Archive | June, 2010

Two Cent Tuesdays

29 Jun

Back again for Two Cent Tuesdays and today we have a fairly common question from a recent graduate.

Mad Grad,


I’m just graduated, moved home and I am starting to look for a job. I’ve been hearing a lot about the dismal job market though. Should I be concerned? Help!

Justine

Justine,

Trust us when we say you are not alone in this question. Although the tumultuous economy over the past few years has lead to numerous layoffs and businesses closing their doors, things are finally starting to look up. It is often thought that during a decline in the economy people are more apt to introduce new ideas and entrepreneurship has a chance to thrive. I think we have seen many examples of that recently, especially with the help of technology and social media. With that being said hundreds of new companies have sprung up over the past year because people were willing to take a chance when they had nothing left to lose.

From what I have seen lately there are a lot of jobs out there. On top of that, many of the openings seem to be for fresh out of college motivated and anxious young people. As you mentioned you are starting to look and looking is only half the battle. You could search job postings online for months, instead try to be strategic. Even if you can narrow down the type of work you want to do your search will be much easier.

Target specific companies that are appealing to you and even if they aren’t hiring request an informational interview so you can get a foot in the door and an idea of what it would be like to work there.

The number one thing to do right now is network! I cannot express that enough. Reach out to everyone you know send them your resume for feedback or to pass along. Ask questions to friends, parents anyone who has crossed your path and see if they can help you land a job. Be bold,  courageous and above all don’t be afraid to ask for help! (Seeing as how you emailed us, you are already past that stage!) Good luck and let us know if we can offer any more advice!

Best,

The Mad Grad

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Two-Word Poem

24 Jun

I came across this great site SoulPancake created by Rainn Wilson, one of the funniest men alive (Dwight Shrute anyone?).

“Soulpancake is a place to speak your mind, unload your questions, and figure out what it means to be human”

…I’m in!

I was browsing around on the site tonight and found this thought-provoking post, “What’s your two-word poem?” After a lot of “soul-pancake” searching, I came up with mine: SPEAK UP. I think this is the greatest thing I’ve learned in my 25 years of living. In order to have successful careers, friendships, relationships, marriages, you need to speak up and say what you are feeling. Too often, we forget that unlike the sorting hat in Harry Potter, people don’t always know what we are thinking.

What’s yours?

Reality Check…

24 Jun


“Be careful how you interpret the world:  It is like that.”  ~Erich Heller

Lessons from Alice

21 Jun

Annie Leibovitz in Vogue

I saw the new Alice in Wonderland Move last weekend. This quote was by far my favorite part of the entire story. Leave it to Alice, (or err lewis carroll) to put things in perspective:

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
[Alice checks Hatter’s temperature]
Alice Kingsley: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

So true Alice. So true…

Oh, Internet…

18 Jun

Another great comic from chuck @Beans

Get Back to Work! (But for now enjoy these links)

18 Jun

It’s Friday, and everyone knows Friday is not the best day  for people with ADD or a love of life outside the cubical. So why not pass the time with some cool links?

I have no words. This is simply that amazing. (Doghouse Cartoon)

Lens Crafters should really swoop this up for their next ad campaign.

It ain’t easy growing green at work. But these low- light plants are up for the challenge.

They’re lurking in offices everywhere, waiting for the perfect opportunity to attack your inbox. No, not email viruses.. REPLY-ALL’ers. Here’s a great article on Gawker on when to hit the reply all button. (Hint- never).

reason number 5 million I wish I was italian.

And now for links that keep popping in my Google Reader and around the internet that I never want to see again: Justin Beiber, Keanu Reeves looking sad, and anything about the iphone4.

Happy almost-to- happy hour- Friday!

Enjoying Life

16 Jun

“I thought about how easily we are all brainwashed by our society and culture to stop thinking and just assume by default that more money equals more success and more happiness, when ultimately happiness is really just about enjoying life.”

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, Delivering Happiness

The Fun Theory

16 Jun

Volkswagon’s latest campaign “The Fun Theory” is pretty amazing. The description on the site says:

“This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.”

It’s a great idea when you think about it. I mean, who would have thought that simply adding a sound to a hand sanitizer would triple the amount of people using it? Or that attaching tiny magnets to tshirts can get your kids to clean their rooms?

I love love love the winner (shown above). We’re always notified if we do something wrong by the dmv, but how about when we do something right? Check the site for more of the incredible entires.

This has made me think a lot about how I can make mundane activities in my own life more fun.

Book Giveaway: Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction

10 Jun

From Our Point of View: How to Engage and Retain High-Achieving Women
by Marcia Reynolds,
Author of Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction

1. Provide Developmental Opportunities

One of our greatest passions is to resolve complex challenges, yet we need our managers to provide the resources for learning so we can be continually successful. We are top talent because we are committed to being the best. We come to you with experiences and degrees. To continue on our path to excellence, we need you to support the continuation of our development by offering ample tuition reimbursement and encouragement to further our learning. We want you to treat training and coaching programs not as perks but as a part of your overall business strategy. Frankly, to stay innovative and progressive, all employees should be trained in communication skills, managing change, dealing with their emotions, and building strong relationships with their peers within and across divisional borders. This is especially true in tough economic times when you need everyone to stay on top of their game. The last thing you want to do is cut funding for training and coaching when we are facing major difficulties. Give us more opportunities to learn and grow so we can help you take the company to the top faster than our competition. We would love for you to engage us in that challenge.

Also, provide us with mentors who are passionate about what they do so we are inspired to stay and learn more. We like to feel that we are in the company of smart and spirited people. We like to connect with leaders in other areas. We want breadth as well as depth of knowledge. If possible, create a platform where the most successful women in the company can network with and develop the younger female talent so the pipeline grows. Also, we are not always politically astute, so a good mentor can help us put our energies in the right places and see opportunities that we might miss that best use our talents.

2. Make Our Mission Meaningful

We want to be a part of something that feels bigger than ourselves. Even if our products are not that meaningful in the bigger scheme of life, we want to work for companies that care for their employees, respect the environment, and support their local communities. We will eventually disengage if we don’t see how our work fits into a broader, more significant context. We struggle with committing to, a monetary goal or a drive solely focused on beating our competitors. We don’t just work to make a living. We work to make life better. We will align our energies with your penchant for profit when we can see the evidence of our good work in the world, even if that means we are simply helping people to feel more safe and happy. We know in our hearts we can make a significant difference on this planet. If we are doing that in our jobs, we are likely to stick around and share with the world how excited we are about our work.

3. Continually Affirm Our Contribution and Value

Our sense of contribution and value to the organization is as important to us as our paycheck, but we can’t always see the larger effect of our work. We need to know how well we did in relation to the people we touch, whether it’s our peers or our customers. It’s not enough for us to know we have great knowledge and ability. We need to know if we have made an impact and that others value our involvement.

This acknowledgment needs to be continual because our sense of contribution is fleeting. Once we finish a task, we are quickly on to the next. There’s always another project to master and another crisis for us to resolve. You need to remind us of our impact because we tend to lose this sense while swimming in the sea of our assignments.

However, don’t overload us because you can count on us for results. We love to give outstanding performances. We love that you trust us. Yet if you rely on us too much, we would rather look for another job than face failure. Make sure to regularly ask us how we are feeling about our work and if we need any resources to get our work done. We often struggle with asking for help. Even when we ask to figure out a problem on our own, we still appreciate that you check in to see if we need any additional support.

4. Design and Foster a Creative and Collaborative Environment

We love to work for leaders who create environments that provide an open flow of communication in all directions. Let us talk freely, whether it’s around the real water cooler or the virtual water cooler using social media. Environments that support collaboration foster rapid innovations. We want easy access to tools and resources. We want our leaders to be visionaries and catalysts who transfer decision-making to us and allow us to choose how we want to work. Instead of managing people from a top-down position, leaders should see themselves as the “spokesperson” in the middle of the wheel with employees in motion around them. They should inspire more than enforce. Cooperative cultures represent the future of management. We want to help you make this significant change.

5. Delegate Clear Expectations and Then Let Go

If you give us what we need to do a great job on work that is meaningful to us and valuable to the organization, we won’t disappoint you. Give us control over the processes and decisions related to our tasks as much as possible. We love figuring out the best solutions. We need to feel we have the power to implement what we plan. If you think we need a more strategic perspective, coach us to see other possibilities instead of telling us what to do. When you delegate a project to us, give us the authority to talk to all stakeholders to negotiate actions. We will report our progress to you on a schedule we agree to and respond to issues promptly. We learn fast from our mistakes.

Let us know early on when changes will affect our work and share with us the reasons for the change. These days, those kinds of changes happen daily. We need to know about a shift in direction as soon as you do. If something comes up and you have to make a decision that goes counter to what we had hoped for, tell us why you made the decision so we can develop our business acumen. We want to grow beyond our technical capability. Letting us see through your eyes gives us what we need to succeed in our future positions.

6. Recognize Outstanding Performance

We like working for companies that have a culture of recognition. You may think that we are just doing our jobs, but we need to be recognized for our hard work even when it becomes the norm. Your recognition can be as simple as a personal comment or written note praising something we specifically did and the impact it had. We also like public recognition. When you visibly recognize our continual peak performance you demonstrate to everyone that you value this behavior. And don’t just recognize results; show appreciation for our creativity, inclusiveness, optimism, and determination even if the results did not turn out as expected. When you honor our efforts, you help us to feel proud. We need help when it comes to stopping and admiring our work. If you give us this gift, we will repeat the behavior you reward.

Also, please recognize us by knowing us. We are staunchly loyal to the people who show they care about us now and in the future. Know our talents, goals, and dreams. If you were called by HR today and asked what you thought were my strengths, frustrations, and aspirations, could you answer these questions? Know who we are today and what we want for tomorrow. If we aren’t clear about what we want for our careers, help us envision our future. Then offer to support us as we move forward on this path.

7. Give Us Flexible Work Schedules

We need help in managing our energy more than our time. We will work obsessively to complete important projects. Yet we need to renew our energy so we don’t burn out. Therefore, we want flexible schedules based on meeting goals instead of wasting time in traffic or on “who can stay the latest” contests. We recognize the need to be present for important meetings, but on days we can get more work done from home, trust us. We have become comfortable with technology and will use it to communicate. Because we always produce results, let us figure out how we will get the work done. If you want to know more about setting up work cultures that are flexible and successful as a result, look at what these companies are doing: Capitol One, Deloitte & Touche, Best Buy, Marriott, Patagonia, AES Corporation, Sun Microsystems, IBM, PepsiCo, and Wal-Mart. At the Brazilian company Semco, employees choose their own salaries, set their own hours, and have no job titles, yet the profits keep growing and there is practically no employee turnover. By the time you read this, more companies will have followed suit. We’re hoping you want to stay ahead of the pack with these progressive companies.

If we have children to take care of, don’t put us on a “mommy track” that doesn’t have access to promotions and plum assignments. Let us decide what we can handle. If you allow us the flexibility to meet the goals on our own terms, we will in turn be honest with you about what is possible. If we decide we need to step back because our home-life challenges need our attention, welcome us back when we are ready and we will amaze you with the results we produce.

The above is an excerpt from the book Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction by Marcia Reynolds. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2010 Marcia Reynolds, author of Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction

Author Bio
Dr. Marcia Reynolds
is fascinated by the brain, especially the nuances of the female brain. She is a master certified coach with a doctorate in organizational psychology, focusing on the needs and challenges of smart, strong women in the workplace. She travels around the world speaking at conferences and teaching classes in leadership, emotional intelligence and organizational change. Her book Wander Woman: How High Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction was released this summer.

You can read more about the book at wanderwomanbook.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

If this book sounds like something that would interest you please leave a comment sharing the biggest challenge you face as a woman and you could win a copy!

We will choose  one winner within the US or Canada using random.org.

Happy Thursday!

What are you waiting for? Get out and see the world!

2 Jun

Backpacking through Spain with a Spanish friend

“People need to see that far
from being an obstacle, the
world’s diversity of languages,
religions and traditions is a
great treasure, affording us
precious opportunities to
recognize ourselves in others.
– Youssou N’Dour”

If you haven’t heard me talk about my experience studying and living in Spain during college, then we probably haven’t met yet. Living and going to school in another country has been the most valuable learning experience of my life thus far. I feel so fortunate that I was able to have the opportunity to assimilate myself into another culture and know that because of that time in my life, I am who I am today.

Now, having been of college for a few years and constantly reflecting on that experience I wish I could go back and spend more time in other countries. With graduations currently happening across the U.S. I would ask each and every graduate to consider spending some time in another country. I know money is always an issue but that can be worked out and payed back, you will never get back the time.

With graduation comes the pressure and responsibility of proving to the world that because you have a degree you need to immediately join part the workforce and head straight for the cubicle lifestyle. To counter this, I believe this is the perfect time to travel, volunteer abroad or just spend some time figuring out what interests you outside of a college environment.

Once you start working and piling up the responsibilities it will become more difficult to flee for six months or a year. From what I have seen no employer will look down on someone who valued spending time in other countries and it could potentially help you get a job.

Here is my list of why traveling is important not just for your well-being but also for your future:

Learn another language: Becoming versed in another language will open up doors during your travels, give you an advantage when trying to get a job, and will allow you to work in another country. Learning a language will help you better understand and appreciate political, cultural and social differences.

Improve adaptability: Traveling and living abroad you often find yourself being thrown into new and diverse situations and having to acclimate accordingly. This will improve your ability to take initiative in new environments and open yourself up to experience more outside your comfort zone.

Insight into another culture: Gaining insight into another culture gives us a clearer image of our world as a whole. Seeing how other people live, love and experience life can open your eyes in many ways. It is also fascinating to see how other cultures view the U.S. and being able to create a personal unique stereotype for them.

Find yourself: Traveling and navigating through foreign countries not only helps you learn and meet new people but it is also a chance to learn more about yourself. Instinctively seeing new places and having astonishing experiences makes you think more about what matters to you, and can be a chance to reflect on who you are or who you want to be.

Become more connected to the world: Something I witnessed that is so beautiful it is difficult to put in words is how similar and connected we all are to each other. Whether you live in Spain, Denmark or Istanbul and whatever language you speak, we all laugh, love and have dreams we are chasing. Forming relationships abroad and sharing  your life with someone halfway across the globe is priceless.

With that said, take my advice to see as much of the world as you can because experiences are the best investments and time doesn’t wait.