Career Advice

Runaway Meetings Are The Top Time Waster At Work

Meetings Are Top Time Waster At Work

Runaway Meetings Are The Top Time Waster At Work

By: Barbara Bartlein

A new nationwide survey finds that "runaway" meetings are the biggest time waster in the workplace. More than 27 percent of workers polled said meetings are the largest culprit for inefficiency and lack of productivity.

The survey was developed by Office Team, a staffing service specializing in skilled administrative professionals. With responses from 613 men and women, all 18 years or older, the findings are part of the "Office Team Career Challenge," a project to help administrative professionals advance their careers.

With today's lean staffing levels, there is increasing pressure for employees to manage their time effectively. Yet, many employers actually sabotage time management with runaway meetings and interruptions. Industry Week calls meetings "the Great White Collar Crime" estimating they waste 37 billion dollars a year.

Some 'red flags' that can indicate a mismanaged meeting:

  • No one in charge. If the leadership of the meeting isn't clear, there is a tendency for attendees to waste time, pontificate their points and not draw any conclusions.

     

  • Not starting on time. This practice 'trains' employees to come late and expect additional time for socializing.

     

  • Lack of objectives or agenda. With no clear purpose or agenda to follow, it is easy for the meeting to get off track. Participants may not be clear as to what needs to be discussed or for how long.

     

  • Lengthy guest list. As a general rule, the more people at a meeting, the less work accomplished. When the list of attendees is extensive, it is often because there is a focus on not excluding anyone, not because each member's participation is necessary.

     

  • Just part of the routine. Regularly scheduled meetings can lose value as circumstances and staff change. All routine meetings should be periodically evaluated to determine whether they should be held at all.

     

To learn how to make meetings more productive, I contacted Chris Clarke-Epstein, CSP, who wrote the book, I Can't Take Your Call Right Now, I'm In a Meeting. The former president of the National Speaker's Association, she works with clients to help employees learn faster and work better. She offers concrete ideas to make your meetings more effective.

  • Idea #1: Not every meeting should take place. The right times to schedule a meeting are when conflicts need to be resolved, groups of people need to start working together or information needs to be shared at the same time. Meetings are a group activity so they can be effective when a group needs to reach consensus or rally around an idea or plan.

     

  • Idea#2: The person who calls the meeting has more to do than reserve the room. They need to also consider other logistical issues, including; time, equipment needed, and food/beverage. They need to take ownership of the content including preparation of an agenda and distribution of review materials. It is important to have a system to follow up on assignments and monitor the results of the meeting.

     

  • Idea #3: Meetings are no better than the people attending them. According to the Warton Center for Applied Research, the primary cause of unproductive meetings is not having the right people in attendance. The most effective participants at any meeting are: people who have the information you need, people who can make decisions, and people who will implement the decisions.

     

  • Idea #4: What gets recorded at a meeting has a chance of getting done. All meetings need some form of collective, agreed-upon memory. Without documentation, consensus can quickly evaporate. Meeting notes need to summarize the decisions made, itemize the actions agreed upon, fix accountability and document the deadlines for all actions.

     

  • Idea #5: Meetings that end without assignments are doomed to be repeated. Groups are often very good at decision making and unbelievably poor at implementation. There needs to be an identified person to implement each decision within a specific timeframe. Watch to make certain that everyone is getting some of the responsibilities.

     

  • Idea #6: Teams that evaluate their meetings have better meetings. Take two or three minutes at the end of each meeting to evaluate the process. Use index cards and answer the following questions: Were the meeting's objectives met? Was the meeting's format effective? Was the meeting of value?

     

The true value of any meeting is what actually happens after the meeting takes place. Make sure that individuals are held accountable for meeting results. And remember, if you don't measure it, it won't happen.

For more ideas on effective meetings and building productive teams, please visit: www.chrisclarke-epstein.com

 

Author Bio
FREE E-MAIL NEWSLETTER. Sign up at www.ThePeoplePro.com. Barbara Bartlein, CSP, is the People Pro. She offers keynotes, training and products that help you build your business and balance your life. She can be reached at 888-747-9953, by e-mail at barb@ThePeoplePro.com. Visit her website at www.ThePeoplePro.com.

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Take proper control of your company web site

Take proper control of your company web site

Take proper control of your company web site

By: John Philip

I recently carried out a web-site review for a solid and successful company. It had followed most of the 'rules' for getting high traffic, but had somehow missed the mark. I suspect that a large number of visitors found the site unconvincing, uninspiring and unmemorable. The site certainly did little to enhance the company's otherwise very high reputation. I quickly spotted the problem, but it took me a while to figure out the underlying cause.

The problem itself was really very simple. Each page was fine on its own, but the site as a whole was not coherent. Some pages had long paragraphs while others were written in bullet points. Sentences varied hugely in length and complexity. Key staff were profiled by some departments, but not by others. Even key branding language varied, including, believe it or not, the name of the company!

The root of the problem was somewhere in the overall co-ordination of the site. The obvious conclusion was that whoever was in charge was not sufficiently skilled as an editor. But that was not enough. Why were senior executives not dealing with it?

The company's paper publications were excellent, with attention to detail and a common style across the range from annual reports and press releases to marketing materials and recruitment leaflets. Each department's copy passed through the hands of a small editorial team who corrected and improved the language and transformed it into a coherent company style. Beyond this, a director ensured consistency and co-ordinated the output of different departments in accordance with the board's strategic demands.

The web site was a totally different ball game.

The company leaders regarded the web site as a techie issue. The different departments were giving well-written copy, but there was no-one with proper editing experience to pull it together. Executives were satisfied with the web pages that were relevant to their own departmental responsibilities and were happy to leave the site management in the hands of someone who understood the technical issues involved. This was the equivalent of leaving paper publications in the hands of printers and graphic designers.

The lessons are clear. First, ensure proper executive oversight of your website. If it isn't already, your site will soon be the most frequently viewed representation of your company. Second, make full use of professional editors for your site's text. It depends upon your company's circumstances whether you are better off doing this in house or outsourcing.

 

Author Bio
John Philip has been a writer, editor and educator for over 30 years. He now mainly provides consultancy to businesses, professions and public services and continues to work for befirstgroup.com, which offers writing and editorial services.

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A Cosmopolitan Job Search

A Cosmopolitan Job Search

A Cosmopolitan Job Search

With increased globalization and cosmopolitan approaches to life, the job hunting process is also undergoing changes. People are increasingly looking for jobs outside the borders or their countries, in various fields regardless of their education, and in a more competitive world then ever. While the companies from developed countries are struggling to hire the most qualified work force, it is becoming more likely that this work force will be coming from countries in transition or developing states. As an example, Eastern Europe was able to supply the EU labor market with increased numbers of highly educated professionals who were willing to work for less.

When you are looking for a job, and you care less about the country this job will take you to, but you are more concerned about you role in the job, it is important to take the following into consideration:

Particularities of job search approaches
When looking for jobs outside any state borders, we cannot assume that the job search process is the same worldwide. While the overall process may be the same, there are certain things that are done differently. In some countries it is important that you call the employer to discuss the job before applying, while in others you are discouraged from contacting the employer. These are details you should be aware of so that you can have a successful application process. It might be best for you to:
- Contact people who work in the country of application (even if it is on a forum and you don't personally know the people you are addressing) and talk to them about the recruitment process they went through;
- Take a look at a few resumes of people who work in the country of destination and check if your resume follows a similar pattern (at the same time don't try too hard to make yourself blend, differences can be positive in bringing your resume forward in front of an employer);
- Learn more about the culture of the country you seek employment in and incorporate this knowledge in your job search strategy and decision making.

Cultural differences
Being cosmopolitan in your job search does not mean you have to be ignorant of culture and life outside the borders of your country, or assume that everything is the same everywhere. The world is very diverse, and you are cosmopolitan when you learn to embrace the differences and respect various cultures. Before you apply for a job in another country - take a few hours time to learn more about the country, the people, and the culture of that place. Knowledge of the culture will help you prepare a resume and a job search strategy that will generate results. This process will also help you decide if you would really be happy in that country. When you want to have a life outside the office, this becomes even more important. As an example, I know a job seeker from the US who decided to move to a company in the UK, and without making any research assumed that London would be the same as Los Angeles. It does not quite work this way.

Honesty and integrity
Applying for a job thousands of miles away does not mean that the employer or recruiter will never check your background. Make sure that in your application you provide only verifiable information, and that you can support the provided data with more details during the interview. Also, make sure you can undertake legal employment in that country, and do not forge any documents that will help you get that job. It is not only dishonest - it is also not worth it.

The world is a very small yet diverse place, and every culture has a certain impact on the overall life and job-hunting process of its people. If you are looking to apply for a job outside the boundaries of your country, make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into. This will help your put together a successful job search strategy. I understand that this is complicated when you are looking at 10 or more countries at the same time, but who said life of a cosmopolitan careerist is easy.

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Author Bio
Rachel Gordon is a recruitment consultant at www.MasterEmployment.com. She can be contacted by e-mail at info-at-masteremployment.com. You are welcome to re-post this article as long as you keep the information about the author intact, including the links. Contact MasterEmployment.com for more details.

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Personal Pluses That Ace A Job Interview

Personal Pluses That Ace A Job Interview

Personal Pluses That Ace A Job Interview

By: Joel Vance

As the business world has become more competitive for the shrinking markets available to them, companies have shifted their focus from hiring the most educated or experienced graduate, to hiring those employees with personal pluses as well as the job skills.

Right now, you may be in an entry-level job, gaining experience and hoping to work your way up. This is also the time (if you haven't learned them while growing up), to develop your people skills as well. Because these tend to be the "soft" sell features that make candidates stand out at an interview.

Promptness is one attribute that employers appreciate. It doesn't come naturally, but it doesn't take a great deal of work to acquire either. A little planning, or putting thought into your daily routines and habits, mean you are not only on time for work, but for outside activities as well.

Personality also goes a long way, when an employer is considering equally qualified candidates. Do you enjoy your work? Have you had good experiences with previous employers? If not, don't make those incidents a focus during your interview. Instead, highlight the positive aspects of past jobs, and how they have helped to make you suited for the position related to the interview. And don't ooze friendliness. Leave that to your puppy at home. Interviewers can spot a phony as soon as they show their orthodontist's handiwork. Be your natural, sincere self. Your real personality will show through, and sometimes will count for more than the degree on your graduation certificate.

People skills are now being considered one of the most valuable assets that any employee can have, no matter what their role. It's not just the customer service part of the job that counts, but how well you function as part of a team, and part of what may be a small, and highly motivated company where there can be periods of intense and concentrated work that tests both your professional skills and your temper. Having an even "keel", and knowing how to deal with those who don't, is a talent that will follow you from job to job, in written recommendations, and in how you present yourself at an interview.

With the number of people seeking work, either as new graduates or recently laid off employees, you need to put not only your best foot forward, but your best "self". A company can go to any institute and hire a person trained to a particular skill. What they are really looking for when they grant interviews, is someone with the technical skills and personality pluses.

Author Bio
Joel Vance is an Human Resources expert who has been in HR for 17 years and interviewed 3,159 people. He has also taught at 4 major universities around the country and currently has a best selling book on interviewing entitled The Perfect Interview at www.theperfectinterview.com

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So You Are Working for a Difficult Boss, Huh?

Working for a Difficult Boss

So You Are Working for a Difficult Boss, Huh?

By: Mahalakshmi Prabhakaran

Well. A bad boss is a universal phenomenon. All of us at some point of time or other have faced the monster from hell that just loves twisting you round his tiny li'l finger and takes pleasure in trashing your hard day's work right into the bin without any compunction! Phew... it's a tough little world we all live in. Here are a few practical pointers that will help you not only in dealing with that tough taskmaster of a boss, but also maybe help you win him over!

Don't judge him/her in haste.
Call it the human tendency to gripe, but experience shows that people crib about their bosses just two days into their job! So if you are just into your job and are having problems coping with the Big B for inexplicable reasons, take a breather. Instead of rushing into conclusions, take time off to understand your boss and his/her working style. Giving yourself some time gives you some breathing space to settle into your job, get accustomed to the work environment and hit off a working relationship with your colleagues and more importantly, your boss. According to experts, 3 months is a good enough time. In an ideal world, by the end of the period you will end up realizing that your boss is not a bad soul after all!

Understand his/her psyche.
Yes. Apart from discharging your duties, being on a job also entails taking on the role of a psychologist. It pays to observe people, not the least your boss. Silently noticing your Boss and colleagues gives you a peek into their character. Pay more attention to your Boss's conversations, his mannerisms, how he interacts with the rest of the team. Observing him will help you discover his likes and dislikes, pet interests and even weaknesses. If you are smart, you will know how to leverage this knowledge and develop good camaraderie between the two of you. You might gladly end up discovering that you share similar interests. So, the next time you feel like wringing your hair out in frustration, stop cribbing and starting observing!

Speak Up.
Ok so you have grinned and borne your boss. Observed him to get to know him, have tried every thing to get him to like you, yet he continues with his boorish behavior. Then it is time to have some frank speak with him/ her. Put your concerns out in the open. Tell them frankly what it is about their behavior that is discouraging you. If your boss is considerate, he might take efforts to change his behavior. But if he refuses to back off and regret his misgivings, go on and talk to the HR and other higher ups in your company to come out with a solution. According to industry experts, talking out sometimes helps clear the air and gives your boss an opportunity to correct himself. Standing up to him will show you in a new light, as someone who is confident and fearless. It may, with the right boss earn you some brownie points a la good commendation and better prospects for promotions.

Vent your woes to willing ears!
Can't handle the stress anymore? Then go ahead and vent your woes about your unfortunate situation with your colleagues, friends, and family - well practically anyone who is willing to lend you a patient ear. As any amateur psychologist would say, bottling up your feelings will only end up stressing you out. While talking out will relieve you of tension and give you solace that you are not the only one afflicted with a bad sore-of a boss.

Cautionary advice:
Have these sessions outside office and very far from your boss!! Don't over do it. You may end up driving people away with your whining.

Nothing works? Get out! If you think you have given your best shot to live with that bully of a boss and he still ends up making your life a living hell? Then its time for you to pack your bags and scout for another job!

Author Bio
Mahalakshmi is a Marketing Writer for CAMO Technologies. CAMO Technologies is an IT Outsourcing solutions provider offering Global IT Staffing services, Application Development services, Software Testing services and Web Services

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Be more Productive...Instantly!

Be more Productive...Instantly!

Be more Productive...Instantly!

By: Dan Robey

Imagine how your life would improve if you were instantly more productive.

You could get more done at the office every day and maybe earn a promotion, or make more money as a result of your ability to produce more sales.

Whether you are a sales person, a CEO, or a housewife, being more productive every day can dramatically improve your life.

OK, right now you are probably saying...sounds great, how can I be instantly more productive?

It's really quite simple. To be instantly more productive you need to acquire a new habit called the 4-D habit.

What is the 4-D habit?
The 4-D habit increases your productivity instantly by helping you prioritize daily tasks and get more done in a shorter period of time.

Here is how it works.

Each day we are all faced with new tasks that must be acted upon. Your boss calls you and asks you to prepare a sales report, your child calls and asks you to help him or her with a difficult school project, your husband wants you to find a better deal on car insurance.

How you act upon the tasks you are presented with each day determines how productive you will be. Make it a habit to apply the 4-D's as listed below to each task.

Number One
Do it now - take immediate action, perform the task right away.

Number Two
Dump it Now - this task is simply not important enough for your time. Dump it and move on.

Number Three
Delegate It - this task can be performed by someone else, give that person or persons the task. Many people make the mistake of trying to perform all the tasks they are given. The ability to properly delegate is what turns managers into CEO's.

Number Four
Defer the Task - This task must be done by you, but it can wait. Use the free time you have gained by not performing this task right away and perform other high priority tasks instead.

Get in the habit of applying the 4-D decision making tool to every task prese nted to you and watch your productivity soar!

 

Author Bio
Dan Robey is the author of the Best-Selling book "The Power of Positive Habits" now published in 22 countries worldwide. There are dozens and dozens of scientifically researched postive habits that can change your life in Dan's book. To learn more and subscribe to a complementary e-course on Positive Habits go to: www.thepowerofpositivehabits.com

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Body Language Speaks Louder Than Words

Body Language Speaks Louder Than Words

Body Language Speaks Louder Than Words

By: Lydia Ramsey

Has it ever occurred to you how much you are saying to people even when you are not speaking? Unless you are a master of disguise, you are constantly sending messages about your true thoughts and feelings whether you are using words or not.

Studies show that your words account for only 7% of the messages you convey. The remaining 93% is non-verbal. 55% of communication is based on what people see and the other 38% is transmitted through tone of voice. So think about it. In the business setting, people can see what you are not saying. If your body language doesn't match your words, you are wasting your time.

Eye contact is the most obvious way you communicate. When you are looking at the other person, you show interest. When you fail to make eye contact, you give the impression that the other person is of no importance. Maintain eye contact about 60% of the time in order to look interested, but not aggressive.

Facial expression is another form of non-verbal communication. A smile sends a positive message and is appropriate in all but a life and death situation. Smiling adds warmth and an aura of confidence. Others will be more receptive if you remember to check your expression.

Your mouth gives clues, too, and not just when you are speaking. Mouth movements, such as pursing your lips or twisting them to one side, can indicate that you are thinking about what you are hearing or that you are holding something back.

The position of your head speaks to people. Keeping your head straight, which is not the same as keeping your head on straight, will make you appear self-assured and authoritative. People will take you seriously. Tilt your head to one side if you want to come across as friendly and open.

How receptive you are is suggested by where you place your arms. Arms crossed or folded over your chest say that you have shut other people out and have no interest in them or what they are saying. This position can also say, "I don't agree with you." You might just be cold, but unless you shiver at the same time, the person in front of you may get the wrong message.

How you use your arms can help or hurt your image as well. Waving them about may show enthusiasm to some, but others see this gesture as one of uncertainty and immaturity. The best place for your arms is by your side. You will look confident and relaxed. If this is hard for you, do what you always do when you want to get better at something - practice. After a while, it will feel natural.

The angle of your body gives an indication to others about what's going through your head. Leaning in says, "Tell me more." Leaning away signals you've heard enough. Adding a nod of your head is another way to affirm that you are listening.

Posture is just as important as your grandmother always said it was. Sit or stand erect if you want to be seen as alert and enthusiastic. When you slump in your chair or lean on the wall, you look tired. No one wants to do business with someone who has no energy.

Control your hands by paying attention to where they are. In the business world, particularly when you deal with people from other cultures, your hands need to be seen. That would mean you should keep them out of your pockets and you should resist the urge to put them under the table or behind your back. Having your hands anywhere above the neck, fidgeting with your hair or rubbing your face, is unprofessional.

Legs talk, too. A lot of movement indicates nervousness. How and where you cross them tells others how you feel. The preferred positions for the polished professional are feet flat on the floor or legs crossed at the ankles. The least professional and most offensive position is resting one leg or ankle on top of your other knee. Some people call this the "Figure Four." It can make you look arrogant.

The distance you keep from others is crucial if you want to establish good rapport. Standing too close or "in someone's face" will mark you as pushy. Positioning yourself too far away will make you seem standoffish. Neither is what you want so find the happy medium. Most importantly, do what makes the other person feel comfortable. If the person with whom you are speaking keeps backing away from you, stop. Either that person needs space or you need a breath mint.

You may not be aware of what you are saying with your body, but others will get the message. Make sure it's the one you want to send.

 

Author Bio
Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author of MANNERS THAT SELL - ADDING THE POLISH THAT BUILDS PROFITS. She has been quoted or featured in The New York Times, Investors' Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple and Woman's Day. For more information about her programs, products and services, e-mail her at lydia@mannersthatsell.com or visit her web site www.mannersthatsell.com

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Making Lemonade: Starting a Business After Ending A Career

Starting a Business After Ending A Career

Making Lemonade: Starting a Business After Ending A Career

By: Liz Sumner, M.A., CPC

What do you do when the money tree starts sprouting lemons?

It's increasingly common these days to find middle-aged, mid-level managers suddenly faced with huge shifts of circumstance. Down-sizing, bubble-bursting, plant-closing, and consolidating are just some of the forces creating a class of sudden solo-preneurs.

At 50-something you face particularly difficult job-hunting challenges. Your salary range is high. Your network is decent after so many years, but jobs at your level are few. You've been there, done that, and thought you were finished with all that new trick-learning.

A big upset like job loss can provide a shift of perspective - an opportunity to take stock. What is really important? What do you want to pursue at this point in your life? Is being your own boss the way to go?

I spoke with several silverbacks to share their wisdom gleaned from these life changes with a new member of the pack.

Dean turned 50 in January of 2005. In May he was fired from his position as marketing director of a high-tech firm. He's angry at the ease with which an employer could let him go.

"Control is a big issue for me. Do I really want to have someone tell what, where, and how? It seems like I work a lot but don't reap the benefits. If I were on my own I'd have all the benefits and all the risks."

Dean is deciding whether to find another job with the security of a regular paycheck and benefits, or start his own business. He finds information on the internet helpful but wishes there was a Big Brother-like program pairing people and businesses to help him sort through the options.

Carl was 51 when the ordinance plant where he was safety manager closed its doors.

"I had a lot of friends in the business. I could have easily picked up another job but I would have had to relocate halfway across the country. I didn't want to do that."

Bob was an engineer whose position was eliminated after 23 years with the firm. This sent him into a deep depression that lasted for months.

"I couldn't even drive."

With the help of his psychiatrist, Bob recognized what was most important in his life-his wife, his son, and his lifelong hobby, bird-watching.

"My doctor told me to go bird-watching every day. While out there on the wetlands I had a vision. I couldn't go back to the corporate life."

It takes a lot of stamina and belief in yourself to move ahead with plans for a business. Carl spoke of his state of mind at the time:

"I wasn't frightened. I'm a survivor. I screwed up when I was younger- went bankrupt, lost a lot of material things. One good thing about failing is that it gets you over that fear of failure. You learn from your mistakes."

Both men did a lot of research, internal and external. Bob determined that he loved birds, kids, nature, education, photography, and the environment. Anything he pursued needed to involve those. Once he was clear on the essentials the how-to landed in Bob's lap.

"I saw an ad in a magazine to call for franchise information. My mind immediately took off with the possibilities. I began looking at retail spaces thinking 'I wonder how that location would work?' I saw the ad on a Saturday. That Tuesday I called the company. On Thursday I had the package and on the following Tuesday they had it back."

Carl was taking his time, looking at options. His values included a love of people and a desire to create a positive environment.
His plans started with casual conversation.

"My buddies owned this building. There had been a restaurant there years ago but it had been mismanaged. And somehow the idea of starting another one came up. At first we were clowning around, yucking it up over a few beers, but then we started getting more serious.

Bob made use of the infant, but still helpful internet of 1995. Carl used lower tech methods to estimate his market.

I spent 15 days from 4:00 am to 11:00 am counting cars at that intersection. I figured if we could get a big enough percentage of them to stop we'd be in business.

Bob used a book called, The Insider's Guide to Franchising [Webster, B. 1986 Amacom, New York] to help him review his offer. Carl was mentored by a successful friend in the restaurant business who helped him think things through. They developed their business plans and opened their doors.

The first year was tough for both businesses. Miscalculations and errors sent both owners reeling.

At first Carl knew nothing about preparing and serving food.

"The restaurant was overstaffed and overpaid. I felt held hostage by the people who worked for me. Things were pretty shaky there for awhile. Some days I wondered if we could open the doors."

Bob got overwhelmed with paperwork and screwed up his accounting records.

"Plus I went crazy at Vendormart. I bought four times as much inventory as I should have. Nowadays the franchise pairs successful stores and newbies so that doesn't happen, but those safeguards weren't in place back then."

In September Bob's store will celebrate its tenth anniversary. It has been recognized three times among the Top 30 Most-Improved stores. In February and June of this year his store was number 2 out of 320 in overall sales.

Carl was advised that he'd know if the restaurant would make it within four years. It was clear after three that they'd be fine. Today after seven years they're looking to expand.

"We're not getting rich but we're self-supporting, and the relationships are priceless."

What advice do they have in hindsight for Dean and others like him?

Bob says, "Find what you love and create your opportunity. Be willing to change-be retooled. Don't get stuck in a rut. And you gotta have another source of income when you're starting."

Carl adds, "We grossly underestimated the working capital we'd need. And if I had it to do over I'd own the building. There are improvements I'd like to make but I'm restricted by the landlord."

So back to Dean, who's looking at buying an existing restaurant business, if he doesn't decide to return to marketing. Where do you want to be in a year? What will you say when I check back with you?

"I made the right choice. I'm doing exactly what I should and I'm excited about it.

 

Author Bio
Liz Sumner, M.A., CPC, of Find Your Way Coaching specializes in mid-life reassessment. Are you happy with your direction? Do you feel good about yourself? Are you fearless? Joyful? Energized? You could be. Visit www.findyourwaycoaching.com or call 603-876-3956 for more information.

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Kiss the Ring: Hierarchy Matters (It's not what you think)

Kiss the Ring: Hierarchy Matters

Kiss the Ring: Hierarchy Matters (It's not what you think)

By: Dr. Karen Otazo

Excerpted from The Truth About Managing Your Career... And Nothing But The Truth.

Someone once asked a Washington insider how to deal with important people whom you can't stand. His reply? "You put on your respectful face and you don't blink." This strategy is known in business circles as "kissing the ring." Its origins lie in a much earlier era, when royalty and clerics wore rings of office denoting their status. Bowing your head as you kissed their rings was how you showed respect for their office, while not necessarily feeling that sentiment towards the characters themselves.

Why go to the trouble to show deference to someone you don't personally like or respect? In the cut and thrust world of business, as in the political sphere, it's all about survival. Or, to look at it more positively, enlightened self-interest. Like it or not, the business world is structured by a strong sense of hierarchy. Why else would we be so fixated on gaining promotions and better titles? Those high up can have a significant impact upon your reputation and career: positive if they like you and see you playing by the rules, negative if they feel slighted by you in some way. Showing them the appropriate respect helps keep your career path obstacle free.

"Kissing the ring" might mean responding in a neutral to positive way when someone important says something off base in a meeting. Or staying positive with your boss when he or she doesn't understand what you're trying to do or say. However irritated or amazed you feel, keep your facial expression kind and free of negativity, a kind of poker face. It's worth practicing this in front of the mirror so that it's ready to put on when you need it.

"Kissing the ring" doesn't mean being sycophantic though. It's just about treading carefully around egos. There's nothing wrong with telling a senior person that you think there might be a better way of doing things, but just make sure that you think strategically and don't react there and then, especially if there are others present. If you are genuinely concerned about something you might want to bring it up in private in a neutral way but not make a big deal out of it. You do this by talking about it in a low-key way, tactfully introducing your point by saying, "By the way, what do you think of... " or, "Is there is a case to be made for this other point of view?"

Are there "don't kiss the ring" moments too? You bet. As soon as anything looks the slightest bit immoral or illegal you need to stop and think. Don't jump to conclusions, but once you've confirmed that something improper is up, do everything you can to extricate yourself from the situation before you get into trouble. If, for example, your company requires that the highest level person at a dinner should pick up the expenses then you might hesitate before paying for something so that your boss doesn't have to put it on his or her expense report. While illegality is something that you should always report, without exception. There are ex-employees of Enron or Health South, currently in jail, who probably wish they had spoken up, or even left their jobs, rather than keeping mum.

"Kissing the ring" is one of a repertoire of respectful behaviors that will serve you in good stead with high ranking people. At some point in your career you will have to suck in your gut and show deference to a senior person whom you can't stand. Be prepared for it.

 

Author Bio
Dr Otazo is an author, consultant and global executive coach. She worked in multi-nationals in US, China, Indonesia, India, France. See more about Dr. Karen Otazo at www.globalleadershipnetwork.com

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The Real World: Life after Law School

The Real World: Life after Law School

The Real World: Life after Law School

First of all, if you step into that marble foyer for the first time and realize that you would rather be anywhere but there, you should be. The practice of law is for people who truly want to be lawyers. Those who don't have their hearts in it will have a very difficult road ahead of them. However, if the smell of all those legal pads really gets you going, don't lose track of that passion. It will get you through what just might be the toughest 12 months of your life.

Many fresh-faced new lawyers go into their first year on the job with visions of perfection dancing in their heads. They plan to draft perfect briefs and advance perfect ideas while wearing perfectly ironed shirts and smiling perfectly bright smiles. They are usually disappointed.

When it comes to doing the grunt work that first-years are sure to do, it's usually easier to focus more on getting the job done right rather than getting it done perfectly. There won't be anyone grading your papers, making sure you've done everything properly. There will, however, be a real, live client paying good money for you to make sure that what he/she wants gets done.

In short, you should try to have a broader perspective when it comes to first-year work. Focus on the overall goal of accomplishing a task, and don't get bogged down in the miniscule details.

Once you start working as an attorney, there will be many things you won't have any idea how to do. For example, the firm will have its own system of filing, distributing information, and handling day-to-day operations.
Many times, you won't know where to go, how to get there, or whom to talk to once you do; but instead of spending your days in the restroom mopping your sweaty brow, ask someone for a practice guide that deals directly with the firm's practice areas. This is a simple, easy way to get your head above the water and gulp in some much-needed air.

Once you have a basic understanding of how things at the firm work, you will gain confidence in your own abilities and become more comfortable doing the work. However, there will most likely come a day when someone hands you an assignment that leaves you baffled, wondering what in the world you spent the last three years of law school learning.

In this situation, take a deep breath, and go with your gut instinct. Do what you think you should do, regardless of whether or not you know that it's the right thing to do. Most likely, your gut feeling will be correct. After all, you must have developed some sort of legal intuition while sitting immobile in those stuffy college auditoriums.

Also, don't be afraid to ask a senior associate or partner for answers to questions or for clarification on assignments. Sometimes, you can save a lot of time simply by asking the right person a question.

Now on to arguably the most exciting part of being an attorney (at least in the eyes of new associates): the perks. The best advice in this area is moderation. Overdoing it or taking advantage of the firm in any way will be viewed negatively. Therefore, even if the firm seems liberal when it comes to living the high life, it's always better to exercise a certain level of restraint.

Another area where restraint should be practiced is in regard to your personal life. Don't get me wrong. Everyone has issues of a personal nature that have to be dealt with from time to time, but keep in mind that your superiors have their own personal problems to deal with.

Unless you have a personal matter that absolutely, positively must be discussed, keep your private life to yourself. Also, it's a good idea to talk things over with your family and friends prior to starting work so that they understand exactly what you're getting into. That way, you won't have to deal with the added stress of family disagreements and disappointments if you have to suddenly renege on commitments.

And a last little tidbit of advice for newbie attorneys is to take advantage of your status. Partnership will come soon enough, and then you won't be able to ask dumb questions or get lost on your way to the restroom. Take this opportunity to learn as much as you can while you have the least amount of responsibility. Being teachable during the first 12 months will pay off in the future.

Author Bio
For More Information Visit www.lawcrossing.com

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