Are you Staying in a Job you Should Quit? – Guest Post

Are you Staying in a Job you Should Quit?

stayingSo, you’re fed up at work and dream of the day you explain to your boss, ever so eloquently, that you won’t be coming back. Yet day after day after day, you continue to do just that. Are you crazy?!?

Even though it takes guts to leave something safe and secure, roughly 24 million people still voluntarily switched jobs in the middle of the 2013 recession. At a time when it might have been financially prudent to ride out the economic turmoil by staying in their present position, they faced risk head-on and made a career move.

Was their situation really that different from yours? It’s possible. But it’s also possible they simply chose a little “risk” over “regret.” Think about that for a minute. These words are both short and start with the same letter of the alphabet, but the similarities end there!

By staying in a job you hate, you’ve done the flip and chose “regret” over “risk.” And perhaps it’s the right choice for you. But it’s not a decision to take lightly. Author, Lewis Carroll, offers up the following advice: “In the end…we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”

If you’re pondering a career move, there are a lot of things to consider (Hello! That’s why you haven’t already left right?!?). Give this a read to make sure you’re choosing the right “R” in the alphabet!

Cost of Staying

Admittedly, changing jobs is scary—not to mention flat out hard work. But staying in the wrong job comes at a considerable cost, too. In fact, it’s a choice you may “regret” for many reasons.

Personal Fulfillment. Sure, it’s likely easier to go the job you hate everyday than investing the time (and possible rejection!) that it takes to find a new job. But don’t kid yourself. There are no do-overs in life, and you literally never get the chance to live today again. Wouldn’t you rather be doing something you actually enjoy?

Regret. A recent Forbes article, “The 25 Biggest Regrets In Life. What Are Yours?” skipped career opportunities were listed not once, but twice! Staying at the wrong job can impact both your bank account and your happiness. “Regret”… it’s a small word with big implications!

Lost Income. Some people stay in a job they hate because they feel they can’t afford to leave. However, a new job often means greater earning potential. Waiting to make a switch literally costs you extra money that could be spent on vacations, retirement, or even the grandkids!

Missed Opportunities. Never underestimate the power of time. Staying in the wrong job likely means you’ll miss other opportunities. This is especially crucial to consider if you’re in an industry that experiences rampant growth or change.

So, Why Stay?

During 2013, 99% of the employed workforce resisted the urge to make a voluntary career move. That’s a pretty big number! Sure the recession may have been a factor in their decisions or it could simply have been an avoidance to that little word “risk.” But why?

Fear of Change. Realistically, change can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. It can also result in phenomenal success or tragic failure. Consequently, many find it easier to resist change altogether.

Loyalty. While it’s not the craze it was in 1950, loyalty at work can still be an issue between employers and employees. And it’s the reason many cite for staying in an otherwise unfulfilling position. If this applies to you, be sure to read, “Does Your Employer Deserve Your Loyalty?”

Less Money. While some job changes involve a pay increase, others may involve a pay cut—especially when going from a highly skilled or stressful job to one with fewer responsibilities. While you may prioritize quality of life, others find it easier to be miserable and maintain their current lifestyle.

Risk Averse. To some, status quo beats risk every time. If you are risk-averse, it can simply be easier to go through the motions than to face the unknown. As someone with a low risk tolerance myself, I get it. But understand that taking a risk can be a fantastic career move.

Perceived Stability. Perhaps you’re staying in your current job because you feel a certain amount of safety and stability. Whether the comfort stems from relationships with upper management or a perceived protection due to seniority, it can feel much safer to stay put than to throw caution to the wind and make a job change.

Potential for Failure. For many, the reality of staying in a job with little engagement outweighs the thought of potential failure.

The Reward! (The best “R” of all!)

Admittedly, there are many reasons to stay put in your current job. I just discussed six of them, and anyone in the mood to rationalize their decision to stay can likely rattle off dozens more. But there are also many potential benefits for making a career move. And that’s where the “reward”…the best “R” of all comes in to play!

More Challenge. When you’re bored at work, the minutes feel like days. But finding a challenging new job engages your brain in a positive way and can actually make the morning commute more enjoyable. What a concept, right?

More Happiness. Wouldn’t it be nice to not dread Monday…or Tuesday…or Wednesday? While you may not find a job that’s quite as enjoyable as your vacation, you have to admit that the concept of being genuinely happy with your life more than 1 or 2 weeks out of the year is alluring!

More Money. There aren’t many of us who would turn down a hefty pay raise from our current boss—myself included! The problem is that existing employers often can’t or won’t bump salaries outside of certain boundaries. You may be very surprised what your talents are worth at the bargaining table with a new company.

More Flexibility. If your current boss isn’t interested in thinking out of the box with regard to work schedules, other companies may be! Whether you’re looking for work from home arrangements or some other arrangement, employers are often willing to go to extreme lengths to attract top talent.

If you’re still torn between the urge to run screaming from the building (and your overly demanding boss!), or riding it out at your present job…take a deep breath. There are a lot of career coaches that can help you sort things out and decide which “R” is right for you!

Kathi Miller-MillerThis post was written by Kathi Miller-Miller. Kathi is a sought after career specialist and author of “Your Journey from Fired to Hired.” Kathi draws on her 25+ years of success (and failures!) to offer readers advice on topics ranging from dealing with that crazy boss to interview and job search tips…all in a light-hearted and easy to read style.  Feel free to visit her @ www.kathimillermiller.com where you can engage in the conversation, check out past posts and subscribe to her monthly newsletter. For the socially engaged, you can also find her on LinkedIn; Google+; Twitter; Pinterest and Facebook.

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What is Your Career Plan for 2016? [Survey]

Career Plan

Career Plan 2016It is that time of year again—time to start developing your career plan for 2016!

In the “olden” days, you’d probably have a meeting with your manager to create a career development plan.

When was the last time that happened?

I am going to give you a simple, four step process to use to create your career plan. I suggest you do this at least once a year.

At the end of this post, I will ask you to take a survey about your 2016 career plans.

Reflect Back to the End of 2014

Where were you in your career this time last year?

What skills were your using?

What skills did you want to attain in 2015?

Were you happy at work?

How was your health?

What was the state of your finances? (Make note of salary, bonuses, expenses, mortgage, loan payments, etc.)

Feel free to add additional questions as it relates to your career plan.

Spend some time documenting this. You will want to keep a record of your answers.

Take Stock of Your Current Situation

Answer the same set of questions regarding your current state. Record your answers with the answers from the previous year.

Did you make the progress you expected?

What obstacles arose that changed your course during the year? Did you have a Plan B?

Where Do You Want to Be Next Year?

Answer the same set of questions as they relate to where you want to be in one year.

What do you need to do to attain your goals?

This is your one year career plan.

What behaviors or attitudes do you need to start, modify, or eliminate?

  • Personal – Lose weight, exercise, better dental care, etc.
  • Professional – Network every Monday evening, participate in online forums, publish a blog, etc.
  • Community – Volunteer for a non-profit, attend your child’s PTA meetings more frequently, etc.
  • Educational – Take online courses at Lynda.com, read and comment on one blog per week, etc.

Set and document your goals for 2016. Plan on reviewing these—at the very least—every six months.

Put a calendar entry on July 4th to remind yourself to do this review. Just about everyone in the U.S. is on holiday on July 4th. If you do not live in the U.S., please pick another date in late June or early July.

What are Your Greatest Fears?

What could cause you to deviate from your plan?

  • Layoffs
  • The economy
  • Your health
  • Family  issues
  • Company down-sizing or reorganization

What is your greatest fear? Is it a valid fear, or just something you made up in your head? A lot of us do that!

If it is valid, what can you do about it? Create a Career Plan B.

If you create a career plan every year, you can easily track your progress. You will see patterns. You will see where you sabotage yourself. You will see where you both under commit and where exceed your goals.

Are you ready to create your career plan?

Please take a moment to participate in our short, 3-question Career Pivot community survey on career plans for 2016. Click here to take the survey now.

If you subscribe to this blog, you will get notification when the survey results are available.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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My 3 Biggest Career Mistakes

Biggest Mistakes

career mistakesI have made many mistakes in my career. This is the first post in a two-part series. In this article, I will chronicle my biggest mistakes, then next Monday, I will write about how I recovered and what I learned from these experiences.

This is all in preparation for my presentation, “Turning Reinvention Failure into Future Success” at the Mega Reinvention 2016 Virtual Conference.

I will publish a discount code for the conference in the second post of this series. You will want to subscribe to this blog to ensure you are notified of the next post.

So, let’s get started!

I Was Seduced by a Former Manager

In the late 1990s, I was working for IBM in a briefing center. I gave confidential product disclosures to IBM’s leading customers. I had been in this job for seven years.

  • It was an easy job. I had six or seven presentations that I knew in my sleep. These were deeply technical presentations, but for me, they were easy.
  • It was highly visible to upper management. All of the upper management in our division knew who I was. I got to present at leading conferences.
  • It had a lot of perks. I received jackets, shirts, hats, bags, etc…everything to dress myself except underwear, slacks, shoes, and socks.

Despite all of that, I was bored with it.

My manager (who was great) had left the previous year to work for IBM Global Services, the IBM consulting arm. She knew I was bored and worked on me to join her group. I thought about this for six months. She painted a very rosy picture, so I made the leap.

This is one of my biggest career mistakes ever. I allowed myself to be seduced.

I did not do my homework. I believed her. I do not believe she intentionally seduced me, but I was, nonetheless. She had brought over several other colleagues who had lengthy consulting backgrounds in their past.

What I discovered was the following:

  • I did not have the attention span to sit for long hours developing technical proposals.
  • I worked with unhappy single people, unhappy divorced people and unhappy married people. The vast majority of the people I worked with had traveled too much in their careers and had poor personal relationships in their lives. I missed my team in the briefing center.
  • I sucked at writing technical proposals. My first set of proposals were lambasted—not for the technical content, but for my poor writing skills.
  • I could not work on projects for just anyone. I was put on a project developing a point of sale solution for one of the national short term loan companies (pawn shops). The more I learned about the business, the more I wanted out of there. Loaning money to the poor at 20% a month (not 20% a year like your credit card providers) made me ill.

I only lasted six months. After my young project manager attempted to publicly humiliate me in front of the team for my poor writing skills, I quit. I quit the project and I quit being a consultant.

It took me two months to find a position within the marketing division of IBM. I knew this was a holding place. Less than a year later, I left IBM after 22 years to go to work for a successful semi-conductor startup.

What I learned was that, if you are going to fail, fail fast. Mistakes are acceptable as long as mistakes are caught early. More on that concept in my next post.

Dream Jobs

The next of my career mistakes was to take a dream job. These are the jobs that people fantasize about. These are jobs that are romanticized  in the movies. I went to teach high school math in an inner city school.

On July 11th of 2002, I had a near fatal bicycle accident where I hit a car head on and our combined speeds exceeded 50 miles per hour. You can read all about what happened and what I learned here.

I had been developing curriculum and teaching engineers on and off for 20 plus years. I had done this in approximately 35 different countries. Heck, if I could train engineers in the People’s Republic of China, I was sure I could teach Algebra I and II to teenagers.

I was correct. However, I did not take into account the physical and emotional toll it would take on me. I lasted less that two years in this role.

I ignored every sign that this was not for me. No one told me that the average math teacher in Texas leaves the profession in less than 5 years. When I talked to teachers, they sugar coated their answers. No one could explain the hiring process for new teachers. My gut feel while going through the alternative certification process at my local community college told me I was not going to be prepared.

I was hired the week before school started at a school where 70% of the students were labeled economically disadvantaged (this means they were eligible for free or reduced breakfast and lunch). I was going to teach regular Algebra, which meant 90% of my students met this criteria.

I had to learn an entirely new culture…a culture of poverty.

Although I was incredibly successful, it tore me up. In hindsight, I should have quit at the end of my first year. As a typical baby boomer, I was taught not to quit. Gut it up. Persevere. Power your way through it.

I quit at the end of the fall semester of my second year, emotionally and physically exhausted.

I have a lot of stories. I am glad I did it. I touched a lot of lives, but…

I learned an immense amount on how our educational system works and why it is so broken. I could not be a high school math teacher for very long. Oh by the way, most of the people reading this post would not have lasted any longer than I did. It is a meat grinder!

It is not like the movies portray it in Stand and Deliver or Dangerous Minds.

I was often approached by former colleagues telling me that they planned to follow in my footsteps when they retired.

Most dream jobs are mistakes waiting to happen.

I would be happy to chat with anyone who is considering teaching in a public school later in life. You have to pursue this career choice with your eyes wide open.

I Can Make This Work

The next of my mistakes was to take a job that was not optimal, but I told myself “I can make this work.”

When I left teaching, I decided I would pursue working in a non-profit environment. I had spent a considerable amount of my previous 15 years in sales support, therefore, I pursued a fund raising position with a non-profit in Austin, Texas. By the way—we have way too many non-profits, most of whom have either no or very few salaried positions.

I pursued jobs at organizations where their missions aligned with my own values. But I got nowhere. I broadened my search to include non-profits that were close enough.

I told myself, “I can make this work.”

Soon, I interviewed and was hired by the local Jewish community center to build a corporate giving program.

To put it bluntly, being a non-Jew as the face for a Jewish organization is…interesting!

There are lots of stories here, but I realized within six months that there was no way I could be successful. Unlike many other Jewish communities (outside of Michael Dell and the Dell Corporation), Austin had very few Jewish-owned businesses. Austin did not even have a Jewish owned car dealer.

At the same time, I was rapidly figuring out that I could not tolerate the dysfunctional behavior of non-profits. I was used to getting things done. Well, that is not how things typically work in non-profits.

Since then, I have served on many non-profit boards. I can support a non-profit when I am aligned with their mission. I cannot work for just any non-profit. I previously discussed what you need to know about non-profits in my post 5 Questions to Ask Before Going from For-Profit to Non-Profit.

After six months, I decided I would leave right after the big fall gala. I would take vacation and then turn in my resignation. I lasted a year, but I made the decision pretty early on that this was not for me.

I could not make it work, despite what I had told myself.

Lessons Learned

I am happy I took all three jobs.

I learned a tremendous amount about consulting, public education and non-profits.

I learned a lot about myself. I learned:

  • My team is really important
  • I do not have unlimited energy to muscle through difficult situations
  • The mission is really important to me

In my post next week, I will discuss how I recovered from each of these mistakes. In addition, I will discuss how each prepared me for what I am doing today running Career Pivot.

Have you made career mistakes similar to mine? Please share below so we call can learn from our mistakes.

If you want to informed when the next post is ready, subscribe to this blog.
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Essentialism – Say “No Thank You” in Life – Guest Post

Essentialism – Say “No Thank You” to the White Noise in Life

essentialismI want to introduce you to a new word that has had a big impact on my life—essentialism—which comes from the book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

The words, “no thank you” need to have a bigger presence in our lives. We have all been there: it starts out slowly, you take on additional responsibilities at work or with your professional association or community group, and before you know it, you are overwhelmed with things to do. That little voice in your head says, “you should do this project because it may connect you with so-and-so or increase your standing in your company.” So, you do it.

It starts to feel like external factors are directing your life and you are merely juggling responsibilities to keep everything moving forward.

If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.

Does this statement resonate with you? It did with me. I took a few minutes and briefly evaluated what I was doing in my life and realized I was letting that happen to me. I was allowing the “white noise” of many activities to fill my days, which led me to believe it was all important. In reality, it was not.

Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, is a book that encourages you to make thoughtful choices about what you do in order to accomplish the things that are essential to you. By choosing less to focus on, we are able to dedicate ourselves to what is truly important.

Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.

And who doesn’t want to make meaningful choices in their lives so they are filled with purpose and meaning? Here are four points from the book to help you get started thinking about living the essentialism life:

To embrace the essence of Essentialism requires we replace these false assumptions with three core truths: “I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything.”

We can all make choices, so then, let’s use them. Do we really need all those activities in our life? Probably not! Regular habits are comfortable and predictable. We continue to do the same things because we have always done it that way…why change? Well, now is the time to make changes.

Yes, a stable life is good, but every now and we should re-examine our activities and determine what is important. And what is the trade off if we say no or stop doing things? One of two things will happen: either someone will pick up the activities and carry them forward, or they will fade away into the sunset. And you know what? That particular activity probably didn’t matter as much as you thought it did.

To discern what is truly essential we need space to think, time to look and listen, permission to play, wisdom to sleep, and the discipline to apply highly selective criteria to the choices we make.

This is my favorite part of the essentialism process. This part of the process is where we develop a new perspective of what we are looking for in our life. This is our time to play, listen, ponder, study, and explore what we want our lives to be. These are activities that should feed your soul and encourage you think outside the box. Use these activities to collect data about what is working for you and what is not.

Another benefit of reducing the white noise of so many activities is that we get to rest. As it is said in the book, you must “protect the asset”…and the asset is you. If you are run down or are trying to do it all, you are not going to be able to do your best and you are probably missing out on family and friend events. Work to eliminate needless activities and allow yourself to rest.

So once you have sufficiently explored your options, the question you should be asking yourself is not: What, of my list to competing priorities, should I say yes to?” Instead, ask the essential question: “What will I say no to?”

One of the most important things I learned during the reading of this book is how to say no, and to do so gracefully. It may be hard at first because you are hearing the voice in the back of your head tell you that you should do this activity or task.

You may get some reaction the first time you say “no thank you” to a request, but after awhile, people will respect you for your decisions. Since you are not responding to all the “shoulds,” you have more time to focus on generating good quality work and to devote quality time doing the things that really matter.

Another thing we must let go of is the FOMO—fear of missing out. When we start turning down the white noise of responsibilities and our should list, we sometimes wonder if, by doing so, are we losing out on something. In most cases, we are probably not missing out on the activity. Instead, we need to embrace a new concept: JOMO—joy of missing out. This new way of thinking gives us time to focus on what we really want to do in our lives.

“…once you’ve figured out which activities and efforts to keep in your life, you have to have a system for executing them.”

So how do you start this essentialism process? You start with baby steps and do a little at a time. This helps you to move slowly forward to build the momentum of living an essentialism life. I encourage you to track your progress and celebrate the small acts of success. A big source of motivation is making progress in performing meaningful work which would be your full and happy life.

It also helps to design a routine that works for you and find ways to personalize it and the tools (people, activities) to help support you in your journey. However, don’t be afraid to change of the routine to keep it fresh. Start by making changes on the difficult activities first. Learn how to change your behavior by changing triggers that causes you to stray from your path forward. Start by focusing on what is truly important in the present moment and go from there.

I have started on my journey to integrate the essentialism life into my own life. Do I think the journey will be easy? NO. In the first few steps I have taken, there have been successes and there have been backsliding too.

I invite you to join me in my journey; let’s learn the essentialism life together.

author Elizabeth RabaeyThis post was written by Elizabeth Rabaey, a Baby Boomer herself, is a creative with a love for details. She has spent over 20 plus years working for environmental engineering and consulting companies providing project management and technical assistance on many innovative engineering projects. She has applied creative, literary and scientific skills to these projects to help the client maintain a profitable business operation and protect humans, health and the environment. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter

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Personal Branding for Baby Boomers: What It Is, How to Manage It, and Why It’s No Longer Optional

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Are You a Square Peg? Define Your Unique Career Hole

Define Your Unique Career Hole

unique career holeWhat does your unique “career hole” look like?

This is a follow up from my post, Are You a Square Peg Trying to Fill a Round Hole?

When I re-posted this to LinkedIn Publisher last week, I got so many interesting responses. The two most common responses were:

  • I am not a square but a triangle, hexagon, star, etc.
  • What do I do about being a square peg?

Let me show you the process through which I take square pegs to find their unique career hole.

Define Your Unique Career Hole

Another way to put this is: know thyself.

You cannot target your ideal working environment unless you know what it is. You cannot find your unique career hole if you cannot define it.

Can you clearly articulate what your ideal work environment looks like? For 99% of you, the answer is a resounding NO.

Reflect upon when you have been happy in 7 different areas during your career:

  • Boss – When did you have a boss that you really liked? What made that person a good boss for you?
  • Team – When did you have a really great team? What was the make-up of that team?
  • Rewards – When did you feel valued at work? What made you feel valued?
  • Structure – How much structure do you need at work, and who should create that structure?
  • Variety – How much variety do you need within your day?
  • Emotions – Do you need a supportive, emotional environment at work?
  • Activity – How much activity do you need during your day?

You can download my career reflection worksheet to help with this.

Once you have clearly defined when things were really good in the past, go back to times when things were really bad. I use the Birkman Assessment with all of my clients to pick out situations that highlight what causes them to go into stress. Once we have identified those situations, we can determine how to avoid them.

Now, we can clearly identify the shape of your unique career hole. We can start the search!

Locating Your Unique Hole

The first step to locating your unique career hole is to define a set of open-ended questions. This list of questions will evolve over time. They might be as simple as:

  • Will you tell me about your management style?
  • How much freedom will I have in determining schedules?
  • What does a typical work day look like at your company?
  • How do you make your employees feel valued?

Develop a set of questions for each of the 7 areas above.

The next step is to target companies within your industry or profession that can hire you. You will dutifully use your questions to determine which companies have a unique career hole that matches your requirements.

This is not easy! It takes great deal of tenacity and patience.

For some of my square pegs, it means going to work for themselves.

For others, it means working for smaller organizations that are willing to create unique career holes for them.

Do you know the shape of your unique career hole? Are you ready to define it?

If this is of help please share it with other square pegs on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Personal Branding for Baby Boomers: What It Is, How to Manage It, and Why It’s No Longer Optional

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Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Top 5 Career Books that have Nothing to do with Careers

Top 5 Career Books

career booksYou may wonder which books I recommend to my clients or what I have been reading. It may surprise you that none of the books I am going to recommend from my list are conventional career books.

Let’s get started.

#1 on Career Pivot Career Books List

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

The book that started the Quiet Revolution

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society. 

This has been a life changing book for several of my clients. It has given them the permission to be themselves within a corporate environment. It also gave a name to something I have been recommending to my clients for some time—a restorative niche. I am writing this post as part of a restorative niche.

#2 on Career Pivot Career Books List

Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential AND HOW YOU CAN ACHIEVE YOURS by Shirzad Chamine

In his popular Stanford University lectures, Shirzad Chamine reveals how to achieve one’s true potential for both professional success and personal fulfillment.  His groundbreaking research exposes ten well-disguised mental Saboteurs.  Nearly 95 percent of the executives in his Stanford lectures conclude that these Saboteurs cause “significant harm” to achieving their full potential.  With Positive Intelligence, you can learn the secret to defeating these internal foes.

This book is about identifying and naming your saboteurs. Once you have done that, you will be more aware of when they pop up in your thinking.

Even if you do not read the book, I recommend you take Shirzad Chamine’s Saboteur Assessment.

#3 on Career Pivot Career Books List

Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust & Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser

The key to success in life and business is to become a master at Conversational Intelligence. It’s not about how smart you are, but how open you are to learn new and effective powerful conversational rituals that prime the brain for trust, partnership, and mutual success. Conversational Intelligence translates the wealth of new insights coming out of neuroscience from across the globe, and brings the science down to earth so people can understand and apply it in their everyday lives. Author Judith Glaser presents a framework for knowing what kind of conversations trigger the lower, more primitive brain; and what activates higher-level intelligences such as trust, integrity, empathy, and good judgment. Conversational Intelligence makes complex scientific material simple to understand and apply through a wealth of easy to use tools, examples, conversational rituals, and practices for all levels of an organization.

What I found most useful in this book was the understanding of conversational framework. It also brought to the forefront the fact that many of the issues we face in our careers are due to the stories we make up in our heads. Oh, those stories that we make up! Are they ever correct? Rarely.

#4 on Career Pivot Career Books List

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

One of the most important concepts I extracted from this book was weak ties. Weak ties are those people you do not know well…those people with whom you only have a casual relationship. Those relationships are invaluable in managing your career because they run in different social and professional circles. WOW…this concept proved invaluable to a 59 year old client this year who harvested lead after lead from his weak ties.

#5 on Career Pivot Career Books List

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen have spent the past fifteen years working with corporations, nonprofits, governments, and families to determine what helps us learn and what gets in our way. In Thanks for the Feedback, they explain why receiving feedback is so crucial yet so challenging, offering a simple framework and powerful tools to help us take on life’s blizzard of offhand comments, annual evaluations, and unsolicited input with curiosity and grace. They blend the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology with practical, hard-headed advice.

This book explained many of the problems that I have had in my career. It also explained some issues I had in my marriage. Yes, I said my marriage.  I have been with my lovely wife for 33 years.

Career Books List

With all of these books, I have either listened to them via Audible.com or read them on my Amazon Kindle device. In the last year, I have become a huge fan of Audible.com. You can blame my son for that!

You will find these books and others that I recommend on my resources page on this website.

Let me know what you think.

Do you have recommendations for me?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Full Disclosure : All links to Amazon are affiliate links. I will make a small commission if you buy any of these books.

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Are You a Square Peg Trying to Fill a Round Hole?

Square Peg?

square pegAre you the square peg trying to fit into a round hole in your career?

I have been working with quite a few square pegs. They just do not fit into the traditional roles that corporations define.

Some try to squeeze themselves into those roles. Some are very successful. Unfortunately, they usually end up unhappy and unhealthy. The stress of making themselves fit wreaks havoc on their physical and mental health.

I am starting to realize that I am—to some extent—one these square pegs!

Common Characteristics

Square pegs come in many forms, but let me describe their most common characteristics.

  • Creative – They have very high interests in music, art, and/or literature. Many have abandoned those interests because they do not fit into what our economy values or is willing to pay for. Instead, they often express their creativity in colorful spreadsheets or attractive PowerPoint presentations.
  • Structure – They do not like staying between the lines. They want the freedom to do it their own way. They are good in chaotic situations where they get to make the rules.
  • Introverted – They work best when by themselves or on a small, cohesive teams. If you ask them to make a presentation, give them plenty of time to prepare. Consider Steve Jobs, who was very introverted. Jobs would rehearse and rehearse and rehearse before every product announcement.
  • High Empathy – They are kind, caring individuals who want to be treated similarly by their colleagues. I have worked in the high tech field for most of my career. High empathy people are not generally welcome or considered the norm.
  • Low Authority – They would prefer having a colleague to a boss. If you try to micromanage them, it is not pretty!

Do you see any of these characteristics in yourself?

These personality traits are largely incompatible with today’s work environment.

  • Today’s work environment does not highly value an interest in music, art, or literature.
  • You are supposed to follow the rules.
  • You are rewarded for being an extrovert. I am a closet introvert! But, I have learned to behave like an extrovert in order to succeed.
  • Emotions are not welcome in most workplaces.
  • Strong leadership is valued in the workplace, but some of us just want to left alone to get our job done.

Cultural Dyslexia

Another issue I currently see is cultural dyslexia. These are people who were born into indirect culture (Indian, Chinese, Japanese, etc.) but were then raised in their teenage years in a direct culture (US and Europe). They attend western universities and acquire some western personality traits.

The problem is that they do not feel they belong in either their birth culture or their adopted culture. I call this cultural dyslexia and we will see a lot more of this issue as people move around the world.

Cultural dyslexia is just another form of a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.

Does this resonate with you?

Are you a square peg?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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3 Differences in a Remote Job Search – Guest Post

remote job searchIf you’ve job searched in the past (and chances are, you probably have, many times over), you might think that you’ve got the whole process down pat. But searching for a remote job is different from looking for your garden-variety office gig. In fact, your success in finding a work-from-home job truly depends on how well you can do it. If you’re looking to try flexible work on for size, here are three differences to keep in mind when searching for a remote job.

A company’s mission takes on more meaning.

Sure, it’s sweet if you like the company that you work for—and ideally you always should. But if you’re working in an office with a bunch of other employees, gossiping about your boss and commiserating about your company’s lousy dental plan, it’s easy to forget to focus on the big picture–doing the best job you can in order to be a great employee whose stellar work aids in making your company successful.

When you work remotely, though, it’s absolutely crucial that you like the company you work for and believe in its mission. After all, working from home can be lonely at times, and liking and respecting the company that you work for (and wanting to be a part of the reason why it succeeds) can help you stay motivated and be productive while you work from your home office.

The job has to be something you’re interested in.

There are times in everyone’s career when you simply get a money job; i.e., a job that pays the bills but doesn’t prove particularly challenging, exciting, or fulfilling. When you’re looking for a flexible job, you’ll need to look for a job in a field that interests you. Otherwise, if you have a boring remote job, the couch (or your bed) will be calling your name, you’ll have a harder time staying focused when you do work, and the quality of your work will be subpar. That’s why being challenged daily in your job and learning something new are all the benchmarks of a good remote job, and those are features that you need to specifically look for in a virtual position.

You have to know your work-life balance needs.

There are many reasons why people look for remote work. It could be that you’re a parent who needs a flexible work schedule in order to be present in your child’s life, but also have the funds to put supper on the table. Or you might be a military spouse who moves wherever your spouse is stationed. Or maybe, just maybe, you hate being around people and have sworn off office life for good. Whatever the motivation, it’s imperative to know what type of flex you need in order to have a successful remote job search. Flexible work comes in many forms, from full-time remote jobs to part-time work; compressed workweeks (where you work longer hours Monday-Thursday so you can off on Fridays, for example); job shares (where you and another part-time worker split the duties of a full-time job); and freelance or contract work (where you determine who you work with, and have complete control over your schedule). Knowing which type of flex work you need will help you in attaining the work-life balance you want, need, and deserve.

So when you’re searching for remote jobs (and you should be doing so on niche job boards, like FlexJobs), look for job descriptions that offer the type of flex you need. That way, you can help expedite your search and find a job that fits in with your life—and not the other way around.

When you’re looking for a remote job, you’re not just looking for another gig. You’re looking for something a whole lot more; a company whose beliefs align with yours, the ability to have the work-life balance you want, and actual enjoyment from your job. So when you find a remote position that has all of those factors, you’ll know it’s time to send in your job application!

Jennifer ParrisThis post was written by Jennifer Parris, career writer at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings. FlexJobs lists thousands of pre-screened, legitimate, and professional-level work-from-home jobs and other types of flexibility like part-time positions, freelancing, and flexible schedules. Jennifer provides career and job search advice through the FlexJobs Blog and social media. Learn more at www.FlexJobs.com.

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Are you a Multipotentialite?

Multipotentialite?

multipotentialiteI was introduced to the term multipotentialite by a prospective client last week.

You are probably thinking, “What the….yet another classification, just another way to put me into a box.”

One thing I can say after giving close to 300 Birkman assessment feedback sessions as part of my Career Pivot evaluation over the last three years, none of us fit neatly into a box!

The term “multipotentialite” comes from Emilie Wapnick and her website Puttylike.
It stems from the psychology term Multipotentiality. The best definition I found came from an article titled, “Multipotentiality” by Tamara Fisher.

Tamara Fisher wrote:

Multipotentiality is the state of having many exceptional talents, any one or more of which could make for a great career for that person. Gifted children often (though of course not always) have multipotentiality. Their advanced intellectual abilities and their intense curiosity make them prime candidates for excelling in multiple areas. This can be both a blessing and a curse. On the bright side, they have many realistic options for future careers. But on the downside, some of them will struggle mightily trying to decide which choice to make. Particularly in the last couple years of high school and the first couple years of college, this monumentous decision with so many great possible outcomes can be a source of debilitating stress. The choice is “exhausting and stressful,” as one of my students said this year.

Barabara Sher, in her book Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams, called these people scanners.

So, simply put, a multipotentialite is someone who has a lot of interests!

I can honestly say that I am a multipotentialite.

I wrote a post called What If You are Not Passionate About Anything back in 2012. It is found 30-50 times every single day by Google search. There are a lot of you who are wondering why you do not have one true calling.

In the post, I described my Birkman assessment interests:

  • I am high mechanical. I like putting things together, both physically and logically. I am a recovering engineer.
  • I am high social service. I like helping people. I spent most of my career in Learning and Development.
  • I am high scientific. I like researching topics and discovering new ideas.
  • I am high persuasive. I like to sell my ideas.

I have bounced around from job to job, industry to industry, and career to career because, characteristically, I get bored.

I am not driven by any one passion or interest.

Multipotentialites and Innovation

Wapnick writes on her About page:

Steve Jobs once defined creativity as “connecting things,” and said that sadly, most people don’t have enough dots to connect because they haven’t had many diverse experiences. (Check out the whole quote, it’s great.)

Innovation happens when you take knowledge from one field and use it to solve a problem in a completely unrelated field.

To stifle your puttylike nature is a crime, not just in terms of limiting your own potential, but to society as a whole. As multipotentialites, we must use our gift to innovate. It’s in our genes.

Innovation is the reason you’ve been blessed with this trait, and it’s what you’ve been called on to do. Never forget that.

Are You a Multipotentialite?

My guess is about 10-15% of general population demonstrate multipotentialite characteristics.

You might be a multipotentialite if you:

  • Dive into a topic deeply but eventually grow tired of it and move on.
  • Have divergent interests like business and art
  • Change jobs every 3-5 years because you grow bored with the area
  • Been referred to as a renaissance man or woman

The problem is the current economy wants specialists. Previously, I wrote a post called, Are You a Generalist or Specialist, and I got lots of feedback from people who are generalists. They commented that they are no longer sought after in today’s highly specialized work environment.

Society tells us the we are supposed to have one passion. That does not work for multipotentialites.

Take a moment and watch Emile Wapnick’s TEDx talk on this topic.

Do you see yourself as a multipotentialite? 

If this post resonates with you, please also read Are You a Square Peg Trying to Fill a Round Hole?
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Has Your Job Been SMACed? If not Yet, It Will!

SMAC – Social Mobile Analytics Cloud

SMACSMAC is here…and is disrupting our careers. I recently wrote about disruptive technologies and how they will likely disrupt your career.

If you think you are immune from SMAC, I want to take the rest of this post to convince you differently.

S is for Social or Social Media

If you are a PR or Marketing professional, you know your world has changed. All you need to do is look at the demise of the local newspaper and local broadcast news. Most of the population 30 years of age get their news from Facebook and other social channels.

We are entering the 2nd phase of Social Media marketing. It is called Pay to Play. Effective marketing of your product or service on Social Media is no longer free. The organizations that are most adversely affected are non-profits, which have little or no budget for Social Media marketing.

You already know that Social Media has become a prevalent way for employers to find talent. The days of find a job posting on Monster, CareerBuilder, or in the newspaper are largely over. Companies are out looking for talent, and do not care whether you are looking for a job! It is your responsibility to make yourself attractive as a passive candidate. Will Thomson of Bullseye Recruiting wrote a great guest post, 5 Key Traits Recruites look for in a Passive Candidate, which explains this change.

The S in SMAC is changing everything.

M is for Mobile

Mobile is changing everything! Even Google is scared of what mobile can do to their business. Google recently changed their search algorithms to favor those websites that are mobile friendly. If you own or work for a small business and your website is not mobile friendly, well…good luck!

When I look at my phone, I will find my calendar, contacts, e-mail, social apps, maps, and other apps that you would expect. I also have Audible so that I can listen to books in the car or at the gym. ESPN and ESPNwatch so I can watch sports. I have two of my local radio station’s apps, so I can listen to them at the gym. Car2Go so that I can find and rent a car. Kindle so that I can read a book anytime anywhere. CNN and Al Jazeera America so I can read the national news. Podcasts so I can listen to podcasts at the gym. WOW!

If I walk out of my condo and do not have my iPhone, I feel naked.

Mobile is changing how we shop. Mobile is changing how we find things. Mobile is changing how we pay for things! Mobile is changing how we are found. That is the scary part.

If you career has not been affected by mobile yet, it will!

The M in SMAC is changing everything.

A is for Analytics

More data has been collected in the last few years than was collected in the previous century. A lot of it is coming voluntarily from our activities via Social Media and Mobile. How we shop, where we shop, what we pay with, where we go online, and even how long it takes to get somewhere are some of the things that inform this data.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Texas Department of Transportation is using bluetooth devices in the cars to determine how long it takes to get from point A to point B.

Do you remember the movie Minority Report where Tom Cruise walks through a mall and hyper-customized ads displayed everywhere. Analytics is here to stay—and we allow it.

Analytics will affect how you are hired. There will be so much data on you, that the employer will be able to run all of it through an algorithm to determine whether you are a good fit.

The A in SMAC is changing everything.

C is for Cloud

Cloud is changing everything in the technology world. Most of the major technology hardware vendors are seeing portions of their business collapse. A classic example is IBM, who missed the shift and is seeing massive changes in their business. Their hardware business is collapsing.

Cloud computing is sometimes referred to SaaS (Software as a Service). Cloud (SaaS) is causing massive shifts in the background for many businesses.

Small businesses can now have access to resources that they only dreamed about in the past.  Whether it is e-mail marketing, disk storage, photo editing, or e-mail, you have no need to install software. This change has also allowed for data to be shared with anyone and at any time.

For example, every receipt I get is now electronic. Places like Office Depot e-mail me receipts. I save the receipts in a folder in Dropbox. My bookkeeper can access the receipts from Dropbox and enter them into a spreadsheet or even Quickbooks in the cloud. She can be anywhere in the world, and we rarely have to talk.

This has made it so much easier for freelancers to service clients, but also for companies to offer their services to customers worldwide.

The C in SMAC is changing everything.

SMAC and Your Career

SMAC is eliminating jobs. It is creating new jobs. It has made it easier for you to offer your services to anyone in the world. It has also made it easier for others to compete with you.

How has SMAC affected your job?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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