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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.

Embracing Our FAILURES For Future SUCCESS

Embracing Our FAILURES For Future SUCCESS

Why are we so afraid of failure?
Why do we rationalize the THREAT of failure as a valid excuse to NOT pursue our wildest dreams and aspirations?
Like all other things, it probably started when we were young. Remember playing team sports and our parents teaching us that losing was synonymous with failing and failing was bad…very bad?
Slowly and bit by bit that fear of failure has stayed with us and grown inside. Maybe it was the threat of the unknown and all the failure tied to the unknown that prevented you from pursuing your passion. Maybe it was the fear of getting on stage that kept you from trying out for the drama club, or taking up a musical instrument for fear of performing in public? How about the fear of getting rejected that stopped you in your tracks from trying out for that sports team?
As we got older many supposed experts, from our High School guidance counselors to parents, friends, and family, all told us what classes to take (and avoid), what activities to pursue (and avoid), what majors to pursue (and avoid), relationships to pursue (and avoid),and jobs/careers to pursue (and avoid) until we became the preconditioned risk-averse individual that may define you today.
It’s not as if we need others to tell us all the things we can’t do. We are good enough at it ourselves. Psychologists have coined the term “head trash” to explain the fact that 65% of all the things that each person says to themselves ABOUT THEMSELVES is negative!
How do we break out of this vicious cycle of self-loathing and fear of failure that prevents us from taking the risks needed to succeed in new ventures?
Is the fear of the unknown and all its potential failure keeping you anchored to a job that you hate? Have you been stuck in the same industry that you have absolutely ZERO no interest in and passion for, just because there’s comfort in the familiar?
As trite as it may sound now is the ideal time to cast aside those fears of failure and embrace change, take risks, and seek out success. Start small. Set quantifiable “stretch” goals for yourself, both personally and professionally. A stretch goal demands your very best performance and still there is a great likelihood you won’t accomplish it. but hitting 85% of your stretch goal is better than 100% of SAFE goals that never challenge yourself to grow by pushing through your comfort zones.
Consider what the risk is to you that is associated with all the lost opportunities of you not undertaking a challenge due to the risk of failure. They add up tremendously!
Identify the worst case scenario of what failure looks like and compare it to the potential rewards if you are successful. It’s called a COST-BENEFIT analysis.
Understand that even if you fail there is tremendous growth through learning, acquiring self-confidence, developing new skills and becoming more comfortable embracing personal risk. Perhaps it would help if we take failure for what it is…part of the process of learning and growing.
“There is no failure. Only feedback.” –Robert Allen
Failure is simply one component of succeeding and most of us separate it as a separate outcome when in fact it’s directly tied to and required for being successful.
“Failure is an event, never a person.” – William D. Brown
Too many people associate the event of failing with the intrinsic sense of our own self-worth. In fact, we get conditioned to make our own sense of self-worth connected to the OUTCOMES of our actions. When an idea we have fails, it shouldn’t have any reduction in our self-esteem but it can be hard not to let that happen. We internalize that feeling of failure way down inside, like WE were that idea that failed.
What to do???
But you don’t need to think that way. If something you try doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you’re actively experimenting, that you’re trying, and you’re learning as a result. In that regard, the expression to be a failure (or successful) doesn’t make any sense.
Always have a contingency or fall back plan. Call it a plan “B” so if plan A “FAILS” there is comfort in having a fall back to relive the stress/fear of failing.
Seize the moment and act today! There is no time like the present. The new normal is 15-20% unofficial unemployment, 1 in 4 American workers can be classified as contract, consulting, or independent. Millions of Americans in their 30s to 50s are turning their untapped passions and talents into life-altering career transitions.
As Les Brown has famously said: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.”

Cold Calling: A Sure Fire Way to NOT Get Results

Be honest…do you actually ENJOY making cold calls (or mailing letters or emailing) complete strangers, inquiring about potential job opportunities? Me neither!

It’s extremely scary, threatening, and stressful…ESPECIALLY when you don’t have a formalized strategy to guide you through the process. The two greatest barriers to effectively contacting strangers through calling are FEAR and a LACK OF FAITH that you’ll be successful in your calling efforts.

That’s because cold calling is doomed for failure.

Think about it! In today’s job market unemployment runs rampant (unofficially as high as 15-20%.) Entire industries (banking, financial services, printing, publishing, advertising, retail, music, printing, manufacturing) are struggling for survival. Technological advances evolve constantly and at such a tremendously fast pace that it affects even the most effectively run organization’s ability to develop, offer, and deliver products and services.


In this time of constant uncertainty, few if any organizations can successfully determine which jobs they are going to have a (continued) need for.

The odds of you calling someone that knows NOTHING about you (and that you know little about) and asking her/him if they have a suitable position for you at precisely THAT moment and getting a “MATCH” is truly daunting.


Networking is a proven strategy that you can leverage to find people you should be pursuing opportunities to meet with by leveraging your social AND professional networks including: your family, friends, family of friends, and friends of family that can help you identify the people that you would benefit from speaking with.

Enlisting the help of others is most certainly NOT a sign of weakness or failure in your search. Rather, tapping into your network is a CRITICAL job search tool that supports your job search efforts by removing the need for “COLD CALLING.”


Successful outcomes are achieved through RESEARCH.
The greatest determining factor to how successful your phone call will be lies well before you ever pick up the phone and call. It has the research you do.


In my work coaching people on the most effective job search strategies, I teach a strategy that requires you to maximize the likelihood that you will “CONNECT” with the person they contact when you call them.

You MUST have 3 or 4 industries that you are interested in. For each industry, you should identify 6-8 organizations to learn as much about as possible.
Find out what products they make/services they offer? Who are their top competitors? Who are their clients? What are the top 2-3 challenges they face in growing their business? What are their goals?

As an aside cold calling doesn’t only apply to job seekers but also those people in sales positions responsible for generating new business.


You also need to find out who the person is that you would report to in the ideal position that you can identify for yourself there. There are plenty of resources that are available for publicly traded companies, non-profits, newly created businesses.


Your goal when you call them is to set up a SPECIFIC day AND TIME to meet to explore ways that you can help them to resolve their TOP BUSINESS challenges AND achieve their goals by “creating” a position that DOES NOT CURRENTLY EXIST.

With so much information available to you through the Internet it takes minutes to find background information on the individuals you are targeting such as: where they graduated from High School, college and graduate school, volunteer work/community engagement, their professional affiliations and memberships, articles they’re written, panels they participated in, professional awards and accomplishments, certifications and speeches they gave, elected positions held, etc.

Once you identify those 18-32 organizations and the people you would speak to, create a CALL SCRIPT. In order to ensure success you need to rehearse. Use a mirror to make sure that as you rehearse your CALL you are smiling. That will have a positive effect on the cheerfulness in your voice.


Let’s say you are an accountant with experience in the furniture industry and you have targeted a furniture company in Long Island (La-Z-Boy, for example) to explore opportunities as a senior Accountant. Here’s how the flow of a call to their Chief Financial Officer would work:


I see that La-Z-Boy is currently in the midst of combining THREE furniture product lines. I am an accountant with experience helping furniture companies such as Ashley and Jennifer Convertibles combine product lines and extend their product offerings.
I would like to schedule 15-30 minutes with you in the next week or two to chat about ways that I can help you to accomplish the goals of 1) combining product lines; and 2) developing the accounting procedures in advance of launching this new line of contemporary furniture. When would you have some time to meet with me?

Be prepared for an “INTERVIEW” during your call.
The research you did will prepare you to answer their questions effectively and explain how your background and experience will help them: 1) make money; 2) save money; and / or: 3) improve their operations, which will MAKE or SAVE them money.


If you can’t find the person’s telephone number, call their office main number either before or after normal business hours (8am-6pm) and get their automated voice system. You want to search their employee directory for the person’s NAME to get their telephone number. Once you get their telephone number, call them early in the morning or towards the end of the day. Research shows that the best days to call are Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Try not to leave a voice mail message. If you can’t reach them during one time of day, try another. Try three times before you leave a voice mail in which you identify yourself at the beginning with your telephone number, then use your script, and close with your telephone number. If you don’t hear from them in 3-4 days, call back but try not to leave another voice mail.


Happy Easter/Passover & Other Brain Droppings

On Tuesday, May 3rd I will be presenting “Brand New YOU: Sell Yourself for Career Success” to alumni at William Paterson University. Why? In today’s transformational job market, you MUST know how to package (and SELL) YOURSELF for career and professional success.

Tuesday, May 10th I am presenting an entirely new program on “Critical Thinking for Career Success” to the staff at NY Hospital Queens. According to noted English philosopher Bertrand Russell: “Many people would die sooner than think; in fact, they do.”

I prefer to think of critical thinking like Albert Einstein who famously stated: “Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which they were created.”

On Wednesday, May 11th I begin teaching a course on Brand Identity at Baruch College Continuing and Professional Studies. Speaking of which, I was in New York City going to Baruch and I walked by the following:

Is it me, or are the rats in NYC getting bigger and bigger?

I’ve been having A LOT of conversations with business owners and entrepreneurs about whether people should spend their invaluable time trying to build a brand ONLINE. The most common argument for NOT investing the effort goes something like: “Well, how much business are YOU getting from all your efforts.”

As someone who spent most of his career in various marketing roles, I understand the point completely about seeing a tangible return on your TIME investment. However, it’s a bit like the CHICKEN & EGG argument, or a classic CATCH-22. you have to build a brand presence online to compliment your in-person brand, and then results i.e. new client acquisition will follow.

I suggest you begin by building your Linked In profile then leveraging the Groups and Discussion function. Build a Twitter presence, develop a blog, use Facebook for your business and career pursuits, and integrate them with each other for your online brand as well as tying them into your offline personal branding efforts. As a job seeker or business owner the first question you always should be asking is: “HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT ME?”

Have a GREAT Easter weekend.

Are You Ready to be RIF'd?

Today’s blog was inspired by conversations I had with three people this week who were all blind-sided when their employment was terminated.

For those keeping score at home, the latest acronym for heartless employee terminations is RIF, short for (yet another) “reduction in force.”

The following is a list of tell-tale signs that you should be concerned about your short term employment safety. CAVEAT: there is no such thing as job security.

– How “NECESSARY” are you?
– Could a college graduate perform (a large portion of) your work?
– Can parts of your job be delegated to others?
– How aggressively/successfully have you promoted yourself across your organization?
– Are you working with any of the “Rising Stars” in your company? Are you one of them?
– How is your relationship with your boss?
– How is your bosses reputation? Her relationship with her boss?
– How expansive is your professional network?
– Are you active in your industry associations?
– what are you doing to be recognized as a subject matter expert in your chosen field?
– Have you been published?
– Have you served on panel discussions? Have you spoken at industry events?
– Is your work day monopolized by “busy” work?
– Do you CONSTANTLY update your skills?
– How connected/plugged into the office rumor mill are you?
– Is your employer changing their business model?
– Do you frequently offer to help on cross-functional teams or take on additional roles and responsibilities?
– Has your Team / Department budget been frozen (again?)
– Has there been a recent round of layoffs?
– How was your last performance review?

Even if your job is safe, the best time to explore other opportunities is when you ARE employed. It doesn’t mean you should plan on leaving your job TODAY. However, it never hurts to know what your “VALUE” is.

The average American worker changes jobs 8-9 times throughout their career. You should ALWAYS be developing a core set of transferable skills for your personal career contingency plan.

What do you think?

If All The World's A Stage DON'T Get Kicked Off

I attended a presentation earlier this week that happened to be so bad, it made me walk out well before the speaker was finished. Even though he was talking on a topic I have spent most of my career doing, I assumed there would be a few nuggets of useful information. Turns out you should NEVER assume…I and many others in attendance were extremely disappointed.

The speaker started a half hour late and spent the allotted time providing a bare minimum of remotely useful information. Further, he made a few bragging claims about how successful he was. I wanted to scream: “Gee, that is great for you! Why are you here again?”

I found out later that I was not alone in my early exodus. Approximately half of the people in attendance followed me to the exit doors.

Normally, I would let this sort of thing slide by EXCEPT…I am noticing that more and more presentations that I attend are about as exciting as watching paint dry!

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. You see, I make my living as a professional presenter. I’ve spoken to hundreds of High School students, military personnel, inmates (yes, convicts!) mid-career changers, senior executives…even SALESPEOPLE. While I may not be trained in the performing arts and as such most definitely no great Thespian, I DO know how to keep an audience focused, in touch with me and interested in what I have to say.

So I find this trend of awful presenting to be quite alarming. It is NOT enough to be a subject matter expert or well versed on the topic you present on. You have to be engaging. You have to provide PRACTICAL advice customized to your audience so they can take away your advice and recommendations and implement them that same day to use in their job, at work, on their business, with their patients..etc. A great tip is practice voice modality. Your tone should not be reminiscent of watching dust accumulate on venetian blinds. If you do a lot of public speaking, why not take a public speaking course. Better yet, enroll in an acting class.

If you are developing a program start out by asking: “what am I going to convey?” Why should someone leave their job and devote their precious time to come hear you speak? What new knowledge are you going to provide? What can they learn from you that they can’t learn anywhere else? It may sound simple, but the garbage being passed off as expert commentary is alarming.

It is a disgusting trend where presenters divulge the BARE MINIMUM of “FREE” information as a loss leader. There is NO transparency. It is crystal clear that their intent is ONLY to hook attendees into paying for their consulting service.

In my opinion, there is going to be a huge backlash if this trend continues.If all the world is a stage, many of these imposters are going to get the proverbial hook.

What do you think?