5 Resume Mistakes that Are Keeping You From Landing Your Dream Career

So you have just finished your resume and you are ready to finally shoot it off to your dream company. That is exciting. However, just because your resume is finished, doesn’t mean it’s complete. The tips below will help you to avoid common mistakes most job seekers make when submitting a resume. 

Common Grammatical Errors

A good rule of thumb is to review your resume three times one three different days to ensure you didn’t miss anything. Check for errors in dates, job titles, as well as spelling. One really helpful tool I have found to help with his is Grammarly. This neat little app will help you stay error free in no time. 

Only Listing Your Job Duties

The purpose of your resume is not to list your job duties. If every job on your resume simply lists what your duties were, it is vastly incomplete. The number one question every employer want answered on your resume is,”What did you do that no one else has done in each position you held?” The way you answer this question is critical to illustrating your value as a potential employee. Employers are looking for results, not duties. They are wanting to see how your presence made a difference in your previous jobs. For example, writing “Voted top customer service manager for 3 consecutive years by upper level management” says a lot more about you than “Resolved customers’ service and billing complaints.”  

Using the Same Resume for Each Job

One resume does not fit all. Using the same resume for every job you apply to won’t get it anymore. Each job is different and require different responsibilities. Tailor your resume to each job description instead. One thing I suggest is to review the job description of the job you are applying to first and only list the jobs and experience that is relevant to the requirements of that particular job. Also, match your resume to the words found on the job description. If they are looking for someone experienced in executive leadership management, use those words on your resume if you have experience with it. 

Not Highlighting Your Accomplishments

If you have any significant accomplishments or career highlights, these should be specifically sectioned in an area on your resume. This section, typically on the sidebar or top of your resume, is great a way to highlight your achievements. It is sometimes called “Career Highlights” or “Key Accomplishments.” You can also just simply say “Results.” Either way, highlighting your big wins go a long way in getting you a job you love. 

Using Your High School E-mail Address

Your high school years are gone and so should that e-mail be you created then. If you are using the same e-mail you used in high school for a professional job, it may be time to create a new one. This should preferably be your full name, with no special characters or numbers. A professional e-mail should never contain nicknames or anything that could give away your age or something that would cause someone to presume it. For example, ramondwalker@e-mail.com goes a lot further than ramondwalker45@e-mail.com. Your goal is to remove the biases. Anything that could potentially tip off personal information to an employer can be used against you. 

Now go out there and make your resume awesome. And if you discover a new idea that works for you, let me know on Twitter or in the comments below. 

How to Identify Assets and Diminish Liabilities

Assets and Liabilities

Six-foot two; dark skin; educated; likes to cook; loves kids; has a sense of humor; volunteers at church… Sounds like a dating ad? Perhaps. However, how often do we think about what determines the value of potential mates based on what they can add to our lives or how much the relationship will cost us? There are many variables to examine when it comes to dating. So, what should you consider when marketing yourself? Or, have you not realized there is such a thing as a person being marketed? When dealing with dating, people often use the term “on the market.” Why? It is because dating mimics shopping. “I am looking for a good fit. How much will it cost me? Does it look good? Is it worth the money? What brand is it?” Much like with shopping, people are sizing up others every day, whether others are intending to sell something or not. Know that everything you do becomes a part of your personal brand.

Therefore, you must learn how to showcase your assets: the skills, experiences, products, and opportunities that will bring income and other opportunities. What are you bringing to the table? If what you deem to be an asset takes away income or opportunities, it becomes a liability. You then need to do away with it or drastically decrease it in order for you to become effective. So, the first thing you need to do is to identify your assets and liabilities, in order to know which hand you are playing. You would not expect to get through a security checkpoint without identification. So, identification becomes a necessity in moving forward.

How to Identify a Credible Asset

A credible asset needs to be tied to an impact passion, which means you need to be skilled at it and enjoy doing it. It does not matter how well you do something if you absolutely dread doing it. In that case, the word ”asset” goes flying out of the window. An asset should also be quantifiable and qualitative. Can data be quickly gathered to positively measure the impact? Ask yourself, “Would someone be willing to pay for this or provide a significant platform for me to display what I am offering?” When someone finds value in a thing, money is sure to follow. Think about the money and time that you’ve invested. If it is found that a large portion of your savings and calendar days have been spent on that passion, there may be something to it. Have you given consistent commitment to it for a lengthy period of time? Up to a year? Would your passion be worth putting your personal reputation on the line? The answers to these questions will lead you to identifying a true asset. So, what about a liability?

Diminishing Liabilities

Liabilities get in the way of and reduce the flow of cyclical life. Life is cyclical in its nature, because everything in it is connected. If one area of your cyclical life is out of balance, it affects every other part of your life. There are common liabilities that come to disrupt that flow. A few would be lack of self-efficacy, distracting or diluted activities, and disappointments. These activities and experiences have the same goal of fostering a lack of purpose in order to derail the plans that you’ve made. Stray away from any activities that are not aligned with your goals. Wasting time wastes time.

Where to Find Assets

Assets may be found in any of the experiences that you’ve had. Look at the coursework and projects you’ve done during your education. Consider your work experience and how you’ve made a difference. What about your hobbies? Are people demanding the work that you simply do for leisure? Also, don’t shun volunteer experience. Often valuable skills are acquired and cultivated during that time of service. Most importantly, you have a story. Tell it. Share it. It may become your most valuable asset.
Think about what you want to show people. What do you want them to see? You must know what you offer and present it well. You must also be able to recognize the areas in which you will excel and the areas people will monetarily back you. Figure out what areas are limiting you and draining life from other areas. Know where to focus the bulk of your attention. Find out what experiences and skill sets will best wrap your package. Lastly, become an expert at whatever it is that you do. Remember, people don’t get paid for pushing buttons; they get paid for knowing the right buttons to push.

How to Build Your Personal Brand

Personal branding may be a newer concept to some, but its roots go back centuries. The reason we remember conquerors like Napoleon and Genghis Khan or leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt is because of their memorable brands. If you are only limiting your brand to social media, a website and logo, you have diminished the significance of its real value. I define personal branding as packaging your core values,  professional reputation and unique skills to solve a specific problem for a specific audience. Your brand is your living legacy. It’s the reputation that precedes you.  In today’s competitive career market, it is imperative that you understand how to make yourself stand out. If you are behind when it comes to your personal brand, use these three tips to help you get started.

Define Your Mission

At the heart of every successful brand, there is a strong mission or ‘why?’ Whether it is Coca-Cola or Apple, all major brands began with a cause to champion or a major problem so solve. Google’s ‘why’ is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. LinkedIn’s is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. Each of these companies are driven with an insatiable desire to solve a larger problem for their respective communities.

What is your ‘Why?’ What kind of problems do you want to solve in the world? How will your life shape the earth while you are here? The answers to these questions can carve the beginnings of a thrilling narrative to your personal brand. One thing I suggest doing to help with this is writing what I call a Legacy Letter. This is a letter from the future you congratulating yourself on all of the major accomplishments you have made in your professional and personal life. By doing this, it helps you to see the overarching things you would like to be remembered for and it also helps you to reverse plan those things into actionable goals.

Identify Your Assets

Naturally, there are skills and talents that you are good at. Whether you are an analytical mastermind or an engaging speaker, your innate skills and abilities are considered your personal assets. For example, I have always had a natural gift to motivate others. Whether it was my friends or family, I was always known to be the person to go to if anyone ever needed encouragement. You also have skills and abilities that come easy to you. The key is to identify which skills align with your mission and which skills do not. You may be great playing basketball, but if it doesn’t help you solve a problem you are passionate about, it may not be the best skill to highlight.

Some skills you may be innately great at, but others you may have learned to be good at. Either way, if you have skills that you enjoy using and they directly align with helping you solve a major problem, they should definitely be something you consider. I suggest using an assessment like Strengths Finder or 16 Personalitiesto really help with this. These assessments can give you a in-depth analysis of your skill set.

Choose Your Platform

The last thing you have to do to build a personal brand is choose a platform that is right for you. Your goal is to position yourself as an expert in the problem area you are targeting. Because of this, having a platform that others can find you on in that area is crucial to  your branding strategy. For some, it may be blogging, and for others, consulting. For many it may simply be working at a specific type of company as a career.

One of my longtime friends specializes in the development of a niche software. Instead of starting his own business, he has found more credibility working for a small firm that is the leader in servicing that software. Had he tried to launch out on his own, he may have never had the same level of experience or clients that he has now working for the company. It is important to find a platform in which  your target audience naturally “hangs out.” If your audience looks on Craigslist to find solutions, your platform should be there. If they are at tradeshows, you should have a networking platform there.

Personal branding is simply about getting your passion fueled mission and skillset to the people who need them the most. It is about identifying what makes you unique and maximizing opportunities to capitalize off that uniqueness. With a little bit of time and development, your brand can position you as an expert and create unlimited opportunities.

If you would like me to help you build YOUR personal brand, check out my Clarity package and we can get started! In this package, I can help you

  • Get clarity on a business idea to determine if it is a viable option
  • Review a current product or service and offer suggestions to make it better
  • Help you become clear about your life vision and develop goals to get there
  • Find marketing ideas for a new product or service you are launching
  • Get you unstuck in your current career and provide steps to find one you love
  • Help you find your niche audience in business and discover how to reach them

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The Secret to Accomplishing Any Goal

We all like new beginnings. There is something fresh and exciting about a new year, a new marriage, a new car, etc. Excitement was never meant to sustain a journey. With an estimated 8% of people who actually achieve their resolutions set at the beginning of a year, there has to be something more to getting this accomplished. I have realized that the key to anyone who has become successful at reaching goal is in one simple principle: consistency. Where you are today is a result of whatever actions and decisions you make consistently. It is not the big things we do that bring us success or failure, but the small things we do every day. If consistency is something you struggle with, below are three principles I have learned to be consistent at anything.

Focus on the few.

It can be easy to start the new year with numerous amounts of large lofty goals. Yet, anytime I have ever tried to do this, I realize I never truly grasp what it would take to make those goals a reality. Anyone can do many things average. Focused people learn to do few things well. When was the last time an average effort by someone was memorable to you? One way you can apply this principle is simply shortening your list of goals. Doing this will increase your capacity to knock the other goals out of the park. This also builds confidence and momentum into the next year.  The only person you are in competition with is you. There is no need compare what you accomplish this year with someone else.

Simplify your system.

I really dislike workout DVDs. I have tried workouts on YouTube, DVD programs and even have done some group exercising. For my friends, these systems are great for helping them lose weight. They simply frustrate me because A) I am not very coordinated and B) the pace is usually too fast for me. So instead of trying a new workout program this year, I decided to create my own. My goal was simply to choose 3-5 workouts I can do everyday at home, at my own pace, with no one watching. My workouts aren’t elaborate or sophisticated. But they empower me to be consistent! Simplicity empowers consistency. Complexity breeds frustration. I realized that when I could do something everyday, at my pace and at my enjoyment, I felt better about being consistent with it. I didn’t have the pressure to measure up, but simply to progress. Consider any goal you have been inconsistent in and ask yourself, how simple have you made it to accomplish that goal? Complicated systems always cause chaos.

Kill your calendar.

I know that sounds unproductive, but this principle has really helped me in being consistent. When we confine ourselves to an obligatory calendar year to accomplish so much, we often set ourselves up for failure. I am more focused on accomplishing milestones than setting due dates. No one who ever left a legacy gave it a due date. Instead of mapping our your goals based on the calendar year, consider what kinds of milestones you want accomplish over your lifespan. Next, begin to consider the consistent actions it will take you make those milestones a reality. I would rather be known as a consistently healthy person over simply losing 50lbs. Successful people are remembered by the significant things they did well over a lifetime, not in a moment.  This principle also helps alleviates the natural desire to compete with other people. By focusing on the big picture, it helps bring greater value to the smaller accomplishments.

You CAN accomplish your goals. You don’t have to disregard them as meaningless exercises, but actually use them to build momentum to your future. Consistency doesn’t have to be frustrating. By allowing yourself more space to build consistency and having a solid plan, you will build a long-term legacy you can be proud of!

6 Best Places to Get Work Done for Free

If you are anything like me, one of the most frustrating things to decide upon is where to have a business meeting or get work done. As if coordinating schedules isn’t enough, finding a nice place to meet on a cheap budget doesn’t always come easy. However, with a little bit of creativity, you can always have the perfect spot for whatever kind of business you are trying to accomplish. Below are six places that you can get work done or have a business meeting for free.

The Local Library

Gone are the days of libraries with the dated Dewey Decimal System and card catalog. Modern day libraries come complete with state of the art meeting spaces, high speed internet, and even cafes. Many also offer private sound proof work and meeting rooms as well that you can reserve for limited times. Not only will you have access to numerous of free resources and books, but also have a great workspace to use the resources.

Your Local College

I absolutely loved my college experience and now that I have graduated, I still love it. Why? Because as a proud alumnus, I get the opportunity to use the student center as a meeting and work space. Many colleges offer alumni perks on campus for those who were strong enough to graduate from the school. Some of these perks can include alumni-only areas on campus for meeting. Feel free to contact your alma mater to see if they have rooms or meeting spaces you can use to get work done.

A Hotel Lobby

Cost: Free (may want to buy something out of courtesy)

Many large hotels have a variety of amenities available to the general public in their lobbies. From free guest wifi to even upscale cafes, these hotels make great places to meet with someone or get work done. Some five star hotels even offer other amenities such as restaurants, spas and live entertainment.

Apartment Guest House

If you or someone you know currently lives in an upscale apartment home, this could be a great place to work, study, or simply get together with friends. More modern guesthouses can accommodate multiple people. Along with hi speed internet and study areas, some guest houses even offer full kitchens, coffee bars, and places to work out.

Community Centers

Every major public park usually has a community center. Many of these centers offer great spaces to conduct business. Community centers are all about bringing neighborhoods and people together. Using the facility helps them in their mission to do that, and helps you in your mission to get things accomplished.

Trade for Space

Do you know a business or non-profit who could benefit from your services? Trading your services for an extra empty office in their facility may be a great way to have your own office and still get things done. By offering your services at your full prices in exchange for the cost to rent an office there, you could have a win-win situation for both parties. This especially works well if the organization has a modern office space that would be appealing to potential clients for you.

I hope these places help you in your pursuit of new facilities to get work done. It can be difficult to find a good space on a tight budget, but with a little bit a creativity and the right resources, anyone can find the perfect place to work.

5 Questions to Consider Before Launching A New Vision

As a brand consultant, I meet with a lot of excited visionaries. I have consulted with people wanting to start restaurants, non-profits, products, apps, books, churches, and so much more. With each person, there is never any scarcity of passion. More often, there is a lack of a sustainable plan. Anything that can be measured can be sustained. The thing is, many gleeful visionaries lack a plan that can provide measurable, sustainable results. Measurables determine progress. When progress can’t be reviewed, it always leads to frustration and eventual burnout. If you are considering starting a new business, project, or launching a new vision, ask yourself these five questions before you start.

Anything that can be measured can be sustained.

Is this a ‘me’ idea, or an ‘us’ idea?

Before I started the Dreamstart Entrepreneurship Conference, I actually searched out other people who were doing what I was considering and offered to help. I wasn’t trying to do my own thing. I truly wanted to serve what was already happening. I simply wanted fill in the gaps with what I felt was missing. After approaching several people, I discovered I was already too late to join them. That is when I finally decided to develop and produce my own event. Far too often I have found many visionaries seek to do their own thing before first understanding who is already doing something similar. Perhaps your idea isn’t strong enough or sustainable enough to do alone. Consider joining with another person, product, or organization and only develop the part you are most experienced in. Your idea may only be a program instead of an entire organization. I remember consulting with someone who wanted to create a non-profit that served orphans in Africa. Eventually, she realized she was only passionate about providing scholarships for the orphans’ education versus providing traditional living support and building schools. She ultimately partnered with a much larger organization and was able to raise several thousand dollars in scholarships for the children. She realized she could do more owning her part versus trying to do every other one.

Can I commit to doing adequate research before I start?

Just because you have an idea doesn’t mean you have a vision. The more you research your idea, the more likely you will create something that will last. The internet has a plethora of information to find anything you can imagine. The only limiter to your vision is you. A simple Google search will bring up thousands of results of content you can filter through to find just the information you need. Additionally, you should seek out experts and mentors who are doing what you would like to do. The right business or life coach could be just the catalyst you need to launch properly. Many of these coaches also offer online classes to help you on your journey. You can even find free classes on sites like Coursera taught by college professors. These could aid you in your research. I personally love listening to Jamie Tardy  of Eventual Millionaire. She features millionaires weekly who speak on a wide variety of topics. Her show covers just about any startup subject you can think of in great detail. This information has become vital to me to stay abreast of current industry trends. Lastly, many public libraries have research departments that can do your market research for you. For a small fee, they can find valuable data that may have taken you a lot longer to find.

Can I measure my outcomes?

Before launching a new vision, consider your outcomes and whether or not you can measure them. I once consulted with a lady who desired to start a ministry. She originally wanted me to develop her logo and branding materials. After further questioning, I was able to understand more about what she was trying to accomplish. Even though her passion for seeing “lives transformed” was admirable, it was very difficult for her to quantify exactly what that meant. After further consulting, she realized that perhaps it wasn’t the appropriate time to launch her organization. The more you can measure your vision, the better you can maintain it. When you are outlining your plan for your vision, think about your metrics for progress and your metrics for success. Is it when you have a certain number of customers? Will it be for a certain amount of products sold? People reached? Programs started? Facilities built? These type of metrics help you to understand the growth of your vision. Though impact can be calculated in feedback (i.e. testimonials), growth should be measured with numerical results. In the beginning stages, this data is critical to understanding how to navigate your growth.

Can I commit to doing this for a year?

I understand that everyone can’t quit their jobs and start a new venture full time. I actually wouldn’t even recommend it. I do recommend, however, spending part time hours every week working on a full-time dream. Doing this for at least a year would be ideal. That means every week, for at least 1-2 hours a day (and more if you can) you should spend time doing value generating activities for your vision. Value generating activities are those activities that accelerate you towards a return on your investment quickly. If it is a business you are starting, it should be the activities that directly relate to you gaining income as quickly as possible. If you are writing a book, the activity should be actually writing content, regardless of how good or bad it is. If it is starting a non-profit, it should be developing programs and raising donations. Your commitment to your vision will determine if it becomes a hobby or a lifestyle. Being able to commit to your vision consistently for a year will help you develop the habit of doing it for a lifetime. At your year anniversary, you can then assess if it is something you should continue doing.

Your commitment to your vision will determine if it becomes a hobby or a lifestyle.

Is this worth my reputation?

Whether you want to or not, anything that you live and breath for a year outside of work and family will become identified with you. You will become “the guy who is writing a book” or the “girl who is starting a business about such and such.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it must be something that you are comfortable being known for. I know of a guy locally who has become known for his work with armadillos. I am sure he never intended for his life brand to center around the cute creatures, but now it has and he has used it to become successful. Make sure that whatever endeavor you are beginning, it is something that you want to become a part of you. Whatever you pursue is how you will be portrayed. Be intentional on what you want that to look like.

3 Ways to Perfect Your Networking Skills

Networking is not about collecting business cards and shaking hands. It’s about exchanging experiences, ideas and assets in order to add value to the lives of other people. When you approach it from the perspective of what you can give and not what you can get, it changes the dynamics of how you approach new relationships. Use these three tips to perfect your networking skills and become a master at adding incredible value.

Know What You Want

In order to be effective at networking, you have to understand your current goals. You may be looking to transition into a new career or looking for new clients for a business.  Whatever your current goals are, you need to be keenly aware of what you need to accomplish them. It’s very frustrating to meet a lot of amazing people only to discover you have no real reason to connect with them further. Having goals gives you a reason to connect. Your goals should be specific and actionable. Networking is great for helping you make a “next step” versus a “giant leap.” Knowing exactly what the next major thing is for you to do to reach your goals is critical to making them happen. I get very frustrated when I meet people with great long term dreams, but don’t have a solid action plan to help them move forward in the short term. When you know where you are going, it’s easy to find the people to help you get there.

How to Apply

Make a list of three current goals you have personally or professionally. Next, using  MeetUp.com, search for events or communities that can help you accomplish them. For example, if you are looking for new clients for your cleaning service, you may use the website to search for business-to-business networking meetings that may help increase your clients. I would also recommend visiting your local chamber of commerce’s website for opportunities as well as searching for Facebook and LinkedIn discussion groups about a subject.

Build Contextual Relationships

Remember in English class when you had to identify sentences in passages that were out of context? Based on what the passage was communicating, you could identify what belonged in the structure and what did not. The same applies to building your network. Pursue connections that are aligned with where you are going. A vision is only as great as the community that helps bring it into reality. Relationships without context never produce a purpose. The best way to build meaningful contextual relationships is to offer value first. Once you start meeting new people, find ways to help them get to where they are going. I have had the amazing opportunity to build relationships with several friends who have ultimately led me to new business opportunities, clients and even career opportunities. Although I would have never initially foresaw these relationships leading to the opportunities, having them in my life has opened up numerous of doors.

How To Apply

One of the things that I suggest in my book is to write down the five people you are closest to and identify how much value they add to your personal and professional life. Relationships are very transactional. The better the relationship, the healthier the exchange. Every good opportunity that has ever happened in your life is probably attributed to  the people in your life. The same applies to every bad one. After you have identified your closest network of friends, take some time to write down seven to ten of the most recent opportunities that have accelerated your goals. Next, consider the individuals who were responsible for those opportunities and write them down. If you discover that the people you are closest to and the people who have brought opportunities in your life aren’t the same, you may need to reconsider your group of friends.

Network Everywhere and Often

Don’t limit networking to simply events and parties. Do it at Walmart, Facebook groups, restaurants, coffee shops, and everywhere where there are people to talk with. Opportunities are only limited by those who limit themselves. If you expand your mind to consider other points of connection to network, you may open up possibilities you never knew existed.  I remember meeting the CEO of one of the largest marketing companies in Tulsa while helping a friend at a coffee shop and meeting the CEO of Chick-fil-a Dan Cathy while visiting a local restaurant to grab a sandwich! If I never stopped to ask him who he was (didn’t recognize him before then), I would have never gotten to meet him. Your ability to network in unconventional places can be one of the most valuable assets you have.

How to Apply

Begin to intentionally approach new people with casual conversation throughout your daily activities. Instead of waiting for someone to approach you, approach them, greet them and then ask them about their day. This may uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it the more you get used to it. I usually try to find common points of connection for conversation starters. For example, if I am at Walmart, I may take a glance at what they bought to strike up a conversation about my thoughts about the product. Or if I am at a restaurant and I see a seemingly interesting person sitting alone, I try to ask them about their meal and start a conversation from there.

Networking does not have to be scary or awkward. Your goal isn’t to sell the people you meet, but to sow seeds of value into their life. The more you make your interactions about the other person, the better chances you will have of building a meaningful and lasting relationship that will propel you forward for years to come.

3 Secrets To Mastering Your First 90 Days on the Job

When a president first takes office, the first 100 days are widely considered the most important benchmark that will determine the success of their term. The same applies to a new employee’s first 90 days of employment. For many companies, your first three months are used as a testing period to review your work performance and  to examine how well you fit within the company culture. It is critical that you make the best impression during this time. If you focus on mastering one specific thing each month, you can make an incredible impact.

30 Days In

Your first thirty days should be focused on mastering your job duties and reviewing your company expectations Study the initial job description for the position and read the employee handbook within the first two weeks. This will help you understand the expectations of the company and provide a better understanding of what you should be accomplishing. Jot down any notes or questions you may have while reviewing this information so that you can review with your supervisor.  Never be afraid to work a few hours later or come a few hours earlier to ensure you have a complete handle of your responsibilities. The more you master in the beginning, the better it will be for you long term. I would keep a running log of what you feel you are doing great at and document the areas you need help in. You can then  get assistance from other employees or your trainer in your weaker areas. Never wait for someone else to assess your progress first. Always be proactive in doing it for yourself.

60 Days In

The next thirty days should be focused on building relationships. You should have already started doing this through training and the initial meet and greets. However, this will be the time that you turn it up a notch and become intentional about meeting specific people in your company. There are three people that I recommend  initially developing an intentional relationship with: your supervisor, your CEO, and your longest tenured employee or HR manager. Because the work you do reflects on the leadership of your supervisor, it is very important that you understand their specific expectations of you in your department. You need to be sure that what you are providing them in your work is what they expected. Be intentional about communicating your careers goals and expectations within the company as well. Also try to learn as much as possible about the responsibilities of their role and offer your assistance in helping them to do their role if needed. This will help for long term growth.  The next person you should develop a relationship with, if possible is your CEO. Even if it’s a simple hello while they are in their office or a brief meeting when applicable, making sure your CEO recognizes you can be a great asset. Keep a running list of ideas that you may like to one day present to them could possibly be used to benefit the company. Lastly, you should be familiar with HR manager or longest tenured team member. The HR manager is keenly aware of the big picture of the company. They understand what positions are needed for the progress of the organizations and are instrumental in getting the right people for the job. If they are aware of your skill set and experience, they may consider you first for an open position before posting it online. According to Will Cook, Business Programs Instructor at Community Care College, building a relationship with your eldest team members can give you a great bird’s eye view of the company culture. It can also help you understand office politics from the ground level in a way that you may not be able to from those who aren’t in your level.

90 Days In

At this point, your focus should be building expertise and solving strategic problems. What kinds of issues do you want to be the go-to person in fixing? Identify a few key areas in your company that you would like to improve. Once you have, you can begin developing an action plan to do what is necessary to make your solutions a reality. The more you master a particular area, the better your chances are of getting a raise or getting promoted.  If possible, don’t take every extra responsibility that comes your way. Be strategic in identifying and solving the problems that could ultimately lead you in a direction you actually want to go.

Your first 90 days has the potential to make your new career a success or a failure. How you handle it is crucial to making the most of your employment. If you make a strategic plan and execute it properly, you can use the momentum of that time to propel you into a lasting career future.


The Key to Finding a Positive and Contagious Company Culture

Like many students, when I graduated from college, I had to take a job that I didn’t necessarily hate, but didn’t love as well. It provided consistent income and helped to pay the bills every month. Though it was a good job, it didn’t have a culture that I was passionate about working in. I have found many of my peers are stuck in similar situations. They go from one company to the next, gradually increasing their income as their passion for the companies they work for decreases. An employee that isn’t passionate about what they do ultimately decreases in engagement at the company. The number one key to finding a positive company culture is in finding the right people. The right people can create a contagious company culture that will skyrocket the overall productivity. Specifically what contributes to this are the people you work for, the people you work with, and the people you serve.

The People You Work For

Your CEO and management team at your company should inspire you. John Quincy Adams once said “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Great leaders would rather empower you than impress you.  Are you inspired by the mission and vision of the company? Does the culture you work in make you proud to be there? Would you recommend your best friend to work there? The answers to these questions can be signs of great or not so great leadership at your company. Other things to look for include the level of transparency in the leadership, a healthy work-life balance in your CEO and supervisors, and whether or not you think you would enjoy working in a leadership role there. If you don’t get excited about any of these, it may be a good chance you may not respect the leadership to truly enjoy working at the company. Great companies inspire you to be more than a better employee, but a better person.

The People You Work With

I absolutely love the people I work with. We challenge each other and pull together to help one another for the good of the entire organization. The people you work with should do the same. Drive, joy and unity are all signs of a healthy company community. You should genuinely sense that everyone has the same goals and are committed to reaching them together. Do your co-workers seem consistently happy? Even during demanding times, do they rally to get work done or grudgingly plow through it? Great co-workers may not share all of your personal values, but they should share your core professional ones. Try to intentionally build strong professional bonds with those you work with. If no one is naturally connecting in your office or department, try inviting them for lunch instead. When you join a company, you marrying into a family. You will spend an average of 33% of your life working with them. You should enjoy your time around them.

The People You Serve

The people you serve are your clients and customers. These people are the heart and soul of everything your company does. If you don’t like the people you serve, you will end up hating the work you do. Before you even consider working for a company, you should already have a passion for the company’s audience. I once worked for a company that gave me great experience and had great opportunities for growth, but served an audience I didn’t particularly enjoy. When you become disinterested in your company’s audience, you become disconnected with its growth. Look for elements in the audience that you can align with your own personal values or story. There are two ways a company could potentially serve your audience: directly or indirectly. Let’s say you are a software engineer that has a passion for working with millennials at a company that develops educational applications to help them study better. That would be an example of a direct service. What you would do in the company directly benefits an audience you enjoy helping. However, let’s say your passion is for disabled veterans. The software company may not serve this population through its services, but it donates 10% of its profits to Wounded Warriors. This could be just the incentive you need to keep you motivated in what you do.

Company culture is a critical component to driving employee engagement. Though it may take some time and research, finding a company culture that is right for you is one of the best things you can do for your overall work enjoyment as well as your productivity. Cultures aren’t created by rules and objectives, but people. Find the right people, and you will find the perfect culture.

The Truth About Insecurity

Have you ever felt like you aren’t enough? I definitely have. Like at work when I felt that my accomplishments don’t come close to my peers. Or in my finances when I realized I haven’t saved nearly enough money as experts tell me I am supposed to have tucked away. Or even among friends when I get called out for not doing enough.

Daily I fought that impeccable urge to “do” something more to replace “being” more. Often times, especially in our careers, we feel the more things we accomplish will compensate for the lack of value we believe we have. I became tired of that internal conflict. What originally started out as small insecurities became all out war inside of me. Through this, I learned one valuable secret to overcoming any insecurity: exposure.

Insecurities thrive most when they are in the dark. The less others know about them, the more they multiply in your mind and emotions. Like viruses, they transform the most positive perspectives of yourself into a identity crisis. Realizing this, I decided a few years ago to finally expose my insecurities. I listed each of them with the struggles I faced. From the pain of rejection I felt from a girl in elementary school who didn’t like me to the frustration I felt from not being further in my career. I listed the insignificance I felt from not having a father around growing up to the frustration I felt from not being the kind of man I believed I could become. Once I wrote them down, I did something I never thought I could: I shared them. I found two mentors whom I greatly respected and shared every insecurity that I have ever struggled with. Going through this exercise lifted a huge burden from me and taught me three valuable lessons.

Success isn’t measured in accomplishments, but in authenticity.

I have now reframed my mind to see success in a totally different way. I now try to focus less on what more I can do and instead focus on how much more I can be. The more honest I am with my own strengths and weaknesses, the more successful I become. What I do may earn me money, but who I become will leave a legacy. My goal is to become a better person today than I was yesterday by being more authentic with my values, goals and commitments.

Comparison breeds fear. Community cultivates confidence.

Anytime I have EVER compared myself to someone else, it makes me that much more fearful about where I am. Comparison always forces you to use someone else’s life as a measuring stick of your own potential. True community will help you cultivate your potential. True friends will allow you to be vulnerable and victorious, flawed and fruitful all at the same time. When everyone is pushing towards the same goal, no one ever feels the need to compete.

Your greatest enemy is the perfect you.

The perfect person you always strive to become doesn’t exist. And they never will. For some reason, we are tempted to strive to be a imaginary perfect version of ourselves. And despite how many times we have been told “no one is perfect,” we still strive towards it. Destroy perfection. Embrace process. You wouldn’t be the amazing person you are today if it wasn’t for the good things AND not so good things about you. Understanding that fact will make each day that much more freeing.