Stuck in a Career Rut? Allow us to point you in the "Wright" Career Direction

Executive Resume Writing, Resume Strategist, Resume Service, Professional Resume, Manager Resume, Mid-career professionals, Resume, Career Coaching, Interview Coaching

Executive Resume Writing, Career Coaching, Interview Coaching, Executive, Senior Management Resumes, Manager Resume, Experienced Professionals, Mid-Career Professionals Resume, Resume Service, Professional Resume,

Meet Daisy Wright Daisy

Daisy Wright is an award winning career coach, author and certified resume strategist who collaborates with mid-level professionals, managers, and executives to develop attention-grabbing resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other career marketing documents that focus on telling their career stories and getting them hired FASTER!

Visit her website at www.thewrightcareer.com

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Here are my most recent posts

Being the Most Qualified Does Not Guarantee You the Job!

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Have you ever left an interview feeling you nailed it quite well that you would be offered the job? You wait for days (or weeks) only to hear you didn’t. I am sure you have, and it’s not a nice feeling.

The US elections are over. One candidate got hired; the other got fired, and for those of us who follow politics, we are wondering what happened. That conversation was what dominated the group coaching class with the women in my Let’s GROW Project today. One woman commented that the most qualified person did not get the job. I chimed in that 46.9% of eligible voters did not vote. Another spoke of places where people do not have the opportunity to vote. The discussion provided a segue into why being the most qualified candidate does not necessarily guarantee you the job.

Here is how the group drew an analogy with the results of the US elections and a job interview. Two candidates were shortlisted for the position and were going to be interviewed by a panel of the American public. One had a very impressive resume. She had 30+ years of experience in politics as First Lady of a state; First Lady of the United States, Senator and Secretary of State. She also had testimonials and references from high profile colleagues and celebrities. All that would easily make her a shoe-in for the job.

The other candidate didn’t have any of that. He touted himself as a businessman, and an outsider to the Washington establishment. Despite publicly passing incendiary remarks, and refusing to follow protocol, it did not stop him from getting the job. How did that happen? Answers to that question will vary, depending on which side of the political fence one is on. However, from a job search perspective we could examine the role that personal branding, messaging and the halo effect might have played:

Personal Branding and Messaging

One candidate branded herself as the one with the experience, a steady hand and an even keel temperament. She cited her many success stories and had proof that backed them up. Many on the interview panel (the electorate) believed her. In fact, she won the popular vote, but because of how the Electoral College works, she did not get the job. What went wrong? Was it her brand? Did people buy into the narrative that she was untrustworthy? What about her messaging? Was it clear to her audience that she understood their pain?

The other candidate branded himself as the outsider; the businessman who could turn around Washington. He pointed to his business successes and his ability to ‘swing deals’. Although that is debatable, it was enough to convince a good part of the electorate that he was the best person for the job. He showed himself as an astute marketer, ripping right into the heart of their core beliefs – that the status quo needed a shake up; that the other candidate was a part of the establishment and was going to offer more of the same. His messaging was effective enough where his negatives didn’t matter to his constituents.

The Halo Effect

The halo effect, as described in Wikipedia, “is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties.” This means, many on the interview panel could have been influenced positively or negatively by their perception of each candidate. If that were the case, their minds were already made up. Regardless of what the candidates said from thereon, they latched on to their first impression of each candidate.

  1. Not too many of us aspire to be a head of state, but we are very often invited to interviews. In preparing for an interview, what could we learn from the results of the US elections?
  2. A resume might not be enough. An impressive resume, LinkedIn Profile (with its many testimonials), and high profile celebrity references might not be enough to get hired. Go beyond those, and think of what additional value you have to offer. Determine if your 30+ years of experience is an asset or a liability, and will it help or hurt your chances?
  3. Branding is not just for companies. It is common these days to speak about one’s ‘personal brand’. This is a blend of people’s perception of you and how you see yourself. Are they congruent, or, do people characterize you as someone different from who you really are? One way to find out is to complete a 360 assessment. These are easily available from a variety of sources, including the 360 Reach Branding Assessment.
  4. Authenticity is a key part of your branding. Be yourself. Highlight the skills, knowledge and strengths that make you unique. Showcase yourself in a way that feels natural to you, yet capture the attention of the hiring manager. You need to ensure that your brand is received positively by the people thinking of hiring you.
  5. First impression matters. You should strive to make a good first impression. Extend your research beyond that of the company and to the people who will be a part of the interview panel. Don’t know who they are? Find out, then conduct a Google search. What you discover could serve as a conversation opener and rapport builder instead of having to discuss the weather.
  6. Messaging is important. Your message should be tailored to the needs of the employer. You need to articulate your success stories in a way that convinces the employer you understand their needs, know where their pain points are, and that you “can fix it”(according to one of the election candidates).
  7. Monitor your social media footprints. Most employers conduct a search on candidates before inviting them to an interview. Make sure you do the same. Do a Google search on yourself to see if there are any negative or unsavoury mentions about you, and clear them up as quickly as you can.

It hurts when you were not hired for the job you were sure you would get. You know in your heart that you have the right qualifications, skills and experience. You did all that you could do, but the decision making was not under your control. Don’t beat upon yourself too much and never stop believing in you and your capabilities. “Take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again”, said Frank Sinatra. This might not be easy. It could take days for you to come to terms with what happened, but life goes on and so should you.

What other tips would you offer to someone who is feeling dejected because of a lost job opportunity?

 

 

Why Are You Afraid to Tell Your Unique, Authentic Story?

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We tell stories every day – to family, friends and colleagues – yet we hardly think of telling stories when we meet recruiters, hiring managers, potential employers, and even potential business partners. Why? We are afraid; we don’t want anyone to label us as ‘braggarts’. A LinkedIn article titled “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable – Why Now is the Time to Tell Your Work Story”, indicates that approximately only 29% of Canadians and 40% of Americans feel comfortable talking about themselves. In fact, 53% of workers admitted they feel like they are bragging if they talk about themselves. “We’re so uncomfortable touting our work successes that we’d rather share our political views on social media than let our followers know we received a promotion or got a new job.”

In his book, Tell to Win, Peter Gruber states: “Today everyone – whether they know it or not – is in the emotional transportation business. More and more, success is won by creating [and telling] compelling stories that have the power to move partners, shareholders, customers and employees to action. Simply put, if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.” This means, if you can’t engage, persuade, motivate and convince others of your accomplishments, your story will remain inside you, and someone else will snag that coveted job or business opportunity.

Storytelling has not only become a central theme to the job search process, but is also a powerful way to get your message across in any setting. It doesn’t matter if you are in an interview, at a networking event, delivering an elevator speech in 30 seconds, participating in meetings, or communicating one-on-one. What matters is your ability to confidently tell stories that will communicate your value and build credibility.

Bear in mind that you are also telling your story in verbal and nonverbal ways. For example, did you know that your resume and your other career marketing efforts are all telling your story? When your resume is set aside by a hiring manager for follow up, it is because something compelling grabbed the his or her attention. When it comes to interviews, you are often asked to “tell me about yourself” or “describe a time when…”. Those questions present an opportunity for you to recount stories that will convince the hiring manager you are the ideal person for the role.

Whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, it’s important that you become a masterful storyteller. Someone who is able to strategically craft and deliver stories that will engage and capture an audience, whether it’s an audience of one or many. You need signature stories that you are proud to share, without feeling bashful. Stories that reveal your authenticity and set you apart from your competitors. How do you do that? Think of it as a movie where you were the main actor. Recall and write out compelling scenes that demonstrated the challenges you were up against, the actions you took and the results or outcomes. Look for patterns. What skills were you using most; where did you feel more energized. This exercise should give your confidence a boost and have you well-prepared to articulate your unique and authentic stories.

Before telling your story, consider the following:

  • Know yourself: Candidly assess your strengths, weaknesses, failures and successes, and be ready to address them if asked.
  • Learn to promote yourself. This might take you out of your comfort zone, but you need to learn to talk about yourself. This is not bragging. This is articulating what’s true about you; who you are, what you have accomplished, and what value you will bring to the new role. If you don’t tell your story, then people won’t know the broad range of talents you have. There is merit in the cliché of tooting your own horn, because if you don’t, no one will know you are coming.
  • Be authentic: Don’t borrow someone else’s story and try to be somebody you are not. Tell your own unique story honestly and with confidence and ensuring that you stay authentic. Author and poet May Sarton said, “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
  • Review interview questions ahead of time. While you may not know all the questions you will be asked, research, review and practice certain interview questions that are commonly asked. Then prepare to condense your accomplishments into a few short points that will be memorable.
  • Strengthen your online presence. Nothing speaks louder than a well-written, consistent, authentic online profile that tells your story even when you are asleep. This could be a personal website or blog, or your LinkedIn profile, complete with accomplishments and work samples (if appropriate).

Now, it’s your turn. Are you ready to tell your story? Need to learn storytelling strategies? Grab a copy of Tell Stories, Get Hired.

Are You Guilty of Unconscious Bias?

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Last Wednesday, serial entrepreneur John Greathouse published a blog post in The Wall Street Journal titled, Why Women in Tech Might Consider Just Using Their Initials Online. He argued that, “…women in today’s tech world should create an online presence that obscures their gender. A gender-neutral persona allows women to access opportunities that might otherwise be closed to them. Once they make an initial connection with a potential employer or investor, such women then have an opportunity to submit their work and experiences for an impartial review.”

Soon after the post was published, readers reacted, including Cathy Belk, founder of JumpStart, who wrote an article in Fortune titled No! Female Entrepreneurs Should Not Have To Hide Their Gender To Get Funding. She explains that “asking women to hide or change who they are doesn’t create equality or drive change. All it does is reinforce the status quo…”.

While Greathouse may have had good intentions, it ended up having unintended consequences. He may have thought that by hiding the fact they are women potential funders would automatically assume these applicants are men. This automatic assumption is known as unconscious bias. To back up his point, he stated that “Many people in the business community are “intellectually dishonest,” and while they preach diversity, they don’t practice it.” But, instead of  going after those he described as intellectually dishonest, he chose an easier path, suggesting that women create an online presence that obscures their gender. That, in itself, is acquiescing to the status quo rather than trying to change it.

Although the Wall Street Journal article focuses on women, there is a job search analogy to be drawn from it. Imagine a job seeker with a non-English name being asked to change it to one more readily acceptable, or suggest that they omit photos from their online presence, or use initials when applying for a job. This happens.

When it comes to bias, no matter how open minded we think we are, we all have it to some degree and by the way, it is not limited to ethnicity or race. It is shaped by our experiences, what other people tell us, media portrayals, etc. While we are mostly aware of conscious bias because it’s explicit, unconscious bias is instinctive; it is unintentional, and something we are not usually aware of. Because of all this, it is important that all of us (businesses, employers and individuals), become more in tuned with our biases before we make automatic assumptions.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Microsoft’s Chief People Officer, Kathleen Hogan wrote, a piece titled Screen In to diversify your workforce. She states, “Screening In reflects our desire to bring in talented people who aren’t carbon copies of existing employees, because building a homogenous workforce isn’t the best way to innovate and problem solve for the increasingly diverse customers we serve.” As well intended as this statement is, the image used in the article did not reflect the diversity of which she touted. Was unconscious bias at play with the choice of that image? Probably, although it does not detract from the message of a company committed to doing things right.

As part of the Screen In approach, all Microsoft employees are required to participate in an annual Unconscious Bias Training. Not only that, but Microsoft is making the training available externally for anyone to experience. Experimenting with the tool might help us learn our own unconscious biases and change our behaviours.

Another area of the job search where unconscious bias often rears its head is in resume reviews. A Fast Company article, How Unconscious Bias Affects Everything We Do,  suggests that before doing so, managers could be asked to respond to a series of questions such as:

  • “Does this person’s resume remind you in any way about yourself?”
  • “Does it remind you of somebody you know? Is that positive or negative?”
  • “Are there things about the resume that particularly impact you? Are they really relevant to the job?”
  • “What assessments have you made already about the person? Are they grounded in solid information or simply your interpretations?”

The Wall Street Journal article might have stirred up the hornet’s nest about gender, but it has also opened up an opportunity to have conversations around our preconceived notions. And, from a job search perspective, these conversations could help to decipher biases and tap into the skills, talents and expertise of everyone.

British Economist, Journalist and former advisor to the World Trade Organization, Philippe Legrain, said “Most innovations nowadays come not from individuals, but from groups of talented people sparking off each other – and foreigners with different ideas, perspectives and experiences add something extra to the mix. If there are 10 people sitting around a table trying to come up with a solution to a problem and they all think alike, then they are no better than one. But if they all think differently and bounce new ideas and reactions off one another, they can solve problems better and faster, as a growing volume of research shows.”

What are your thoughts on unconscious bias? Are you guilty? Take a few minutes to complete the free unconscious bias training offered by Microsoft. I am halfway through it.

Do You Have a Growth Mindset?

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It’s not easy to deal with interview rejections, especially after having had 11, without a job offer. It’s not easy to function when the promotion you had in mind did not materialize. It’s not easy to see the light when you are in the doldrums, and conversations become littered with self-limiting declarations such as, “What’s wrong with me…?… I will never… I should have…”.

Renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has done a lot of research on people’s mindsets: how they see themselves either limited by their circumstances (fixed mindset), or having the ability to grow regardless of their circumstances (growth mindset). I first became aware of her work while completing the CELDC (Certified Executive Leadership Development Coach) program, and learning strategies on how to identify and coach clients who were stuck in a fixed mindset.

Dr. Dweck describes both mindsets as follows:

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success — without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work — brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.

Here is my question: which mindset do you have? Do you have a fixed mindset that tells you where you are today is where you will always be? Do you subscribe to the notion that “it is what it is; this is my destiny and things won’t get any better”? Or, do you have a growth mindset? One that tells you that today is the beginning, not the end; that things can and will get better; that if you commit, persevere and follow through, you will grow and get to where you need to go.

 

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The latter mindset is a better choice. There are no limits to your capabilities. Today’s disappointments are just temporary setbacks allowing you to retool and get back in the race. While I am not trivializing anyone’s situation, especially as I have been on both sides of this issue, I know it feels much better to be in growth mindset where possibilities exist; where we can jump over barriers and bounce back even when things didn’t go as planned.

We are not all ‘Positive Pollyannas’, being blindly optimistic. We are allowed to have a pity party now and again, but there comes a time when the pity party has to end and we put our minds to work. Do we want to stagnate or do we want to grow? Are we going to continue staring at the closed door of lost opportunity or do we embrace the small window that has just opened up for us? As Dr. Dweck rightly said, “You are in charge of your mind. You can help it grow by using it in the right way.”

Try this short quiz from Dr. Dweck to help you determine your mindset: Fixed versus Growth Mindset.

 

Are You Feeling Stuck, Trapped and Fed Up?

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If you answered “Yes” to the above question, you are not alone. Many people are feeling just like you. They feel like the hamster – forever spinning its wheel but not gaining any traction. They are unhappy. Sometimes this unhappiness is about career, family, money, health, relationships or personal growth. At other times it’s the self-sabotaging conversations they have with themselves: “I can’t do it. I am not good enough. I don’t deserve it. It’s my fault. I am too old.” These negative self-talks don’t result in happiness, but in self-fulling prophecies. It’s worth knowing that whatever we focus on expands, so when we focus on negativity, that’s what we attract.

At this stage of your life, you may feel frustrated with the slow progress you are making, but don’t give up on yourself. It took you years to be where you are and it will take time to arrive at where you want to be. You deserve to live out your true potential, achieve your goals and realize your dreams. Figure out what’s holding you back, and take A.C.T.I.O.N.:

Abandon your old ways of thinking and doing things. If you continue doing what you have always done you cannot expect the results to be different.

Commit to letting go of what is holding you back so you can embrace your life with the vitality you need to take on your wildest dreams.

Tackle your goal one piece at a time. Break your major goal into manageable mini ones to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Invest at least one hour each day, without fail, to work on your goals and dreams. Business Philosopher Jim Rohn said,“Don’t sit idly by while your dreams diminish to memories, and your hope gives way to remorse; neither should you allow time to slip through your fingers like grains of sand. Sage

Open yourself to other opportunities if your Plan A didn’t work out. Create and enlist the help of a team of positive people who will support, encourage and inspire you to move forward and achieve what you want in your life.

Network. Although networking might make you feel queasy and uncomfortable, it is an important skill to learn. Just like any new sport or hobby, the more you network the more comfortable you become.

There is no reason for you to continue feeling stuck, trapped, fed up and unhappy. You can transform your life if you are committed to taking one small step every day. Ponder the following questions:

  • Who will you be when nothing holds you back?
  • What kind of life would you create, and what kinds of goals would you reach for if you weren’t restrained by limiting beliefs?

If you are ready to let go of the fears and negative self-talk that keep you from growing; if you are ready to create and live a happier life; if you are ready to renew and GROW, join me on this FREE Webinar on Thursday September 8 at 8 pm EST to learn more.

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” ~Jim Rohn

 

Are You One of the 87 Percent Not Enjoying Your Job?

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Did you know that 87% of the workforce do not enjoy going to work? In fact, only 13% of employees worldwide report they actually like going to work, which means the rest are struggling to force them into the office.

Imagine this: it’s Monday morning, your alarm clock goes off. Your stomach starts churning, your head starts hurting and it takes every bit of energy to force yourself out of bed. For most people, just getting them to go to the same energy-draining, uninspiring job, Monday through Friday is work in itself.

What if you accept this invitation to ‘attend’ this FREE online event – The Ultimate Career Summit – that will help you take charge of your career, land a job you love and earn what you deserve? ACT NOW to learn from fourteen or more experts in the field of job search and career development/advancement. The expert panel will share effective strategies to help you begin to take positive actions in designing and developing a career; one that rewards you both emotionally and financially.

Here is a sample of what you will learn:

  • How to use LinkedIn to build visibility in the hidden job market
  • Learn how to obtain a federal job; forget what you thought you knew
  • How to create your personal branding for visibility to help advance your career
  • Hear what actions one can take to confidently and effectively discuss a merit/salary increase
  • The kind of fears stand in the way of career success
  • Why passion is essential for a great career, and why it is not enough
  • How to use a job-search strategy that matches your personality type

That’s just a sampling of what you will learn from this FREE global event, and it’s packed with career information. Here’s your chance to reserve your spot.

Imagine going to work to a job that makes you feel energized, appreciated and fulfilled. Wait no longer. Act now and REGISTER to gain access to this information including how to access the hidden job market or how to advance in your careers.

P.S. I get it. You already feel swamped, and stressed out! Then you are just the person this summit was designed to help. Schedule some time for yourself – only 30 minutes a day – and listen to this amazing group of professionals share tips and strategies that can help you take control of your work day and your life.

Register now to join us

 

 

How to Interview For a Law Firm

Despite what you may have heard and read, many job seekers, including new lawyers, still get the jitters when they are invited to an interview. However, unlike painting, you don’t need to be Monet in order pull in a few useful skills that can help you land the job. New lawyers looking to get their foot in the door will need a bit more help than just your regular job interviewing tips.

Law firm jobs are sometimes difficult to obtain, and while most law firms prefer to hire someone with a good amount of experience, they’re willing to consider new hires who can nail the interview. What you need is the right mindset and a few helpful tips to put you on the right track.

First of all, it’s best to get out of your mind the idea that your interview is going to be like a courtroom. While you are on trial in a certain sense, you won’t be asked complex legal questions. The law firm wants to get to know you. Your resume will play a major role in that conversation, but how you handle yourself in the back-and-forth dialogue will be the most telling part for them.

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New attorneys will need a resume that is clear of ambiguity. To the point and totally free of spelling and grammar errors; remember that your resume is going to be the first thing the law firm sees. Avoid including extraneous information that is unrelated to your graduate and undergraduate education, and that includes unrelated work or volunteer experience.

Before handing in that application, be sure to conduct research on the law firm you are applying to. Know their history, the kind of law they practice, their size and especially any of their notable accomplishments. A lot of this information can be gleaned from their website and local news media.

Keep in mind that having questions to ask your interviewer is a good strategy. This shows your interest in the company, and your desire to want to learn more about them. Failing to ask questions can make you appear uninterested. You will also want to know more about the law firm’s culture, and to determine whether it will be a good fit for you. Remember it’s a two-way street. The interviewer is assessing whether you will be a good fit for the firm, and you should do so as well. Consider asking questions about how the firm handles assignments for associates, development strategies and continuing education.

The term “Dress for Success” applies for your law firm interview. Professional attire is commonplace for law firms, so make sure you are properly prepared and that your own personal presentation fits the bill. Also review the types of questions your interviewer is likely to ask. This can include question such as:

  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  • What type of practice are you interested in?
  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty at work.

You will also be questioned about your resume. Make sure you know your resume thoroughly, and be prepared to elaborate when asked.

Make sure to exude confidence at all times, but avoid sounding arrogant. Be sure that you keep your conversation to the topic. Avoid making any disparaging remarks about others or other law firms.

Prior to your interview, make sure to research your interviewer(s). Know their career history and accomplishments and be prepared to weave some of this research into the conversation. This will not only show that you went the extra mile to find out something about them, but will give you something pertinent to discuss instead of the standard ‘How is the weather?’ small talk. Having said that, avoid getting too personal.

Finally, never forget to follow up! This includes a handwritten thank-you note that individually addresses a specific topic of discussion in the interview. Make sure to send the note the day after your interview. In fact, send it the same day, if you can. If a few weeks pass without any contact from the law firm, do not be afraid to send an email inquiring about the position.

For an easy to remember, easy to digest version of this article, Tenge Law Firm LLC, kindly contributed the article and accompanying Infographic below for you to use as your visual guide on How To Interview For A Law Firm.

 

 

Beware of An Idea Whose Time Has Come

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“Beware of an idea whose time has come.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It doesn’t matter what side of the political discourse one occupies, Secretary Hillary Clinton’s nomination (and acceptance) has put her in line to become the first woman President of the United States. This is huge! The significance of this is that twenty-one years ago, it did not seem possible. If and when she assumes the presidency, she will have Margaret Wade (of Dennis the Menace fame), and Psychologist Ann Ruben to thank.

In 1993, Ann, who had been studying children’s perceptions of women leaders, surveyed 1500 boys and girls from elementary schools, and asked them what they thought of a woman becoming President. Nor surprising, more girls thought it was possible. In 1995, while her husband was watching Dennis the Menace, he heard Dennis’ playmate Margaret Wade telling him thatSome Day a Woman Will Be President.”

That comment pushed Ruben to contact the creator of the popular comic strip to get permission to use the phrase on a t-shirt. She began selling the shirts to women’s organizations, and because of their popularity, she contacted her local Walmart to enquire if they would carry them. They bought dozens of them, but six weeks later the shirts were taken off the floor because some customers had found themtoo offensive”. Walmart’s head office even said they went against the company’sfamily values”. Well, the people spoke. They rallied against Walmart’s action and the t-shirts were put back on the shelves.

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The CBC interviewed Ann Rueben in 1995 when the Walmart story broke. Ann Rueben’s Interview with CBC.

So, twenty-one years ago, it didn’t seem possible. Now we are only a few months away from potentially having the first female President of the United States. How many of us had dreams from that many years ago that are still on the back burner because some people told us they couldn’t happen? How many of us have attempted to bring those dreams into reality only to be thwarted by our own doubts and fears, or by the fears inflicted on us by others?

In an interview with the Washington Post, Ann Ruben said that her father told her “Annie, you’re very smart, and whatever you decide to do in your life, you’re going to be successful. So don’t ever give up, Annie.” Those words gave her the incentive to continue her life’s work of helping to build the self-esteem of girls.

When I launched my mini non-profit Let’s GROW project earlier this year, it wasn’t as grandiose as Ruben’s t-shirts, but it was to encourage women to have a conversation with me, discuss a dream, go after it, and to never give up. Imagine staring at the college diploma of a woman who had a rough life, told she wouldn’t amount to anything, and lived her life believing it. At age 38, and with the help of a coach, she stopped believing the lies, went to college and now has a diploma to prove she is somebody.

Many of us never reach our full potential either because we don’t believe in ourselves or we give up too soon. But, perseverance is the key. When you are knocked down by life’s circumstances, pull yourself up with all the strength you have, and try again. If you cannot do it alone, ask for help. Christian author Dr. Jaime Fernandez Garrido said, “Many winners have reached success by climbing a special ladder called ‘never give up’”.

We are not all Hillary Clintons, and we might not aspire to be President of the United States, but what about taking charge and aspiring to be President of our own lives? You, too, can shatter the glass ceiling of whatever is holding you back. As Secretary Clinton herself said, “When there is no ceiling, the sky is the limit.”

As you reflect on the enormity of Secretary Clinton’s nomination, politics aside, and think of what is possible, may it serve as a motivating force to push you forward in whatever direction you choose. In the meantime, heed Ann Ruben’s advice: “You’re smart. Get educated. Don’t ever give up on your dream and you’ll make it. Hillary made it. She never gave up on her dream.”

“I Am the Greatest…”

Gotcha!

It’s not about me…

It’s not about Muhammad Ali…

It’s all about you!

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Last week I was preparing for one of my advanced speeches for Toastmasters. The project was a sales training speech to teach marketing and selling techniques to my audience.

As ironic as this sounds, I started the speech with this quote, “I am the greatest thing since sliced bread,”  intending to use it as a rally / pep talk for the audience. A few days later, I heard of the passing of Muhammad Ali. When I started preparing the speech, he and his famous “I am the greatest” quote were far from my mind, yet it was the same message I wanted to convey to my audience.

Ali branded himself as “The Greatest” and it stuck. He affirmed it until it became his reality. Most of all, he used it to taunt and conquer his boxing opponents. But, those words also encouraged many of us to believe in ourselves and our capabilities. Whether you liked him or not is debatable, but he was authentic, and believed in himself and his message. Why was he so effective? Because he believed that “as a man thinketh, so is he.”

Now, before anyone starts wondering how could a human being propagate himself to be the greatest, let me allay your fears. Even Ali himself recognized his limitations, when he said, “I am not greater than God; I am just the greatest in the ring.” And I concur.

What does Muhammad Ali’s quote have to do with career advice? It’s about the mindset. Writer Arthur Golden said, “A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory.” Isn’t that true? When we clog our minds with doubt, or when we surround ourselves with people who speak negativity all day long, we are not opening ourselves to attain what’s possible.

As I reflect on some of Ali’s quotes, I want to remind you that you, too, are great, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You will meet naysayers of all stripes, but don’t let them throw cold water on your dreams. I have been there. I have many met people who tried to tell me what I could and could not do.

When I wanted to teach at a college years ago, there were people who asked me who told me I could. When I first announced I was going to write a book, one individual asked me a similar question. In their mind’s eye, it didn’t look possible, but I didn’t listen to them. Instead, I acted like the bumble bee. The story is told of the bumble bee who didn’t get the memo that it wasn’t supposed to fly. Although it has wings, the shape of its body (according to the law of aerodynamics), should prevent it from flying. No expert could talk this bumble bee out of flying. I imagine it felt its wings on its barrel-shaped body and something in its DNA said, “I am supposed to fly. I am not made to just crawl around on the ground”, and away it went flying. Muhammad Ali once said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”  The bumblebee took a courageous risk and look what happened.

You have to be courageous like the bumble bee, and take a risk. You can’t have a positive life with a negative mind. When negativity calls you on the phone, don’t argue with it, just hang up! That job opportunity you are after can be yours; that teaching position your are looking for can be yours; that business you are yearning to start can happen…just believe in yourself.

Champions

But, belief in self alone won’t cut it. You need to take action. That’s where most of us falter. We get excited about the possibilities, but fail to take action, or we give up after the novelty wears off. When you have been knocked down by the blows of life, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and remind yourself that you are the greatest. Remember, “Champions are not made in gyms. Champions are made from something deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will, but the will must be stronger than the skill.” ~Muhammad Ali.

Let me end with one more quote from Ali’s book The Soul of a Butterfly:

THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS

“All of my life, if I wanted to do something, I studied those who were good at it; then I memorized, what I learned, and believed that I could do it too, then I went out and did it.”

Dare to dream big! Dare to take chances. Let your mantra be “I am the greatest!” and believe it. Then apply the will and follow through, and see what happens.

 

Life and Work Getting You Down? Call a Career Coach

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

You can’t reach the top of your game all by yourself. Just as sporting champions benefit from the wisdom and guidance of their coaches, so can you in your working career.

~ Robert Half Career Coaching Guide

Once upon a time coaching was exclusive to business executives, actors, athletes, professional speakers, and entertainers. These experts hire coaches to help them assess their strengths and weaknesses, keep them motivated and support them as they work toward fulfilling their goals and dreams. You might not fall into any of those categories, but that does not mean you couldn’t benefit from coaching. If you are experiencing any or all of the following symptoms you might want to consider a career coach:

  • You are standing at a crossroads in your career and need help identifying the right direction
  • You are dissatisfied with your job, but not sure what to do next
  • You Lack confidence and have been passed over for promotions or other job opportunities
  • You are not getting interviews, and when you do, you are not moving on to the next stage

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a woman who has been in a career rut for a few years. Her career includes working in marketing and advertising with some well-known brands in Toronto. She also had a stint in television. Now she is ‘stuck’. At the end of our exploratory conversation, I asked her, “So, how can I help you? She said, “Ugh, I thought you would tell me.” I explained to her that coaching isn’t about telling someone what to do – it’s asking the right question to help the person gain clarity and come up with his or her own answers.

At the end of the conversation, I thought about this common misconception that people have about career coaching. A career coach cannot look into a crystal ball and tell a client what to do. It’s a collaborative process. The client explains the challenge they face, and where they might need the most help. The coach listens, prods, listens some more, advises, provides resources and keeps the client accountable.

Of course, it’s not easy to get out of a rut. Sometimes the journey starts off on the right foot but at some point the wheel falls off. Life gets in the way sometimes, but most times it’s because of a lack of action; a firm commitment to doing the homework (assessments, assignments, quizzes), and participate fully in the process. At some point they  abandon the process and give up. Giving up shouldn’t be an option if one really desires to get out of a rut.

Author and Marketing expert Bill Connolly wrote an article in Entrepreneur titled Stop Planning Your Career and Take Action. In it he summarizes the story of Dr. Susan O’Malley, a cosmetic doctor and personal development expert who specializes in helping people transform their own obstacles into victory:

  • College-dropout who worked as a secretary
  • At age 39 she became a doctor. (The day she started medical school she was six months pregnant and single.)
  • Became an entrepreneur at age 50
  • At 63 she became a first-time author writing her book, Tough Cookies Don’t Crumble: Turn Set-Backs into Success

Dr. O’Malley did not waver, complain or give up when she was forced  into a middle age change. “She dove head first into her new path, realizing that ‘now’ was far better than ‘never’, said Connolly. She advises anyone in similar positions as she was to start with small risks and work your way up.

“Everybody is afraid at one time or another. Fear prevents us from taking risks and stepping outside our comfort zone. All the stars will never be aligned perfectly and sometimes you have to make a decision with what you have.”

Anyone who realizes they are in a rut (career or otherwise), and wants a change, should take  action. Don’t leave such an important decision to happenstance. Once the decision is made, keep calm and carry on. Giving up should never be an option.

If you are feeling demoralized; if you find yourself at a plateau, and if you lack confidence, you might want to consider career coaching. A career coach can boost your confidence and give you a competitive edge.