Archive for the 'Professional Development Tips' Category

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Procrastination

Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
Worry And Procrastination

Whenever I see or read quotes (or jokes) like this, they make me laugh while at the same time wonder if people get the REAL MESSAGE. I know too many people who procrastinate and self-sabotage their career and success. They are their biggest obstacles to just about anything they want, if only… they got out of their own way!

Skirt Suit And Cufflinks

I a recent BRW Magazine article, the discussion of the importance of first impressions came up (yet again). I’ve blogged about this topic under the theme of Erotic Capital - an academic term that sounds provocative and yet just makes common sense in a world that is dominated by appearance and perceptions

Skirt SuitA report: The Effect of Appearance on First Impressions by Professor Karen J Pine, Professor Ben Fletcher & Neil Howlett, of the University of Hertfordshire in collaboration with Mathieson & Brooke Tailors Ltd, takes the discussion from what you look like to the importance of what you’re wearing…

Background
First impressions are formed rapidly and are often highly accurate. After seeing a face for just one second, people make judgments about another’s personal and occupational attributes.

How much does a person’s dress style affect these judgements?
The study tested three hypotheses:

1) that people make rapid judgments of others based on clothing alone

2) that a minor manipulation of the man’s clothing (e.g. the cut of a suit) will influence these rapid judgments and

3) that manipulation of the masculine – feminine dimension of the woman’s clothing will affect the impressions formed.

Conclusions
Apparently minor clothing manipulations gave rise to significantly different first impressions of the man, with a more positive impression being created by the bespoke than the off-the-rack suit.

The change was very subtle, both suits were formal, the same colour and the same fabric, yet nonetheless they had a very different impact upon perceivers. Most previous research has experimented with manipulating the overall style of clothing, for example comparing formal clothing with causal wear.

This study demonstrates that people are influenced also by subtle features, such as the cut of a suit, which has a powerful impact on judgements of personality and professional status.

The woman in the study was perceived more positively in a skirt suit than in a trouser suit, although this effect was limited to fewer dimensions. Women generally have a wider choice of dress style for work than men, but still have to maintain an identity that balances professionalism with attractiveness and the skirt suit may achieve that balance without appearing provocative.

This study is the first to use images that were devoid of any facial features or expressions, therefore it can be concluded with confidence that the impressions arose from the clothing alone and were not confounded by the physical appearance of the model. The report’s authors further conclude that even apparently minor adjustments to clothing style will have a major impact on first impressions.

People are judged on their overall head-to-toe appearance and the fundamental role that dress style plays in creating a positive first impression cannot be underestimated.

Sharks without sharp teeth

If sharks can be made to look less menacing without sharp teeth, what does that mean for us humans?

As I’ve blogged before, you can’t afford to be ugly, especially when there are cosmetic dentists like Dr Cary Fraser who can provide dental solutions like Invisalign!
Sharks Without Sharp Teeth

 

Weird things people do

walking-asciiAs a reader of this and my other blogs, you know one of the underlying concepts of Exponential Mindset Thinking is what I call antimimeticisomorphism.

Today’s post is about some weird things successful people do, Based on a Scientific American Magazine article, among many interesting facts, reveals that Dean Kamen, known for the invention of the Segway, dresses almost exclusively in denim. He spent five years in college before dropping out, does not take vacations and has never married. Kamen presides (along with his Ministers of Ice Cream, Brunch and Nepotism) over the Connecticut island kingdom of North Dumpling, which has “seceded” from the U.S. and dispenses its own currency in units of pi. Visitors are issued a visa form that includes spaces on which to note identifying marks on both their face and buttocks.

Kamen, who works tirelessly at inspiring kids to pursue careers in science and engineering, is one of many highly creative people whose personal behavior sometimes strikes others as odd. Albert Einstein picked up cigarette butts off the street to get tobacco for his pipe; Howard Hughes spent entire days on a chair in the middle of the supposedly germ-free zone of his Beverly Hills Hotel suite; the composer Robert Schumann believed that his musical compositions were dictated to him by Beethoven and other deceased luminaries from their tombs; and Charles Dickens is said to have fended off imaginary urchins with his umbrella as he walked the streets of London. More recently, we have seen Michael Jackson’s preoccupation with rhinoplasty, Salvador Dalí’s affection for dangerous pets and the Icelandic singer Björk dressed for the Oscars as a swan.

I am not advocating you be “this different”, but then again if it works to create extra-ordinary results, why not?!?!

Our approach to business coaching and mentoring is far from standard… but not totally off the charts. Just enough to create results that astonish and surprise…

Five Reasons why you should get a Training and Assessment Qualification

Training & Assessment QualificationI have to admit that I am biased – with 5 university degrees, I know the value of an “education”… Completing a training and assessment qualification is a good idea for just about anyone. Whether you’re an artist or a scientist, having this qualification opens up a wide range of employment opportunities. You can choose to study part-time or full-time, and combined with any previous qualifications, it is ensured to improved your employability. Here are five reasons why it’s a good idea to complete a training and assessment course.

It’s Nationally Recognised: By completing a training and assessment qualification, you are enabled to work anywhere in the country. If you’re a regular traveller, or thinking about moving interstate, the course caters perfectly to your needs. Positions all over Australia will open up to you if you have this qualification, even if it doesn’t seem relevant to the field you are applying in.

It Increases Employability: A training and assessment qualification increases employability across all sectors. A Cert IV in training and assessment gives you the minimum qualification to work within the industry, and you can choose to study further if you wis

It’s Transferrable: Even if you’re not currently thinking about switching jobs, employers will look favourably upon you for simply having the qualification – whether or not it is relevant to the job you are applying for. By completing a qualification in training and assessment, you will be showing potential employers that you have a wide range of skills. A training and assessment qualification proves that you have sufficient literacy and numeracy skills, as well as conveying your leadership possibilities.

It’s a Pathway: If you’ve ever been interested in teaching, completing a training and assessment qualification can provide you with a pathway into the industry. By completing the minimum qualification, you ensure your employability without needing to go to the effort to obtain a degree. If you’re unsure about the field you want to work in, it’s a good idea to take this course. It gives you a safety net if you’re ever in need of a job, and provides you with a wonderful point to work from if you decide to continue in the area of study.

It Increases Insight: Completing a qualification in training and assessment not only gives you the qualification itself, but increases your insight across a variety of areas. Taking the course can provide you with development in both your professional and personal life. You will learn valuable skills, transferable to a wide range of industries. By completing this qualification you have the chance to broaden your mind, and not only your qualifications.

In today’s world, finding employment can be difficult. But by completing a course in training and assessment, you open up a broader range of possibilities for yourself. You may not be particularly interested in teaching, but employers in any field will look favourably on your training and assessment skills. Consider taking this course if you’re an aspiring teacher, or just looking to open up your pathways. A qualification in training and assessment can open up career possibilities you may not have even considered.

This is a guest post – if you would like to contribute valuable content, please contact us.

How to Stand Out at Interview Time

The dreaded job interview. I can hear your pulse racing already, and honestly, I don’t blame you. I used to be terrified of interviews, whether they be first, second or third, the open-ended question fiesta climbed under my skin a millisecond after excited adrenaline left my system and opportunity turned to despair. Great, now I have a chance to make an idiot of myself in front of people who don’t even know me, I’d berate myself, following with a reminder of my modest skill set. If you can’t tell already, humanity serves itself with a very critical dose of internal cynicism every time something good happens, acting as a curb to any chance of an ego boost. So how do you survive it? You don’t – You take that interview by the horns and thrive, scoring the role you’ve always wanted and instant kudos to boot. Want to know how? Read on.

The Extra Mile – Walk Right This Way

Are you sick of sayings like, go the extra mile, be bold and different, you’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit? Yeah, me too. Every single one of these demands the reader stand out from the crowd without illuminating the how or the why. The latter is actually quite simple. Imagine you’re a HR manager or employer scheduling interview – your morning starts with a cup of coffee and a pile of CV’s, some badly written, others not so much, considering what you’re looking for before the first one walks through the door. You can’t remember their name. The clothes are bland, their answers are boring and perfectly crafted to match their CV. You go through twenty of these per day, for a week, with very few asking anything more about the role, the company or what you’re looking for. When asked if they have any questions, most just blankly smile and shake their heads, exhausted by the whole process of being so perfect a skin-made automaton would have performed just as well. Why stand out? Because you will be remembered, appreciated and quite possibly welcomed back for a second interview with open arms.

Dazzle Them With Bewilderment

How? Ah, that’s a difficult question and the answer changes from person to person. A good stop-gap for absolutely everyone is research, research, research. Yes, I’ve repeated the word three times but preparation is essential if you come to question time; you never want to be THAT person who has nothing to say. Delve into the company history, the department you may be working for and the position criteria, formulating three hard hitting questions that really get to crux of the culture, the role and your adopted company. Know who you’re working for and don’t be afraid to show them you have a voice.

Be…Professional? Logical? Ineffable? Cool? Nope, Just Be Yourself

Nobody wants to hire a robot. Showing your human side and owning your nerves (a quick joke for example about your feelings lets the other side know where your heads at) will help you to banish them as the interview progresses. If you’re interviewing at agencies like Randstad in Melbourne, you’d be expected to be a little bit funky but clothed professionally, letting your personality shine through as your greatest asset. I think this is true everywhere else, though some roles may require you to temper little eccentricities and pull them back a bit. If you don’t feel comfortable in the office or culture after the second interview, cut your losses and seek another opportunity. You spend a lot of time in the office, life shouldn’t be an impromptu stage production where you never know the lines.
How do you feel about the infamous job interview? What mechanisms have you developed to get you through or better yet, score an awesome job.
Blog post by: Jessica Hannah

A positive twist on negative thinking?

Positive thinking seems to be one of the hippest trends of modern management and popular ‘gurus’.  But a review of the empirical evidence, released a few months ago by the University of New South Wales, found those who think negatively actually have stronger memories, make better judgements, are not as gullible, are less selfish, and persevere longer at difficult tasks.*

These are hugely important findings because in many workplaces employees who are branded as ‘negative’ are immediately ostracised, considered too destructive and uncooperative to have on a team.  But what is now evident is that they really do have a valuable role to play in any organisation if given the opportunity to do so.

Different - Zebra

* Unless we’re talking about the toxic people whose clear aim is to cause mayhem by opposing and complaining and conniving and influencing others to join them on the dark side.  In those cases, treat them as a serious performance management issue.  That’s why it’s essential to distinguish between those who simply think negatively with those who work negatively.  The former are easy to coach; the latter not so much.

Obstructionists come in tow different ‘flavours’:

  • The mis-matcher, who will drive you and your colleagues crazy by disagreeing with everything you say hence the moniker mis-matcher. These are annoying people who can’t help themselves and I tell all my clients to fire them LAST WEEK!
  • Non-conformist, who just does not want to be placed in any box, group or team – BECAUSE – they just don’t want to. They are in fact in a box, labeled non-conformist, but even THAT label annoys them.

The challenge for you as a leader is to avoid the temptation to turn a negative thinker into a positive one.  You’re better served identifying the strengths they can bring to the team irrespective of their thinking style, and then incorporate those strengths in some way within their job.  In particular, negative thinkers can make a great contribution in these areas:

  • Matters of cognition:  This includes solving complicated problems, simplifying organisational complexity, and developing subject matter experts.
  • Matters of judgement:  This includes identifying flaws in strategic plans, providing input on the recruitment of new employees, and determining risk.
  • Matters of motivation:  This includes participating in long-term projects, keeping colleagues focused on the core issues, and questioning the status quo.
  • Matters of social behaviour:  This includes communicating critical information, anticipating the impact of change initiatives, and assessing the fairness of decisions.

Of course, positive thinkers can be just as successful at each of those areas.  It’s just that those inclined to think negatively have especially demonstrated those competencies in various academic studies.  Even then, that doesn’t imply that negative thinkers are better than positive ones or vice versa.  They each have advantages (and disadvantages) that brilliant leaders are able to maximise (or minimise).

What you’ll end up discovering is that when you stop seeing negative thinkers as an issue to be rectified and instead see them as a talent to be engaged, they begin to feel valued and acknowledged.  And as soon as that realisation sets in, they’ll eventually exhibit the positive traits that so many of their colleagues have long desired.

NOTE TO SMALL, ENTREPRENEURIAL BUSINESS OWNERS:

Do not hire negative, non-conformist or mis-matchers. Even though academic literature and team oriented literature supports to some degree diversity – as a SMALL business, with LIMITED budgets – you simply cannot afford ANY discordance with your vision and strategy. Of course I am not advocating you hire only yes men and women, what I am suggesting is you AVOID those that will be conflictual.

How do you do that? Contact us and we’ll teach you how to hire the best staff and avoid the most blatant mistakes – BEFORE you make one that can cost you thousands in lost productivity and profitability.

Original source article provided by Mark Mackenzie of The Graffiti Eaters. Thanks Mark!

Vacuums and voids

You may be aware of the scientific theory that ‘nature abhors a vacuum’.  In quantum mechanics, it’s referred to as the vacuum state, which basically means there’s no such thing as a vacuum.

Let’s say, for example, that you created some kind of glass container closed off to all physical particles.  From the outside looking in, it would appear as though it was empty.  But really it’s not.  That space, at the very least, contains electromagnetic waves and particles.  If the slightest piercing were to penetrate the container, it would then be filled with air.  And, depending on where the container was located, a slightly larger opening may see it consumed with water or sand or any other substance.

That’s why philosophers like Aristotle have professed that vacuums don’t exist.  As soon as we think that one is there, something instantly fills it up.

Such is the case at work – an environment notorious for the vacuums that arise.  When there’s a vacuum of information, it’s filled with gossip.  When there’s a vacuum of training, it’s filled with mistakes.  When there’s a vacuum of opportunity, it’s filled with disengagement.

If we were to look specifically at new teams (or established teams that have been leaderless for a while), there are four vacuums that are especially present:  structure, knowledge, relationships, and authority.

Structure:  This represents the systems that are in place, the ways in which the team is organised, and the rules that determine how and when the work gets done.  A vacuum of structure is often filled with misguided people.

Knowledge:  This reflects the collective expertise of the employees, an awareness of their developmental gaps, and the principles that influence their decision-making.  A vacuum of knowledge is often filled with costly errors.

Relationships:  This includes the level of trust among the team members, the degree to which they understand each other, and the extent to which they like and respect one another.  A vacuum of relationships is often filled with conflict.

Authority:  This is in relation to the informal power that some employees hold, the credibility of the leader to lead the team, and the ability of the leader to inspire change.  A vacuum of authority is often filled with power struggles.

If you’re a leader taking over a new or leaderless team, it’s important to fill those four vacuums before other (unfavourable) elements infiltrate them.  As the American writer Tennessee Williams wrote figuratively: “A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.”

The trouble, though, is that a vacuum doesn’t last very long.  Or at all.

I’d like to thank Mark Mackenzie of The Graffiti Eaters for this week’s submission. If you come across something valuable like this, please forward it in to me and I will share it with our readers and subscribers and reward you with a few valuable backlinks!

The power of why

Today’s blog post is priceless and timeless. Priceless because it can be life-changing and timeless because it dates back several hundred ago and it remains timely and relevant to this day… This was submitted to me by Mark Mackenzie of The Graffiti Eaters.

When Beethoven was 26, he started to lose his hearing.  It began as a ringing in his ears that got worse and worse until he was almost completely deaf.  It became so bad that the only way he could communicate with his friends was by getting them to write down what they were saying in a book, into which he would write his reply.

Beethoven’s devastation over what was happening led him to live alone in an Austrian town where he spent time contemplating suicide.  And yet he persevered.  In letters penned to his brothers, he wrote that he remained committed to his work because he saw his art as something that had to survive even if it meant enduring the heartache of not hearing his audiences applaud.  “It seemed unthinkable for me to leave the world forever before I had produced all that I felt called upon to produce,” he wrote.

And so, in the face of pain and struggle, he miraculously continued to compose music.  In fact, some of his most brilliant and famous work emerged during the period that his deafness was at its most severe – truly magnificent pieces like his Symphony No. 9.

The reason Beethoven was able to continue so resolutely in the application of his craft can be attributed to the word why.  As is often said, when the why is big enough, the ‘how’ takes care of itself.  In Beethoven’s case, the why was the influence his music had on the world.

The power of why has been proven empirically by psychologists at Ohio State University.  In a number of experiments, researchers discovered that people who considered ‘why’ they performed a challenging task were more likely to persevere with it.  In comparison, those who focused only on ‘how’ to do it were more likely to give up.

So, if you’re trying to get your employees to be committed to a project or to an activity that’s difficult or unenjoyable, or if you’re eager to get their buy-in for an idea or a change that you know they’ll resist, there is rarely anything more urgent than to articulate why.  In particular

  • Why this?
  • Why now?
  • Why them?
  • Why from you?
  • Why in this way?

The why gives people the purpose to follow your vision and it adds meaning to a job that may otherwise be uninteresting. It may be invisible, but the why is what generates the visible.  To those who are feeling uninspired, it is music to their ears.

Time Versus Life Management

In my line of work, I come across two types of people.

  • Type 1 wants to make money, achieve something, do whatever it takes.
  • Type 2 wants what everyone calls work-life balance because they have achieved ‘enough’ and realise without balance, there is imbalance and that’s not good.

The quote below is a foundational, guiding principle that I refer to over and over again in my programs. It’s not just applicable to those who want to create their best year ever, it’s equally (more) important for business people who want to grow their business.

Time Value, Time Management, Life Management, Goal Setting

The thing is WHAT VALUE do you place on WHAT?

With 4 dimensions of mastery (business, internet, professional and personal), how can you reconcile all these values?

Simple.

You need to establish ONE hourly value that is representative of who you are, what you do 24/7.

Easier said than done, I know, but it’s that simple.

If you value yourself and your time at $10/hour versus $100/hour versus $250/hour, your life will be completely different.

Take a minute to read the metaphoric parable of The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers.

What are the golf balls in your life worth to you?

Have a think about it… It can be a priceless revelation to realise you’re sweating the small stuff and missing out on the important things.

In you career it means:

  • You’re being tactical instead of strategic. Doing what your boss wants you to do instead of what’s in your best interest.
  • You’re thinking more about your company’s bottom line (when you are not the owner) than your career development.
  • You’re sacrificing you’re sacrificing your work-life balance for very little net gain.

Explore this further by journaling. Take a blank sheet and make a list of your Top 10 most important things in life – how often do you enjoy/experience them?

Hmmm…. Something to think about.