Category Archives: Motivation

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Have you ever had a client praise you for your good works and outcomes and then, within weeks or months, decide to end your working agreement? Have you ever brought in positive measurable results in a job only to have, shortly thereafter, your employment terminated?

Circumstances change. Budgets get reassessed. Ownerships/partnerships are revised. Measurable results can go south. Clients/employers find candidates they think can do the job better. Or cheaper.

In 2016, more than at any point in my lifetime, it is a “what have you done for me lately?” world in business. A college basketball coach takes leads a team to two straight conference titles. He wins awards! Heaping accolades roll in! Then he has two losing seasons. Goodbye, coach!

I have lost jobs when I was performing at my best and delivering strong measurable results, but my superiors thought someone else could do the job better. (OR just as well, for much less money.)

It happens. Unless your parents own the company or you have an ownership stake, you can be bounced from any gig. Even if, just recently, you were golden. How should you deal with this uncertainty?

  1. Perform at a high level always. Don’t coast.
  2. Make sure the person or persons you report to are aware of all the good outcomes you deliver. Don’t assume they know.
  3. Note that even if you do good work, consultants, corporate types and fellow managers can suggest to your boss/client that your talents may not be as valuable as earlier believed.
  4. Celebrate your wins as they occur. Next time the outcomes may not be so rosy.
  5. Always be thinking about your next work situation. When someone extends a feeler, don’t brush it off. Listen and ask questions. There may be something better out there for you now.
  6. Keep your resume, portfolio and LinkedIn profile updated. You may be, as Sinatra sings, “ridin’ high in April, shot down in May.”
  7. Negotiate employment contracts carefully. Many are one-sided, favoring the employer/client. Make sure there are protections for you in the deal, just in case.
  8. If you are an “HCE” (highly compensated employee), be aware that you may be particularly vulnerable when budgets are slashed.
  9. Don’t get overly attached emotionally to any job. Things change.
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Gym Etiquette and Fitness

cardio

This space is for thoughts about marketing, communication and good business practices. Being healthy and fit makes you perform better for employers and clients. So fitness should be part of your overall personal marketing plan. And January is a month when we renew and reset.

Therefore, if you are planning to get back to the gym this month or are joining for the first time, here is a bit of guidance from a longtime gym patron.

  1. Don’t talk on your phone when you’re on a cardio machine. It’s rude. It might be okay to answer one quick question, but if the conversation is going to last more than 30 seconds, step out into the hallway.
  2. Wipe off the machine when you’re done. Even if you didn’t sweat that much.
  3. If there’s a time limit on cardio machines, obey the rules. Don’t be a jerk.
  4. Say hello, or at least nod, to the older and heavier folks at the gym. They may be uncomfortable among the younger, more svelte patrons.
  5. This may be the most important tip: If you have a new combination lock for the locker room, be sure you have memorized the combination before you use it! (Write it inside a shoe if necessary.)
  6. No matter how provocatively your gym mates are dressed, it is NOT okay to ogle.
  7. If you don’t want to be ogled in the gym, don’t dress provocatively. Also, if you need a sports bra, get one.
  8. You don’t have to wear makeup to the gym.
  9. Don’t drop the free weights. If there’s an audible clang, it’s obnoxious. Grunting is also a no-no.
  10. Unless you’re running long distances, eating less is generally a more efficient way to lose weight than burning calories on a treadmill.
  11. Don’t expect to lose 50 pounds in 6 weeks. Unless you plan to stop eating. You may be able to drop that much excess weight in a year.
  12. A personal trainer is a splurge, but often a worthy splurge. If you’re new to a particular gym, at least have an employee walk you through the various machines and stations.
  13. Spinning, Zumba, Bootcamp, etc. classes are good for many reasons. The main one: If you’ve paid in advance, you’re less likely to blow it off.
  14. If you hit the gym after work, remember where you park. It’s tough walking out after dark, into the cold, with wet hair, into a parking lot with dozens of monochromatic cars.
  15. If your gym doesn’t furnish sweat towels or wipes, bring your own.
  16. Enjoy your workout. I see many people in my gym who look less than happy. Try to ride the wave when the endorphins kick in!
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Your Job Does Not Define You

Popeye

It happened last week and it will happen again today. A person who loves her or his job, has performed well and is well liked by coworkers will be terminated. The reason for the termination is not important. What matters is how the person handles the situation.

When you lose a job, you spend time wondering what you did wrong. Did you say something or do something that you shouldn’t have? Should you have seen it coming? Was a certain remark a few months ago intended to serve as a warning?

You may wonder about your identity. All the folks in the neighborhood, at church, at the gym, etc. have known you as “the web design lady” or “the medical supplies guy.” When you’re unemployed, you may feel unworthy of any such designation. You may begin to doubt your talent in your chosen field. That former coworker you considered a good friend may not have time to return your calls. Your self-esteem can take a big hit.

Here is a reminder that you are not defined by your employment. Maybe you wore a shirt with your company’s name on it. Maybe your name is on that “employee of the month” plaque in the break room. Maybe you worked all weekend several times for this organization to get projects completed. Remember that your employment was, is and will be a business relationship.

Being committed to your job is a good thing. Going the extra mile to bring success to the company can help you climb the corporate ladder. Loyalty to an organization and its mission is admirable. But remember that any company can and will make personnel decisions as needed. Those decisions are based on current and future situations, not on what was happening in 2006.

Your value as a human is not defined by what you do and whom you work for. Look at all the people who have successfully made career changes in the last decade. Look at all the people who have transitioned away from jobs they hated to radically different jobs they love. They know who they are as people, not just as employees.

On my Twitter profile, I list myself as a “St. Louis morning radio host now doing PR and Marketing.” Some people in town still know me better as a morning radio guy than as a PR guy. That line tells what work I did and now do.

No matter what work I am doing, I am still who I am, with all my own personality, quirks and flaws. Likewise, you are who you are. You job may be a big part of your life, but don’t let it define you.

(During Summer 2015, I am revisiting some posts from previous years. This item was originally posted in December 2012.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Checkup

With Memorial Day weekend just ahead and summer right behind it, it’s time to take a moment and consider what you as a business owner or employee have accomplished during the first 139 days of 2014.

  1. You made it through winter. The brutal weather led to many cancelled meetings. The snow, ice and cold caused a variety of damages: broken bones, busted water pipes, dead car batteries, etc. But you persevered, got things done and dealt with the troubling situations.
  2. You worked to add new clients/customers. You reached out to prospects that came from recent referrals or from contact in years past.
  3. You reached out to previous clients/customers. You asked if you or your organization could address current needs.
  4. You gained new knowledge and/or skill. Your new insight may have come from a college course, conversations with colleagues, a presentation at a conference or even from a Wikipedia page. Or you learned to use certain software programs or physical tools better, simply by working with them.
  5. You revised your stated goals for the year in response to changing circumstances.
  6. You worked early, late and on weekends when necessary. But you also maintained life balance with a strong focus on friends and family and physical fitness.
  7. You celebrated your victories, bemoaned your losses and did everything you could to maintain a positive attitude.
  8. You contemplated your biggest challenges and chose one or more to take on during 2014.
  9. You focused on delivering real value to clients/customers while also improving personal relationships with the people who pay for your services or products.
  10. You took care of important paperwork and legal requirements (including tax obligations) that can sometimes be pushed aside when you concentrate on your main work.

Whether the first three-eighths of your year have trended good or bad—and whether you can agree with everything on this list—it is important to take a moment to appreciate what you’ve done so far in 2014. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend! (Next post on June 2nd.)

If You Don’t Ask, The Answer Is Always No

Last Friday’s New York Times had an interview with a young entrepreneur named Angus Davis. When asked for career advice for students, he said, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

How many times in your personal or professional life have you been afraid to ask for something because of your fear that the answer would be no? In some cases, you may have simply presumed that the answer would be no.

Rejection can be hard to handle whether it comes from asking your mom for a cookie when you’re small or asking a bank for a loan when you’re older. This explains why some people are not cut out for sales positions.

As Davis continues his advice he says, “What’s the harm in asking? What’s the worst that’s going to happen?” If you ask for a hotel or airline upgrade and are told no, have you lost anything? If you ask a car dealer if he’ll take your lowball offer and he says no, are you damaged in any way? If you ask for a raise and/or a promotion at work and are turned down, is it a bad thing?

In many cases, the upside possibilities of a positive reply are so great that we have to ask the question. (For instance, “will you marry me?” That’s a big one.)

Asking can often establish a dialogue that will help you obtain what you want in time. Even if the answer you get today is no, the answer next week/month/year may be yes.

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Hang In There, Boomers!

The youngest baby boomers turn 50 next year. The oldest turn 70 in three years.

In the modern, wired, social world of 2013 are boomers still able to get things done? Can a boomer handle the new technology that doesn’t stop changing? Do boomers still have the mental resourcefulness and physical energy to handle tough challenges? Yes, yes and yes.

We all know 50 and 60-somethings who don’t “get” Twitter. There are those whose general tech skills are laughable. And many of us who are not “digital natives” do not absorb new software wrinkles instinctively like our kids do.

But we bring life experience to the table that has value. We addressed issues in decades past that are relevant to many modern problems. The negotiating skills we honed over the years in dealings with bosses, car salesmen and realtors have prepared us to obtain good outcomes from today’s negotiations. The healthy skepticism we have developed keeps us from jumping into the deep end of the “next big thing” without careful examination.

It is encouraging to me to see so many people over the age of 50 who still bring their A-games to their efforts on a daily basis. Some boomers have invested well and could hang it up tomorrow and move to the lake/beach/mountains but they choose to keep on working. That’s because they love what they do and because they continue to produce good results in their work.

I visited my dad last week in Alabama. He stopped working completely at age 60. He had worked in a pipe factory since he was a teenager. His was dirty, sweaty, dangerous work. During my childhood, he frequently showed me welding burns on his shins and forearms. When he walked away, he missed the people, but he did not miss the work.

My work is not dangerous. It can be mentally grueling and can require intense focus. But it’s work I can handle.

To my fellow baby boomers, I urge you to continue as long as you enjoy your work and are delivering positive results. Show respect and admiration for the Gen-Xers and Millennials you work with, but hang in and keep delivering!

 

 

 

 

Competition is Good

A radio ad that has recently aired on several St. Louis stations features Texas governor Rick Perry inviting Missouri business owners to consider relocating to Texas. The impetus for the ads was Missouri governor Jay Nixon’s veto of a tax cut bill. The commercial states that the veto of a tax cut is the same as a tax increase. In addition to chastising Missouri, the spot touts Texas’ virtues, such as the lack of state income taxes.

Many in St. Louis have been outraged that Texas and its governor would pay to broadcast such a message. One station responded to listener feedback and cancelled the spots.

My thoughts on the subject:

  • I have lived in Houston and Dallas. I enjoyed my time in both cities. Each has much to offer. The lack of state income tax IS a big deal. But I have lived in St. Louis for 25+ years. My family and I have put down roots and we choose to remain. We like it here.
  • Those who say that old media are passé may be surprised to learn that people still listen to terrestrial radio stations and that advertising on these stations does cause listeners to respond. (Maybe local radio sales managers should solicit a “success letter” from Rick Perry for their presentations to prospective clients.)
  • There is nothing wrong with competition. Missouri and Texas are in constant competition with 48 other states and a large number of foreign countries throughout the world for new business. Economic development folks in Jefferson City and Austin are working hard every day to convince leaders to put plants and HQs in their states rather than in South Carolina, Belize, New Hampshire or China.
  • If these radio spots cause those charged with promoting Missouri to step up their game on the business recruitment front and become more competitive, positive results should follow. Ultimately, Missouri may want to thank the Texas guv for firing our state up.
  • The political implications of the spots remain to be seen. Governor Perry may be trying to rehab his buffoonish image for a 2016 presidential run. Republicans may be trying to derail governor Nixon’s future plans. Time will tell.
  • Competition is good. When you are competing for a new job, new customers, a new business deal, you have to perform better. And your better performance generally brings better outcomes for you.

Click HERE to read my thoughts posted last December about the motivation that comes from having a chosen rival.

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