Monthly Archives: June 2011

Don't Count America Out, Sweetie

<h2>Don’t Count America Out, Sweetie</h2>
Last week, I was working on-site at a client’s office to develop a coaching and mentoring program to deliver to her employees.
While we were sitting together discussing the course outline, she asked me out of the blue: “Why are you so down on America?”
Talk about your ‘out of left field’ question. I was blown away.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
So she tells me: “Your last few blogs have been so critical of America. Do you think our best days our behind us?”
As a consultant I’ve learned to be a straight shooter while mastering the art of evasiveness simultaneously. In her case bluntness was expected.
“I find it hard to dispute the facts,” I replied. “For starters, 15-20% of Americans are unemployed, one in four Americans can be categorized as contract/independent workers without the benefits of full-time employment, entire industries are imploding and transforming, and our skyrocketing debt may bankrupt future generations,” I answered.
So, yes I am bearish on America right now.
She smiled this ear to ear grin and she said to me: “Sweetie, these are all serious issues but nothing we haven’t seen before. We’ll manage, like we always do. You’re forgetting,” she said. We are Americans. This is what we DO.”
And that was that.
The trouble is, I keep thinking about the state of America, our short and long-term prospects especially for our children, not to mention my job seeker and small business clients.
But we HAVE seen this before. It’s what “creative destruction” as defined by Joseph Schumpeter in his book: ‘Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy’ is all about. A special thanks to Ray O’Connor for introducing me to this awesome read.

You see America shifting gears now with a surge in new business pursuits around alternative, fuel sources, green technologies, cloud computing, etc. While Best Buy, Blockbuster, Circuit City declare bankruptcy, Netflix, Google, Facebook, Apple continue to shine.
Yes, American students continue to drop down the ranks in global math and science skills rankings. On the flip side, more and more college students are banding together to form business ventures while they are in school.
They’ve seen what has happened to their parents and grandparents. They understand that future employment post graduation is no longer a certainty.
In times of great upheaval and crisis, new opportunities continue to present themselves. So perhaps it is not so foolish to discover a renewed faith in America. Times have been tough these past few years, but perhaps the best is still yet to come, with the right leadership politically, academically, and in business and industry.
Need another perspective? Check out what David Brooks had to say in his op-ed article: “Relax, We’ll Be Fine” that appeared in the New York Times on April 5, 2010.
Let’s not count America out. We are a nation of DOERs.

Wanna Succeed Don't Commit to ANYTHING

Wanna Succeed Don’t Commit to ANYTHING

Why is it that so many people make commitments to others that they have no intention of keeping? You know all those little white lies… “Sure I’ll call you,” “I will get back to you on that,” “You’ll hear from me either way,” or one of my all-time favorites – “Of course I can get that to you by then.”
It doesn’t matter whether you do this out of a passive-aggressive nature or are simply swamped with LIFE. No matter what the intention, poor follow through makes you look bad. This is exacerbated when it is a FIRST impression, and can have a significant NEGATIVE impact on the impression you make with others. The only way to avoid this is…DON’T DO IT.
We are known for our actions. Living a life of “Do as I say, and not as I do” smacks of hypocrisy. Granted we live in the “ME” society and we are all busy to the umpteenth degree. However, not responding to someone especially when you made a commitment to do so reflects a lack of courtesy and poor values.
You do NOT want to become someone who is known for these less than stellar behavioral tendencies. If you take ownership of following up with someone, then do so. If not, do not make the commitment to do so. By acting this way you demonstrate a lack of respect for others.
So, how can you make sure that you follow through on everything you commit to?

1) STOP and really think before you make the commitment.
Don’t be too quick to say “yes” to something. Think about the work on your plate and whether you have the bandwidth to take on the additional work. Ask for time before you get back to someone with an answer on a commitment. They will appreciate that much more than if you immediately agreed to do something and then NOT delivered on the promise.

2) Try to delegate more and ask for help when needed.
Think of other people who you can assign tasks to that can do a better job, are closer to the information required to complete the project, and can complete the task in a more timely fashion.
3) Take good notes of meetings you attend.
During meetings jot down all the information that you will need, to complete any actions you commit to completing. It helps to capture any commitments you make on your weekly task list and project plans. Use start and end dates for each task, the specific requirements, people who can help you complete the tasks associated with a project, the task’s status, and any contingencies that threaten to prevent you from completing the task on time.
4) Create template responses.
If you are expecting overwhelming responses to your communications, then you can always create canned responses that, at a least let people know when they can expect to hear back from you.
5)Manage other people’s expectations.
Let people know when they can expect your feedback. If it becomes clear as you approach the deadline to respond and you know you will not be able to make the deadline, then let them know you will need to set a new deliver-by date.
6) You can always bow out of the commitment, if all else fails.
If you simply cannot get back to someone, respond to their inquiry, or complete the task, then you owe it to them to let them know that you won’t be able to follow through on your commitment.
So whether you receive a call or email from a potential vendor, supplier, or someone looking to offer your organization services, or you are a recruiter or HR professional responsible for responding to job seekers and candidates, there is a MORE professional way to act then ignoring their communication. It’s called follow-up and follow through…and it leads to greater career success.