re fooling yourself. You need to invest in services and tools that will help you present your best self. The New York Times said it best in its article about video resumes: “A well-produced video can send the message that the applicant is both professional and on top of new technology, while something that looks like a home video can send the opposite message.”If it’s really important to you, invest in the right resources — career coaches, resume-writing services, Web designers, video producers and more. Sure, there are costs involved in these services; but what’s the cost to you of damaging your reputation with poor-quality copy, images and video?

9. Talk about yourself

Personal branding is about giving to your brand community — value, insights, feedback, recognition. I see so many people confusing social media with billboard advertising — blatantly promoting their services 24/7. As social media expert Chris Brogan says (I’m paraphrasing) : Use the 12:1 ratio — make 12 posts about your brand community for every one that is about you. Just as people use TiVo to skip TV ads, people will start to tune you out if you come across as an immodest self-promoter.

10. Don’t measure your efforts.

Are you spending a lot of time implementing your personal-branding plan without asking yourself, “How is this helping me reach my goals?” I spent 20 years in corporate marketing and branding, and one of the most important parts of any campaign we launched was metrics. You need some way to evaluate your progress and see if your efforts are paying off. Decide on what metrics you will use up front (onlineIDCalculator .com, Klout.net or another tool), and establish a baseline. Then remember to measure progress along the way. Have you increased the volume and relevance of your Google results? Are you growing your brand community with the right people?

If you avoid these brand-busters and focus on being your best (high-quality) self — on- and offline — you’ll bolster your brand with everything you do.

William Arruda [www.williamarruda. com]is a personal-branding consultant and public speaker. He is the founder of Reach Personal Branding [www.reachpersonalb randing.com] and coauthor of the bestselling book, “Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand” (J. Wiley).
 

Why Not Brand Yourself!

Personal Branding

Job seekers think they need to be salesman, never storytellers. Nevertheless, storytelling is part of every job search. How well you tell your story in cover letters, resumes, networking meetings, interviews — even negotiations — will directly affect your success in the job market.

Storytelling doesn’t mean telling tall tales! It’s amazing how many people ask for help with their resumes by saying, “I’ve got to find a way to make this look better than it really is.” Exaggerating accomplishments and misrepresenting facts is never an acceptable approach. Nor is it necessary. Instead, when people take the time to remember the actual details, a more compelling and truthful story almost always emerges.

The problem is that people don’t naturally think about telling their story.

Your challenge is to find a way to describe your involvement so potential employers clearly see the before and after. In other words, how did you make a situation better because you were there?

You can’t get there simply by rattling off a list of accomplishments; by themselves, accomplishments rarely tell the story. Knowing how much time you saved or how much money you made for the company is of limited use if it isn’t presented in context. To appreciate the importance of your work, the scope of what you did must be clear. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What problem were you solving?
  • How long had it been a problem?
  • How many people were affected by the issue?
  • What was the cost of not solving the problem? (e.g., lost revenue, frustrated customers, low morale)
  • What, specifically, did you do to address the issue?
  • How did you get involved?
    • Were you asked to address the issue? If so, by whom?
    • Or was your involvement the result of your own initiative?
  • Did solving the problem require an investment of time, money or resources by the company?
    • Were you the person who convinced management to invest in the solution?
    • If so, how did you sell them on the idea?
  • How long did it take to solve the problem?
  • Were there any unexpected results?

Good stories surprise you

Once you have answered these questions, be sure to include the most surprising and memorable details when you tell the stories behind your accomplishments. This is the key to being remembered at the right time for the right reason.

Sadly, few people manage to include these crucial details.

Rather than tell memorable stories that might get people interested in their backgrounds, they rattle off job titles, responsibilities and other unrevealing aspects of their past.

For example, I vividly remember “Eric” (not his real name), a client who had a long-winded, fluffy summary statement that could literally apply to anyone. In it, Eric described himself as an “innovative problem solver.” Unfortunately, this was not supported anywhere in his resume or cover letter. Nor did he spontaneously offer any examples during the course of our mock interview.

Only when I probed extensively did Eric reveal a fantastic example to support his claim:

In his most recent position, Eric worked at a data center that handled transactions for financial institutions. At the time, the company was actively acquiring other data centers. Eric’s job was to help merge the operations of the various data centers the company acquired.

Throughout the process, Eric’s company relied on several highly paid consultants from a well-known firm to evaluate the acquisitions and make recommendations regarding the best ways to merge the technologies. In one case, the consultants concluded that the technology of a recently acquired company was incompatible with the firm’s operations and recommended running the data center separately. Eric didn’t accept that as an answer. Instead, he spent the next month researching and examining alternatives on his own, outside regular working hours.

Being quite resourceful, Eric networked his way to a person overseas who had successfully solved a similar challenge. By taking the time to learn how the other person solved the problem, Eric devised a way to implement a workable solution. Within a few weeks, Eric successfully converted the new data center to the company’s technology.

This is a great example of innovative problem-solving. It wasn’t one Eric had ever thought to share on his resume, in interviews or in any of his networking efforts. Nevertheless, it remains among his most memorable and compelling experiences. That’s the goal of storytelling. You want people to think of you and make the connection between what you have done and what they might need you to do. Potential employers and networking contacts should look at you and think:

“I remember her! She’s the person who _________.”
(Fill in the blank with whatever experience powerfully demonstrates your ability to excel in a particular area.)