Archive for July, 2015

Building Value In The Business Of You

July 29th, 2015


You aren’t wealthy until you have something money can’t buy

– Garth Brooks
Mention the word wealth and for many, images of grand homes, fast cars and fat paycheque are the first things that spring to mind. Health, relationships, careers and that ever elusive thing called time are often an after thought; and yet for many it is what we crave more of and spend all of our money on trying to obtain or achieve.

Essentially wealth really is anything that holds value. It is about creating a sense of prosperity and abundance in in the areas of our life that are important to us. A quick Google search reveals that the three key attributes of wealth are utility, scarcity and marketability.

In thinking about our careers, these attributes are not too different. Clarity, demand and transferability are three career attributes that will build value and drive your career forward. Given that we spend up to 70% or our waking time engaged in work related activities – week after week and year after year – it makes sense that we aim to create a high degree of value and reward in what we do.

So how do we use these three attributes to create genuine career wealth?

  1. Build clarity: Around what you can do (Skills, Knowledge, Experience); what you want to do (Values, Career Anchors) and where you think you best fit (Personality, People, Culture).
  2. Build demand: Become the expert in what it is that you do and the way in which you do it. Learn how to position yourself as the expert and give people and organisations a reason to want to engage with you.
  3. Build Transferability: Identify where your skills and capabilities also apply. Remain relevant to the future of your business, your industry, and your networks and become nimble enough to adapt and leverage with the inevitable changes ahead.

As with all successful components of our lives, habits play a key part in seeing us reach our potential. Building high value careers is no different. Below are 10 key habits that I believe underpin truly wealthy, successful and satisfying careers. How many do you practice?

  • Conduct Regular Audits: Gaining clarity on the areas highlighted above is not a once off event. Regularly check in and take a close look at where you are and where you want to go. Are your personal values aligning with your goals? Making this a regular habit will help maintain clarity and focus and more importantly make any required changes in a timely manner.
  • Value Your Time: Know your own strengths and play to them. Learn to identify the strengths in others and how you can best collaborate to achieve mutually beneficial goals and save time, effort and wasted energy.
  • Embrace Learning: Never assume that you know all there is to know about managing your career. Begin by investing time to acquire the right intelligence and know-how that will accelerate your career. Investigate key industry trends and challenges; recent business success stories; know who the key influencers and thought leaders are. Be proactive in educating yourself in what is required from both an industry and individual perspective.
  • Position yourself for recognition: This is not about endless self-promotion. Rather it is about building up your portfolio of accomplishments and positioning yourself for more opportunities and achievements. To do this successfully you need to seek feedback and input from your leaders and mentors both from within and outside your organization.
  • Become curious: Ask questions – lots of them! Your outcomes and direction are greatly determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself and those around you. Seeking understanding and not merely responses will help create and open up new opportunities, solutions and pathways.
  • Practice Bravery: Low risk is often associated with stability. However continually opting for the low risk options leads to increased vulnerability as it reduces our resilience to deal with sudden and high level change. ‘Playing it safe’ with your career can in fact create higher risk through an inability to cope with the volatility and rate of change which is all to common in the market place today.
  • Strengthen your network: Invest in the right relationships and dedicate time and energy to them. Identify your key influencers and thought leaders, and a meaningful pathway of how to approach and engage with them. Build a networking plan that fosters authentic professional relationships where you can also offer valuable contributions.
  • Give generously: Acting with generosity requires you to be open. It is not restricted to just opening up our wallets but also our skills, ideas and knowledge. When we actively acknowledge the contributions and needs of others and are generous with providing recognition, time, networks etc. we often find that we are the unexpected beneficiary with increased levels of success and satisfaction.
  • Invest in the business of you: Understanding that our capacity to give and give generously is dramatically enhanced when we look after ourselves, is a critical part of our success. Investing in your health, your relationships, your learning and interests is not a nice-to-have it’s a must have!
  • Have fun!: Seek out work that you love, with people you love and in environments that you love. You won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face or dispute the level of satisfaction and purpose that results!

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot AndersenIf you would like to explore ways to build confidence, clarity and choice in your career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Bouncing Back

July 22nd, 2015


‘Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.’

– Lyndon B. Johnson
So you feel as though you’ve blown it. It might be choosing the wrong hire or job, a failure to act, a slip of the tongue, an emotional outburst, or just a dumb decision when you think you should have known better. The reality is we all make mistakes, but they don’t have to signal irreversible damage or the end of our career. It is how we react and what we choose to do after that sickening moment we realise our error that determines just how big it turns out to be.

Understanding how we view these mistakes and failures is critical to if and how high we bounce back. When societies, businesses and individuals choose to view failure as experience rather than losing they are setting themselves on a course that is rich in new learning, networks and opportunities. They provide themselves and others with the confidence, clarity and energy to move forward and not remain stuck where they are.

Still the memory of our mistakes can sting for a while and recovering from them is neither inconsequential nor unimportant. If it was we would continue to make them with little regard for the consequences they held in both our immediate and long-term futures.

The reality is over the course of our lives and careers we will make mistakes. If we don’t, we are either playing it way too safe or not playing at all. Our bosses, peers and team members will also make mistakes. Again, how we choose to react will play a part in how big they become. As Alexander Pope wrote nearly three centuries ago ‘To err is human, to forgive divine’. Whether it be forgiving ourselves or those around us, we need to ensure that we are focused on the future and not in the messiness of the mistake.

Developing an inner strength and resiliency to move forward is critical. Without it we further compromise our position and opportunity for future success for those associated with our actions and ourselves. Martin Seligman, an American Psychologist who is well regarded for his work on positive psychology and resilience found that people who recover from setbacks and failure often view it as a temporary, localised and changeable event. Conversely those who struggle to move beyond their mistakes and failure learn to accept their scenarios as something they have no control over and consequently develop a ‘learned helplessness’.

Resiliency brings security. In a world that is characterised by constant change and uncertainty our ability to feel comfortable and move with the changing times, recover from setbacks and navigate the unknown is a critical skill for both personal and professional success. Our lives and careers today require us to be nimble, responsive and adaptable in both the good and not so good times. Anticipating risk, limiting fallout and the ability to ‘bounce back’ are essential skills for today’s leaders. Without it we not only risk our own career but also the performance and abilities of our teams by failing to see the opportunities that lie in front of us.

So how do we learn to think and act constructively rather than react in an emotionally destructive manner following a period of failure?

  1. Own It: To move beyond our mistakes we firstly need to own them by admitting to ourselves that it is our error. Denying responsibility holds us back, creates defensiveness and tends to protract the pain and period of time needed to resolve the issue. It also helps us avoid the blame trap.
  2. Acknowledge It: Whilst our first reaction is to want to hide away there will no doubt be some people who will need to know and who are impacted by your mistakes. Acknowledging our mistakes with honesty, integrity and transparency is also a powerful leadership example to set for those around us.
  3. Manage Your Emotions: Don’t sit on them or in them! Supressing them or dwelling on them prohibits any positive forward thinking or movement. Not only does it hold you back, it also drags you back.
  4. Mitigate The Risk: Invariably there are three immediate courses of action to choose from: Undo, Redo or Make Do. Understanding what your options are will help you to focus on what the next best course of action is to take.
  5. Understand Why: To learn from our mistakes we need to understand how and why they have occurred. It will help us to spot the early signs of reoccurrence, what actions we can take to avoid it and if possible what can be done to eliminate it.
  6. Repair It: Where possible we need to take the necessary actions to repair the damage that has arisen from our mistakes – with projects, with brands and with relationships.
  7. Forgive Yourself: More often than not we are our own harshest critics as our failings leave us feeling overwhelmingly disappointed, vulnerable and ashamed. We need to remind ourselves that ‘we did wrong, not we are wrong’. Continuing to berate ourselves keeps us reliving the moment and stops us from moving forward and learning from our mistakes.
  8. Fail Forward: Learning how to acknowledge, recover and learn from them allows us to grow as individuals and leaders. It helps us build and maintain the skills and relevance required for all that we do in life and in our careers.

Jazz great Miles Davis once said ‘When you hit the wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad’. When we as individuals and leaders know how to play those next notes and manage our responses to mistakes and failure, we can in turn support the mistakes and failures of those we lead. When we do this we are building and empowering a strong, bright and resilient future for both ourselves and the teams and businesses we lead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot AndersenIf you would like to explore ways to build resilience in your career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

How Are Your Daily Habits Shaping Your Career?

July 7th, 2015


“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken”

– Warren Buffett
I was recently reading an interview with Diane von Furstenberg (renowned fashion designer) and Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter) about their daily habits and routines. I was particularly taken with Diane’s response to the question of how she started her day: ‘I start by sending one email each day that does not benefit me at all’. She went on to explain that it could be an introduction, a note of congratulations or a simple compliment.

What an incredible, simple act of generosity and influence and one that has an enormous capacity to impact individuals, workplace culture and broader networks!

Whilst this daily habit does not immediately or directly benefit her day-to-day responsibilities, I do believe that over time it has the potential to greatly impact her business and career success. Her personal and professional reputation, the quality of her networks, the engagement of her staff, the potential for new opportunities and least of all the shaping of a positive and grateful mindset are but a few of the long term benefits to be had from this simple action.

We all know that success can be made or broken by the habits we form. They either become the major obstacles or the greatest foundations to all that we do. In short the actions (big and small) we take or don’t take today, do shape our tomorrow.

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, a highly regarded New York Times business journalist explores why some people and companies struggle with change while others seem to effortlessly reinvent themselves overnight.

The answer he says is in our ability to understand how habits work and to focus on the daily patterns that shape our lives. Knowing what triggers our routines and what rewards we are really seeking is critical to changing or motivating our future actions.

Habit LoopIn his book, he uses the example of how every day at 3pm he would stop what he was doing, head for the office cafeteria, grab a biscuit and chat with colleagues before returning to his desk twenty or so minutes later.Whilst he knew that he was putting on weight, he just couldn’t seem to break the habit.

When examining his habit he established that the time of day was his ‘cue’, the trip to the cafeteria was his ‘routine’ and the cookie was his so called ‘reward’. However when he really looked at it further, it wasn’t the cookie that was his reward it was the opportunity to engage with his colleagues. When he realised this, he was able to create new practices or habits that gave him the same reward. In doing so, he also saved both time and money whilst also greatly increasing productivity.  In essence we need to identify habits that serve our purpose.

To eliminate or change those that are not we need to develop the ability to diagnose why we continue to do what we do. When we can effectively diagnose them, we can influence them. With this in mind, it is worth asking what patterns am I focusing on to shape my current and future career success?

What daily habits am I taking (or not taking) to support how I effectively deliver on my role, grow my capability and brand, and to develop my team and myself?

I would encourage you to think about some of the daily actions below that are widely regarded as the key habits of successful leaders and ask yourself how they could reward you and your career:

  1. Start your day early: Creating space for both ourselves and to think about the day ahead provides a buffer to its demands. It helps us position ourselves strategically, positively and with a sense of control about what we are doing.
  2. Commit to adding value: There is no way to get ahead without committing to add value. Everyone you engage with needs to see, hear and feel value in the interactions they have with you. When they do they will invariably talk about it and seek to replicate it with what they do.
  3. Read something related to your industry: To remain informed and in-demand, you need to know what’s being demanded. What are the current trends, practices and opportunities for your industry? With sources such as LinkedIn and online industry free publications that can be delivered straight to your inbox it is all too easy to source the information.
  4. Focus on your network: Daily actions taken to invest in the growth and relevance of your network will help future-proof your success.
  5. Learn how to ‘fold time’: Learning how to maximise ‘incidental time’ not only improves your productivity but also helps us create time. Time spent commuting can be converted to daily exercise routines, your personal development time or engaging with networks. Rather than having to find extra time, we can simply maximise the use of the time we already have.
  6. Acknowledge your wins and achievements: This does not mean shouting from the corner office or endless self-promotion. Recognising how and where your capabilities, knowledge and skillsets have added value will help you determine new and relevant opportunities.
  7. Reflect: All to often we race through our day ticking things off our to-do lists or filing things away with little consideration to how they add value or ways we could further enhance it. Taking a moment at the end of each day to reflect allows you align your daily tasks with the bigger picture and ensures that you remain focused on the immediate requirements at hand.

So maybe tomorrow before you open up your to-do list, tackle your inbox, or dive head first into your day, take a moment to consider how your daily patterns and habits are setting you and your team up for career success.

For me, I am going to try and adopt Diane von Furstenberg’s daily practice of sending an email that doesn’t (immediately or directly) benefit me at all.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”853″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like to explore ways to build confidence, clarity and choice in your career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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