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No. 760 / The fundamental questions of management

1) What to change?
2) What to change to?
3) How to cause that change?

This is the role of a great manager. It’s about understanding the core problem, identifying where you need to go, then figuring out a way to get there.

And if you’re not managing people at the moment, this approach is also not a bad way to manage other things in your life and career.

No. 759 / Method of coaching/persuasion

An ineffective manager will consider it a waste of time to let you work for the answers. They don’t have the patience to ask the right questions so that you are guided to the best answer. So they share everything they know on the subject, expecting you to be able to apply that knowledge in multiple situations. Then they get frustrated when you aren’t able to execute.

Effective leaders will let you struggle, ponder, and mull things over in your head. They know how crucial this process is for the future benefit of not only your work, but your career. Even if it means moving slower in the beginning, they know that it’s worth the upfront investment. So they poke, prod, and guide you with questions in the right direction, then empower you to take care of the rest.

This Socratic method of teaching people something important isn’t just a productive way to help others learn quickly, it also happens to be a potent form of persuasion. People naturally have a hard time being told what to do. But if you let them “independently” figure things out, they are more likely to take ownership over the idea and produce better results.

No. 758 / A better opportunity

It's what they all say, right? "I just found a better opportunity."

It's certainly a logical reason for leaving. But it's also usually a symptom of a larger issue.

The opposite of "better" is "worse," and the opposite of "opportunity" is "setback."

So it begs the question, what is so worse about your workplace? And what makes it a setback?

In other words, what can you do to help build a work environment so good that people never want to leave?

No. 757 / On validation

What do you want more?

To improve?

Or to receive validation?

You can’t get both at the same time.

If you’re already doing it exactly how you should then you can’t get better. But if you don’t get better, you’re no closer to what you set out to accomplish.

No. 756 / You're the interviewer

Remember, as a candidate, you’re interviewing them just as much as (if not more than) they are interviewing you. But easier said than done. Interviewing interviewers isn’t easy. There is, however, one thing you can do to improve your interviewing skills—that is, to ask better questions, then pay attention to the answer.

Ask probing questions and put the pressure on them—they’ll like it, I promise, and you’ll stand out more this way. Ask about the details of the job description and really dive into the day-to-day. Do research, then ask questions regarding the role you’re applying for within the context of the business model. Ask smarter questions; that is, try to ask things they might not know.

But once you’ve asked these amazing questions, now comes the most important step: listen carefully.

And I don’t just mean to actively listen (although, do that too) I mean, pay special attention to how they answer the question. Do they turn it right back on you? Do they treat you like you’re at an audition and just give you surface level-answers so that they can get back to being in charge? Or, do they “talk shop” with you?

This will give you an idea if they are really passionate about the business or not. It will give you insight into whether or not the company is actually healthy. The toxic ones will keep the focus on you, not the company. They don’t want to get into specifics. They want to make you feel like you’re the one under a microscope right now, not them.

But beware of this attitude, it just might be a microcosm of things to come.

The healthy companies are proud of what they are doing and excited to share more. Look for this type of passion. At this point, it should feel like a business discussion, not an interrogation. That’s the difference between a healthy company and an unhealthy one.

No. 755 / Full immersion

Robert De Niro spent his weekends as a cabbie driving people around NYC in preparation for the movie, Taxi Driver.

The best design studios fly their designers around the world to gather research and inspiration before they start projects.

And, we all know the best way to learn a new language quickly is to fully immerse yourself in the culture—to live there for a year or two.

So why not apply that same approach to your job?

If you’re a sales recruiter, why not go be a salesperson for a week or two? Fully immerse yourself in the culture, the day-to-day, the ups, and the downs—you’ll gain greater insights and become a more precise business partner this way than you would have otherwise.

If you’re an SDR, why not go to the same thought-leadership conferences and become a subject matter expert like your prospects are? Fully immerse yourself in the things they are reading and doing—you’ll gain greater empathy and understand their concerns before they even bring them up.

If you’re an investor, why not spend a few days with the team you’re looking to invest in? Fully immerse yourself in the environment and get to know the people and product on a deeper level—you’ll receive better data than any consulting group could ever provide.

There are many ways to learn how to do your job better. You can read, talk to people, try different tactics but until you see things the way they do, you’ll never be able to serve them the way you could be.

No. 754 / Salary talk

I just heard one of the best responses to the question “what are you looking to make in your next role” in a while. The candidate replied with the following:

“I can’t go below $A. Between $B and $C seems to be the fair market value (based on my experience and what other companies have told me). $D, though, would be ideal.”

I loved it. It was firm, confident, logical and well-researched. I also happen to think this person is an excellent candidate so it makes me want to come in with an offer of $D—win-win for both the candidate and us.

Don’t be afraid to talk first in salary talks, especially to recruiters, and especially if you know what the market is paying for your experience level. It shows you know what you are talking about. You won’t have to worry about companies low-balling you and, if you’re good (given the company likes you), you’ll get what you’re ideally looking for. 

No. 753 / Familiarity

People continue working at their toxic jobs because it feels familiar. Organizations and systems fail because they’re filled with people eager to do what they did yesterday.

But this is how we’ve been trained. We like the feeling when we’ve done something successfully or efficiently. And our competence is usually rewarded.

So when change comes knocking, we resist. Because change is unfamiliar. And change creates incompetence.

The solution, however, is simple (not easy). If you want to build a growth-based career, learn to become content with the unfamiliar. If you want to build an organization that thrives in (and on) change, hire people who seek the unfamiliar. Train them to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And help them realize that change isn’t a scary word; that change should be viewed as a challenge—something to conquer.

Swimmers like getting wet. Skydivers aren’t afraid of heights. Skiers like going downhill when it’s cold. Perhaps we can view change the same way.

No. 752 / Changing your mind

If you needed to, could you argue passionately for that thing you don't believe in today? Could you imagine walking over to the other side of the new argument, to once again hear that sound?

That's the essential skill of thriving in a world that's changing fast.

And this isn’t about joining the bandwagon or flip-flopping your opinion. It’s about empathy.

Could you, if you had to, really put yourself in their shoes? You just might think they same way they do if you believed what they believed…

It is a skill and it’s an important one. It’s the ability, when confronted with a world that doesn't match the world in your head, to say, "wait, maybe I was wrong." Most of us aren’t good at that. It doesn’t mean to drop everything you think you know. It means to seek to learn. To be coachable. Because you can learn something from everyone. And, who knows, you just might change your mind while you’re at it…

No. 751 / Project description

Your job probably has a description. A finite set of requirements, qualifications and key outcomes attached to it. The goal of your job, therefore, is to do enough, to meet the spec.

Doing a job makes us defensive, it limits our thinking and shuts the door to possibilities because we don’t want to get in trouble.

Projects, on the other hand, open the door to possibility. Projects are chosen and ours.

Jobs demand meetings. They feed off the status quo. They’re safe. They’re comfortable.

Projects have strategy sessions. Projects are about better, about new frontiers, about making change happen. When in doubt, dare.

This might sound like semantics. It’s not. It’s about your mindset. It’s about your approach.

Because how you approach what you do matters. It carries with it real results. If you look at what you do as just a job, it will never be anything special to you and you’ll never receive anything special from it. Anyone can get paid to do a job, but not everyone becomes remarkable.

No. 750 / You don't find your passion,

you experience it.

1. Discover things through curiosity.
2. Find out what you believe in.
3. Build upon your interests and aptitudes through trial and error.
4. Put in the work.

Result = passion.

No. 749 / (Cap)ability

It’s not always about your ability, but capability.

Sure, you could probably do a good job at this particular thing, but is that where your efforts are best spent?

You might have the ability to manage multiple projects at a time, develop reporting, integrate tools and drive adoption, plan the event, organize the meetings, draft the document, run the campaign and analyze the results…but, again, could you do all of those things well enough at the same time to make it worth it?

Everyone has a cap—a mental and emotional threshold of what they can handle. This means that if you want to get ahead—if you want to win—you’ll have to be able to manage your mental load better.

After all, it’s well known that the team that wins an Olympic relay isn’t the fastest at running or swimming—it’s the team that handles the handoffs the best.

The same thing is true for your job. Sometimes, we think that all of these mundane tasks are the things that get in the way of our work when, in fact, they are the work. The sooner you realize this, the quicker you can understand which work you keep and what you hand off or reject altogether.

No. 748 / False averages

Some people like spicy foods. Others prefer bland foods. But opening up a restaurant around semi-spicy dishes isn’t going to wow the crowds.

Gathering all the data, pooling it together, and coming up with a conclusion that satisfies the majority of the group isn’t always the best approach—especially when it comes to appealing to the emotions.

While adhering to some true averages (like the amount of time it takes to travel somewhere or how high the bathroom mirror should be) are beneficial, more often than not, trying to please everyone a little is a great way to please most people not at all.

No. 747 / The network effect

If you bring a delicious pie of eight pieces to a party of 20, no one will be very satisfied.

But if you share an idea with a group of people, the information becomes more valuable the more people share it. The idea spreads and it creates a cultural impact.

It’s unfortunate when we adopt the former mindset—especially when it comes to sharing our ideas. We’re afraid that if we share what we have, afterwords, we won’t have much left.

The thing is, our lives have more meaning and we create more impact when instead we approach ideas like “if I share it with you, we’ll both have it.”

An idea shared is more powerful than one that’s hidden. And a community is stronger than divided individuals ever could be.

You’re not, then, really giving away your work if you’re doing so with the intent to build your network.

You’re actually building trust. You’re establishing authority. And you’re driving the initiative.

No. 746 / The say/do gap

This is what separates the phenomenal places to work from the toxic ones—the say/do gap.

The best places are those that overdeliver without promising too much beforehand. They understand how to “court” their employees. It starts with caring and it’s carried out with charm and interest.

The worst places talk a lot. They send out questionnaires without followthrough. They make big promises then don’t take them seriously. What they don’t understand is, in the end, employees judge based on what they see, not what they hear. Because when the gap between what you say and what you do gets big enough, people stop listening.

The first next step might just be to promise less. But the better next step is to certainly start caring more.

No. 745 / The world's worst manager

That would be you.

No matter what your job is, if you’re self-employed or not, you’re still your own boss. You manage your career. You decide what you work on. You design your days. You choose what you learn. You manage how you sell what you sell.

What if you had an employee that used their free time like you do? What if you had a manager that talked to you the way you talk to yourself? What if the company you worked for developed its employees the way you develop yourself?

It’s difficult to think of something more important than learning to manage yourself.

Yet, we’re so impressed when people use their evenings and weekends to get an education or work on a project that grants them the freedom to work how they would like. We’re envious when we meet people who have managed to build something on their own—something they’re proud of…As if it’s the exception.

It doesn’t have to be the exception. It can be the rule—should you choose to invest a little more into learning how to manage yourself.

No. 744 / Building assets

There are some assets that you can buy. Real estate is one. Stocks is another.

Then there are some you can build:

  1. Brand. A brand isn’t just a logo. It’s promises and expectations delivered or not. If you continue to overdeliver, you build credibility which leads to trust. And with trust, you earn the right to continue to have a seat at the table. With trust, you unlock unexpected opportunities. With trust, you access the privilege of being able to count on your customers/clients/co-workers coming back.

  2. Expertise. You might lose your job or the market may crash, but nothing will take away what you’ve learned. You get paid for doing jobs, you build a career by developing expertise.

Build these assets, and you call the shots. If, on the other hand, you're merely a hard-working employee, doing what you're told, you're never going to get what your effort ought to produce.

Assets are no longer reserved for companies and organizations. Everyone can own a slice of attention. Everyone can build and nurture a network—assets are no longer off-limits to people who work for a living.

Your choice: intentionally build and nurture your assets, or ignore them in the pursuit of the next thing…

No. 743 / In five years...

Here’s an interview tip: when you’re asked “where do you see yourself in five years?” Don’t give them your grand vision for how you plan on working up the ranks and eventually taking their job. Focus instead on where you want to see your skillset in five years.

So, instead of saying “I want to be a top performer in the company then eventually build out my own team and run the department;” say, “In five years, I’m going to be the best (name the title you’re interviewing for) in (name your location and industry).”

But here’s the rub—actually mean it—because it’s sound career advice as well. Instead of plotting out how you plan to make your title sound more impressive, focus your attention on the types of skills you want to develop. Then, the question is: what are you going to do to develop them?

Do this, and your ideal career path takes care of itself.

No. 742 / Red flag number one

Is it difficult to communicate with this person?

Whether you’re interviewing for a job or starting a new relationship, red flag number one should be if you are having a hard time communicating what you mean to this person or if they aren’t communicating in a way that makes sense to you.

After all, If you're unable to have substantial conversations with your boss and co-workers, either you need professional help, or they do. It's not personal, it's business. Either way, it’s not going to work out.

No. 741 / Job-hopping

Why is it that employers can shop around but employees are shamed for job-hopping?

Some people get lucky and find a position that allows them to learn and thrive early on in their careers. For others, it’s not so simple. It might take a few tries. Getting a new job is a gamble. Sometimes it works out, other times it’s just not a good fit.

But when an employer hires a class of 10 people and only two of them are still at the firm a year later, the company is rarely condemned. Instead, it simply “made a few bad hires and have since taken necessary actions to improve the process.”

And we’re okay with that. So shouldn’t we be okay with a similar rationale from candidates?

“I’ve made a few poor job mistakes and have since taken necessary actions to improve my process.”

In this case, wouldn’t you rather employ someone who has learned a thing or two and now knows exactly what they want in their next opportunity?

There are two sides to this coin. And, for me, I only see job-hoping as a red flag when the story behind it doesn’t make sense. But give me a candidate who changed jobs for a promotion, then a relocation, then a logical career-shift any day!