Thank you Adam Grant, You Explained Why I Wander the Aisles of Target So Often

Last year, I took on a new freelance project and was out to lunch with my new colleagues.  Because this group travels quite a bit for work, we were discussing how/where we do our best work.  Both of my colleagues described a quiet room with few distractions where they could put their head down and work.  My answer was entirely different; I do my best work wandering the aisles of Target.

I often like to start things, walk away from them, think about them when I’m driving in my car, wandering the aisles of Target, or other free-thinking spaces, then come back to the assignment to edit and finish.  I couldn’t explain why this worked for me until I was recently reminded of Adam Grant’s book Originals and this excellent TEDTalk.  Procrastination is valuable.  Stepping away from a big idea or task can make it better.  He talks about it better than I ever will; so watch this video.  And if you only have a little time to procrastinate; start at 1:42.

The surprising habits of original thinkers | Adam Grant

 

How to Evaluate Your Work in the Gig Economy

The Gig Economy: it’s sexy, liberating, and scary. So how do you know if you’re doing it right?

I recently went through this three-step exercise with a client to create a clear understanding of how she is currently spending her time and effort and shift to spending if more effectively.

1 – Establish Clear Career Objectives.
We have to identify objectives for so much of our traditional full-time work; don’t give that up when you transition to Gig work. Some Career Objectives that may have you shifting to Gig Work could be location independence, work you are passionate about, additional income while starting your business, or reduction of hours working.

Keep these objectives front and center through this exercise.

2 – Create a List of each Gig with your pay information.
Pay. Your pay may be a flat fee or hourly rate.
Time. How much time do you actually spend to earn this money? Consider unpaid travel time, how often you wake up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts, preparation time before a meeting, completing time sheets or invoices. My former manager in my agency life would ask, “If you weren’t on this project, what would still be doing this (driving, prepping, etc)?” Consider how much time you are spending if this is ongoing work. While you can include any upfront costs of sales efforts to get this Gig or administrative work; I generally look at those at sunk costs. I consider them in my annual analysis but not in this snapshot.
Actual Hourly Rate. Divide Your Pay by your Time.

3 – Identify a Value for each Gig.
Value. On a scale of 0-10, how much value do you receive from this work? Your cost is the more qualitative side of your Gig. Value can come from your passion for the job, whether you are building foundational content that can be resold or reused if this Gig gets you closer to your goals, and any other considerations while thinking of value?
Considerations. Is there anything else you can to note about this Gig? All the factors will roll up into the score you select for value, but this is a pause point for you to get out anything else that is on your mind about this Gig.

4 – Visualize Your Gigs on a Scatterplot
Whether you use excel or paper and pen, see where your Gigs land.
The X-axis: Your Actual Hourly Rate
The Y-axis: Your Value Score
This Scatterplot will show you your High Pay, High-Value Gigs. How do you do more of that? Should you stop any of the Low Pay, Low-Value Gigs? Can you adjust your expectations and stress for the Low Pay, Low-Value Gigs to remind yourself these are temporary and helping pay the bills for now while making your energy is going to grow your High Pay, High-Value Gigs.

The Gig Economy is varied and messy. There’s not one path where you are solely doing your High Pay, High-Value Gigs. Having clarity and awareness of your current situation is essential. And be deliberate in moving towards your goals in the future. If you are stuck on this exercise and want to complete it together or if you finished this exercise and want to create a plan to move forward, contact me for a 1:1 Coaching Session.

Photo: SELF Journal by Best Self Co.  Check out their amazing tools.  Use code BGSDSelf to get 15% off your order!

4 Lessons from a High Performing Team

“Teamwork doesn’t seem like work.” Early on in my career, a friend used to say this all the time usually while playing teams in Halo. But it has become one of my top 5 sayings while working on teams. Probably because people find is so cheesy they can’t help but smile when they hear it.

It seems almost everyone is on a team at work. I’ve had the great fortune to be part of several great teams. There is one team that has stood out for me in my career. We were a high performing team, and it was fun. Years ago, I was in a focus group on high performing teams. While the facilitator was asking questions, I was able to reflect on how special it is to be a part of a top performing team. Here are a few things that I learned.

Respect: when developing a team, start with the confidence that every team member is here for a reason. There is something you can learn from them, and they can add value to the team.

Shared Goal: our shared goal was always more important than personal goals or roles. We were four people working together to solve X. We all had valuable skills and knowledge to contribute to the shared goal.

Listen & Pause: we did more listening than talking and we were comfortable in the silence. Sometimes we needed to pause and allow an idea or perspective to settle. We respect each other to listen to everyone’s opinions and created a safe space for people to speak up and be heard.

Effective Communications: we provided clear status reports and action items. We didn’t spend hours on conference calls or holed up in a conference room. We connected when we needed to but gave each other time to complete action items.

What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned while being on teams?

Moms, you can have it all!

In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, I wanted to repost this blog and give some love to moms – in all their amazingness.  The dichotomy of raising a family vs. career growth is shifting.  Yes, moms, you can have it all and you should have that opportunity!

Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed multiple moms who had taken 5+ years off to raise a family and were ready to jump back into their career path.  Some candidates told their career story very well, had strong responses to questions about filling the skills/tools gap, and others….did not.  It was enlightening to discuss the evolution of teamwork (hello Slack, Dropbox, and Office 365).

Here are some tips on how to remain a competitive candidate for future jobs while leaving the traditional career path to focus on your family.

1 – Have a strong career story.  You should be proud of taking time off.  Integrate your time off as part of your career story; it was a step in your career, not an abandonment of the value of your career.  With work-life balance being top of mind for companies, use that corporate speak in your story.

2 – Share your growth in your role as Mom.  As we age, we experience personal growth, and that may even be accelerated by becoming a parent.  You may be up against candidates with the same level of professional experience but less life experience; what skills can you demonstrate as your strengths over your competition?  For example, “over the past 5 years, I’ve grown in my self-awareness, emotional intelligence, or ability to negotiate…by…”

3 – Stay current in your industry.  There are many opportunities to engage with thought leadership and develop your skills:
– attending continuing education classes, seminars, or events
– developing new skills: there are multiple online and local courses available like LinkedIn Learning or at your local library
– participating in industry networking groups
actively posting on LinkedIn or starting a blog to demonstrate you’re POV
– taking a freelancing gig: there are opportunities posted on freelance sites and companies like The Mom Project
volunteering: most volunteers experiences will keep you connected to your network and grow your skills.  Check out Taproot or local organizations where you can leverage your professional expertise!

All of this effort demonstrates your ability to prioritize, your growth mindset, and maintain a work-life balance.

4 – Keep in touch with mentors and peers.  Asking advice is one of the most powerful leadership skills.  By staying in touch with your mentors and peers, they can give you insight into how the workplace is evolving and give you advice.  Also, when you’re ready to take on your next career position, they may be your best connection to land that dream job.

5 – Hire a coach.  When you’re ready for your next career move, hire a career coach that can be an unbiased guide to the current job search and interview process.

This is your life.  Make the best choices for you, your family, and your career.  You can have it all!

Man, I Wish I Could Do​ That

I’ve taken a few risks in my career. Well, I don’t see them as risks but more as twists and turns. About every 5-7 years, I have taken a sabbatical. One time I spent 7 months volunteering in Peru. And just recently my husband and I traveled extensively in our Airstream. Over the years (and adventures), people have said, “Man, I wish I could do that.” And the reply is simple, “You can.”

Sometimes people put these arbitrary boundaries on their career and life.

  • They need to keep climbing a ladder and can’t hit pause.
  • They live paycheck to paycheck and need a certain amount of money to live.
  • Everyone always works a full-time 40 hour/week job; it’s what you’re supposed to do.
  • Credit card debt, student loans, a mortgage, kids, pets, family, anything

However, all you need to do is prioritize and make some sacrifices. If you want to take a sabbatical, start planning it out.

1 – Sabbatical Budget.  There are three things to focus on with your budget: Save Money, Reduce Expenses and (possibly) Identify Alternative Income. What are those things you are currently spending money on where you can stop or put on pause?  Easy ones: stop buying clothes, stop shopping the aisles of Target, reduce your subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, BirchBox, StitchFix, Gym), reduce eating out or bar tabs.  Even if you don’t get to your sabbatical quickly, it’s powerful to have a Freedom Fund stashed away in an investment account or high-interest savings account.  Research some Alternative Income Ideas.  Are there ideas for passive income (rent out your condo/home on Airbnb or a long-term rental, rent out your car on Turo)?  Is there some Extra income you can develop while you’re saving up for your sabbatical (drive for Lyft, dogsit on Rover, freelance)?

2 – Sabbatical Goals.  Write down what you want to achieve by taking a sabbatical.  Anything from learning something new, furthering your education, traveling, giving back, spending time with family and friends or caring for a loved one.  Why do you want to do this?  Print this goal out, write it in your planner, hang it on the wall.  Keep your goal front of mind because this will be the guide to make the most of your planning and your sabbatical.  With every decision, you should ask yourself, “Is this decision in line with my goal?

3 – Sabbatical Ideas.  Once you’ve established your goals, then narrow it down to 2-3 ideas for how you want to make the most of your time.  If your goal is furthering your education, that may be getting your MBA.  YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest are full of inspiration.

4 – Sabbatical Plan.  Here’s where you add a Timeline and Action Plan – make it real.  When do you want your sabbatical to start: will that be when you hit a savings goal or a certain time period?  What are the Action Items you need to complete to make it real?

Develop your plan and find an accountability partner to help you achieve your Sabbatical Goal!  Be flexible and pivot when it makes sense to pivot.  Commit to making this a reality.  In the end, you either take a Sabbatical and have the experience of a lifetime or you’ve saved up that Freedom Money to use in the future.

The Value of Having a Dream Job

I’ve had many dream jobs throughout my life. Some dream jobs that have been on my list were an Executive Director for a non-profit or to run an agency. While I haven’t officially had either of those titles, these positions have been incredibly valuable to my career growth and development.

Here are three strategies where a Dream Job can be valuable:

1 – Skill Development.  I firmly believe that own your own skill development is essential to your career growth.  Find some job descriptions for your dream job.  Look at the job requirements and create a plan for how you will acquire those requirements.  Look through the roles and responsibilities and identify which skills are needed; add to your plan how you will develop those skills.

2 – Build Connections.  LinkedIn shares that 71% of job seekers will earn their next job through a connection.  What communities do you need to be involved with to be successful in your dream job?  Who do you need to network to be a part of your dream industry?

3 – Ask Advice.  Find some people that have your dream job and ask their advice?  Aside from the skills you found through job descriptions, ask them what skills are essential for success in your dream job.  What were those pivotal moments in their career that lead them to their role?  What advice do they have for you?

Even if your dream job changes, the skills (technical, soft, leadership) that you developed will be valuable for the rest of your career.  The connections you created can become key members of your tribe or inspire you to a new dream job.  The process of ask advice will help you with emotional intelligence, interviewing skills, and increase your confidence the next time you ask advice.

Dream big and work intentionally towards having the career you want!

3 Ways to Nail Your Performance Review

Performance Reviews are an amazing time to focus on your professional development. Here are three strategies to make the most of them.

1 – Listen. Naturally, there will be positive and negative feedback shared during your performance review. And you may want to figure out who said that about you or what situation someone was referring to which lead to that feedback. It’s important to stay in the moment and listen. Take it in, process and revisit later if needed. If you feel that in your review there’s a situation that wasn’t accurately represented, there are two ways you can respond: (1) ask your manager for advice for how you could have better shown up in that situation and (2) share your intentions and present solutions for how you could have handled it better. Remember your review is about YOU, not what others have done to you. Keep it focused on how you handled yourself, how you could have been better. Feedback is a gift, use it to understand what your work perception. And improve it!

2 – Develop. Many companies have great development opportunities that employees may not take full advantage. Your performance review is a great time to learn what they are and how you can take advantage of them. Focus on your development and how your manager and company can contribute to your professional development.

3 – Negotiate. Congratulations if you are getting a promotion and/or raise. Be grateful that your company appreciates you. But don’t be afraid to negotiate. Ask for more money (and demonstrate the value and contributions you have made to your company). If you can’t negotiate what you want during your performance review, share that, “this raise/promotion is not in line with the value you bring.” Your manager may have authority to give you a raise of $X and will need to get approval for anything above that. Schedule a follow-up meeting to allow for your manager to have the needed conversations and offer to provide your manager with anything that can aid her/him in their negotiation with leadership. If they can’t hit your number, understand what is needed to get that promotion, co-create a development plan with your manager/HR and schedule a mid-year review in 6 months to formalize progress and re-commit to what is needed.

Ultimately, you want to be at a company that is helping you develop into the best you can be. If your company is not invested in your development, own it yourself, and look for people, and possibly a new company, which will support your development.

Diversity & Inclusion: Listen & Learn During Black History Month

There are three sides to every story: yours, theirs, and the truth. Think about when two kids get in trouble and their parent asks each of them what happened. It’s usually two different stories and neither is the complete truth.

I’ve been in conversations with people recently: “why do we need Black History Month? It’s one History!” But it’s not one History; it’s generally one side of the history. When the textbooks are all written by one side (those in power), the movies from that era are directed and produced by one side (those in power), and the laws are created by one side (those in power).

Now, we are fortunate to celebrate Black History Month. There are books, articles, and movies that offer multiple perspectives and allow people to share their experience. It’s an opportunity for us to be empathetic to someone else’s experience and perspective.

While we may feel like that’s so far in the past, our parents and grandparents lived through it. And our peer’s parents and grandparents lived through it too, and maybe had a much different experience. Even today, you may be surprised to learn about experiences your peers have that don’t even cross your mind.

One thing I spent some extra time learning about recently was Voters’ rights.

For example, the 15th Amendment passed in 1870 which prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

However, that amendment was poorly enforced and there were consequences for those that did vote (you can hear stories about loss of bank loans, loss of jobs and destruction of property). Then Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to enforce the 15th Amendment. In 1965, when the Act passed, there were no African-American U.S. Senators and only six African-American U.S. Congressmen.

This month, listen and learn something about the Black Experience. Read articles, watch movies, or even better, have a conversation! Listen and learn from someone you know. When you approach a conversation willing to listen and learn, share your intentions and ask if they are willing to share. It may be a very powerful conversation.

How will you invest in your career development in 2018?

A new year is upon us. You may be starting the year off strong with great momentum or you may be exhausted by 2017 and need a boost. Either way, you should constantly have a career development plan in place. You are solely responsible for your own career development. There are a number of support systems available to you (peers, mentors, managers, your company) but the person solely looking out for you, is you. You should absolutely leverage your support systems. They can be a fantastic support for helping develop your plan and even provide resources for you to execute or commit to your plan.

There are two investment resources that you have: time and money.   Here are some thought starters on how your time and your money can contribute to your career development in 2018.

1 – Get Inspired! There are a number of people/accounts on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter you can follow to keep you thinking about your Career Development. (Resource: Time)

2 – Connect! If networking overwhelms you, reframe networking. Think about it as connecting with people. Learn from others, ask their advice. Find some peers at work and commit to encouraging each other. Get a group of friends together for brunch once/month where you celebrate successes. (Resource: Time)

3 – Learn! If your dream job requires certain degrees or certifications, make a commitment to earn those. How will you get your PMP or MBA? What are the budget and time requirements to earn this degree or certification? Create a Commitment Plan to save, explore options with your current company for tuition reimbursement or discounts, and talk to programs to find out what’s right for you.  Also, look at programs like LinkedIn Learning if you don’t want to commit to a full degree. (Resource: Time & Money)

4 – Hire a Coach! A coach can help you build a Commitment Plan to move your career development forward. Working with a coach will give you an opportunity to have an unbiased cheerleader!  As your coach, I’ll ask questions and guide our conversations to help you gain clarity towards the next steps in your career.  If you are interested in learning more about coaching, fill out the form below to schedule a free 15-minute conversation. (Resource: Time & Money)

Cheers to 2018! I hope it’s full of motivation, inspiration, and action in your career!
Jenn

Top 5 Moments Of 2017

One of the most powerful motivators for moving forward is taking the time to celebrate those little victories.  Seeing how far you’ve come is great motivation to go even further.

2017 was a big year for me and here are the top 5 moments that moved me forward!

1 – Changing my tax status.  In March, I went from Fulltime to Freelance.  There are amazing things about having a full-time job.  I loved having an office space with a co-worker community.  The benefits and consistent paychecks were great too.  While I kept some of my previous communities and built some new ones, I still have to make a constant effort to connect with people and have a community.

2 – Becoming an entrepreneur.  I launched my coaching business, Be Genuine Stay Determined, in April.  When I talk about it, my face lights up, and when people ask me about coaching, I have a hard time shutting up!  It’s an amazing field and helping people work through their goals is incredibly rewarding.  I love hearing about clients working towards an Ideal Job and moving forward.  There are a few things that have made me a bit nervous about taking the leap but I’m so glad I jumped!

3 – Volunteering with Everwise.  In April, I started as a Mentor at Everwise and have mentored two amazing women through their EverwiseWomen program.  I’ve learned so much from the program and the women.  And am thrilled to be part of such a strong organization bringing women together.

4 – Changing my tax status, again.  I was a June bride this year.  It’s been amazing to have a partner in crime (whom in his vows, promised to take the heat if we were caught).  He’s been a great source of motivation, support, and advice.

5 – Landing the career of one of my favorite clients.  As he commences to a life of retirement, it was incredibly rewarding to be a coach and communication strategist for him.  I felt like Hamilton to Washington in “One Last Time.”  He has really helped form some of my leadership principles and strengthened my confidence helping leader define their brands.  I was incredibly fortunate to have a client who is also a mentor.

As I refine my 2018 SMART Goals and keep moving forward, I’m grateful for all the success I had in 2017 and the amazing people that were a part of it.  Thank you to my family, friends, co-workers, mentors, clients, and role models.

Wishing you all a restful holiday and a successful 2018!
Jenn