Monthly Archives: April 2013

Are You Scared of Getting “Called into your Boss’ Office?”

Maybe it’s Hollywood, or stories from friends, mentors and parents, but it seems that a majority of us get nervous (or at least a little edgy) when we are “called into the boss’ office?”

It’s not a new thing either, but one that has probably gone back for generations when subjects were called in front of the king. Post like this are typical on career forums:

Scared of boss post


In this case, the person posting didn’t know of doing anything wrong, but was still concerned.

I think the genesis of this inherent fear comes from the fact that most bosses don’t reach out to their people or “want to talk” unless (A) You did something wrong, or (B) they want something from you. Either case is not all that pleasant for you, the employee.

Recently, I even noticed the feeling in myself. Upon hearing I needed to have a “quick one-on-one” with my boss that he didn’t seem to set up with my other peers, I immediately thought about any reason that he would want to talk with me. Since there didn’t appear to be anything particularly good I feared the worst. Maybe I was in for a big job change or something bad was on the horizon for me.

What made me even more concerned with the feeling I had was that I NEVER felt this way. I noted how my friends and peers would always express fear when being called into the boss’ office, but that I always was hopeful that there was good news coming.

It ended up that just like “Paul” in the post above, my boss had some great news for me. A big career development opportunity. And the reason that no one else was having the “quick one-on-one” was because I was the only one given this great opportunity.

As I left my boss’ office, with a pleasantly surprised smirk on my face, I thought about how I could make sure not to let this fear strike my heart any time in the future I was called in by my boss.

Focus on the Good– Most people’s immediate response to being called into the boss’ office being bad, we overlook great opportunity. Realize that when your boss has really good news or needs your help with something that will help your career (or show that he/she really trusts you), they like to do it privately and often in-person.

Ask for clarity– If ever I am concerned, I look for ways to set my mind at ease. One way of doing this is to ask your boss for clarification on what will be discussed during the meeting. Saying something like, “do I need to have anything prepared for the meeting” will give you more of an indication of the meeting’s focus. If you boss shrugs off your request, it may be an indication that the topic of discussion is no big deal.

Don’t get your boss a reason to call you in for something bad– I know this one is a bit obvious, but when you are always putting out 100% effort and that you make you boss aware of any mistake you make (or a heads up when an issue may be in the making) then you will have little reason to fear being called into your boss’ office.

If what you get called in for ends up being bad, focus on the solution. Don’t immediately assume that it’s the end of the world or that your boss hates you. Instead, brainstorm solutions with your boss and solicit his/her help to correct any mistakes or avoid making them in the future. While your boss has a number of responsibilities and things on their mind, most are mindful of your well-being and want to see you succeed.

For you bosses out there, remember how being called into the boss’ office feels and don’t put your employees through the same agony you know you would have felt. Mix in some good with the bad. As Ken Blanchard says, “catch people doing things right” and let them know you are aware of it.

So next time you get called into your boss’ office, don’t immediately expect the worst. Think about the good things that can come out of it. This type of mentality will help you stay disciplined and motivated to produce the highest quality of work. And when the result of the meeting is bad, don’t leave your boss’ office without at least some idea of how to move forward and do better next time.


The Key to Your Organization’s Successful Future

With a number of the talks I have been giving at companies and universities, I recently reconnected with my alma mater. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I searched to see if some of the on-campus activities that I was involved in were still around.

Some extra curricular organizations I was involved in had been around for over 100 years prior to my joining, so it was no surprise that they were thriving as always. Yet what was more affirming was the success attained by a couple organizations that I was at the ground floor of.

One was the course I taught on Leadership through the undergraduate business school and the other was the Freshman Sophomore Business Club.

In both cases, I was not the official “founder” but was the second to have the top “executive” spot.  With the Freshman Sophomore Business Club, an organization only open to lower classmen (mostly “pre-business” majors), I was Treasurer my Freshman year and then was elected President the next. My executive team and I took on a club with 10 members (mainly officers) and grew it by over 1000%. My focus at the end of my year as President was to ensure that the next executive committee didn’t face the same problem I had; having to run a young organization with no guidance or mentoring (given that the organization’s founders left office, barely providing a thumb drive with documents they had made over the first year). I worked with my executive team to elect the next set of officers early, pair them with their predecessor and begin to operate the club with the outgoing officers actively present, providing advice and best practices.

The result has been amazing. Besides the growth of the organization, it has continued to operate even though there is almost complete turn over of officers and members every 1-2 years.

For the leadership course (that operated through a program that allows students to gain sponsorship for and teach courses to other students), I took the class as a student the first semester it was offered. One semester later when the course founder graduated, I was selected as someone to take over the course. When my graduation neared a couple years later, I enacted a plan to ensure the course would continue on long after I was gone.

Throughout the semesters I taught the course, I had other students serve as teaching assistants to me. During my 2nd to last semester in college I beefed up the number of teaching assistants and watched them closely, as I planned to choose my successor. Then finally, my last semester in college I selected a successor (who I closely mentored) and monitored how the class was doing to ensure that no issues arose. This was a recipe for success and the course is now the longest running special interest course in the entire undergraduate business school, having run continuously for the last 20+ semesters while most other courses of its kind dissolve when the creator graduates.

The reason I describe these experiences is to offer an example of why building a legacy is important to the future of an organization (or anything you are involved in), but also to point out it is something that takes focus and effort to see through.

In both cases, I made a concerted effort to look toward the future. Being a big believer that good leaders can foster success while they are present but great leaders foster success in those that follow long after they are gone, I didn’t look at the organization’s success within the context of the limited time I led it. I saw that there were certain things that needed to be done with the future in mind.

As managers, or individual contributors within any team or organization there are a number of things you can do to increase the likelihood of future success. Here are a few:

  • Share best practices, don’t hoard them. Don’t let the next cycle of leaders make the same mistakes you did. Share with them your failures, why they happened and how you would have done things differently if you could do it all over again. This will give future leaders perspective.
  • Allow the next generation of organization leaders to sink or swim, but provide a safety net. Don’t hand-hold your successors too much. Give them clear guidance but then let them run small parts of things to start. When they succeed it helps build confidence in them; when they fail, be there to help them learn how to do better. Your exit shouldn’t be an abrupt stop, it should be a gradual fading out.
  • Don’t make it about yourself, let the up-and-comers shine. Confident leaders know they don’t need to take all the credit to feel they have made a different. Let others around you (especially the future of the organization) share in the success and even be at the forefront of who gets the credit. This will inspire people to follow the lead you set while empowering them to strive to reach your vision.

It was really energizing and affirming to see that something I dedicated myself to years ago was still around and thriving. It also made me realize that the effort I put in before I exited stage-left from the organization was worth it.

Make something that is built to last; be purposeful in succession planning.





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Exciting News! The Young Professional’s Guide to Managing is a month and a half away

Hi Everyone,

First off, I would like to thank you all for the incredible support you have given me through the launch of my first book, The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World. I so appreciated the words of encouragement, making my book signing a huge success, for all the books you bought and the messages you passed along to friends and colleagues spreading the word about the book and encouraging others to read it. No matter how we have connected with each other over the years, everyone has been so encouraging through this process.

The next installment in the “Young Professional’s” Series, The Young Professional’s Guide to Managing (also published by Career Press), is due out on May 20th.

The book builds off of the great insights in the first book of the series (The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World) but focuses on advice for managers (and those who ever aspire to be one). I continued to use the STAR/DOPE archetypes as well as the house blueprint concept while keeping the chapters short and integrating some great online resources. Jim Kouzes, the co-author of one of the most successful books on leadership and managing, The Leadership Challenge, was gracious enough to write the book’s introduction. My years (and number of management roles) provide solid context for the advice I share. No matter your age, I imagine everyone will learn something new and valuable from the book.

Check out the book page on Amazon.

The book will teach you valuable insights like:

  • How to successfully transition to being a manager, from the very first day
  • The 10 skills all young professionals must develop to thrive as STAR managers
  • Managing people of different generations
  • How to hire, develop, and lead teams to incredible results

Here is some praise They Young Professional’s Guide to Managing has already received:
“Millennial Aaron McDaniel is one of AT&T’s youngest vice presidents ever, and reading “The Young Professional’s Guide to Management,” it’s easy to see why he has achieved such tremendous success so quickly. Aaron has the ability to pick up complex leadership qualities and behaviors and rapidly assimilate them into his everyday life – a must for every new manager. Current and future Millennial leaders are lucky to have the chance to learn from him.” -Alexandra Levit, Author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success.

“As Gen Y rises to leadership positions in the coming years, they could learn a two or thing from Aaron, who has been there and done that. Read this book to learn how to be a star manager just like him.” -Dan Schawbel, Author of Promote Yourself

 “Aaron “hit the nail on the head” in The Young Professional’s Guide to Managing.  If you follow these key lessons, you will be well on your way to a successful management career.” -Joan Massola, Manager AT&T Career Development and Leadership Assessment, AT&T Leadership Development Program for six years

This time around, I want to be more targeted about how the book launch goes. My goal (besides making the book a HUGE success) is to get The YPG to Managing on the Amazon Bestsellers Top 10 ranking for Business Management.

In order to increase the likelihood of this happening, a number of sources I have researched explain that it is best to have as many sales concentrated on a specific day (and even time of day) as possible. Amazon’s list algorithm looks at not only total sales of a book within a certain time but also concentration of sales. Knowing this, I figure why not give it a shot.

This is why I am calendaring Tuesday, May 21st as the book’s BUY DAY.” (While I originally wanted to do it later in week on Friday, that weekend is Memorial Day, so I figure many people will be headed out of town and will want to think about anything other than work and buying me book. Monday is tough because everyone is just coming off the weekend, but with Tuesday it gives me enough time to give people reminders).

While I by no means want to stop anyone from purchasing my new book any time between now and then (or after 5/21 at that), I ask that if you are able (and if, of course, you had a desire to have a copy), you purchase the book on Tuesday, May 21st (and in the morning if at all humanly possible).

In additional to the book “BUY DAY,” I am also building a small “Launch Team” to help spread the word about the book. It will be a little time commitment but a BIG help to letting a ton of people know about the launch.While in subsequent posts I will ask that everyone Tweet/Facebook/LinkedIn/status/email about the book, I am looking for a team to be a little more engaged in the promotion process. I will pass along the specifics to those who are interested, but just know that it won’t be a ridiculous amount of time.

As a member of the “Launch Team” you will also receive the following:

  • free copy of my first book, The Young Professional’s Guide to The Working World
  • A special discount code to a course that I am creating on the material from my first book, The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World
  • An opportunity to become a beta user of the online “career incubator” and mentoring community I am currently building on
  • A free mentoring session with me where we can discuss your career development or anything you are particularly struggling with at work
  • The pride of being part of something cool and the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping others be more successful in their careers

If you are interested, please email address as a and I will follow-up with you.

Between now and “BUY DAY,” (May 21st) please feel free to share with with me any ideas you have for promoting the book and make sure to spread the word. If you, or anyone you know would be interested in bulk purchases of the book, please email me and we can talk over the details.

So come on and join in on spreading the word about the next generation of management books!


Thank you again for your advice, help and support through this journey. My hope and passion is that The Young Professional’s Guide to Managing helps many people (of all ages) be more successful and fulfilled in their careers



How to take credit for your great work

“Yeah. In a couple days we are presenting to our executive team and I wanted to see if you had that one report we went over at our last team meeting. I wanted to include it,” explained one of the other managers in my office.

“What is the topic?” I inquired.

“The presentation is about (proprietary topic). The Senior VP wanted to learn more about it. (My boss’ peer) will be presenting about it.”

“Oh, ok.” I muttered, surprised by the comment.

I couldn’t believe it. That topic was something that I had been analyzing for months. I was not only part of the team that had conducted an in depth analysis and strategic recommendation but I had been assigned to lead the efforts by my boss’ peer. Now he was going behind my back, taking the work I had done, reformatted a few things and was going to present it to the executive team without even telling me.

The corporate world can be a jungle and not everyone will be looking out for your best interest. There will be people who attempt to get ahead by using your work and if you don’t stick up for yourself then no one will. At the same time though, kicking and screaming isn’t the right way to plead your case and mark your territory. In the situation I faced I had to be strategic about my response.

When facing these types of situations, there is a right and wrong approach. Here are a few ways to keep the credit for your own great work:

  1. Claim your work– The first way to maintain rightful credit for the work you do is to label it as your own. If you are making a slide deck or word document, put your name or a unique identifier in the footer of each page. Moreover, instead of sending a Microsoft office document, send a PDF so that your work can’t be easily taken or adapted. Finding a place to store it in the cloud that can timestamp your work is another good way to offer proof that you were the original author.
  2. Don’t assume the worst– It would be a mistake to assume that any time someone replicates your work they have done so with malicious intentions. More often it may be that they forgot who came up with an idea. This possibility intensifies when group work is involved, since there is a higher likelihood people think that a certain idea was originally their own because of the group brainstorming process many teams go through.
  3. Find a channel to object– When you find out that someone has been copying and taking credit for your work, remember to be professional. Don’t vow to have your revenge. Instead, find a way to prove that they stole your original work and that you should have a share of the credit. Value proof over confrontation.
  4. Be ok with others using your work– In some respects, sampling of your ideas and work you have done is unavoidable. To help control how your work is disseminated, create some simple guidelines that outline some terms you require if people are to use your work (so they don’t represent that it is their own). Be a team player but ensure that they reference you when sharing your work with others. It is important to do the same when you use the work of someone else. Credit those who rightfully deserve the credit. Moreover, when someone runs with one of your ideas, find ways to get involved in the project so you have some control of how your work is being used.
  5. Surround yourself with team players– One of the best ways to ensure that you receive rightful credit for your hard work is to find bosses and co-workers who value each other and foster a culture of teaming. If you work in a toxic work culture, where everyone is out there for himself and where your boss regularly takes credit for your work as if it were her own, find a way to get out. Look for healthy work environments where the credit is shared with those that most deserve it.

In the case of the situation above, I decided to keep my cool and instead of confronting my boss’ peer, I shared my concern with my boss. I explained that I felt it was unfair that the work I took the lead with creating was being presented to executives without my participation. I didn’t push to be the one to present it nor did I ask to receive all the credit; instead I just made a case that I should be involved. In turn, my boss breached the topic with his peer.

Soon after, I received a call from my boss’ peer who offered an apology for his mistake. He invited me to participate in the preparations for the executive readout as well as the presentation meeting itself.

Keeping my cool paid off, but so did sticking up for myself and letting it be known that I (just like everyone else) deserved to be credited with the hard work I had done. Leverage the advice outlined above in your workplace interactions to make sure to receive credit for your great work.




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