Category Archives: Commentary

Mandela’s Lessons on Leadership

In light of all the celebrations of Nelson Mandela’s life amidst his passing, I thought I would resurrect a blog post I wrote about him from a while back.

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The One Thing That Can Make You Successful

153. That’s the number of work emails I received yesterday. And that doesn’t even account for the 45 emails that I had to write and send (nor does it factor in my personal email accounts). Pair that with 5 hours of conference calls and an end-of-day deadline and you have a pretty packed day. Then add in Facebook updates, tweets, text messages, news, TV, phone calls and staying up to date on blogs and articles (like this one) and you start to realize how packed with information a normal day is.

For many of us, this type of constant communication and bombardment of information is typical. It is also robbing us of our time. Beyond depending on these forms of communication and sources of information, we feel like we are “out of the loop” if we spend even a few moments disconnected from them.

While these forms of communication and information sources keep us in the know, they keep us from fully living our lives. They also create clutter and challenge our internal filters that tell us what is worth our time and what wastes it. It also creates a bunch of clutter as we access information from many places and are getting more and more distracted from what is important while the trivial replaces what matters.

Do you really need to monitor that Twitter feed or does it distract you from engaging in an important face-to-face conversation with someone? Do the 20 RSS Feeds giving you various forms of advice really help or do they become a chore or time waster?

What we really need to do is get rid of the clutter.  Instead of seeking loads of information, seek simplicity. Take some time to shut things down and just think.

I have found time and time again, that when I resist the urge to become distracted by the various forms of communication and sources of information out there, I begin to listen. I start to listen to those around me and most importantly, I begin to listen to myself.

When you take a step back you start to ask questions like, “is this thing I am doing really getting me closer to my goals?” or “is all this added complexity really helping or distracting me?” things begin to get clearer.

With the publication of my second book approaching, I took some time to conduct a self-inventory.  I realized that only a small subset of my activity promoting my first book produced a vast majority of the sales. I became so wrapped up in having to check off boxes and having a presence on every medium that I lost track of what was truly important: getting my message out and helping people.

I am not here to say that all this information and these social platforms are bad, I am just saying that in moderation (a la the age-old advice of Aristotle) it can be incredibly valuable but too much can be damaging.

This “disconnected” time will help you realize what is important and what to eliminate. It is remarkable the ancillary things we do that keep us from reaching our goals, preventing us from spending our time on what is important.

Take time to unplug and ask yourself whether what you are doing now supports your personal and professional goals or whether you are becoming your own biggest obstacle.  Instead of adopting the complexities that life has created, seek simplicity and clarity.

Don’t come up with 20 goals to reach. Odds are, focusing on 20 things at once will stop you from accomplishing any of them. Pick 3 or 5 and align your efforts and activities on that targeted list.

Seek simplicity and welcome the moments of clarity that come from when you unplug, take a step back and listen. This is the one thing you can do to make you successful at anything you want to accomplish. Whether a personal issue or complex group project, suddenly complexities will be replaced by an identification of what you need to do to reach your goals; a key first step in finding success.

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

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From peer to boss: How to manage a team you used to be a part of

Going from peer to manager can be a difficult process. It is a challenge for you, taking on a management role where you used to be an individual contributor, and it is challenging for your team members, as they have to take orders from someone who used to be their peer.

A STAR manager (someone who is Savvy, Tenacious, Adaptive and Resourceful… for those not familiar with the archetype discussed in my book)  is able to leverage the benefit of knowing what it takes to be successful at what her team does while being sensitive to the fact that it may be difficult for their old peers to see them an authority figure.

To start, STAR managers are conscious of the fact that this situation may happen, so they are sensitive about the reputation they create for themselves among their peers. It is much harder to get a team to believe in you as a manager if you were thought of as selfish, scheming or dishonest.

When transitioning from peer to manager, STARs do the following:

  • Transition relationships: STAR managers work with their close ex-peers to help them understand their new role and to ask for their support during the transition. The book The First Time Manager, by Loren Belker and Gary Topchik, characterizes the complexities of being promoted to manage your old team well when it notes that knowing employees too well can be an issue because a certain comfort level has already developed. They go on to note the importance of setting the right expectations, rules and regulations, fostering accountability.
  • Treat everyone equally: It is natural for people to like and get along with people at varying degrees when you are on their team. As a manager, however, you must make an effort to treat everyone equally. It is okay to have past peers/now employees that are friends who you socialize with outside of work, but you must not show them any favoritism or it will create a division within the team.
  • Show your authority: STAR managers treat this as carefully as walking across a frozen pond. As mentioned, you will be challenged by your team. Especially as an ex-peer they will use all kinds of logic to get you to relax as a manager and cut them slack. Ensure that you portray yourself as an authority figure. Discipline rule breaking and seize coaching opportunities. While it is important to exert that you are the boss and that people must follow your lead, be careful how you do this; otherwise your people will develop an “oh you have changed” mentality and not trust you as a manager. It is okay for them to think you have changed, but openly discuss with them why.
  • Find ways to show that you are their advocate: Make a concerted effort to show your team that you will stand up for them and support them. Find ways to make positive change. A great place to start is to take your new authority and find ways to remove obstacles that bothered you in the role before you became a manager.
  • Keep the right frame of mind: Don’t lose sight of the fact that you understand how to do the job your people are tasked with doing and the challenges they face. Keeping this perspective will help you in shaping the appropriate culture, vision and management style to use with the team.
  • Have fun and learn: Since you remember what it is like to be an employee on the team, further integrate what the individuals on the team would typically find fun and look for new learning experiences that are valuable.
  • Shift the culture: While there may be pressure to keep things the way they are, make sure to leverage a contingency approach and change the culture to better fit your management style. You may face some pushback from your team on this, but follow through if you believe the change is important.

When taking on a management role in these types of situations, be mindful of not only being tested by your new employees but also of any resentment that exists. In many cases, one of your other ex-peers interviewed for the position you received or possibly thinks they are more deserving of the position than you are. This may cause them to hold a grudge and act in certain ways to make you look like an incompetent leader. This can manifest itself in many ways, like them purposely making mistakes on things that you ask for their help on that they know you won’t catch because of a time crunch or because you trust them with it.

One way to deal with this resentment and animosity is to address the issue head on, speaking to individuals on your team and acknowledging how they feel . When doing this make sure not to come off as if you have an “I won and you didn’t” attitude.

Another way to handle this kind of situation is to be nice to these employees and show them that you value and support them in their own career progression. Specifically seek out their advice and find ways to make them look good. This will calm the resentment and focus them on reaching the team’s goals.

STAR managers see situations to manage where she used to be part of the team as a unique opportunity to help the team be even more successful. She successfully leverages her past experience to remove obstacles, empower her employees and create a culture that the entire team believes will help the team achieve even more.

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.
-Abraham Lincoln

Every time I appoint someone to a vacant position, I make a hundred unhappy and one ungrateful.

– Louis XIV

A nerdy professional guilty pleasure

Everyone has their guilty pleasures. For some it’s chocolate, for others it’s trashy books. While most associate them with their personal lives, these guilty pleasures can creep over into your professional life as well. It can take the form of getting wrapped up in office gossip or even doing something around the office that you shouldn’t do (I’ll let your imaginations go with that one).

My professional guilty pleasure isn’t all that exciting; in fact, it’s downright nerdy. My secret professional love is work conferences.

I dig ‘em. Whether it’s a live webcast, or even better yet, in person, I crave the stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, a good amount of what happens at conferences is fluff. It can take the form of a ra-ra “repeat after me” chant initiated by a company executive. I have even seen my company hire singers who take a stupid template for a song that they throw three or four relevant references about my company into in order to make it sound like the song was written just for us.

Last week, I attended a multi-day leadership conference that my company put on and was reminded of the great things that in-person conferences offer. Here are 5 reasons why you should love conferences too:

  1. You can sharpen your sword– In my first book, I referenced the importance of being a constant learner. With the burden of our daily responsibilities and endless inboxes full of to do’s, we often forget to build our skills. A number of famous quotes say something to the effect that once we stop learning we stop living. Careers stall when you forget to sharpen your skills by either learning new things or being reminded of timeless lessons. Conferences can provide you with this training. It’s also a good thing to take advantage of when your company puts money into building your skills.
  2. It’s a break away from the office– While we have to deal with the backlog of email and other deadlines that don’t just stop because we aren’t at our desks, conferences offer a nice break away from the office. At times these sessions are in other cities, allowing us to get a change of scenery and to clear our heads a little bit. A deviation from the normal day-to-day can give us some good perspective.
  3. For the networking– With so much training and development happening through web-based content because of the lower cost, in-person conferences are becoming less frequent (side note: I don’t know about you, but I tend to get distracted with web conferences, looking at email or doing something else. With in-person conferences there is a different level of focus). In-person conferences allow you to network with people from different parts of your company and from different geographic areas. Strengthening these relationships, and building new ones through networking, can really help you get your work done faster and more efficiently in the future. Seeing each other face-to-face is an important element of business that helps people buy-in to you and your ideas more; something that is lost in other forms of technology. Plus, the networking (especially the kind that takes place at night after the day’s session) is the most fun.
  4. The “swag”– Sometimes it’s crap, but other times it can be pretty cool. Most conferences have giveaways and other free stuff handed out at these conferences. From water bottles, to great leadership books to prizes like smartphones, your can pick up some pretty awesome stuff at company conferences.
  5. The thoughts sparked– Above the other 4 reasons to love in-person conferences, my favorite benefit of this time away from my office is not necessarily the dose of inspiration that a speaker provides, but the thoughts provoked in my own mind. There have been countless times when a speaker is droning away but then offers a statement that provokes an awesome thought in my mind. It could be something I realize that will help me do my job better, or maybe a new idea for a project I am working on; but I have found that the conversation in my head sparked by either something I learn at the conference (or just having the time away to clear my head) has been incredibly valuable throughout my career to this point.

So value the time spent at conferences. It’s better to take a conference call or shoot out a couple emails from the hallway outside the conference room than not go to the conference at all. Who knows, you might make a connecting that leads to your next job, or you may spark a big idea at the next conference you attend. Even a nerdy guilty pleasure like conferences can be a huge help to your career.

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

How to manage when you have no clue

“Wait, what’s a SORD order again?” I asked. “And where do we get the information I need for the account?”

“You get that from BOSS, but you can’t use BOSS-south only BOSS-north, otherwise you will get an error. But before you complete the SORD order you need to go into Telegence and process a request and send a confirmation through to the center,” my peer manager explained.

At the time, my response was probably just like yours is: “Huh?”

As a manager taking over a team, you will most likely face one of two scenarios. Either you will be managing a team where you used to do the job that your employees do (whether you are now managing the team you used to be on or a completely different team doing the same thing), or you will take on the role with little to no idea of exactly what your team’s day-to-day job is like.

Often you will know the main function of your new team or possibly the goal you need to accomplish while in the position, but the vernacular, systems and processes are a total mystery.

A STAR manager (someone who is Savvy, Tenacious, Adaptive and Resourceful) is able to come into situations with little to no previous experience and excel, while the DOPE (someone who Disses Opportunity Potential & Earnings) lets fear, doubt or the urge to take control prevent him from being successful. In my career, I had little to no idea of what my team did day-to-day going into each new management position I took on, but I was able to use a set of transferrable principles that work no matter what situation you must manage.

Here is what STAR managers do to be successful in situations where they have no idea what their team does:

  • Admit you don’t know: If you come into a management position as an outsider, your team will be especially critical of your value to them (since most employees want to know how you can help them do their jobs). A STAR manager doesn’t pretend that she knows it all. She acknowledges to her team that they are the experts and that she has much to learn. She does this in a balanced way so as to not lead her employees to think that she is clueless. Let them know that what you think they do is important and that you have much to learn from them.
  • Don’t command control: When entering new management roles, DOPE managers want to exert their control and power at all costs. While it is important that you portray yourself as an authority figure, realize that the team may do things differently than what you would naturally do. Over time it is a good idea to make improvements, but at first be cautious about making any sweeping changes because then not only will you be lost but so will your employees.
  • Uphold  the attributes of STARs: There are a number of STAR individual contributor traits that specifically apply when you are managing a team where you have no prior experience in a area. STAR managers are fast learners, picking up concepts quickly and understanding how they affect the team. STARs have perspective, being able to take a lesson from the new situation. They are coachable, looking to their employees to teach them what they need to know to be a successful advocate for the team. They are self-aware, conscious of what they know and don’t know and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. STAR managers are resourceful, using many channels to master their new job. They have a positive attitude and they see their employees as customers, searching for ways to support them.
  • Search for understanding: Remember that you don’t have to do the whole job that your employees do. You just need to understand it and know how to support them. STAR managers seek to understand how successful people do the job their people do and they find ways to remove the obstacles preventing peak performance.
  • Ask peers and your people for advice: Your peer managers are a wealth of information since they have more experience doing the job you were brought in to do. Take note of their best practices and learn from any mistakes they made. Your employees especially like the idea of you coming to them to be taught something, so leverage that when possible.
  • Show your cards: Give your employees glimpses that you know what they do and can do it (at least part of it). Particularly with managers who have no experience in their job function, they will attempt to get out of work or trick you into thinking something is harder to do than it really is. Showing these glimpses keeps them in check, wondering what you do and don’t know. Speak the right language and learn the reality of their jobs and not just what they tell you.
  • Look for where to make your mark: Find the levers that affect your new employees’ jobs and look for ways to change things for the better. As an outsider you are not bogged down by the typical process and existing way of doing things. You have fresh eyes and can find issues that others would not be able to see. Be careful not to jump into this too soon, but patiently look for the right things to change. This encourages your employees because they will see you as someone who wants to make positive change and help them succeed.

No matter what new language of acronyms and processes that have to be learned, the amount of prior experience or management style, a STAR manager brings in an open mindset and the methods outlined above to be successful with any team focused on any goals.

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.
― George S. Patton Jr.

The STAR manager vs. The DOPE Manager

The DOPE manager… wants to make his team think that he knows what he is doing at all times. He is apprehensive about asking questions and develops a sense of mistrust with his team because he is not open and honest about not having all the answers.

The STAR manager… is honest with herself and her team when she is in uncharted territory. She utilizes her team and others to get advice and is a fast learner, picking up knowledge that will help her effectively manage her team.

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

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Millennials, here’s why it’s time to wake up!

Today I was on NPR sharing my perspective on millennials in the workplace.  Here is what I shared during the “Perspectives” segment:

Here is a link to the audio file

Here is the transcript:

Imagine how I felt, three weeks into my first job out of college and facing the thing that strikes fear into the hearts of employees across the nation. It was time for my performance review.

I wasn’t scared though, I was excited. I was expecting that my boss would give me a big raise and promotion. I was stunned when the first words out of her mouth were, “Aaron, you seem like a bright young man, but I am not sure if you even know how to do your job.” I was crushed. I thought I was doing well at work, but in reality had no idea what the working world was like.

In fact, my misguided expectations were way off. I had expected that it would be like everything else I had done in my life; that I would be given an opportunity and then rewarded for being a part of the team.

My fellow millennials, it’s time for us to wake up. The working world is not like our homes were growing up. Our bosses won’t accommodate for us like our parents did and we won’t be recognized just for showing up. It’s time for us to take action instead of just waiting to be given the careers of our dreams.

Older employees complain about our lack of engagement and inability to take on responsibility and follow-through at work. I for one hate having this stigma associated with me and know that we are better than this reputation. We are creative, enthusiastic and agile, with exciting ideas and new ways of thinking.

We need to take ownership of our careers. No one is going to hand it to us on a silver platter. We will have to earn it with consistent hard work and results. We must be coachable, willing to listen and learn from advice coming from all angles. We must be more self-aware, understanding our natural sense of entitlement and impatience that cause us to give up when we face adversity or skip around between opportunities because we will only settle for the ideal situation. Instead, we must have perspective and realize that the lessons we learn now will help us when we do find our passion.

Don’t just wait for someone to hand you the career you want. Go out there and take it.

With a Perspective, I’m Aaron McDaniel.

 

Does anyone have their own perspective that they want to share?

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

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One Sentence You Should Never Say at Work

Our jobs can be challenge amidst all the change that invariably is happening at our companies. Whether we are at a fast growing start-up, a huge corporation adapting to new market conditions and competitors or somewhere in between, odds are this is a reality of work.

No matter what your job, company or industry, there are certain principles we all should strive to uphold. From driving results to people fast learners, all have their own level of importance. One of these key categories is our attitudes. Not only will out attitudes affect the quality of our work, but it also will affect how others view us.

It makes sense to maintain a positive attitude. Besides motivating ourselves to push-on in adversity, it helps us look good amongst the team. While a negative attitude can manifest itself in many ways, from small comments like, “this new policy sucks!” to “there is no way we are going to solve this problem!” there is none worse than when you say (and think), it’s not my job.

When you have this 4-word mentality, you are a poison to your team. It shows you have the mentality that you have sectioned off your work and the value you bring to your company to a tiny box that is determined by your job description.

Here are 3 reasons you should never even think the words “it’s not my job”:

  • It limits you from career growth– If you are constantly concerned about how little you need to do to fulfill your job responsibilities or are only interesting in doing what you were initial hired and explicitly told what to do, then you will not inspire others to believe in you and your abilities. You won’t be given any new and exciting opportunities and later (if not sooner) your days will be relegated to mundane tasks that don’t matter as much to the future of your company.
  • You won’t learn anything new-If you have a “it’s not my job” mentality, your work days will not be exciting. You will most likely get caught in the routine things that you are comfortable with (truly successful people are willing to regularly step outside of their comfort zones).
  • You are being a selfish non-team player– If you are being asked to do something or see an opportunity to complete a project that may be outside of the scope of your job, odds are it is needed because there is no one doing it today. In almost every case it will help your team.

Note: This is especially true when you are working on a small team, in a new growing area of your business or are at a start-up. I once founded a start-up with a friend of mine. Routinely my business partners would say “it’s not my job.” Besides annoying me to no end, I was like, “there’s only two of us, so if it’s not your job then whose job is it?!?! Mine?”

When facing tasks that are outside of the scope of your job or that you are not familiar with, use the following 3 steps to help you contribute rock-star results:

  • Partner with someone– If there is a group that does have expertise in something you have been asked to work on, bring them into the fold. Not only will you get their expertise and buy-in, but you will learn more in the process and get the work done faster. Plus it will show good teaming, something all bosses like seeing.
  • Do your research– If you are asked to do something new and outside of the normal scope of your job, odds are the right way to do it won’t just come to you. Research ways to do the task and look for sources of the information you need to do a great job
  • Ask for help-If you aren’t able to find a partner who has the task you have been asked to do as part of their job and if you research efforts are fruitless, ask for help. Make sure to ask to the right person (preferably someone other than your boss), and show them the work you have done and how you think you should do the task instead of just blindly saying “tell me how to do this.”

Take ownership of the work you do and take new work that may be outside of the comfortable scope of your job as an opportunity to grow and learn. It will help you develop a solid personal brand.More than anything else, if you do say “Ok, I’m happy to help,” instead of “it’s not my job,” then people will take notice and before you know it you will be receiving new and exciting career opportunities.

What’s a something YOU think someone we should never say at work?

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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One of the Biggest Mistakes Companies Make

Working for a large corporation I am accustomed to the same regular routine. If the previous year (or quarter or month) was a good one, then there is a brief period of celebration and recognition and then it’s on this year and how we need to “keep up the momentum” or make “this year the best year ever.” On the other hand, if last year was a bust then management finds a way to highlight a few bright spots but then focuses everyone on the new year/quarter/month, to forget about past failures.

Along with these transitions comes the announcement of the coming year/quarter’s goals and priorities. While the specifics vary for each industry or division, for any company they appear to be essentially the same. Let me break it down:

  1. Increase Revenue
  2. Lower Cost
  3. Improve Customer Satisfaction
  4. Develop our People

The order of the first three may vary but they are pretty straightforward. Every business is looking to increase top-line revenue and increase profits by cutting costs in the process. Customers fuel profits, so they are important and new measurements like Net Promoter Score help companies focus on creating customers that are “willing to recommend” new customers.

Then there’s number 4: “Develop our People”- i.e. improve the skills of company employees. This is always on the list, but interestingly enough it is always last; almost like an afterthought, I would presume. I call it an afterthought because despite good intentions it is the first thing that goes to the waste-side when priority numbers 1-3 are not being met. Plus it is very hard to measure.

I feel like developing employees is such an important thing for companies to focus on, but it consistently gets a disproportionally low amount of funding.

While there have been organizations that I have been a part of that truly do care and have gone to great lengths to develop me and other employees, this is not always the case. A couple years ago, I was at our division kick-off conference and our VP was presenting our priorities for the quarter to the managers. Guess what item was on the list, that’s right, “develop our people” Naturally, it was right where it always seems to be, at the very bottom of the priorities list.

That quarter I proceeded to watch as very little (if anything at all) was done to develop me or the people who worked for me. Our VP didn’t seem to care about his people. There was a hotshot cavalier attitude that permeated through the organization’s culture. It was all about results and no matter what we accomplished we were pushed to do more. I am all for stretch goals, but it is important to set your people up for success. While expectations of success was clear, we weren’t given training and resources that matched our goals.

When the next quarter came around, I remember laughing to myself as I saw the new priorities. “Developing our People” was on the list again, at the bottom, but this time I knew nothing was going to happen.

The question beckons, why even include it on the list at all? Is it because corporate leaders feel like they have to in order to appear to care about their people? Is it a habit? Do they do it in order to retain existing employees? When things play out like they did for me, it comes off as insulting to even include people on the list.

In light of this typical business practice, I have two recommendations to corporate leaders:

  1. Move “developing our people” up the priorities list– Developing employees as leaders empowers us and actually increases the other three typical priorities (revenue, cost reduction and customer satisfaction). This should be higher on the priorities list. Truly making this a priority also improves corporate culture as employees will want to come to work more and will be invested in their work if they know that management cares.
  2. Actually mean it– Corporate leaders shouldn’t just put developing employees on the priorities list, but should make a real effort to foster regular employee development. Create more mentoring and training programs. Better recognize accomplishments to encourage appropriate behavior and actively engage employees directly to see the best areas to focus on. It’s better to leave this priority off the list than to keep it at the bottom and do nothing to support it.

Corporate leaders need to remember that their people are the most important part of the equation that drives profits and happy customers. Developing employees shouldn’t be an after thought; it should be moved to the top of the priorities list.

What do YOU think?

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

 

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How to Speak to an Executive

Most of us have been asked the old cliché, scenario. “what would you say if you were in the elevator with the CEO of your company and you had to pitch him/her an idea but only had the time from when the elevator left the lobby to when it reached their floor?”

The ability to get your point across concisely and artfully to executives can mean the difference between moving up in your career or getting stalled where you are at. While oversimplified, the situation described above correctly characterizes the approach you should take when talking with an executive.

Despite the influence and responsibility they have, it is important to remember that often executives revert to almost being child-like when they reach that top level of corporations. Attention spans almost completely disappear and it is hard for them to focus on doing anything administrative without the help and support of an assistant. Every day they are bombarded with information and have to shift focus in the blink of an eye, as they have a number of areas of responsibility and lead organizations that working on many projects. When you have the opportunity to present a powerpoint deck to them or speak with them about an idea you have, you must consider their frame of mind.

That said, here are some keys things you must keep in mind in order to be successful speaking with top executives:

  • Be Brief– When speaking with an executive, get to the point. Don’t plan on going through a lot of detail on every little part of the process you went through to arrive at your recommendation. Work under the assumption that if they want to know, they will ask you. Think of it like a funnel. What you communicate to an exec is analogous of the small funnel opening. Only communicate what is essential and be able to have background information and logic on why you reached certain conclusions. The process of presenting is not about you sharing every detail, but is about you getting your main points across and getting their buy-in and support. Additionally, at meeting scheduled for 1 hour may end up being 15 minutes if the executive is late leaving another meeting and may have other commits that have come up last minute that cut the time even shorter. This happens regularly to me.
  • Be Insightful– Don’t tell an executive something they already know. Be unique and share something new. They don’t have the time to go over the same topic and details over and over. Teach them something new. When you consistently do this, then execs will know you are a go-to person and will come to you for guidance in the future. Using stories and analogies are good as well. I remember one presentation where I compared our companies operational complexities to ordering a steak at a restaurant but being expected to tell the waiter the internal temperature of the steak you wanted, the amount of salt, pepper and other spices you wanted along with the angle you wanted the grill lines to be at. It seemed to get the message across.
  • Be Prepared to Go Off-Track– I do not think I have ever talked through a presentation without being interrupted. More accurately, I don’t think I have ever gotten more than 30 seconds into a presentation without being stopped by an executive to ask a question, say on opinion or move ahead to a more specific part of my presentation. It happens. Be familiar with your presentation and able to start and stop anywhere while being able to seamlessly go back to important areas that were skipped as you follow-along the executive’s thought process. Executives see things in a unique way and may not learn a concept the same way you did.
  • Be Ready to Answer Questions– Be prepared to answer any question. While you want to keep presentations short and to the point, make sure to have a ton of back-up information. You will undoubtedly be asked something unique and need to have reference-able evidence to back-up what you are saying. Just as important, if you don’t know the answer, admit that you don’t, commit to finding an answer and then follow-up with the executive with the answer you find.
  • Be Sure to Follow-up– While it would be ideal to get a direct and clear answer from an executive after presenting, this is often not the case. Execs need time to process what you recommended and tie it in with the other dozen priorities they are juggling. Ensure that you follow-up to confirm buy-in and get approval on the best path forward. Often you will have to drive this because if you wait around for them to get back to you, you may be waiting forever.

I regularly present to executives at my company about new and exciting technologies and strategies to build revenue. While at first I was very concerned with getting my point the way I wanted to explain it, I soon learned that I had to build my analyze specifically for the executive I was reading out to, almost like I had to write in a different language I knew they understood. Being flexible is so important.

A good way to learn how to effectively communicate to executives is to treat all your interactions with co-workers like they are with an executive. They will appreciate how you value their time and you will get much better at getting your point across.

Now the next time you are in an elevator with an executive you know what to do: be brief, be insightful, be prepared to go off-track, be ready to answer questions and be sure to follow-up. And even if you are not limited to an elevator ride’s amount of time, take ownership of your communication and treat everyone with the respect that you would give an executive from your company. It will help you go far in your career, not matter what your chosen field is.

 

Does Anyone have any stories about interactions they have had with an executive or tips of their own?

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

 

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Introducing The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World

A couple weeks ago my book, The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World: Savvy Strategies to Get In, Get Ahead and Rise to the Top hit both online and traditional bookstores. (Check it out @ Amazon and Barnes & Noble)

In the time leading up to the publication and since the launch I have received great feedback. From friends to family, Amazon reviews to affirmation from fellow business book authors. For all of this,  I am grateful.

Since school doesn’t teach us how to be successful in the working world (there is no textbook that teaches us how to interact with a boss, and no course that teaches us how to position ourselves for a promotion or get buy-in for an idea from our colleagues), I feel this book was needed. It really fills a gap and offers both great anecdotes and concrete advice on what to do in your career.

For those interested, here is a brief breakdown of what the book is about and what makes it different than anything else out there:

What is the book about?

  • It offers advice to young professionals (and really any working professional) on how to be successful in your career.
  • In the book I talk about two archetypes, The STAR (someone who is Savvy, Tenacious, Adaptive and Resourceful) who we should strive to be like, and The DOPE (someone who Disses Opportunity Potential and Earnings) who we want to avoid
  • I discuss the 25 attributes of a successful young professional, as it relates to building the foundation for a successful career.
  • The book teaches you how to build a career blueprint and how to leverage mentoring to attain your career goals.

What makes this book different?

  • While I am a fan and reader of many business books, a number of them explain the same concept over and over to the reader. Instead, I get right to the point and only say something once, trusting that the reader can grasp what I am explaining.
  • For those with short attention spans (like me!) this book is great. Chapters are simple and easy to read (most only 4 or 5 pages) and have a clear format that tells you what you should expect to read in a chapter and recaps the lesson at the end.
  • Online integration– Many books that discuss this topic are a static document and don’t offer much online integration. Besides a community for peer mentoring (more to come on this), throughout the book I ask readers to go to various assessments, tools and worksheets on the book’s website to be act on the advice in the book.
  • By a millennial, for a millennial– Some books in this category are written by psychologists “studying” the millennial generation, and others are written by entrepreneurs who have no real corporate experience. In addition to being a millennial myself, I have worked in a number of different roles and functions (including managing people) at a Fortune 20 company, so I have real world experience that really shows through in the advice and tips I give.

Special thanks to my publisher Career Press, and my agent Zach Romano for making the publication process a smooth one.

For my readers, please share this with your friends and colleagues. Since we as millennials consume much of our information online and through social networks, anything you can do to spread the word would be really amazing in helping young professionals everyone learn how to build the foundation for a successful career.

I would love to hear anyone’s feedback on both the concept of the book (do you agree that it’s needed?) as well and specific feedback after you take a look at it.

I hope that you (and every young professional out there) get a chance to check it out!

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

Follow my blog by clicking the link at either the top left or bottom right of your screen.I’d really appreciate it!

If you found this post useful, then please retweet and share on Facebook by clicking Like.

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