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Ready to Create Your Big, Bold and Audacious Goal for 2021?

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Are you ready to make some Big, Bold, and Audacious Goals for 2021? If you are, then connect with me.

The beginning of a new year is a time of renewal. It’s a time when people get focused on what they want from the year ahead. But, sometimes the year catches us at a cross point, still wavering and uncertain about what to do.

If you are feeling stuck, hopeless, and alone, maybe it’s time to craft a vision of where you want to be by this time next year.

Join me and some other B.A.D. (Brilliant, Audacious and Daring), women at my once-a-year Visioning event. For the first time, it is being held virtually, allowing you to attend from the comfort of your home!

On Saturday, January 9, I will be hosting Visioning 2021: #GettingItDone. It’s a space where you will begin an exciting journey of crafting your 2021 Vision. You will be given tools and resources to help you craft your one-year vision, determine what steps you need to take, then create a plan. This might be the single most important step you will take in 2021 to achieve your goals. And, we do so in a fun setting.

Get the details right here >> Visioning 2021: #GettingItDone, but before you go there, here’s a snippet of what some past attendees have said:

“Thank you so much for inviting me to the Visioning event that was held today. It was a fabulous session ~ enlightening, inspiring, and meaningful. You provided so many valuable tools and resources for participants to assist everyone in setting their Goals to move forward in their life. This was a perfect session to “kick-start” the new year and motivate me to make changes in my life. You’re a perfect example (and walk the talk) when it comes to goal setting and taking action. You’re an inspiration to others! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise. You’re SIMPLY THE BEST!” ~Ingrid N.

 “I am extremely grateful to you for giving me an opportunity to share and be enriched! Perfect time to identify goals for 2018 I am so thankful to you for helping me find my word of the year, envision a bigger purpose through collaboration and being the Oprah Winfrey in action, body and spirit!“ ~Taranum K. 

“Thank you again for the opportunity to take part in your workshop yesterday. I had a tremendous time and am grateful for the chance to meet so many talented people. The real power came from the activities and exchanges with the group.”

This will be a highly productive day. Lots of work, and no speeches, except that a very special guest may join us briefly. (Am awaiting confirmation).

Plan to set aside the time for yourself and get rid of all distractions.

If you wish to gain clarity, confidence, courage and connection, and be part of a community that learns, supports and inspires, you need to attend this event. Act now!

What Happened at Our Quarantine Networking Party

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At the start of 2020, the beginning of a new year, and a new decade, many of us had had lofty plans, resolutions and goals, or whatever we chose to call them. A few months in, and COVID-19 has upended every facet of our lives. We are now reaching for some semblance of stability in a world of uncertainties. Some of the everyday things we once took for granted now have a deeper sense of purpose. Chief among these are the relationships between family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. There seems to be an urgency to connect, of course within the #StayatHome restrictions.

Last Saturday night I decided to host a “Quarantine Networking Party” via Zoom with a few women from my Let’s GROW community. We hadn’t gotten together since January 11, and I thought it would be a good idea to schedule a quick check-in. What I thought would’ve lasted an hour, took two hours.

We opened with an upbeat rendition of Bob Marley’s One Love: “One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.” What is striking about this is, I wanted to begin the get-together with something fun and upbeat. It wasn’t until one of the said out loudly, “Everything is gonna be alright!” (another of Bob’s songs), that I realized we were actually going to get together, and whatever happens post-COVID19, everything is going to be alright.

We took a few minutes to introduce or re-introduce ourselves and discussed how the evening would proceed. We then entered the breakout rooms where the aim was to go beyond the customary “How are you doing?” question and really dig deeper. This idea came from a Quartz article written by Elizabeth Weingarten of Ideas42.org. (Credit goes to my friend and supporter Kasindra Maharaj who shared the resource with me.)

In the article Weingarten says, “In this challenging moment, let’s move beyond “how are you doing?” and get more serious about the questions we’re asking our colleagues, friends, and family…It’s a matter of keeping our relationships strong and solvent during what may be a long stretch of healthy spacing ahead of us.”

Asking the right questions

In line with the article, I preselected a few of the questions to do just that – move beyond “how are you doing?” Each person was to choose any of the questions and discuss them in their group. The seven below is from an original list of 20:

  1. How are you taking care of yourself today?
  2. What part of your shelter-in-place residence have you come to appreciate the most?
  3. What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (that isn’t toilet paper)?
  4. What habit have you started, or broken, during the quarantine?
  5. Which specific place in your neighborhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?
  6. What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?
  7. What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?
  8. “What problem—either yours, or something more global —do you wish you could solve?”

The Debrief

We regrouped for a debrief. We learned that someone in the group was recently laid off as a result of COVID-19, and two had been job hunting. Someone immediately shared a link to jobs in the GTA. The others of us are okay at this point. In view of the COVID-19 crisis, it was not surprising during the debriefing to hear comments such as:

  • Family is much more than “How are you?” Deeper conversations are taking place.
  • Nobody knows what the new normal will look like. It is scary in one respect, but exciting in another.
  • People seem to have become more collegial, and empathy and compassion are more evident. This is one thing we would want to see continue.
  • Remote work is here to stay. More employers are going to buy into the concept that remote work makes good business sense. Put another way, the toothpaste cannot be put back into the tube.
  • There is more communication between employers and employees, online meetings are more prevalent, and relationships overall seem to be much better.
  • Those deemed essential workers are garnering more respect. Not only those in health care, but train and bus operators, retail and grocery clerks, delivery drivers, etc. People are waking up to how important they are.
  • Some companies are demonstrating social responsibility by, not only keeping their staff pretty much intact, but also ensuring that PPEs get to some hard-to-reach northern communities.
  • Being laid off come with blessings, but the job search will continue
  • Virtual coffee chats and kitchen table bible study groups have been created.

The last question, “What problem—either yours, or something more global —do you wish you could solve?”, was reserved for the main discussion during the get-together. It was to put legs to a book idea I have been mulling over for my 2020 Let’s GROW theme. It was a question we agreed to contemplate beyond the meeting, but it provided a segue into a brief introduction of Ikigaki.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that examines all areas of our lives that give us purpose and meaning. “Having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.”

The plan, moving forward, is to apply aspects of the Ikigai concept to our lives: What’s our passion and mission? What can we do in the space that we have? Who can we empower, inspire and motivate? What will our legacy look like, and how can we capture that legacy? Equally important, what are we learning, or what have we learned? How are we growing, or how have we grown?

That’s how we ended our quarantine party – with lots of food for thought, as we consider the book project and where it will take us. The coronavirus may have descended on us and created a lot of uncertainties, but all is not doom and gloom. Out of a crisis comes opportunities, and we need to seize the moment. That’s what the Let’s GROW 2020 project is going to do.

I Was Zoom-bombed On a Career Chat…and It Wasn’t Pretty!

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Since the onset of COVID19, and realizing that some job seekers and employees are facing anxiety and uncertainty, I decided to host a few weekly Casual Career Chats where I would answer questions about job losses, job search, career transition. resumes, etc. I invited three of my colleagues, Maureen McCann, Michelle Precourt and Christine Cristiano, to be a part of the panel answering the questions.

The first Zoom meeting was on March 27, and it went without a hitch. Last Friday, April 3, I logged into the meeting a few minutes early to give us (the Panel) a chance to chat before the 3:00 pm start. Suddenly, I saw a message that my screen was being shared, and in seconds the vilest of pornography started broadcasting, interspersed with the N-word. At the time, my daughter and her son were in the adjacent room, and she shouted, “Mom, what’s that I am hearing?” They were not online, and didn’t see the images, but I quickly rambled off what was happening.

As one can imagine, the invasion of my computer screen startled me. I was in shock as I grappled to find a way to end the nightmare. Eventually, I gained some semblance of composure and clicked on “End Meeting for All”. Assuming it was an error, I re-started the meeting a few minutes afterwards, and in a flash, the pornography began. I immediately terminated the meeting.

In speaking with my colleagues afterwards, I learned for the first time about Zoom-bombing. One shared a link to an FBI article on the subject (which is posted below). Prior to the article, I had only heard about the lack of proper security on Zoom, but I didn’t pay it much attention. One reason was that I have had a Zoom account for years, and never had a problem.

After the conversation with my colleagues, I proceeded to do a bit of research, and what I discovered was horrifying. There has been a litany of incidences where hackers have been bombarding online classrooms (from kindergarten to university), and primarily targetting people of colour. A young African American man was defending his PhD dissertation via Zoom when his screen infiltrated. An article in last Friday’s USA Today summarizes what happened to K’Andre Miller, a hockey prospect for the New York Rangers. An online community gathering by a Jewish high school in Vancouver was also invaded. Most of these incidences have escalated since COVID19, when the use of the Zoom app ballooned from 10 million users in December 2019, to 200 million now.

A half hour after my incident, and without contacting Zoom, I received a “Dear Valued Customer” email from them. It was advising me of what they were doing to tighten security and what safeguards I should put in place.

I spoke with Peel Regional Police Communication Bureau to find out what they knew about Zoom-bombing. The woman I spoke with hadn’t heard of it but her colleague did. I then called the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and they had heard about it, and urged me to take greater security.

Putting the onus on me to adhere to Zoom’s security protocol is not a problem. But, let’s face it, this infiltration of my screen speaks to a larger issue: RACISM! And before anyone hastens to dismiss my pronouncement, let me say this, whenever someone tells you they have experienced racism, believe them. Don’t be too quick to write it off as “playing the race card.” It’s too easy to resort to that, and then miss the opportunity to have a civil discourse on the topic.

Many of us shy away from such discussions because it’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable because race is a social construct that places people in boxes, or on a hierarchy that presupposes one group is more, or less, than the other. Herein lies the problem. It’s awkward to argue such a concept, but if we are not prepared to have a candid discussion about racism, we will continue to perpetuate this fallacy.

Many years ago I was invited to speak to a group of university students in a women’s studies class. Of the 50 students, 3 were non-white. During the Q&A, one student asked me if I had ever faced racism. I smiled, then said, “If I tell you I haven’t, I would be lying. I have had my share, but I never allow racism to stop me from doing whatever I want to do or going wherever I want to go. If it means going up, down, sideways or plowing through, I am going to get there. Obstacles may slow me down, but nothing is going to stop me.”

That has always been my approach. Probably it’s because of my Jamaican background, where we don’t cringe when faced with obstacles like these. We deal with the elephant in the room if it raises its head, and then move on. And, by the way, sometimes, the racism is not as blatant as the Zoom-bombing experience. Sometimes it’s the microaggressions that we face in our workplaces, schools, and communities, both on- and offline. They are real!

There I was, with my colleagues, offering free career advice to job seekers and people who feel uncertain and lost during this COVID19 scare, and someone (or group) decided that invading my online space with pornography and racist taunts was more important. I don’t get angry very often, but this time I did. However, I won’t focus on the anger lest we miss the point of the real issue.

I know what I am saying is not at all comfy, but it is not meant to be. Sometimes we just have to call a spade a spade! That said, I am not going to allow trolls to stop me from doing my work. The Casual Career Chat will continue for a couple more weeks as was intended, but with a different set of security protocols.

As I conclude this piece, I want to say I am privileged to have built relationships, and serve a client base from diverse races and cultures. I am the better from the experiences, and I am confident my clients and connections would say the same. But this should, and will not prevent me from calling out racism when I see it, and this one hit close to home.

Related Posts:

New York Rangers Prospect Zoombombed

CNN’s Interview with Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan

Zoombombing attack Left Doctoral Candidate Shaken

FBI Warns of Teleconferencing and Online Classroom Hijacking

 

Ask for What You Are Worth!

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“In business and in life, you don’t get paid what you deserve; you get paid what you negotiate.” – Anonymous

In archiving some of my workshop files this past week, I discovered a presentation I gave to a group of mostly International Trained Professionals (IEPs) at University of Toronto’s Rotman’s School way back in 2008. The title: A 30-Day Plan to Put Your Career on the Fast Track. Part of the discussion was about how to speak up and ask for what you want. During the presentation I introduced this Brian Tracy quote:

“The Future Belongs to the Askers: The future does not belong to those people who sit back, wishing and hoping that things will improve. The future belongs to those people who step up and ask for what they want. And if they don’t get it right away, they ask, again and again, until they do get it.”

It was a spirited discussion, particularly around how to advance on the job. I confessed to them that early in my career, I was one of those individuals who believed that working hard would get me noticed and rewarded with a promotion. That was not the case. I discovered I needed to become an advocate for myself and ask for what I wanted. Things changed once I convinced myself of my worth.

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of NBC’s Morning Joe, and author of Knowing Your VALUE – Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth, talks about how difficult it is for women to ask for what they want, including asking for a raise or a promotion. “Women”, she said, “prefer to work, work, work, hoping the boss will notice”. If you are such an individual, it’s time to lift up your head from all this work, survey the landscape, and devise a plan to ask for what you want.

Valerie Jarrett, then senior advisor to President Obama, and who was quoted in Brzezinksi’s book, said at a point in her career, she felt if she was working so hard, her boss should recognize that she deserved a promotion. It wasn’t until one of her mentors said, “You can’t sit around waiting for people to recognize your work, you have to ask for it”, that she gathered her courage and went to her boss. Soon after that discussion, she got the promotion and the front office. “If you’re not asking for a promotion…you’re not going to get the gold ring”, said Jarrett.

What if it’s not a promotion? What if you have been offered a new job and you want to negotiate your salary but you are getting cold feet? That’s what happened to one of my clients last week and he nearly gave up an opportunity to negotiate. The salary was not what he had expected, but he was afraid to ask for more in case the offer was withdrawn. I reminded him that most employers expect candidates to negotiate, and as long as he didn’t appear unreasonable, he shouldn’t worry.

Before returning the call to HR, I asked him to explore some ‘what ifs’: What would he do IF he didn’t get what he asked for? What would he do IF they withdrew the offer? After contemplating his options, he decided to ask for two things: a $5,000 addition to the salary, and reimbursement for his professional membership fee. The initial offer represented a $17k increase, but it was not the $110k he was looking for. We discussed how he would frame the ‘ask’ in one sentence: “Would you consider paying for my professional membership, and could you add $5,000 to my salary?” I suggested that once he asked the question, he should remain quiet; don’t utter another word. Bingo! He received what he asked for. What if he hadn’t asked? He would’ve left $22,000 on the table.

Most people want to advance in their career; be it a better pay, increased responsibility, or more meaningful work, but they are afraid of the ‘ask’ word. They don’t want to topple the apple cart. But, think about this, even high profile individuals like Valerie Jarrett and Mika Brzezinski found it difficult to ask for what they wanted, but when they asked, they got it.

Reflect on your situation:?

  • Are you afraid to ask for the job during the interview?
  • Are you hesitant to ask for a raise?
  • Are you waiting on your boss to give you a promotion?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable asking clients to pay for your services?

To help you overcome the ‘afraid to ask syndrome’, ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen? Then prepare to get to the point, being very clear about what you want.

Never doubt yourself when you are sitting at the negotiation table. Know your worth then ask for what you want. Remember, “You don’t get paid what you deserve; you get paid what you negotiate.”

Your Breakthrough Might Just Be Around the Corner

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Right now, you may be feeling discouraged for a number of reasons. You may have done more than your fair share of interviews without getting a job offer. Yikes!

You may have put all your effort into a project; it failed, and your expected promotion didn’t happen, or

You tried every networking strategy you were advised to use, and nothing happened!

You are now thinking “I have reached the end of my tether, and it’s time to give up.” My question would be “Give up, then what?”

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June has been a breakthrough month for three women I have been working with. Their stories are different, but they had one thing in common: giving up was not an option.

Their names have been changed for confidentiality reasons:

[Sarah] contacted me several months ago. I have chosen to use a significant portion of her email to demonstrate the relentless way she was going about her search and the strategies she had been using:

  • In about a year, I’ve sent close to 150 resumes, very targeted in most cases. At some point I was applying to a lot of HR jobs but in the last 6 months I’ve been applying to only jobs that I want to do, and researching the companies before applying. 
  • Had approx. 90 phone interviews, 40-45 in-person interviews (1st round), 20 interviews in 2nd/3rd round, and in 5 cases I got to the final round.
  • I do reflect on what went well and not so well in all interviews, take notes, and prepare for other chances. Nevertheless I do welcome any new advice in this area.
  • I follow up when not selected, request feedback, try to reach out later to build a relationship… no luck with that. 
  • I’ve been trying to reach senior people at companies I want to work for, just to have informational interviews.  I send personalized requests, write to them, and follow up twice… not much luck. 
  • I’ve asked most people in my network to introduce me to potential hiring managers, and tell me about jobs in my chosen field. 
  • I also volunteer a lot, I’m super active on LinkedIn

So it’s not that I’m sitting passively and waiting for the phone to ring!  There must be something I could be doing differently….  some interview practice for manager-and-above roles would be beneficial too.”

You are probably thinking that you would’ve given up by this.

Sarah is highly qualified, with an MBA, PMP, and HR (CHRP), certifications. I concluded from her email that she was doing everything right, but I was puzzled by the lack of job offers.

In our conversation, I commended her for her tenacity, a trait that not many people have. She reiterated what was in the email, and I asked her if she had done any assessments. I wanted to get a holistic view at her situation. She said she had just completed a 360o Feedback at work, and it didn’t unearth anything she didn’t know about herself.

During the session, I quickly realized she had some great accomplishment stories. Her homework was to recall some of the questions she was asked and come back with several stories. We arranged to have another conversation a couple of weeks afterwards, to review her homework. After listening to some of her answers, I encouraged her to add more depth to the stories, and allow them to flow naturally.

She continued to get interviews. At one point, when I asked if she had followed up with one particular company, she responded in an email, “I suppose I should have followed up again with the hiring manager but with the discouragement of the rejection I didn’t have the energy to do so.”

I totally understood how she felt. However, weeks later an email arrived with the Subject Line: Good news! The message said, “I have great news to share with you – I got a new job!!!  I am starting June 17th. I’m super excited about it!!!!

She followed up with a Thank-you card:

I gushed with humility, but my role in this was small, compared to her relentless nature. I gained strength from her tenacity.

*********

[Marissa] had been planning to make a career move for months. This is another highly-qualified lady, with two Masters, and a law degree (LLB).

She was being very strategic in her approach; arranging informational interviews and attending formal interviews.

At the end of May, she received a job offer from one of the institutions she had on her target list, but the salary did not meet her expectation. It was even below what she was getting at the time. Opportunities abound with this new organization, but a salary cut would defeat her main purpose for wanting a new job. She struggled with the decision.

We strategized on the best approach, using a T-Chart to weigh the pros and cons. She had already done a lot of the work. After our conversation, I followed up with this message:

“See if you can negotiate even the same salary you are getting now. Employers expect you to negotiate. You can give them a range and make sure your current figure is at the bottom of the range, even though it’s a unionized environment. If that doesn’t work negotiate for other things. You are bringing value!” 

By the time we had our next conversation, she had decided to make a counter offer, and was willing to walk away if they didn’t accept it. Tadaa! She was offered a salary that fell within mid-range of the scale, and her request to take her vacation in August, as she had originally planned, was accepted. She started her new job on June 26, 2019.

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[Kaitlin] has been a long time client, and, like many of my clients, we have become friends. I have also worked with her husband. Kaitlin has had her ups and downs with her job search. One of her main concerns was ageism. She is in her sixties, and always wondered how she could compete with younger job seekers, notwithstanding she is university-educated.

On June 12, 2019, she sent an email with the Subject Line “I got a job!” Her message said:

“Hi Daisy, my dear friend who has been such a humble supporter and ‘way show-er’ all these long years while I struggled to get back out into the world!

I received an offer of employment from X company today.  I am thrilled!!

I knew someone who worked there. They put in a good word for me so even in my sixties, I got a JOB!! So grateful!”

Age is a number. Focus on what you will bring to the table, and not how old you are.

Photo credit: Unsplash

What kept these women going? They knew that, although their paths had many a winding turn, they could not give up. Instead, when they needed clarity and encouragement, they reached out to me, and others. It also helped that two of these ladies were attendees at some, or all of my annual career workshops, including this year’s Why Not Me event.

It is said that “Success is a ladder you cannot climb with your hands in your pocket”. This is true. To get to where you want to go you need to continue to work at it, even though it takes guts and perseverance. It also helps to have someone with whom you can talk; a sounding board, who will not only nudge and guide you, but will listen, help you see things from a different perspective, and more importantly, who will tell you the truth. You don’t need anyone who will sugar-coat the truth to make you feel comfortable.

Yes, there are times when discouragement and rejection will surface, and you feel like giving up. But look, whether you’ve been searching for months or years, or whether you’ve failed umpteenth times, my advice to you is to hold on. You have what it takes to get what you want. If you can’t do it alone, seek help, but don’t give up. Your breakthrough may just be around the corner.

Do you have a breakthrough story of your own, or do you need help in clarifying your path? Reach out to me. I am only a phone call or email away.

She Re-launched Her Corporate Career After Hitting Rock Bottom


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“If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.” ~Jim Rohn

When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere else to go but up! Consider Trudy’s story, a woman I had the honour of working with some time ago. (Name changed to protect her identity).

Her voicemail message said she was looking for career coaching, but her ominous tone left me thinking she needed counselling (therapy). When I returned the call she confirmed she wanted career coaching.

A few years prior, Trudy had given up her corporate job with a major Canadian company due to family obligations. She did a variety of odd jobs that allowed her the flexibility she needed at the time, finally settling as a house cleaner with one of the more popular home cleaning franchises. She received a lot of push back from family and friends when she made this decision, and according to her, “My Italian mother saw it as a step down, and was not happy.” Yes, it was a step down, but she thought it would’ve been a great segue into entrepreneurship and owning her own cleaning business.

A little over a year doing this job, she gave it up, concluding it was not for her. By then, things had changed on the home-front, and she decided she wanted to return to a corporate environment. Not only was she now looking for a new job, but her already low self-esteem had reached rock bottom. Is she going to fit in? How will she position herself after a four-year hiatus from the corporate world?

At the end of our first meeting we agreed to work together, but there was one drawback: she couldn’t afford my fees. I asked her what option would work for her, other than having to reduce my fees, and she said she would schedule sessions whenever she had the money. Not only did I see the pain and frustration she was going through, but also the determination to get back up, and that was compelling.

We made arrangements to have face-to-face sessions twice per month. I would offer her as much support as I could, including short spurts of coaching if absolutely necessary. I also explained that for coaching to effective, she had to commit to doing whatever work and assignments that were necessary. Before we tackled the job search, we had to work on the self-esteem issue. After our third meeting and a couple of assessments, I noticed a significant difference in her behaviour. She had started to regain her confidence, her inner dialogues and negative self-talks had subsided, her head was no longer held down, and “people were beginning to take notice”, she said. At one point, she beamed as she told me how she was asked to “take up the collection at Church.” “No big deal”, one might say, but to her, it was!

Before we tackled the job search, we had to work on the self-esteem issue. After our third meeting and a couple of assessments, I noticed a significant difference in her behaviour. She had started to regain her confidence, her inner dialogues and negative self-talks had subsided, her head was no longer held down, and “people were beginning to take notice”, she said. At one point, she beamed as she told me how she was asked to “take up the collection at Church.” “No big deal”, one might say, but to her, it was!

As our work continued, I introduced her to individuals in my network so she could arrange informational meetings. We figured that after a four-year absence from the workforce, she needed to gain insights into current workplace practices and business culture. I developed her resume and cover letter, and coached her on interviews, services that were not included in the coaching agreement.

Two months into the coaching relationship, she said, “I am ready to start my job search, and want to find a job by the middle of next month.”

On her way to her first interview, she stopped by my office to show me her new outfit and to let me know she was wearing lipstick. Trivial, it might seem, but that was an example of increased confidence and transformation.

She didn’t get the job, and was quite disappointed. A week later, on her way back from another interview, she phoned to say she had been offered an administrative position with a leading clothing company, and was hired because of her background in customs and logistics. When we checked the date, it was March 14, exactly one month from the day she set her intention to find a job by the middle of the next month.

Trudy demonstrated discipline, motivation, and perseverance, which helped her move from rock bottom to a new job. These are equal opportunity characteristics that do not require a degree; everyone has access to them.

Some people enter coaching looking for quick fixes, but it takes time to untangle the web of past experiences to get to where one wants to go. And to get results, it’s important to plan purposefully – set goals or milestones – and work diligently to achieve them.

It starts with one small step. If you don’t take that small step and start doing the things that seem frightening, difficult or uncomfortable, you will realize that one year from now, you will be at the same place in your life or career.

Take a chance!

It’s International Women’s Day…So What?

International Women’s Day 2019

Normally, I would have a blog post ready to deploy on International Women’s Day, but busyness caught up with me this week, so I am late to the party. As the saying goes, “Better late than never”!

Now, the title of this post could’ve turned you off. Could’ve had you thinking that I am trivializing the Day. Not at all.

It is International Women’s Day all over the world, so what? What’s the difference with the other 364 days? For 24 hours we will be wishing each other Happy International Women’s Day, but will it be business as usual tomorrow, probably lowering our heads, drooping our shoulders and being sorry for ourselves? I don’t think so. We are better than this!

If it’s the former, let’s change that, starting with the narrative in our own heads. The stories we tell ourselves to keep us down instead of allowing us to flourish: “I can’t; I am going to fail; I am not good enough.”

With that out of the way, let me begin by wishing all the women in my circle, and by extension, all women around the world a Happy International Women’s Day. You are awesome! Keep doing your good works, whether it’s quietly behind the scenes, or in the limelight. It’s not what or how much you do, it’s the impact you are making in the lives of others. Let that sink in!

Having said that, allow me to give all of us a pep talk, because we are more than enough, we can, and we will, and we are not going to fail. Not if we support each other. Not if we amplify each other’s voices; not if we commit to being ‘brag buddies’ for each other.

The Past is Gone, Embrace What’s Coming

Don’t be defined by your past; learn the lessons and move on. It doesn’t make sense to continue staring at the closed door when windows of opportunities are passing you by.

Don’t Fall for the Little Four-Letter Word “QUIT”

When it gets difficult, and you feel like giving up, rest, but don’t ever quit. Be tenacious; don’t back away. A Quitter never wins!

You Can and You Will

Surround yourself with other women who are on a positive pathway, and ditch those who seek to hold you back; those who see limitations; those who dare to tell you that you can’t.

Be You! All the Others Are Already Taken

You are unique! You were not made to be who or what somebody else wants you to be. You were made to be you. If you’re ever going to become all you can be, you must refuse to be defined by others.

Shameless Plug

Don’t be ashamed to toot your own horn. If you don’t, no one will know you are coming. You don’t need anyone’s permission to root for yourself. And while you’re at it, root for the other women around you, too.

Don’t Allow Anyone to Write Your Story

Some people will try to minimize you and your accomplishments. Don’t allow it! Gather every ounce of confidence you can muster and speak up for yourself. Claim your space!

Make Space at the Table for One More…

Some of us keep success to ourselves on the premise that there’s not enough room at the table; that the ladder does not have more space. We need to support each other. Let’s stop bashing and backbiting one another. Don’t pledge support, then complain or criticize when another woman pulls up a chair to sit at the table. There’s always one more space for one of us. Let’s be welcoming.

Collaborate, not Compete

Let’s work together and become better allies to, and for each other. Let’s adopt the Ubuntu mindset that says “I am Because We Are.”

Get Rid of Imposter Syndrome Mentality

Every time the beast of imposter syndrome takes a grip on you, whisper the mantra “Why not me?”

Think about “This time next year…”

March 8th may be International Women’s Day, but there are still another 364 days for us to blossom, and grow. Ask yourself right now, “This time next year, where will I be?”

Think about that!

Happy International Women’s Day!

12 Productivity Hacks for Very Busy People (Coaches, Job Seekers & Entrepreneurs)

Photo by Tomas Yates on Unsplash

“Don’t be Busy. Be Productive!”

That’s a line I read recently, and it caused me to stop and think. Sometimes we deceive ourselves in thinking that being productive is tantamount to being busy, or vice versa.

In fact, when we think of productivity, we tend to focus on volume: how many boxes of widgets passed through the conveyor belt, for example.

What if we start thinking of productivity as making better use of our time?As a career coach, and almost a Jill-of-all-trades in my business, it’s important that I find tools that, not only help me become more productive, but tools I can share with clients to help them do the same.

Recently, I attended and presented at CANNEXUS, Canada’s largest career development conference. While my presentation was initially billed as 19+ Productivity Hacks Career Practitioners Should Know (the number 19 reflecting the year – 2019 – as well as the conference’s hashtag – #Cannexus19), I ended up sharing more than 30 productivity tools.

While I did not use all 30, many are tools I use fairly often. For example, the Way Back Machine is one I often use when I need to see what was on my website, say 4 years ago. It is so good that now and again I make a small donation so it will continue running.

One attendee at my session at the conference sent an email that said, “My director is overjoyed with your slides!  He used the Way Back Machine, and found information on our archives that was lost for 20 years and no one could recover it!  All of Senior Management is now using the Way Back Machine and it’s all thanks to you! 

In this article, I am sharing 12 of those hacks for anyone who wants to increase their productivity, or at least, check them out. (Most are free, and some have an option to upgrade).

Way Back Machine

As mentioned above, if you are looking for the contents of a website that no longer exists, or whose information has changed, save time by using Way Back Machine. It contains 20+ years of web history.

Unroll.me

Have too many email subscriptions? Use Unroll.me to unsubscribe from those you no longer want to receive.

Coschedule Analyzer

Need an irresistible Blog Headline? Coschedule Headline Analyzer is your friend. Type your text and click Analyze. It will evaluate and give a score. Any Headline with a score of 70+ (or is coloured green), is considered good.

Get Pocket

Get Pocket is another must-have. Save articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app to read later.

Do Nothing for 2 Minutes

Have you been on online, or on your devices for too long? Need a short break from your routine? Take a 2-minute break with Do Nothing for 2 Minutes. You cannot cheat with this one. If you touch your laptop or device, it asks you to start over!

Flipboard

Flipboard is a news-reading App that gathers articles and delivers them to your device(s) as Smart Magazines.

Rescue Time

Want to track how long you spend online? RescueTime runs in the background on your computer / laptop. It tracks, and gives an accurate picture of the time you spend on applications and websites.

10 Times

10Times is a must-have! Want to look for events, conferences, tradeshows or meetups happening near to you? Download this App using your email, LinkedIn, Google or Facebook account.

24.me

24.me acts as a Personal Assistant that helps people boost their productivity. It handles one’s Calendar, To-Do List, Notes, etc.

Toodledo

Toodledo is slightly different from 24.me in that it tracks your habits, create structured outlines, collaborates with coworkers and family on projects, and will sync across all your devices.

Sharethrough

Sharethrough is similar to CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. It offers a Quality Score as well as suggestions to increase your headline’s impact.

Google Keep

Google Keep lets you create notes and to-do lists that sync across your computer and phone or tablet. Computerworld has a good article on this App. Remember it’s Google; therefore if privacy is an issue, do your due diligence.

So there you are. Twelve time-saving tools, and there are more where these came from.

An Entrepreneurial Dream Come True

“A dream written down with a date becomes a Goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” — Greg Reid

Jackie Palmer (fourth from right in the top photo frame), was my friend first before she became a client.

She’s quiet, smart, ambitious, and hardly ever takes “No” for an answer. When faced with obstacles (and there were many), she found ways around them.

At a workshop I hosted in December 2016, I asked attendees to “write things down to make them happen”. I suggested that any idea that came into their minds they should write them down because they never knew where it could lead. Jackie then told the group that she had always had the idea of writing things down, and it was something she was going to start in the New Year.

Well, last Saturday (September 22, 2018), Jackie, her husband Chris and partners Conrad and Daliah Smith, had the Grand Opening of the Rollerplex Entertainment Centre at 284 Orenda Road, in Brampton, Ontario. The collage above speaks to the occasion, but here is a link to additional photographs of the event: Rollerplex Opening, Brampton.

She told me this morning, “I remember mentioning that at the workshop and, yes, lots of writing it down happened”.

Obstacles, there were, but they persevered!

To all those who have ever said, “I want to…, BUT I can’t; am stuck, trapped, frustrated and fed-up”, here’s motivation for you to plow through. It doesn’t matter what you are facing. It could be a business you want to start, a program you want to study, or a job you are pining for, write out a plan on how you are going to get there. Seek assistance if you need someone to hold you accountable.

When that job interview didn’t go as planned and you didn’t get the job, don’t give up. Redouble your efforts. Take my advice, “When you are floored by circumstances, get up, rub your knees off and start afresh.” 

An important lesson Jackie said she learned: “If you don’t make up your mind and, ‘Just do it’ like Nike, it won’t happen.” 

Are you ready to write down your goals and dreams and make them happen? Start today!

 

 

 

Why Microwave Interview Preparation Does not Work

On May 4th I received the following email:

“My wife is looking for some coaching on job interviews.  She has had a few recently, but no offers came about.  She is actively looking, and has another phone interview set up very soon.  I would like to know if you have some availability this weekend (May 5-6).” 

On May 10th I received this one:

“I have an upcoming interview next Monday the 14th for a Presales role, and the Interviewing preparation that you provide seems interesting.

I would like for it to take place in the next 3 days, ideally on the 11th or 12th of May. Are you available?”

I have highlighted these messages not because I want to point fingers, but to call attention to a common occurrence, and the casual manner in which some people treat their job search. And, it’s not only about interviews. Last Thursday, a man called to say he was laid off two weeks ago after 14 years at the same job, and he wanted his resume updated. He then asked if he could drop by to get it done as he would be passing my way soon.

In all the above cases, the individuals either believe I am available anytime, including weekends, or that I can easily update a resume for someone who hasn’t searched for a job in 14 years.

We live in a microwave society where we expect quick results in everything we do. Sometimes, this microwave mentality shows up in the job search, particularly when it comes to interviews. Some job seekers believe that pressing the ‘Quick Minute’ interview button is enough to adequately prepare for the interview. My advice is, if you really want to ace the interview, you should not wait until the last minute to seek help. In fact, once you are in job search mode, at minimum, you should be:

  • Researching your target companies
  • Creating a professional resume
  • Contacting your references, and,
  • Preparing for the interview

The fourth part of the above plan is what this post is about. Some people treat interview preparation as an afterthought; they don’t seek help until they are called for the interview. But, the approach that works best is to think that the interview begins once you have submitted your resume. What if you are the sought after candidate, and the hiring manager just happens to see your resume? You could be contacted immediately. While some companies give a week or two advanced notice, others want to interview you as soon as possible, so don’t be caught off guard.

To be fair, a good number of clients contact me at least five business days before their interview because they don’t want to ‘wing’ it.

Last week, for example, I coached a film producer who reached out to me weeks ago before he had the interview arranged. Another client, a recreation manager, sought interview help even before the job was advertised. She knew it was coming, got her resume ready and wanted to get a head start on the interview. These two individuals know what’s at stake, and don’t want to leave it up to chance.

My aim with clients is to have them well-prepared and confident before they go for the interview, not unprepared and jittery. It is better that they are prepared for an interview opportunity and not have one, than to have an interview opportunity and not be prepared.

When it comes to the job search, and interviews in particular, there is no microwave solution. The slow-cooker method is the preferred way.

Do you find interviews challenging? Don’t wait for the last minute. Contact me for assistance.