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Elephants, Camels, Splendor, Squalor and Business Success.

 Elephants, Camels, Splendor, Squalor…and Higher Education

My Trip to the Land of Gandhi, the Taj Mahal and Bollywood.
On February 26, I returned from an unforgettable, exhausting and life-changing TWO WEEK journey through the oldest democracy that is India.
It was the sort of global whirlwind tour that would make Thomas Friedman proud.
On February 12, we flew out of the Newark, NJ airport. Upon our arrival at the airport, Jamaican and Indian agents at the Lufthansa desk checked our bags and sent us on our way. After a 7 hour flight we changed planes in Frankfurt, Germany and arrived at our final destination…after EIGHTEEN hours.
Everywhere homeless dogs roamed the streets.
We visited with family in Pune. While there, we took the train from Pune to Pimperey for a day trip. Although we bought our tickets in advance, we still had to ask 7 or 8 people where to board the train. They have cars for women only, cancer patients, the elderly, first class reserved…everyone. But if you get on the wrong train car with the wrong tickets, you get thrown off (literally, as happened to a homeless boy next to us) or (potentially) arrested (as almost happened to us!)
In Pimperey we visited a temple, shopped in the market stalls, and ate mutton and a hole in the wall. At every turn, there was something amazing to see.
That Friday we flew from Pune to Gandhi airport in Delhi then went to old Delhi to visit the Mahatma Gandhi memorial. It was like the tomb for john F. Kennedy at the Arlington National Cemetary with the ever-burning flame. We then visited the ancient forts with Hindu-Islam shared influence Qtab Minar, Jama Masjid, and Lal Quila (“Red Fort.”) We stopped to see the new Delhi Indian Parliament and monument to India’s fallen soldiers. The highlight for my daughter was our rickshaw rides through the back alleys of Chandani Chowk.

On Monday, we drove from Delhi to Agra (a four hour car ride) and visited the paanch mahal palace at Fatephpur Sikri, built by the Mughal emperor Akbar in honor of Saint Salim Christi whom he visited when he was desperate to conceive a son and male heir. After visiting Salim Christi, Akbar’s wife conceived a son. The palace served as the capital of the Mughal empire from 1571 to 1585. So cool!

We then saw the Taj Mahal. It’s really hard to describe adequately the true splendor and stunning architectural beauty of the Taj Mahal. Suffice to say, this American who grew up in New York City, lived in San Francisco and Washington D.C. was rendered speechless!

After that, we finished our journey by visiting Mumbai (Bombay) a major Metropolitan city. My family visited my wife’s mother’s two Aunts who are in their late 80s but still as feisty as ever. My daughter spent an afternoon with FOUR generations of her mother’s family. You simply CAN’T put a price on that!
What amazed me most about India’s society is the tremendous dichotomy that exists in all things, from the unbelievable opulence of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai to the abject poverty and squalor of the surrounding shanty towns.

Another example…there is significant disrepair evident at the national monuments. Graffiti painted on the walls of the Queen Victoria train station and cut into the red stone of the Red Fort. Meanwhile, corporations are funding a massive effort to build Colleges and Universities to educate the impoverished, socioeconomically challenged lower classes to defend against ever having to outsource labor.
The Government, despite rampant corruption, is making a major effort to work with these companies to bring higher education to the poorest, least educated segments of their society.

America could stand for a bit of that emphasis on making higher education more affordable for the masses as a way to spur on business start-ups and business growth along with career mobility for all. Clearly, we could stand for a greater emphasis on, and appreciation for, the importance of educating more segments of our society as a means for achieving career success for millions of Americans.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We experienced the rustic villages, massive religious temples, historic palaces and forts, sprawling new urban centers and suburbs expanding from over-populated cities. In all our experiences, the backdrop was the fusion of past, present and future colliding and co-existing.
Having said all that, I’m glad to be back in America where you see the taxis coming at you before they strike, motorists stop for pedestrians and the cows, elephants, and camels all stay off of the highways.
Be on the lookout for my next blog: “Ethan ROCKS consulting in 2012!

Your Personal Branding REALLY Matters

What People Think of You REALLY Matters

When you think of your own personal brand, what comes to mind?
Now more than ever our personal brands matter critically, in our ability to carve out any semblance of long-term job security.
So, what do people think of you? If you asked 4 or 5 of your closest friends, professional peers, and business relations what words they’d use to describe you, what would they say? GO AHEAD…do it! It’s a great learning experience on the road to self-exploration.
At the end of the day, we only have our word to stand upon, as our personal brand. Based on the thousands of interactions I’ve had these past 4 years as a career coach and business consultant, many people are failing miserably. I’m developing a program on “Business Ethics.” When I tell people they laugh, like it’s a joke.
Let’s start with today’s used car salespeople…RECRUITERS. Do you receive emails from recruiters, placement agencies, or search firms about supposed job opportunities that has absolutely NOTHING to do with your background, skills and qualifications? At the end of the e-mail, they say: “If this position isn’t right for you, can you share this with others in your network?” They are basically spamming and phishing us, asking us to help them do their jobs and find others for them to send to their clients.
Have you received a call from a recruiter asking if you’re interested in a job they are looking to fill? They discuss their client’s needs and the requirements with you, then you send them your resume and they promise to forward it to the hiring organization and let you know.
Weeks then months go by, you never hear from them after repeated efforts to obtain a status. Finally you reach them and they dismiss your application by saying their client wasn’t interested, your background wasn’t an ideal match. What about a courtesy call back?
Ethics and professional behavior matter in our personal and professional lives. Have you ever said to someone you had no intention of following up with: “I’ll get back to you?” knowing full well you’ll never call them back? WHY? Because it’s those little WHITE lies that are so easy to tell, rather than the embarrassing truth?
What happened to dealing in truth with all our personal relationships and professional correspondence?
Just this morning I was scheduled to give a FREE coaching session to a potential client. She Tweeted a reply to a re-tweet I sent her on Twitter, so I responded with a message confirming our call. Then I emailed her 2 times within the half hour after our scheduled time when I never heard from her. NOTHING. This is the type of behavior that destroys people’s perceptions of you.
Are we so busy with intensive work schedules and overlapping family, work and personal responsibilities that we’ve lost all sense of decorum in dealing with others?
What happened to the Golden Rule (LUKE 6:31) “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

There are far too many unethical behaviors that can potentially destroy your brand. Here are only a few examples:
* Companies offering extended unpaid internships.
* Plagiarism.
* Lying on your taxes, resumes.
* Falsifying professional credentials.
* Construction companies ignoring codes, taking shortcuts.
* Mortgage robo-signings.
* Producing/marketing dangerous products.
* Legalized gambling.
* Police misconduct.
* Accepting bribes.
* Piracy: stealing others’ intellectual capital.
* Vulture Capitalists.
* False/inaccurate job postings.
* Division I College athletics & big time money.
How do you know if something is the right thing to do? Ask yourself a simple yet poignant question: “If I choose to go through with this decision, would I mind seeing it reported on the news tomorrow?” If the answer’s YES then you proceed. If you’re still not sure then ask yourself four (4) key questions:
1) Does my decision match the organization’s vision & mission statements?
2) Would it be good for customers?
3) Would it be good for the organization?
4) Would it be good for me?
(From Gretchen Morgenson)
So, don’t forget that how you engage people speaks LOUDLY to your ethics, beliefs, and values which in turn creates perceptions that people have about your personal brand. In today’s volatile world with rampant unemployment, stressed schedules, and rapidly changing personal obligations our BRAND matters more than ever.
– Ethan
The Compassionate Coach

We've Survived Worse Times Than This!

We’ve Survived Worse Times Than This

Here we are just ONE week into the New Year, and you’d swear by all the DOOM & GLOOM being propagated that the year was already an abject failure.
There is NO disputing that times are still extremely difficult for many. The unemployment rate is 15-20%, not the ridiculously unreliable 8+% “official” rate being lauded by the Obama Administration. One in four Americans work in contract, consulting, temporary, NON-PERMANENT positions, and the average American will change jobs 8-10 times in their careers.
It certainly doesn’t add to a sense of confidence that things will improve, in a presidential election season in which candidates running for the Republican nomination are spewing hatred and venom at each other and the Obama administration. There doesn’t seem to be any counter or protest being put up by the media, the Republican National Convention or the population at large to focus the debate on the important challenges we face.
It’s also not very encouraging that the Occupy Wall Street movement has fizzled without the effect of building an alternative political figure to run against our 2-Party dysfunctional political system.
However, despite these times of uncertainty and pain, America has ALREADY lived through much tougher times, and come stronger as a result!
Consider this:
“Out of every crisis, every tribulation, every disaster, mankind rises with some share of greater knowledge, of higher decency, of purer purpose. Today we shall have come through a period of loose thinking, descending morals, an era of selfishness, among individual men and women and among Nations. Blame not Governments alone for this. Blame ourselves in equal share. Let us be frank in acknowledgment of the truth that many amongst us have made obeisance to Mammon, that the profits of speculation, the easy road without toil, have lured us from the old barricades. To return to higher standards we must abandon the false prophets and seek new leaders of our own choosing.
Never before in modern history have the essential differences between the two major American parties stood out in such striking contrast as they do today. Republican leaders not only have failed in material things, they have failed in national vision, because in disaster they have held out no hope, they have pointed out no path for the people below to climb back to places of security and of safety in our American life.
Throughout the Nation, men and women, forgotten in the political philosophy of the Government of the last years look to us here for guidance and for more equitable opportunity to share in the distribution of national wealth.
On the farms, in the large metropolitan areas, in the smaller cities and in the villages, millions of our citizens cherish the hope that their old standards of living and of thought have not gone forever. Those millions cannot and shall not hope in vain.”
Know who said this? Ron Paul? Barrack Obama? Tim Geithner? Bill Clinton? Herman Cain?

NOPE! Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, in his address to the Nation accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on July 2, 1932.
The bottom line is, we’ve seen times like this, and we’ve overcome them before. It may seem dire but we will come through these challenges as a stronger Nation and create greater career opportunities for ourselves, in the process. We ALWAYS have!
Examples of success in business and industry, corporate social responsibility, the Green movement are all around us, as eager, energetic visionary leaders are rising to drive America forward into the 21st Century. Too bad nobody is reporting the successes being achieved in the United States. Just a few examples:
* New marketing, social media start-up’s like Groupon, LivingSocial, IMShopping,and BuyWithMe;
* Social networks for entrepreneurs like Entrepreneur Connect, PartnerUp, StartUpNation, and Go BIG Network;
* Small business success stories like Quadlogic Controls, Back to the Roots LLC, Laughingstock Design, Pillow Bar LLC, Sanctuary T, Mr. Bigshot, etc.
The list of modern day American entrepreneur success keeps rising. WHY?
More and more professionals,seniors, and college graduates who are either out of work, frustrated by their time spent in Corporate America, or looking to fulfill their dreams are pursuing their passions and interests.
Let’s hope this trend only continues. THIS is how America will dig itself out of this funk!
Here’s to a happy, healthy and SUCCESSFUL 2012!

What Makes You Happy Can Make You Rich

What Makes You Happy Can Make You Rich

One of the perks of working with so many different people is, I get to help folks from diverse backgrounds to conduct personal assessments into what they value, and then help them to pursue the dreams that they left behind years ago.
While many people refuse to follow their passions when then gave up on obtaining their dream job, I get to coach my clients how to figure out what they do best and what they love to do, then where those two overlap, we have identified their DREAM job which I teach them how to pursue in their next job.
With so many highly qualified people out of work, under-employed, and struggling to make ends meet, now is the PERFECT time to come up with a new definition of “wealth.”
While America struggles to reinvent itself, now is the perfect time to adjust our notion of success. Can we alter our prevailing definition of the wealth as the successful acquisition of materials objects to a new concept of success as doing what’s best for others?
We are already witnessing a change in what we value, with the proliferation in social corporate responsibility not as a PR goodwill ploy, but as a sincere effort made by organizations to have a positive impact on society. We see it in the Green movement, the increase in micro-lending, a relatively new societal pursuit for alternative energy/fuel sources, a more ethical treatment of animals, a movement to preserve our natural resources, etc.
Instead of arguing that you can’t pay your bills by chasing your dreams (those interests/hobbies that you pursue on the side), I would argue that each of us should make a renewed effort to reconsider that what we enjoy doing “ON THE SIDE OUTSIDE OF WORK” that fulfills us, COULD be our next full-time employment opportunity.
What do you do to make you happy? Coach Little League? Volunteer in your church/synagogue? Serve on your children’s school Board? Lead fundraising efforts for community projects?
So many people are doing this now as we pursue second careers. As our nation struggles to create jobs, each of us will have to create our own jobs, to ensure we are employed in the future.
So I ask: “What makes you happy?” It can make you rich, if you pursue it with passion and intensity.
How do you accomplish this? Create a list of all the things that you love to do. then, create a second list of the things that you do really well. Where these two overlap, you have identified your DREAM job. Once you find those things that could constitute your future calling, you need to develop an action plan.
This action plan will include all oft he steps required to turn your dream job into your next job. List all the actions, start and end dates, prioritize with a 1-3 ranking with 1 being critical To-Dos, priority 2 items are the things you must get done in a short period of time, and the 3s are the things you need to get done. Identify the contingencies for each action, those things that will prevent you from completing those tasks.
An additional step in conducting a successful personal assessment is to figure out which types of organizations you would like to work for. what are the values that matter most to you. Pick five key adjectives that you think define you. Next, create a short list of the top 4-5 things that matter most to you in your next job. Some things you might be pursuing include: creativeness, variety, ability to take risks, personal growth, positively impacting society, recognition, work-life balance, etc.
Next, complete a personal job search marketing plan. Here’s what you need to include on this 1-2 page document:
Your Name
Your Address
City, State, Zip code
Tel. (xxx) xxx-xxxx
Cell (xxx) xxx-xxxx
LinkedIn profile: https://xxxxxxxxxxx
Section 1 – Summary of your professional qualifications:
I possess X years of experience in Industry 1, Industry 2, and Industry 3, with core competencies in:
* Competency 1
* Competency 2
* Competency 3
* Competency 4
Section 2 – My Target Job Functions and Job Titles Include:
Function 1 Function 2 Function 3 Function 4
Job Title 1 Job Title 1 Job Title 1 Job Title 1
Job Title 2 Job Title 2 Job Title 2 Job Title 2
Job Title 3 Job Title 3 Job Title 3 Job Title 3
Job Title 4 Job Title 4 Job Title 4 Job Title 4
Section 3 – The Key Responsibilities That I am Seeking Include:
* Responsibility 1
* Responsibility 2
* Responsibility 3
* Responsibility 4
Section 4 – My Ideal Company Characteristics and Locations Are:
Key Company Attributes Ideal Job Location
Entrepreneurial culture, small start up, and condones calculated risk-taking NYC, Northern / Central NJ, etc.

Section 5 – Target Industries and Organizations I might like to work for:

Industry 1 Industry 2 Industry 3 Industry 4
Organization 1 Organization 1 Organization 1 Organization 1
Organization 2 Organization 2 Organization 2 Organization 2
Organization 3 Organization 3 Organization 3 Organization 3
Organization 4 Organization 4 Organization 4 Organization 4
Organization 5 Organization 5 Organization 5 Organization 5
Organization 6 Organization 6 Organization 6 Organization 6
By achieving your DREAM job you will experience an entirely new experience in your next job…HAPPINESS. And that’s a priceless position to be in these days.

You're Worth PENNIES on the DOLLAR

You’re worth PENNIES on the DOLLAR

It’s true! Research shows that $.75 on EVERY dollar that employers spend on employees is wasted.
Here’s why: when a person is hired to fill a position, they provide a set of solutions by performing certain tasks within an organization.
Few organizations that I have coached/consulted actually conduct an assessment of the individual’s core competencies, to expand the job description to include all of the skills that you possess and the things you do REALLY well (core competencies.)
If you are really strong in say 6-8 key areas, your job may only allow/require you to use 2-3 of those skills in your day to day roles and responsibilities. That’s 25% of your full talent potential.
According to a Global Workforce Study conducted by Towers Perrin in March, 2008, only 21% (1 in 5) of the employees surveyed are “engaged” in their work, and 38% admitted being partly to fully disengaged. Engagement was defined as employees willing to go the extra mile to help their company succeed.

The other things you do really well and maybe are most passionate about remains dormant…UNUSED in that organization that is paying you for your collective experience, training and skill sets.These wasted skills when applied to EVERY employee could be the difference maker in organizations remaining competitive, esp. in times like today when precious resources CANNOT be squandered.

In a 2008 study by Resources Global, 80% of global HR leaders believe the “war on talent” is a key & enduring business issue in the next ten years. How can this be reconciled against employer claims that there is a lack of qualified/skilled labor? It can’t!
What if organizations took a DIFFERENT approach to talent management…

What would happen if your company constantly assessed its people’s strengths, took active steps to expand their talents and skill sets through training, moved their employees into other jobs to make BETTER use of their untapped talents, and created opportunities for employees to experience the entire organization by conducting job rotations, work-sharing, and cross-functional team-based work flows?
Taken to the extreme, organizations could create entirely NEW roles for each employee, in order to take advantage of their many unused talents, skills, and passions?

It is relatively EASY to conduct a human capital audit for each of your employees.
You match the employee roles and responsibilities in their current job to their core competencies. Once yo identify their unused talents, you create a mini career development plan to determine the time frame their manager to incorporate those unused talents that the manager and employee agree to incorporate into their daily workflow. There are tools that you can rely on to help you manage this MATCHING process. I’ve developed a Human Capital Audit web application that helps organizations to do this.
“…at a time when companies are looking for every source of potential advantage, the workforce itself represents the largest reservoir of untapped potential.”
– Julie Gebauer, Towers Perrin Managing Director
By matching employee skills to their daily job requirements, organizations would develop a workforce filled with top-performing employees (the Jack Welsh model with only type A – Star employees.) You would create an entirely engaged, motivated, and passionate workforce.
That in turn would foster a higher level of employee loyalty, retention, and a wealth of new ideas creation flooding your organization with new products and services, more effective ways to find, keep, and up-sell clients, more efficient operations, reduced costs, better inventory management, quality control measures, etc.
Think of the commensurate benefits gained by organizations that embraced such talent management practices. You would have much higher employee attendance, greater productivity, stronger financial performances. you would have a world filled with world-class organizations like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Disney, SAS, Boston consulting Group, Hasbro, Wegmans, Cisco, etc.
* 88% of U.S. workers consider themselves creative BUT only 63% said their positions were creative.
* 75% of survey respondents thought their employers valued creativity.
* One in five said they would change jobs, even if it meant LESS money to be MORE creative.
(Survey conducted by IPSOS Research in 2007 to 564 adults commissioned by the Fairfax County, VA Economic Development Authority for the 2007 National Conference on the Creative Economy.)
Instead, many organizations remain content to achieve relatively low returns on their aggregate investment in their workforce. This is especially true when you factor in ALL of the costs associated with employees such as: recruiting costs, salaries, benefits, training and professional development, social security and other expenses mandated by law, equipment, utilities, rent/mortgage costs, insurance, and incidentals.
Only when organizations realize their employees are the GREATEST asset and work to cultivate that resource for competitive advantage will they unleash the full potential of their workers.

Ethical Business Organizations Are MORE Profitable!

Ethical Business Organizations Are MORE Profitable

Organizations that do good are more successful in the markets they compete in. Stated bluntly: Ethical businesses that do right…do better!
As a business coach, I always remind my clients if they implement ethical practices, it will have a direct POSITIVE impact on their bottom line. It turns out, there is an entire field (heck a global “Who’s Who”) of organizations that prove this is TRUE.
Check out this year’s list of 110 companies that have been awarded the prestigious “World’s Most Ethical Companies” distinction.
These organizations, which represent a broad range of sectors/industries, have outperformed the S&P 500 over the past three years, during the Great Recession.

What does it mean to lead an ethical organization?

First off, you don’t just HAVE an ethical organization…you BUILD it!
You start by defining the organizational values and beliefs that are important.
This step seems to get lost with most of the entrepreneurs and start-ups that I consult with. However, it is often EASIEST to include ethical behavior/morality as part of the organization’s BUSINESS plan BEFORE a business is formed, then grows and becomes entrenched in its artifacts and hard-wired behaviors.
More than anything else though, ethical organizations are created by ETHICAL LEADERS!
Ethical leaders can be identified and are placed into positions based on the specific innate traits and skills they possess/exhibit. The qualities they possess are courage, generosity, modesty, benevolence, fairness, justice, self-control, and sociability.

Ethical leaders display a keen sense of altruism by promoting the best interests of others (most notably their followers), at the expense of ethical egoism or acting in their OWN best interests. They are “hardwired” towards utilitarianism – the act of creating the greatest good for the greatest number of people. They always try to maximize social benefits while minimizing societal costs.
According to Ronald Heifetz: “Leaders help their followers confront and overcome conflict by effecting change.”
Robert Greenleaf’s extensive research into the field of ethical (“servant”) leaders found the following:
* Leaders should be attentive to the concerns of their followers, and empathize with/nurture and care for them.
* Leadership is given to people that should serve others.
* Caring leaders always help followers become more knowledgeable, free, and autonomous.
Social responsibility to care for the have-nots.
Simon (Sinek) says GREAT leaders ask: “Why…What…How?”
A field of leadership study called the STYLE approach assessed how ethical leaders actually behave. Ethical leaders with a strong employee orientation engage followers (direct reports) with a strong human relations focus. These leaders care about their people (also referred to in leadership studies as the “consideration” approach.)
Given the importance of caring leaders in developing ethical organizations, why are so many institutions run by poor leaders? The answer…”they’re NOT!” They are MANAGED by people that were given positions of immense authority not based on their ability to lead but some other factor(s). The practice of putting people that are ill-equipped to lead into top positions has a special name…it’s called the “Management TRAP.”
If ethical behavior is a straight path to profit, why are so many heads of organizations ethically “challenged” these days? I mean, the list (of unethical organizations) goes on and on…British Petroleum, Bernie Madoff, News Corp, Monsanto, Exxon/Mobile, Halliburton, Adelphia, Global Crossing, Worldcom, Arthur Andersen, Enron, Phillip Morris… Clearly, while being ethical has a direct correlation with success, unethical organizations can turn a buck or (a few billion.)
An outgrowth of ethical business practices can be found in corporate social responsibility and the Green Movement. This is not the same thing as organizations putting a positive spin on their activities only to achieve goodwill/positive PR. Rather, ethical organizations exhibit a genuine concern/passion for positively impacting society long after they’re gone.
The take-away for organizations is, even if you don’t care about practicing ethical behavior for altruistic reasons then I propose your organization pursue them as a means of staying competitive.
Some great resources to explore this topic further:
* Joanne B. Ciulla: “Ethics, the Heart of Leadership.”
* Robert Hoyk & Paul Hersey: “Ethics and Employees.”

So…what do you think?