Thought provoking ideas about success

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I came across a handful of quotes about success recently that might be of interest to readers of my blog.

“I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.” Bill Cosby

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” Bob Dylan

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value. He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in. But a man of value will give more than he receives.” Albert Einstein

“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” Benjamin Disraeli

“Success is the progressive realization of predetermined, worthwhile, personal goals.” Paul J. Meyer

Read the full article at Steve Roesler’s All Things Workplace blog. Best wishes for an inspired week!

Is there really such a thing as a dream job?

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Lucky people know what kind of work makes them happy, they find the job of their dreams, and indeed it makes them happy. But to create that kind of luck, most people have to work hard to know themselves and their authentic dreams, make realistic goals, and find the right fit in a complex job market.

Penelope Trunk is one of my favorite career bloggers, and it’s clear from reading anything she’s written that she really loves her job. But interestingly enough, being a career writer is not her dream job (or at least it wasn’t until she found a way to make it work). She writes:

I used to think I wanted to be a sex writer. My master’s thesis from graduate school was about my sex life. But when I tried to support myself writing about sex, when I started pitching stories to Cosmo, I found that no one wanted to hire me; magazines hire people to write about officially important sex research. I wanted to write about me.

So I looked for that magic intersection of things I’m good at and things I like to do and things people will pay me for. And I ended up being a career writer. Fortunately, though, I was able to be a career writer writing about me.

Which is probably what I wanted to do all along. So this is a great argument for the advice I give all the time which is to shut up about not having your dream job and just take any job so you can learn about what people will pay you to do that you might like to do.

You can read the whole piece by Penelope Trunk here.

Remember that phrase, the “magic intersection.” That’s the sweet spot where your abilities (things you’re good at), dreams (things you like to do), and the job market (things people will pay you for) overlap. Finding a dream job is less about being lucky than it is identifying the ways in which you can grow your skillfulness in melding these ingredients.

Using social media: a Twitter success story

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In an article on the Personal Branding Blog, Devin C. Hughes explains how he used social media to get the attention of a major company. Here’s how his situation begins:

Last year, we (my family) purchased carpet from Home Depot for our stairs and hallway.  While at the store, we were talked into buying a new blend (fabric) that looked great on the rack.  We were assured that it would wear well on the stairs (high traffic areas) etc…  I am sure you can guess where this is going.  Approximately 90 days after installation, the carpet looked as if the San Diego Chargers had played their regular season on our stairs and hallway.  At this point, my wife is almost in tears as she cannot believe that it looks this bad so quickly.  I jump up like a Super Hero (perception vs. reality) and assured her that I will take care of it…

After numerous failed attempts to get a resolution to his issue, he took his story to Twitter. Only a few minutes after using social media, he was contacted by someone at Home Depot who was able to resolve his issue quickly. The reason this can work is that many companies now have employees whose job it is to monitor mentions of them on Twitter and Facebook, and take actions when it’s appropriate to help the company reach its goals.

As you’re conducting your multi-media job search campaign, follow social media mentions about the employers you have targeted. Like the employers on Facebook and pay attention in their discussion forum. Pay special attention to job notices and posts from people who work at the companies, especially hiring managers. Use the news to help inform your impressions of what it would be like to work at the company, and try to find opportunities to mention the company in a tweet or share of your own.

Penelope Trunk: Make a connection with one person at a time

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While reading Penelope Trunk’s guide to “making a genuine connection to anyone” today, it occurred to me that I’d like to point people to this who are preparing for an interview (especially a group interview).

She writes:

[In giving a speech,] you have to connect with a single person in the audience. Talk to that one person until you know you have made a deep connection. And then move to another person. Do not scan the audience trying to connect with everyone. If you try to connect with everyone, you connect with no one. If you connect deeply with one person, the whole audience can feel that connection and they actually feel connected to you.

Really. This works. It’s super hard to do because our intuition is to ditch someone before we make a connection because it’s so scary in a speech to try so hard, in front of everyone.

I can’t wait for my next opportunity to give a talk so I can try out this suggestion. Makes sense to me, maybe it will make sense to you.

Is it a good idea to put your résumé on a Web site?

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Recently I’ve had inquiries from professionals who have both a resume as well as their own Web site, Visual CV, or other online version of the resume. They want to know if it’s essential to have a Web site for conducting a job search in a competitive market.

The truth is that having a resume on a Web site isn’t for everyone, and if your job search budget is limited then your resources are probably better off invested in other areas. The biggest bangs for your buck, I think, are usually the traditional resume, LinkedIn Profile, job search coaching, and career counseling.

That said, if price isn’t an issue or if you plan to do the work of creating an online resume yourself, then having your own Web site is worth considering in some situations. But very often it will make no difference and it could possibly backfire.

In my opinion, the most important key to success in your job search is to have a high degree of self-awareness which is translated into a rock-solid career plan and employer value proposition that reflects your authentic self. The ability to communicate that sort of career self-awareness is the heart of your “personal brand.”

All your career marketing documents need to reflect your personal brand, and for most professionals that’s the resume and LinkedIn Profile. (LinkedIn with its 90 million users is the “must-do” online identity outpost), but you don’t need to go overboard. You may not need to put yourself out there in a million different places online.

Video CVs can be helpful for hipsters, musicians, and performers. Online portfolios are useful for graphic designers and certain other creative professionals. But for most professionals these tools are overkill.

It can also be excessive to have a resume-like Web site at YourOwnName.com. It’s not a bad idea if you’re willing to spend a significant amount of energy to always keep the information up-to-date, and it can be positively stellar if you’re going to have your own blog to show off your expertise. But if the information is poorly put together, out of date, or out of sync with your other career documents it could be worse than nothing.

To get the most out of an online resume, make sure it’s every bit as good as your resume and LinkedIn profile and also offers additional information that an employer can’t get elsewhere.

If you’re not sure you need your own Web site, you probably don’t. Instead, reserve your own domain name based on your personal brand (usually that’s a variation on your full name), and redirect the URL to your LinkedIn profile or a CV in a PDF format.

Bob Sutton: Great bosses are human shields

bob_sutton_topIn a story about Pixar’s early history so cute it might be apocryphal, the moral is that the best bosses serve as human shields for their employees, protecting them from anything that might be distracting them from success. Bub Sutton shares the tale:

Lucas had brought in a guy named Doug Norby as President to bring some discipline to Lucasfilm, and as part of his efforts, Norby was pressing Catmull and Smith to do some fairly deep layoffs. The two couldn’t bring themselves to do it. Instead, Catmull tried to make a financial case for keeping his group intact, arguing that layoffs would only reduce the value of a unit that Lucasfilm could profitably sell. (I am relating this story with Craig’s permission, and he double-checked its accuracy with Catmull.) But Norby was unmoved. As Craig tells it: “He was pestering Ed and Alvy for a list of names from the Computer Division to lay off, and Ed and Alvy kept blowing him off. Finally came the order: You will be in my office tomorrow morning at 9:00 with a list of names.”

So what did these two bosses do? “They showed up in his office at 9:00 and plunked down a list,” Craig told me. “It had two names on it: Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith.” …

[A] few months after this incident, Pixar was sold to a guy named Steve Jobs for 5 million bucks and, as they say, the rest is history. And some 25 years later, that brave shielding act still drives and inspires people at Pixar.

So think about whether the Shield metaphor might help you to better understand the role of bosses in your life. And if you’re the boss, what might you do to offer a stronger and firmer shield to the employees under your protection?