Posts on Career

I Couldn’t Do It and Neither Should You

Posted on 02/02/2015

matches sparkingIt is now February and I just couldn’t do it again. Really, I couldn’t. Every year I update my resume, bios, etc. in February. Whether I’m looking for a new job or not, I update everything so it is current and fresh with my most recent work. I use this information for speaking references, article bios, organization bios and a host of other things besides simply looking for a job. I am a firm believer in the saying luck is when preparation meets opportunity. So each February I sure up my odds of good luck.

What I couldn’t do this year was write yet another bulleted listed resume of stuff I’ve done. Yes, I’ve had an impressive career and for the last many years that has had a heavy digital bent on top of tech industry experience. So why would I use a very old-fashioned resume to showcase my skills? Seems like a dated approach and I couldn’t do it again. So… what to do instead?

I’ve said many times that your resume is more than a piece of paper or PDF. Your resume is first and foremost your digital footprint – your LinkedIn profile, first few pages of search results on your name and any press or writing you have done. That’s all the public content of your career and it is what everyone sees first. The deeper details and specifics are often housed in a need-to-know format like a PDF or word doc that you send someone as needed. This is usually the bulleted list resume that frankly all look pretty much the same.

Regardless of your industry or functional working area, you can make yourself stand out more with a little creativity. Below are a few ideas that I’ve seen work well. Please add your ideas and experiences to the comments section. Together, let’s reinvent what a “resume” is.

  1. Create an infographic style summary of your career. Use color, iconography, etc. to show the highlights of what you’ve accomplished.
  2. Build a pull-quote kudos slide. Create a PowerPoint slide with recommendations and kudos in a pull-quote style. Vary the size and position of the quotes. Make sure the people you quote are ok with your using their name; otherwise you can use their title without a name.
  3. Do a video resume. Create a video summary of your experience that also showcases some of what you stand for and your perspectives on the area in which you work.  Build a short list of questions and answer them in a way that it looks like you’re being interviewed.
  4. Add to your LinkedIn profile. You can add external presentations, videos, etc. that showcase your work directly to your LinkedIn profile. Make sure the content is cleared for public view and not confidential. This adds context and depth to what someone reads in your profile.
  5. Consider a reference video as well. If people in your network are willing – either with an actual video of them or their picture and text overlay – have them describe your value in 3 words or 5 words or whatever makes sense.
  6. Make a catalogue of results-by-the-numbers. If you could list 3-5 major accomplishments or business impact you had in each job what would they be? Keep a running list to use as needed either in conversation or in written form so make sure it is visually done in an interesting way like a catalogue or ecommerce layout. Essentially you’re letting someone “shop” your skills for what they need.

So this February I’m off to build myself a more creative marketing package. What other ideas do you have or that you’ve seen work well?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Please follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter for new posts or visit my website for more information.

What to Do When Authentic Isn’t Likeable

Posted on 12/07/2014

Goldfish wearing shark finAuthentic is a word thrown around a lot. Brands need to be authentic; executives need to be authentic; everything should be authentic. It makes me wonder what types of inauthentic people and products we were dealing with all these years. It also made me wonder… what happens when an executive’s authenticity makes them unlikeable? Does the brand suffer? Do customers flee? With the transparency resulting from the digital age, I would say yes.

First, let’s be clear what authentic means. Authentic is defined as “being of undisputed origin; genuine” and “accurate in representation of the facts; trustworthy; reliable”.  Somewhere along the way, we seem to have added “likeable” to the definition of authentic. Marketing and PR people often use authentic to mean relevant, approachable and likeable. In reality, someone can be authentic and not be likeable at all.

Frankly, I’ve known many business people who were truly authentic jerks. I’ve also known many business people who were authentically good-hearted people. So what do you do if you have an executive who is authentically a jerk or rude or just plain not likeable?

First see if the executive is aware the impact of their authentic self has on those around them. Gone are the days when positional authority such as a c-level title was license to be rude, condescending or abusive of the power that position enabled. Digital will out an executive’s authentic self faster than ever in the history of business and there are countless PR people out there with the scars to prove it. If the executive is unaware, coming to this realization will be a difficult but important step to crafting new approaches in their communications and presence. If their authentic self is viewed unfavorably by customers and employees it will show up in higher prices paid for services (the “maintenance tax” of doing business with them); lower prices demanded by customers (if they have to put up with this, then by goodness they don’t want to pay for it) and in possibly higher employee turnover.

Second get the executive some coaching.  This is not about changing who one is at their core – many of those authentic jerks are very bright and don’t mean harm, they are just dealing with deep seeded lack of confidence or fear that comes out in unproductive ways. A good coach can help reset an executive while not making them feel like they are being overly crafted into someone they’re not. Practice putting the coach’s advice in motion with business meetings and debrief on a compare/contrast of the impact of the new versus old approach. Adjust as needed.

Third, reinforce that no one is perfect. Authenticity is about being real. Real people have good days and bad days.  No one is 100% on message and on their game 100% of the time – it simply isn’t possible. So identify the triggers that send an executive into their “red zone” and have strategies in place for what to do when they find themselves there. This may include excusing themselves from the conversation; suggesting the conversation continue later; or injecting a bit of humor to diffuse the situation. A good coach can help with a plan to try and tailor over time.

Being authentic is about being real. Being likeable follows when you have a high level of self-awareness of your impact on those around you.

 

Being a Truly Digital Executive

Posted on 05/31/2014

Slide1Digital channels have forever changed the role of an executive. No longer can you hide behind your PR person, chief-of-staff or other handlers. You are a real person and what you say and do does matter to your employees, customers, investors, the media and more. So… do you have a digital footprint that helps both your company and personal brand?

If your primary bio is only a PR-laden page on your company’s website then you have a problem – you look dated, out of touch and aloof. These are not characteristics that will win you favor long term.

Many executives frown on personal digital marketing whether it is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or blogs… they don’t understand the potential positive impact or worse simply dismiss these channels as being for more junior people in an organization. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Think about it for a minute… who would you rather do business with: a company with executives that stay ahead of the curve on new technologies and new ways to communicate or ones that cling to history and the past? What an executive does says a lot about their company so if the executive is clinging to the past then how forward looking and “future proof” will their products actually be? If you’re trying to hire the best talent why would they choose to work for a company trending to the past versus building the future? The expectation is that an executive at a minimum stays current on trends and nowadays these trends move quickly therefore so must you.

If you need a little inspiration or think only executives from start-ups or smaller companies use digital channels, then take a look at LinkedIn’s list of top CEOs using digital channels.  Notice the range of companies and channels people use from Tumblr to Twitter to traditional blogs. The point is to choose channels that reach your target audience and that fit your personality. Not everyone is pithy enough for a great Twitter stream but may be truly brilliant at traditional blogging for example.

Another good example of an executive embracing digital channels for a variety of reasons is Jean-Philippe Courtois, President of Microsoft International. Needless to say, his job is huge and the revenue impact he garners is significant. Jean-Philippe Courtois uses a combination of Facebook and Twitter to highlight some of the community work Microsoft does; showcase his engagement with his teams around the world and add his take on some Microsoft news. Jean-Philippe is authentic in his social media which makes the appeal of his posts that much more compelling. If you Google (or Bing) his name you’ll see a combination of press mentions, his official company bio and many posts and profiles he uses in social media. This is an example of a well rounded digital footprint for an executive.

Many of these executives do have some help. They have help researching topics and curating trends, often done within their marketing or PR teams. So yes, you can enlist help but you still need to be active in your own profiles and know what you’re saying and when. You should actively seed and grow your digital presence to get the full benefit of your efforts over time.

Peace. Out.

Posted on 03/23/2014

 

 

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Millennials are bringing a new view of priorities to the forefront of career planning for all generations.  70% of Millennials said a company’s approach to work-life balance was one of the most important factors in choosing a company to work for.  Similarly about half said a company’s dedication to diversity (walking the talk) was another top priority.

Millennials are pretty clear what they expect. They know their Peace Out criteria – when they’ll essentially say thanks but no thanks because your company / opportunity / idea doesn’t align with their goals or beliefs. As an executive you should understand the Peace Out triggers for all your employees, Millennial or otherwise.

What are the common triggers for someone to take the Peace Out route?

The Whackadoo Manager: He or she may be brilliant so some will stay for a bit, learning as much as possible as quickly as possible then leave. If, however, the manager is crazy with no upside then most will go sooner rather than later.

The Financial Checklist: Realization one has met or will never meet an important financial goal. Maybe you’ve saved up enough for that sabbatical or extended travel and it’s time to embark. Or, you know you’re underpaid and it just isn’t worth it any longer.

The Fork in the Road: You’ve simply outgrown your employer and what you want to do next the company cannot accommodate or offer.

The Hype Trumped the Reality: Your job is not holding up to the “as advertised” version. Perhaps there was a reorganization between your offer and start date or perhaps the realignment that was supposed to happen didn’t and your job just isn’t what it was proposed to be. It happens and it’s best to move on.

The Idle Minds Problem: You’re bored. Boredom is not a place to stay for long in this fast moving and evolving world. Best to go someplace where you’ll learn new things and meet new people.

The Flex Flop: You don’t have the work-life flexibility you need or want. Also commonly known as being overly micro-managed and/or the company has very outdated work policies. Sometimes this is also the cultural backlash against people who choose flexible work arrangements.

The Values Vacuum: Your personal values clash with your company’s values. Diversity, inclusion, respect for the individual, opportunities to learn and grow… all important to many and especially important to Millennials.

As an executive, it’s important to understand your employees’ Peace Out criteria and keep them in mind as you plan your hiring, rewards and retention activities. Make sure you respect the fact that everyone’s criteria will be slightly different and don’t cast your own value judgment on what is important to someone else.

Common themes in Peace Out criteria can show you where you can add value to your employees’ careers thus earning their loyalty and best work. Also knowing when employees have outgrown their roles can help you export talent across your company or in to your industry with positive impact – creating long-term fans and advocates of your company.

Personally I think it’s fantastic that Millennials are bringing these types of conversations to the forefront. Hopefully they will have a positive impact for all of us, Millennial, GenX, Boomer and more.

 

 

International Women’s Day: Advice to My Younger Self

Posted on 03/07/2014

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Leading up to International Women’s Day, people have asked how I’ve not just survived but thrived in a business world where I am far from the norm. After over 20 years in industries that included few women, it is wonderful to see much more diversity on all facets now. We can all learn from each other if we let others in to the conversation.

 

So in response, here a dozen things I’d say to my younger self (and often do say to young women and men). Perhaps it will help some of the amazing young women and men I have the pleasure of meeting each day.

 

Never let anyone else define your dreams or tell you your dreams don’t matter, are too hard, need to be sacrificed for something else, etc.  Live your life, not some life defined by others. Breaking molds is how the world gets better.

When your industry is undergoing massive, ground-breaking change, insert yourself square in the middle of it and lead.

Fear simply points out where you need to give yourself a pep talk or learn something new. It is useful and need not be limiting.

You will often find yourself in meetings where you are the only woman in the room, but you will have more guts than all the men put together. Let that be empowering rather than frightening.

Never cede to requests to “dumb it down” and instead be inspiring so others want to learn and catch up to you.

In business, men (or anyone in a position of seniority) are not the enemy, but they often do need guidance to know how to help you, so be specific and ask for what you want and need.

Brilliant men are simply called brilliant. Brilliant women are often called intimidating. If you are called intimidating disarm them with a warm smile and say “Well I’m very good at what I do. Thank you.”  Don’t accept the intimidating label – it is overused describing brilliant, talented women.

Be the bar others aspire to reach. You will do this simply by being yourself. Authenticity is irresistible after all.

Rest is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength that you know when and how to reenergize yourself.

Being decisive does not make you a bitch and knowing what you want does not make you a diva – instead it means you are smart, focused and passionate about your goals.

Kindness and compassion do not make you weak, instead they are some of the most powerful capabilities a leader can have.

You will have a big, amazing life and be blessed with fantastic people in it. Be grateful for this; dream big; and never stop learning new things.

I look forward to the world becoming even more inclusive and engaging the ideas, thoughts and perspectives of so many talented people. Please share your stories and advice as well so we can all continue to learn from each other.  #IWD2014  www.internationalwomensday.com

The Currency of Being Current

Posted on 11/02/2013

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Being current… an important lifelong objective of one’s career. But what does being current really mean? Is being current enough in the fast-paced business world today? On balance you need to be current at a minimum and leading edge on at least a few topics.

Being current as an ongoing state is no small feat.  You have to read frequently and regularly a variety of publications (online and off) from a variety of authors, journalists and bloggers. You need to go out and talk to people both online and off to hear thoughts, perspectives and spot early trends. Participating in conversations is crucial to staying current. These conversations can also help you with feedback and information to help you hone your point of view on the topic at hand. And yes, you need a point of view that is informed and has a spin of some sort that is uniquely your own. Being current will at least make you interesting and help you get by. In your career this will keep you in-the-hunt as they say from a talent perspective but may not set you apart when the competition is tough.

Being leading edge involves being current overall plus choosing one or a small number of specific topics where you seek to be an expert or at least more of an expert than the average person. To do this you need to have more to your point of view – you need theories, possibilities and insights into the what’s next or what could be next. You need to paint a picture for people, hear their perspectives and help them reshape their thinking with the new information you provide. You also want to connect with other leading edge people in your topic of choice to help you shape your perspectives as well. This creates differentiation for you and a memorable uniqueness that sets you apart from the pack. This is what will garner you a higher salary, fee or other compensation. Being leading edge will also help you create a rewarding network of people in your life – something that is far more valuable than any monetary amount.

The trick here is not trying to be leading edge on everything. Besides being exhausting to attempt, no one likes a know-it-all. Increasingly in the digital age with communications becoming more casual or human-sounding, you need to be an approachable expert. Authenticity and approachability are differentiators in addition to the topic you’ve chosen. Be real; connect; be yourself. Put it all together and you master the currency of being current.

Balancing Image, Brand, And Reputation

Posted on 08/25/2013

People struggle with “What is my personal brand?” and “How do I create the right image?” Usually people put brand, reputation and image all under personal branding, but each piece is in fact different. Below are my thoughts. I hope you enjoy them and will add your thoughts as well.  

Brand

Brand is what makes you uniquely you. As I’ve said before, everyone has their freak flag of value – things they are uniquely great at. Pick two to five things you are uniquely great at and love to do. These can and will change over your career and  revisiting your brand each year is a good practice.

For example, do you work best on white-space problems that have no clear solution? Then creative problem solving as part of your brand. In the end, brand is about what you do. You can change your brand by learning new things and shifting the focus of your work and what you talk about to these new things.

Reputation

Reputation is all about the how you deliver your brand pillars and your consistency over time. Reputation is a continuum, not a point in time. Every day you make your reputation better or worse on balance. Reputation is made up of two areas – your personality style and your action style.

Your personality style is how you communicate, how you speak, your body language and your fashion style. Do you command a certain presence simply by walking in the room? Can you inspire others by your words or turn naysayers to supporters with a few conversations? We’ve all said things like “He/she knows this space well. They look like a total mess, but don’t let the looks fool you.” or… “I don’t know how they do it, but they’ll have the whole group on board in no time. Somehow they have the magic to align people.”

Your action style is how you deliver on your brand focuses more on your organizational skills, planning skills, execution capability, problem solving and how close to the stated goals you come over time. We’ve all said things like “He/she is brilliant, but it will be chaos right up to the last minute and then it will all come together” or… “He/she will give you a solid plan and not stop until it’s delivered and you are happy with the result. They are a get-it-done person.”

Managing your reputation requires checking your ego at the door and seeking feedback on a regular basis. Trusted mentors and colleagues are invaluable for this. Often our own perception of our reputation is not completely aligned with how the rest of the world sees us. So it is a good idea to periodically do a 360 feedback process. There are many services out there you can use, just make sure you get anonymous feedback so people are more honest and that you solicit feedback from people can either hire your or endorse you. Don’t fall in to the all to common trap of asking for feedback from people you think will tell you all good things. This should be a reality view, not simply an endorsement of what you want to hear.

Image

Image is the collective perception others have of you. Image usually comes in to play when someone has not met or worked with you before. A good digital footprint is critical to effectively managing your image. If someone is considering hiring you or is looking for people with your type of brand value, they will absolutely do a search on the topic area connected to your brand to see if you show up as well as your name to see if your brand holds up. They will then see whom they have in common with you and seek perspective on your reputation. A good way to think about your image is the collective reach and perception of your brand and reputation combined.

Brand, reputation and image – the three keys to a successful career presence. All can be managed well with simple focus.

 

You Are the Captain of Your Digital Destiny

Posted on 07/07/2013

At least a few times a week; someone asks me how to outsource his or her digital footprint. I find these conversations hilarious. Imagine sending someone else to a cocktail party to act and engage as you? Or what if you sent someone else to impersonate you in a major business negotiation without telling the other parties? Most people find these ideas absurd because outsourcing yourself does not work in real life and it does not work in your digital life either.

Outsourcing yourself in the digital world gives the appearance that you:

–  Have no real personality so why would anyone want to connect with you anyway

–  Are not very bright so you have to rely on others for the intelligent things to say or clever comebacks so again, why would someone connect with you

–  Are exceedingly high maintenance and no one likes to hang with a diva / divo for very long 

Odds are you are not an international superstar so it is time to make peace with the fact that building a great digital footprint is important to your current and future success.  And like all things critical to your success, it means you have to dive in and make it happen. Yes, you do in fact have to be the captain of your digital destiny.

Work on getting the basics right. I wrote a post titled SEO Yourself that is a good, general digital plan. For your social media presence you should aim for the following as general rules of thumb:

Name It and Claim It:

LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook should be your foundational profiles. Fill in your profiles completely and then for Facebook decide if you want that to be more personally social or broadly social and set your privacy settings accordingly. Add other channels that are fun or important to your goals such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, YouTube and so on.

No One Likes a Real or Digital Snob:

Do not be LinkedIn snob and require people to enter your email address to send an invite to connect with you. If you do, you’ll look like you’re not serious and only have a profile “for show”. Ditto with having an “about me” profile description on any social media channel that is written in the third person. Unless you are channeling your inner Bob Dole and refer to yourself in the third person in real life, speak in first person in all your social profiles.

Connect with Yourself to Connect with Others:

Cross-link your profiles so people can find you more easily and learn about you without always having to bounce out for a Google search. Use the same picture on your core social media sites and make sure the photo is of you and looks like you.  A photo on a social media site should enable someone to recognize you at an event and have a meaningful conversation with you so please no dog or baby photos as profile pics. Hire a professional photographer and look like a real, put together person.

To Be Interesting, Be Interested:

A senior executive at a major global corporation once said to me “Katrina, I think to be interesting you must first be interested, do you agree?” Of course I did and had not heard something so crucial be worded so succinctly – it is now one of my favorite quotes. So be interested – read, follow people, learn. As Diane Sawyer says… wake up curious every day. Then think, comment, engage, let your ideas and personality come through and you will be interesting as a result.

Creating a great digital footprint for yourself is both fun and crucial. So dive in and make it happen. Look for mentors and tools to help and be the captain of your digital destiny.  See you online!

 

 

100% of Plans Are Wrong

Posted on 06/08/2013

Yes it’s true. 100% of the plans you make whether at work, planning your career or anything else are wrong. Why? Because no one can foresee the future with 100% accuracy and since all plans are forward looking they are always wrong. The question is how wrong and how right and how will you know which is which?

I was fortunate to learn this lesson very early in my career. I was working at GE on a very large project that would land in front of the CEO (Jack Welch at the time). After a few 80 hour weeks, my manager and I were going through the last review prior to sending it up the chain. We went through it and all seemed good. Then I’ll never forget what my manager did next. He pushed the project summary back across the table at me and said “Katrina, what is the one thing you know is always true about every plan?” Being entirely too tired for riddles, I said I wasn’t sure and was frankly a little too tired to guess well. My manager replied “They are all wrong – every single one.” Snapshot the first moment in my career that I nearly burst into tears – I’d worked my you-know-what off for weeks and now the plan is WRONG?!?

Keeping my calm, I asked what exactly was wrong. The answer was this – “Nothing is wrong with the plan itself. But plans are forward looking and no one can predict the future with 100% certainty. Some of the most successful business endeavors occur because people are watching in real time; keeping an eye on the market, on customers, on the competition, on the world. So tell me how you will provide a radar to the world in this plan and what are the sign posts that will trigger a shift in the plan and then you can call the plan both complete and well done.”

So I did and the plan went up the chain to very positive feedback and impact. And I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my career. You only know what you know in this moment. The world is not a static place. So if you don’t have a radar to adjust to the world around you, prepare yourself to either achieve success through luck or make your own good fortune by moving in tandem with and sometimes ahead of the world around you.

Yes the radar matters. It matters a lot. A good radar is a mix of data analytics, qualitative experience, related experience from other industries, sectors or customer segments and good old fashioned gut-feel. This combination has served me very well over my career – it is some of that rare, timeless advice. I’m very thankful to my manager at the time at GE as he taught me this and many other things about business on a global scale.

So the next time you’re building a plan remember that it is wrong, not because you don’t know what you’re doing, but because all plans are wrong. So build your radar and don’t rest on your laurels. Enjoy the success that results – it will be amazing!

Secrets of Being a Fierce Presenter

Posted on 05/06/2013

Fierce… the urban slang term meaning not just seriously on your game but seriously reinventing the game in real time by setting a new, very high bar. Being fierce implies a sense of style, presence and authority that draws people in. Being fierce means being consistently exceptional. 

I do many industry presentations and keynotes each year. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Where else can you meet so many interesting people; get outside the bubble of your day job; and learn in real time? Working in the digital arena, presenting at these live events is the ultimate test – does your digital brand match how you show up in real life? If not, trust me you’ll get called on the mats in no time. So don’t let that happen. Instead, be fierce.

So how exactly does one go about being fierce? Well, I won’t say I have all the answers, but here’s what has worked for me and garnered me a few “You are fierce!” remarks along the way – which I have to say always make me smile.

Being fierce has some intangible qualities. These are hard to teach, but can be developed with focus and time.

Confidence:

Trite as it may sound, people have a radar that detects confidence or lack thereof.  Confidence is a mix of stature, speech and presence. You need to stand, sit, walk, speak and listen like you mean it. Not in a condescending way, but in an authentic and engaging way. Show an ounce of timidity on stage and you’re toast.

Expertise:

No one knows everything and everyone knows that. So know what you know, talk about that and understand the limits of your knowledge. Continue to learn and always work on growing your expertise. Evolve your story so each time people see you speak, they learn more and offer more to you in return.

Grace:

Being gracious requires an authentic curiosity of and appreciation for a very diverse world mixed with a healthy respect for others. Being gracious is being respectful and at the same time, holding true to your values so respect is returned. Being gracious on stage is difficult at times but practice will make it easier and you’ll build a stash of ways to shut down hecklers, deal with very rude questions, convert or at least quiet the haters and respectfully engage the over-zealous.  

And being fierce has some practical components too:

Twisted Relevance:

Or – relevance with a twist. No one wants to pay a large ticket price for you to tell them things they’ve heard before or could find in a simple Google search. No one wants to hear you do exactly the same presentation at multiple events. Instead speak about things that are relevant and timely, but put a new twist on them. Bring in your point of view or connect data points for new insights. Twist around common information to provide a new perspective that is relevant to the audience. Be fresh. Attending the opening party of an event is a great way to get spin, perspective and examples to weave in to your talk track. Listen more than you talk at these parties and you’ll gain valuable insights into the audience that will hear you speak. These insights mixed with a few connection points to sessions before yours can bring new life to a presentation you’ve done before.

Help People Engage:

This is the practical side of being gracious. People really do want to hear what you say or they wouldn’t bother to attend the event. So help them help you. Simple but highly effective things to help people engage include putting your Twitter handle (make sure you have one, but that’s another post) and the event hashtag in the footer of all your slides. Make sure your slides are legible, the images you use are appropriate and any multi-media is tested and tested again. Include content snacks, easy to type and tweet highlights, in your talk track. Schedule tweets in advance that are timed roughly with your presentation that include your key points so people can retweet directly from you and also add their own tweets.

Show a Little Appreciation:

After your presentation, answer questions; talk to the people who come up to you; be gracious and listen to what people have to say. Also go through the Twitter stream from your keynote and retweet, reply and thank people who engaged during your talk. Continue to scan the feed and do the same over the next day. Always do a shout-out thank you during your presentation for being invited to the event and also via Twitter to the event sponsors. Saying thank you in an authentic way is one of the most powerful things you can do as a presenter.

You can be a fierce presenter with a little practice and determination. Enjoy the journey!