Archive for the 'Professional Development Tips' Category

Mastering Persuasion And Influence

This great presentation was provided by Lena Yammine of Inner Outer Health.

Why I get people to write their own letters of reference

If you’ve subscribed or followed my blogs, you know by now about my concept of antimimeticisomorphism – Doing out-of-the-ordinary things to create extra-ordinary results with the least amount of effort and lowest cost.

Early in my career, a mentor got me to write my own letter of reference. He explained that as the requestor and benefactor, it was up to me to do the “heavy lifting”. I was quite taken aback, but what he said next made a lot of sense. Since he hired and worked with a lot of people, if he acquiesced to all the people who made the request, he would spend dozens and maybe even hundreds of hours a year… Doing people “a favour”.

Instead, he cut back the letters to +/- half and spent that time saved to edit and personalise the ones that were submitted to him to a much greater level of detail and relevance.

I have followed this wise approach in my 30+ year-long career realising that there are other benefits. First, I too have found half of the people won’t come back with a letter to be edited. Second, their self-perception of what they think they did can be quite shockingly distorted or pleasantly insightful and revealing. In the former instance, it can be quite awkward (but necessary) to make the edits and in the former I can further highlight those elements that I would otherwise not have considered.

Letters of reference are not worth much since we all know we get them from people who like and appreciate what we did for or with them. There is some credence to accumulating them in large numbers since the volume of positive references is, by itself testimony to excellence and consistency. Someone who can convince 10, 20 or 30 people to provide a letter of reference has to be better than one who cannot or has not had the initiative or forethought to do so.

Of course, when the first draft comes to you, it’s your responsibility to edit it, re-write and edit it in your own voice and style – ensuring it is both accurate and representative of the person you are attaching to your name and reputation.

Yes, sometimes I have refused to write a letter – even for someone who did an “OK” job because for me, “OK” is not good enough for me to associate myself with that person.

One last comment worthy to note – some people will take offence to this approach. You need to “own this approach” to overcome that response. My view is anyone who takes offence has made that choice and as such doesn’t understand what I have explained above. Explaining why is absolutely necessary.

What is also necessary is to no accept the guilt trip many people will try to bestow on you. The most common comments include:

  • “But I worked for you for X years and it’s the least you could do.”
  • “It will only take you 10 minutes…”
  • “Everyone else I asked did it for me, why won’t you?”
  • “I wouldn’t know where to start and I am not comfortable blowing my one trumpet.”
  • “You know me better than I know myself and you’re written more references letters than I have.”
Admittedly, sticking to this “principle” is not easy – but I believe it’s necessary if you want to elevate your relationships to a higher level of character and integrity – especially in this superficial world of false friendships and the proliferation of fake “testimonials and reviews”.
Of course I match the person’s contribution with my own. I once had someone submit a one-liner, which I edited and sent back as a one-liner…!
As a referrer, you’re either part of the problem (perpetuating it with a quick, worthless letter) or part of the solution with a well-developed and meaningful assessment that transcends the standard letter of reference. Something the reader will acknowledge is “different”.
But please let be known, I am biased. I have seen the differences in my 30+ year career. The longest letters I created were for people who are still friends or acquaintances and anecdotally they’ve been considerably more ‘successful’ in their careers. Part of it might be their flexibility to adapt to new situations and circumstances, like this one.

10 Things that seriously irritate your boss

This list of pet peeves is so prevalent it begs to be printed and framed in every office lunchroom.

Each is the soure of a Career Limiting Move (CLM) that usually goes unspoken much to the frustration of the irritant who is usually clueless to the infraction and then usually escalates his/her behaviour committing more and more of the CLMs.

The great thing is – for people who avoid such CLMs is that they get the clear advantage. One that can quickly and easily propel a career on to the fast track.



Are you ready for PRIME TIME?

One of the key concepts of Personal Productivity Principles is the concept of PRIME TIME.

Every time you have a task to do, you have to weigh the time/cost – value equation against your own “productivity expectation” and determine WHEN to do it.

PRIME TIME is best explained with a telemarketing/sales example:

  • PRIME TIME = whenever contact (calls) can be made.
  • NON- PRIME TIME = the rest of the time.

A top gun salesperson (or highly effective business person) only does PRIME TIME TASKS IN PRIME TIME and vice versa.

For example:

  • Reports, time management, scheduling is done early in the morning (NON-PRIME TIME)
  • Calls are made during the day  – maybe even during LUNCH TIME when people have time to talk (PRIME TIME)
  • Paperwork, planning, educational and development tasks are done in the evenings and/or weekends (NON-PRIME TIME)

It’s all pretty SIMPLE to understand – harder to actually do – because most people don’t know what their PRIME TIME tasks/outcomes are.

Once you know your PURPOSE / OUTCOME, everything should fall into place…

But it’s all easier said than done – unless you have a SYSTEMISED approach to time/life management.

Of course, when time permits, NON-PRIME TIME tasks CAN be done in PRIME TIME as long as they don’t interfere with PRIME TIME TASKS.

If you want to learn more about these principles, contact us. These are skills we teach within our Platinum Program.

Praise At Work

I am not an advocate of feeding Praise Junkies as spotlighted in the BBC article hyperlinked, but praise does go a long way to motivating employees. Here is a useful infographic to help you motivate your team.

So, you want to quit your job… Don’t make this common mistake

Quitting a job or starting a new business is part of the circle of ‘business’ life that is now well accepted and expected. The reasons include a faster-changing world, accelerating with new technologies, the desire to expand one’s reach beyond a single industry and/or role and of course life-cycle changes following a life-changing event such as a divorce/separation, birth of a child, loss of a loved one, etc.

Early in my career, I was disgruntled and a very wise colleague told me “never leave without knowing where you’re going“.. AND “the more you understand why you’re leaving, the better your choice (of new job, career, company) will be.”

That wisdom has stayed with me over the past decades as I saw myself create several reincarnations for myself – each one progressively better as my decision-making process improved.

In the first instance, I am not ashamed to admit – it took me almost a year to stop whinging (to myself) about what I didn’t like about my “job/boss/role/situation”.

I listened to motivational recordings (they were on cassette tapes back then) by Brian Tracy, Anthony Robbins and Jay Abraham, among dozens of others. It was a journey of self-exploration that led to starting my first company and setting me on my course towards my ultimate destiny.

Admittedly it is easier said than done, but there is a process you can follow:

  1. Identify all the things you LOVE about your job, boss, colleagues, clients, suppliers, industry, etc.
  2. Do the same for all the things you DON’T LIKE, that annoy you, are missing or you would like to have IN THIS JOB.
  3. Ask yourself the all-important question – WHY do you want to change jobs/careers?
    1. The more honest you are with yourself, the better. Remember – NO ONE will see your list!
    2. Sometimes the reasons are, you need a change because you can do the job with your eyes closed and you’re bored. If that’s the case, then you need to determine what is the NEXT challenge you need, desire, want for yourself… Or is it just a change, something “new” you’re looking for?
  4. If you were to apply for the IDEAL/PERFECT job/role what would it be?
    1. Be specific. Where would it be? Downtown, in a suburb? A view or next to nature?
    2. What would you be doing? Who would you report to? How much autonomy would you have?
  5. What would the IDEAL/PERFECT company be to work for?
    1. A small, entrepreneurial, a start-up?
    2. A large corporation with big budgets and lots of career choices and opportunities?
    3. Your own company so you can make all the decisions?
    4. How about going “solo” / freelance for a while? As you figure out what’s next?
  6. How long will you commit to this new venture, opportunity, role?
    1. This is important to know BEFORE you take the role, to be fair to your employer and for you to know how much you are willing to invest to get a return on that investment (career or industry changes come with some necessary extra time/effort investment). Will you need to take courses, read after-hours to catch up on stuff you don’t know? Will you need to acquire certifications or other accreditations?
  7. Last, but very important – WHO are you doing this for? Yourself, your family… You need clarity in respect of the forces at play, otherwise the incongruency will manifest itself at some point.

No one can or should be telling you what to do or not do. You need to follow your heart and accept that with the independence of choice, the onus/responsibility is on you to make the best decision possible.

I guarantee you that once you achieve clarity of intent – the Law Of Attraction will come to your assistance.

Once the mind can Conceive and Believe, it can Achieve… anything.

I wish you what your heart and mind desire so you can flourish to become the best version of you, you can be.


Considering a Change in Career? Here are 3 Tips to Help Your Decision

At some point in your working life, you may want to change careers. If you aren’t enjoying your current job, then chances are you will not be performing at your best either. Moving into another career, one that you like or have an interest in, can help you become more involved in your work and happier in general. Read on to find out the three most important things to help you with your decision.


Photo: Marie's Vogue Blog Under Creative Commons License

Photo: Marie’s Vogue Blog Under Creative Commons License

When you are looking for a career change, a good place to start is by undertaking a new educational or training course. Most industries require some level of qualification, even at their lowest levels. It’s surprisingly easy to find a course that will appeal to you: many colleges, like Evocca College, have a wide range of courses on offer. With that in mind, think about the career you want to enter into and find out how much training you will need to secure your dream position. Maybe you have transferable skills in another, similar career. Further education can often get you ahead in your career, so keep providers like Evocca in mind when the time comes.


Consider why you want a change

Your reasons for wanting a career change will directly influence which career you wish to change into. Are you changing because you are unhappy with the job you have, or are you seeking a new challenge? Think over the things you like and dislike about your current job. Creating a “for and against” table is a great way to clearly determine what you are hoping to get out of your career change. It can be as simple as desiring different working hours or as complex as a major change into a new industry requiring new qualifications. You may find yourself going from a nine-to-five office job to working different hours every day in different locations and vice versa.

Take your time

The last thing you want to do is rush into another job just to find yourself in the same position you were in before a few years down the track. Consider what you want to achieve in your life. Where do you want to end up? Will a change in career really help you achieve your goals? At the very least, you need to think about the first steps in heading toward your ideal career. Remember that you don’t have to immediately transition into a new job; test the waters for a while first by doing some study in the area to make sure your desired career really is the right choice for you. A lot of the time, we have a “grass is greener” attitude. It’s important to remember that this isn’t always the case. Make sure you take the time to trial your new career direction before committing.

When choosing a new career, you have a lot to consider. Once you have found the job for you, don’t hesitate to take steps towards securing it.

Unhappy Employees = Unprofitable Business

We understand the logic:

Unhappy employees = unproductive employees = an unprofitable business

The issue begins when we deal with employees as a GROUP – Employees only exist as individuals, just like you EXIST right now, reading this sentence. ONE person at a time is reading this sentence. Even though there might be several or even thousands doing it at the same time, each is doing it in-div-id-u-al-ly.

Too many managers and HR people forget this very important aspect.

This is a “problem” only solved at the personal level with greater initiative, motivation, enthusiasm, encouragement and accountability.

It is a BIG problem, no doubt about it. The first step, in my book, is to have each person on your team or organisation become “purpose driven”, which simply means having their reason for coming into the office aligned with their personal goals, dreams and ambitions. My “My Best Year Ever Program” is one of the first steps I recommend to all my clients, for their own personal planning, but more importantly for their staff to get focused and clear on what they want out of life and consequently their jobs and careers.


Bad Boss: A Case Study

Today’s blog post is from a friend who is ‘stuck’ working for a ‘bad boss’. I thought you would like to listen in to the conversation… I have indented my inserted responses in line.

Hi Marc,

I am looking for some feedback, if you are willing. I’ll do some project to return the value to you.*

It seems things haven’t really changed with my boss, after close to two years.

What are the specific “things” you want to change?

The more specific, the easier it is to solve a “problem”…

But then again – trying to CHANGE someone is the 3rd hardest thing to do…

#1, trying to climb a fence that is leaning TOWARDS you.

#2, trying to kiss someone who is leaning AWAY from you.

#3, trying to change someone who does not want to change.

I feel like he HAS to be in control of everything, every detail, and when he isn’t, his expectation is flipped upside down, and asked why  I /we don’t have an answer.

You have to accept that MOST people can’t and don’t want to change. MOST people would like to look good, but more than 2/3 of people today are FAT or OBESE… Think about it – who WANTS to be fat?

So once you accept this FACT, then you have to CHOOSE to be with the peer group that you want.

Let’s face it – being a manager at your company (in this location) is not the top of the management (success) pyramid. If he could get a “better” job, he would have been promoted or he would have applied to work somewhere else… The longer he has been in this role, the worse it is.

Have you read the book the Peter Principle?

It’s one of my ‘top 100’ recommended books. <— Click on the hyperlink to see it on my bookshelf.

This is an important concept for you to recognise in others and in yourself.

I THOUGHT after going to work working in (__ distant city __) , and virtually driving , leading independently the re-work project and getting RESULTS, we both (my boss and I) moved to next level of respect.

It SEEMS, now , or I feel now, that I was simply taken advantage of  when the company needed something / someone when they got in a tight situation.

First of all, when you take on a project like this, you need to fully document the investment (sacrifices) you made to go, the tasks you undertook and the measurable RESULTS you produced. If you went there to make a point and be noticed, this should have been determined AHEAD of time, so while you were away and upon return you, could have achieved one or more outcomes for yourself: a raise, more responsibility, a promotion, new tasks, etc.

Of course you can do all of the above now. Prepare a report that summarises all of this and present it to your boss, ideally just before your next annual assessment / evaluation.

The other aspect to this is that you learned new skills, developed a better understanding of the company’s needs so even though your immediate boss might now appear to appreciate you, the rest of the organisation KNOWS you did what you did – at least the travel aspect… They might now be aware of the RESULTS which is a tricky situation. You need your boss’ boss to know what you accomplished without ‘going over your boss’ head’… If you have a chance to see him/her, you can always let it slip that you prepared a report on the project or problem ‘solution’. If he/she asks for it… At least it won’t go unnoticed.

Since I have been back, it’s like the first few months when I was a contractor. There was no trust, he was doing our job in front of us, asking for process improvements, feedback and rejecting it, with low expectations.

His micro-management calmed down for most of last year, but has come back again.

People always revert back to their ‘dominant’ management style. Micro managers are insecure, largely incompetent in their role and fearful of being ‘found out’. They (over) compensate with a perfectionist detail-oriented approach that annoys their staff and is counterproductive to organisational goals.

I understand I have, and am beginning to recognize, the patterns in my relationships and jobs that I choose, and the bosses  that I work for, and I’m working to come to terms with that.

All patterns reside in underlying ‘psychic wounds’ that need to heal for your career ascension to get back on track. As you know, I don’t ‘do’ personal interventions, but I can recommend you read the books on my bookshelf – The Purpose Of Your Life and Flourish as a starting point. Once you’ve read those, then you MUST read The Rules Of Work.

At the same time, it SEEMS like whichever approach I take, it’s the wrong one, the wrong answer, the wrong thing , the wrong action / in-action.

When you are NOT working as a team, your are working in OPPOSITION.

I Feel like everything I do is for him and how he could look good, and that I’m not really working for (__________), the corporation. It SEEMS like ideas I have proposed are minimalized, or if they have value, he will modify them and call them his own. It’s like walking on eggshells, and it’s been like that from day one. The controlling aspect of his personality is blatant.

It all SEEMS to be starting all over again, and I am at a loss as to why or how to effectively deal with him or this situation other than go to work each day with my earplugs (I need them for the air compressor) and just smile and nod.

This feeling is called helplessness. For it to manifest itself, you need to feel:

  • It’s personal – YOU are the problem
  • It’s pervasive – EVERYTHING you do is wrong.
  • It’s permanent – it will never change.

To get out of this ‘mindset’, you just need to break one of these.

But that is not your real problem or challenge – see below.

I have also started training on (___enterprise software___) as well as a back-up for several procurement/ supply chain positions under another manager. I have also been learning cost analysis, with and from my boss, for the lab. Which is EXACTLY the TASKS I want to do / learn.

This is the tricky part… From the Peter Principle book – you need to make a shift from one function of the organisation to another, for YOUR to ascend UP the ladder. Wanting to work for someone else (a better boss) is part of YOUR career management path. The company WANTS you to grow and develop. You CAN leave your boss behind to languish in mediocrity – he is NOT your responsibility. On the road to success, there will be many obstacles you will have to circumvent, jump over and/or avoid along the way. Just do it in a politically correct manner and accept this as a fact of (work) life.

If you don’t have a career development plan, with a SET timeline, then it’s YOUR fault you’re stagnant and not ‘succeeding’. You should discuss your plan with your boss and the company’s HR department and make the investments necessary. Most large companies will help with the cost of certifications and training / educational costs.

So, my point is.. well… I feel a pattern… and this USUALLY when I would “jump ship”… SABOTAGE.

I am not advising you to ‘jump ship’ – I am advising you to try to move up within your organisation and IF you can’t make any moves from within, then and only then should you seek a solution elsewhere. You know my ‘famous saying”:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll get there.”
— Dr Marc Dussault

I’m not sure if this makes sense or not.

I think the question I am asking is how COULD I stop this pattern, so I can be successful with the NEW training and the additional roles that I am starting?

In summary:

  • You cannot change someone who does not want to change.
  • Your boss’ limitations and behaviours are NOT your problem – deal with your own and overcome them with stellar results that the company HAS TO NOTICE.
  • Knowing what you want is easier said than done. When you are “ON PURPOSE” in your life and career – the ‘game changes’ in your favour.
  • When you know what you want, then all you have to do is get it (certification, training, education, skills, etc.)
  • With the RESULTS, skills and abilities – you will be able to move UP the organisation or offer those skills to another company.
  • This approach is called being an Intrapreneur instead of an “employee”.


* All my close friends understand the law of reciprocity: Always offer something in return for advice, favours, etc. Paying it forward fuels the power of the Law Of Attraction in mysterious, magical ways so everyone wins – without necessarily ‘keeping score”. Do it generously, authentically and genuinely and see what happens!


Fixing A Mistake Takes Courage

Every once in a while we all make a mistake, a faux pas or a business blunder we’d like to take back. Rebekha Campbell very eloquently and courageously shared her mistake in a recent BRW Magazine article. It’s definitely worth reading…

Rebekah Campbell