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Resurrect Your Purpose, Passion and Possibility Thinking

July 23, 2010

Create Job Opportunities in Your Life – Right Now

The news of legions of jobless Americans strikes fear in even the strongest and bravest of us. No matter what your occupation, or strata of earning power, you, your family members,  peers, or associates might find yourselves losing a livelihood, a routine, and even an identity, as you dive into the most uncomfortable and demanding “job” of all: looking for work.

Joblessness is a condition that brings home to roost many of our own personal shortcomings, and let’s be honest: our human-ness often brings with it an aversion to seeing our job loss as a reflection of something within us; we often rationalize the event by describing it as the result of another’s behavior and attitude towards us. But, if you lose your job, as much as you would like to make it someone else’s problem, you can’t. It’s all yours.

The cold, hard reality of job search is this: it’s time to take a good look at your own “stuff,” what you bring to the table, and whether or not you need to press your own metaphorical “reset” button before you hit the pavement. Could it possibly be that in your most recent job tenure you let a few things “go,” like your attitude, your interest, your enthusiasm, your creativity, your potential? There’s that reset button.  Honest self-examination, soul-searching assessments of your skills and talents, and an attitude check and tune-up are absolutely in order.

The GOOD NEWS is there ARE JOBS out there. Seriously, there are!! If you will take an honest inventory of your interpersonal skills, your personal commitment to excellence, and the level of energy you apply to each day of your search, you will take “step one” toward finding another job that is just right for you. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your job titles have been, or what industry has employed you in the past. If you are a recent graduate, it really doesn’t matter what degree you have earned. There are still jobs out there, and new opportunities continue to arise each day. I challenge you to tweak your perspective, put on your “game face,” and resurrect your passion for life.

Let me tell you a story about a radio interview that I conducted that truly re-charged my own career resolve. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mac Anderson, Founder and CEO of Simple Truths Publishing, and Loren Shook, Founder, President, and CEO of Silverado Senior Living, on BetterTimesAfterFifty. com, an Internet radio show that is broadcast on AdviceRadio.com.

I asked the two men a number of questions about how and why they created their businesses; how Simple Truths evolved so swiftly into global success; and how Silverado grew from one Alzheimer’s residential facility to a company with 2200 employees in four states. Their companies continue to grow and prosper even now, during a time of unbelievable economic turmoil. Their responses to my questions resounded with enthusiasm, exuberance and, yes, unmitigated happiness with how living their dreams had created such potential to touch the lives of so many, customers and employees alike. Every question I asked, they each, in turn, answered robustly:

— “At Simple Truths, we bring positive ideas to life,

and reinforce core values.”

— “At Silverado Senior Living, we look forward to coming to work,

because we get to change people’s lives.”

— “Our goal at Simple Truths is to serve our customers

and serve each other.”

— “We touch the spirit of each and every person

we serve at Silverado Senior Living.”

— “I love what I do. I’m thankful each day that I can make a positive difference

in people’s lives at Simple Truths.”

— “At Silverado, we’re all about the passion and purpose

of giving life to those we serve, and to those who work here as well.”

My co-host Steve Mason and I, along with the show engineer, couldn’t help but feel the energy lift the roof off the studio during that 30 minute segment. “Wow,” Steve looked up at me over his microphone, “At a time like this, when so many are doing so badly, this is amazing!” The two of us felt like any bad news that was being reported that day by media throughout the world wasn’t going to puncture our bubble. Our own interview had given us a double shot of positivity!

Back in my office later that day, I processed my own “on-air” performance review by listening to the show several times in succession. I listened carefully to my guests, and “the feel” of the repartee that is captured by the recording. The two men offered more enthusiasm for their work, and sense of purpose about their companies in 30 minutes, than most of us ever express during 40 years of professional servitude.

I was struck with an “Ah-ha!” moment. Both Loren and Mac employ people like you, like me, like many people you know. The wisdom in their words tells me that there are other employers out there who ARE ACTUALLY HIRING PEOPLE right now. And guess what? They’re looking for people who can still see a vision of passion, purpose, and potential in their work and their lives. They are looking for people who can bring energy and enthusiasm to the job.

Julie LaCroix, M.A. Ed., CMP, Career Management Consultant and Coach for Power Connections Inc., gives this perspective on getting in touch with your passions during your hunt for a job:

“Perhaps it’s not the right time for a career change, but it’s always the right time to think about what drives you. Being intrinsical

ly driven at work lies somewhere between your abilities and interests, with a formidable paycheck sprinkled on top.” Julie asks each of us to truly think about what our unique interests are, and explains that whatever drives us has an underlying interest that represents itself in our actions.

“Are you interested in music and don’t see how that relates to being an accountant, for example?” she asks. “Those two things are very unlikely matches to one another. Perhaps the correlation for you is in the teams. If you enjoy playing music in a band, then you most likely prefer to work as part of a financial team with shared goals. It’s actually the power of the team that drives you.”

Once you know what drives you, according to Ms. LaCroix, you will be more in touch with your passion and deliver even greater results.

Now, that’s something to bring to the table during your job hunt.

Di Chapman, Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service;  and Chief Communications Officer, Power Connections. www.dichapman.com / www.powerconnectionsinc.com

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Attitudes That Transcend Platitudes

April 16, 2010

The Enormous Potential of an Uncertain Future

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” – Margaret Drabble

Oh, my goodness. You’ve just made it through tax time… and to top it off, perhaps you’re “in transition” looking for work, or in a job situation that needs to change. Maybe it’s time to pay school tuition, or pick a college. You might be dealing with a health or family issue that is draining your “reserves” of energy, time, and resources. Given one, two, or ALL of the above, it’s perfectly normal to feel stressed, possibly depressed, or absolutely overwhelmed. And, honestly? Platitudes are probably the LAST thing you want to hear.

I understand. But, one thing life has taught me with absolute certainty is that every day holds the potential to create the life you wish to have. Again and again, timeless wisdom tells us that the potential of an uncertain day, an uncertain future, an uncertain circumstance, is unlocked by an attitude of expectation. Every day offers new moments, new hours, and new opportunities that can be full of expectation for a new you – and it starts with attitude.

But don’t take my word for it. History is full of wisdom from those who have gone before us, giving us quotations like the one above. When you need a “shot in the arm” to keep looking for work, or inspiration to “keep your eyes on the ball,” or the mental fortitude to “get up and get going” another day, try to consider the proposition that there is often truth in the platitudes that swirl around us. I’ll take that a step further, and tell you that there is also fruit to bear that goes beyond the direct advice they give…. The platitudes about attitudes are just the beginning. You know, The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And there is always more than one road to your future, or as Lt. General Hal Moore says, “There is always one more thing you can do to influence the situation in your favor.”

As an entrepreneur for most of my adult life, I am a firm believer in the power of expectation. I meet each day with the anticipation that it will bear fruit – whether my time is booked with clients – or not. I expect to make a living each day, and I take it a day at a time. Funny how a “freelance writing and media production” business that started out by taking it one day at a time, hitting the pavement, shaking hands, introducing myself wherever I was, and whenever I could, blazed a trail to … now, over 20 years later. Did I travel in a straight line from “zero to making a living?” Did I create everything I dreamed I would have in the form of stuff? Hardly. So far, my life has dealt me a very trying hand, losing two brothers and both parents at a very young age, having a tumor removed, watching my husband lose his job in this recession, investing in a business that failed, and dealing with a malicious identity theft, just to give you a few examples of some of my own challenges along the way.

I’m acutely aware of how immobilized the events of a lifetime can make you feel, no matter what your age or circumstances. I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve seen it hundreds of times in others. So, for just a few moments, I’m asking you to suspend your doubts and disbeliefs about the possibilities for good that await you today. I’d like you to withhold your skepticism as you read this, and muster your courage to imagine that your future can hold even a fragment of the dreams you have. Just for now, hear me out. Read on to see some of the ways that I “reset my attitude” on a regular basis. For me, it’s about delivering quality service and products in my business, creating daily happiness, and plain old survival. For you, it could be about something else. Just for now, in this moment, consider a few tips and actions that can make a difference in your life:

  • Set out to give a slice of joy to someone today. Notice I said a “slice.” You don’t have to bite off more than you can chew. Perhaps for you it means a “whisper,” a compliment, a “thank you,” a phone call, an E-mail, or a wildflower. Acknowledge and accept the perspectives of others. We’re all doing the best we can right now, in the “shoes” of our circumstances. If need be, set your ego aside for just one moment and reach out to others; “put yourself in their shoes.” There is something you can offer someone you know or love that won’t cost you a thing. And you know what? It can give you and them the possibility of a new outlook, or infuse your lives with a little optimism. This simple act alone can take your attitudes beyond platitudes.
  • Get out on foot. Take a walk, and say “hello” to everyone you meet along the way. Notice everything, and marvel in the characteristics of your neck of the woods. Is there something you can do to help your neighborhood? Do you know the neighbors around you? Do you know their habits and routines? Admire their canine companions and their efforts to exercise. We Americans have become way too sedentary, and that lack of motion in our lives affects us in more ways than one, physically and mentally. There is a whole world out there, right in your own neighborhood, your own town, and your own city. You won’t see it or experience it any other way but on foot. Taking a walk will clear your head, make you healthy, and introduce you to new friends and new ideas for charting a course to a more healthy and vibrant life.
  • Do your routine tasks in a different way. We are the habits we do every day. Deliberately changing one thing daily can change everything. You’ve heard the platitude “You are what you eat.” Take this to heart literally AND figuratively. Your daily routine keeps you in the place you are NOW. Take a look around you and catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror. Your daily routine has created the images you see. When you learn something new, your brain physiologically changes. When you alter your diet and exercise habits, you reshape your waistline. When you make an effort to listen to someone else’s story, you expand your beliefs and your tolerances. When you take a new route to the market, or venture into a new one altogether, you see things you’ve never seen before. When you visit a coffee shop that’s off your beaten path, you meet new people. When you make new choices, you create a new future.
  • YOU are the architect of your life. There is a famous quotation that is often mistakenly said, “Circumstances make the man.” The actual quotation by James Allen is “Circumstances don’t make the man, they reveal him.” Who you are is attributable in large part to how you have responded to your circumstances. I grew up in a home where my parents loudly opined about all of the politics of our country. As a young adult, I mimicked their words and attitudes boisterously as well. Then one day, with the emergence of a new issue that I felt strongly about, I realized that I could change my opinions if I wanted to. A light bulb literally went off in my head. “Wow. I don’t agree with my parents on this issue. In fact, I don’t agree with their politics at all anymore.” I gave myself permission to change my beliefs in mid-stream, and I’ve never looked back. At my core, I ceased to be the person I was at a young age, and I have taken responsibility for that ever since. My actions reflect who I am.
  • Let yourself EVOLVE with the transformation of a new decision. Make the decision to trust that your life will bring forth a new bounty. You CAN be different than you are now. As human beings it is hard-wired within us to fear the unknown, and to be terrified of change. But, as much as our fears give us comfort because they are what we know, they also bind us tightly, and can imprison us with self-doubt and inaction.

Simple changes in your attitude and routine can affect literally everything about you and bring on a new job, a new relationship, a new outlook, new horizons, new friends, and a new body, just to name a few of the potential benefits. If you take it one day at a time, you can move beyond the platitude “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” and create today, tomorrow, and ultimately your future, what it stands for, and your legacy. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s something worth thinking about.

Di Chapman is founder of Words To Your Advantage, a speaking and writing service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc., an executive career management and outplacement company. Her website is www.dichapman.com.

What’s In The Power of a Handshake?

January 31, 2010

When it comes to job hunting, the power of a handshake is greater than the pen and the sword and the resume’.

Trust me on this. Human beings evolve very slowly. They do. What this means is that even though technology gives us more bells, whistles, graphics, and moving pictures and ringtones than one could possibly use in a lifetime, that’s not what makes the job-hunting world go ‘round. Executive positions are still landed through person-to-person connection. All things being equal, human beings will choose cohorts, colleagues, coworkers, leaders and subordinates using the same genetically-wired pocesses used by cave people. It has little to do with technology, and a lot to do with our gut responses to unknown persons: “Who are you, stranger, and why should I like you? You are different than I.”

This suspicious response stems from protective mechanisms within us that were shaped eons ago. It’s part of our “cellular wiring” that has not yet evolved out of our biology. Essentially, when you are job hunting, you are dealing with the original form of the dreaded syndrome of “cold calling.” You have to put yourself on the line audibly and visually in person, and make that handshake connection with someone you do not know. The cave men and women didn’t like it either, but in order for them to change and grow and survive and evolve in the world, they had to take a chance and appear at a stranger’s cave door.

We are still wired to respond to new people and situations like our cave people ancestors. Now, does that mean that technology is useless in our job hunting? Not at all! It just means that your use of technology will not, in MOST circumstances, be what gets you a job. It will contribute, yes, but chances are you will STILL HAVE TO MEET YOUR POTENTIAL BOSS IN PERSON, and that meeting will have a HUGE impact on whether or not you are hired.

Because we are “only human,” the nuances that influence a job candidate’s selection for a position are still based upon whether or not we are convinced that he/she thinks like us, works like us, values what we value, and believes what we believe. In “Outliers: The Story of Success,” Malcolm Gladwell tells us about an “ethnic theory of plane crashes” that illustrates dramatically what the effects are of our cultural conditioning on workplace situations. The chapter in his book makes for amazing reading, and I can’t help but recommend that you read Outliers if you haven’t already. But, when you read it, think about your own career, and how much “culture” has affected your successes and failures. “He (David Greenberg, Director of Flight Operations for Korean Air, 2000) knew that cultural legacies matter – that they persist, long after their original usefulness has passed.”

Although Gladwell says that Greenberg was smart when he didn’t “assume that cultural legacies are an indelible part of who we are,” I am going to pose the assertion that in many cases they ARE, particularly when it comes to the job hunt.

The exception that will quite possibly change this rule will be the generations of young people yet to come. They have been born into technology, with no fear of constant change in how they do things. This, in my opinion, will completely alter the future, and it’s anybody’s guess what “the job hunt” will look like in, say, 2020.

In the meantime, though, if your idea of a comprehensive job hunting plan is sitting behind your computer and sending out resumes with no cold call telephone contact, or pavement pounding, or shaking hands with referrals, or putting on your best suit and shoes and meeting others face-to-face, I’d like you to rethink your plan. We’re still all cave men and women at heart.

Coming up: “You truly never do get a second chance to make a great first impression.”

Di Chapman, CEO Words to Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service

Renew Your Faith in YOU!

January 25, 2010

Look, we need to talk.

Looking for work has never been looked upon as a “shining moment” in Americans’ lives. In our culture, unemployment can wreak havoc on our self-esteem, almost like a “workingness is next to Godliness” belief system. Why is this so? No matter who you are, life has its own natural ebb and flow. Most of the time, if you’re a professional, you have a job… and sometimes you don’t have a job. Why is the “sometimes you don’t” part of life looked upon any differently than the “most of the time you do” part? Well, there are many reasons in our culture, and if you are experiencing a true lack of confidence and esteem derived from your job loss, maybe this short discussion will help.

Most of us learn as soon as we’re out of school to “define” ourselves not by who we “are,” but by “what we do.” It’s the standard party conversation starter. “Hi, I’m Di! And you are – -? And what do you do?”  Okay, right there, if you’re unemployed, you want to fall through a trap door. For most of us, social introductions are totally dreadful and humiliating when you’re unemployed. You’ve heard stories of people who’ve lost their jobs who come home and lie to their families and everyone they meet, and literally never tell anyone they have lost their jobs. It sounds drastic, and it IS, but it is part of this difficulty with verbalizing the loss. Who can forget the Michael Douglas movie where he played a guy who lost his job, but never told his family? Every day he got up, got dressed, packed his brown bag lunch in his briefcase, and kissed his wife goodbye when he supposedly went to work. The movie’s a classic.

We’re never more aware of how our value is assessed in this culture than when we are out of work. That’s because our country was founded on “every man/woman for herself/himself” and rugged individualism. We are steeped in traditions that tell us that we’re “less than” if we are not following societal norms of how many hours we should be working each week. Think about it. In our culture, even if you have a devastating illness, you are expected to go to work each day. Heaven forbid if you have the flu. Why aren’t you at work? If you lose a family member, you might be given two or three days time to grieve. Two or three days!!

And we haven’t even touched upon the issues of how much we earn, and how that is considered the true measure of our value to our family, friends, and society. It can feel like it doesn’t even matter if you are a wonderful human being…. if you’re not a high income earner, you can actually feel invisible in America. So, here you are – unemployed, and you’re not earning any money at all. Again, “Ouch.”

Add to this obsession with work and monetary wealth the current barrage of “reality entertainment” in our country, which focuses on belligerent and berating interaction, and you have a real recipe for a whole atmosphere of fear and anxiety that enforces loss of self-esteem and faith in your abilities when you are job hunting. Everyone’s a cynic and a critic these days, and they’re often happy to publicly remind you of your shortcomings. Consider the popularity of books “for idiots” in the last several years. Am I the only one who’s offended by the idea of putting that in the titles of a series of books that are meant to help us?? And what about the proliferation of radio and TV programming that basically embraces the rude behaviors of hosts who tell their guests to “shut up” or yell at their guests non-stop without allowing a word in edge-wise.  What has happened to manners? And is the lure of earning power so enticing (and the lack of earning power so stigmatizing) that people will resort to such inappropriate behavior to make sure they’re on the “right” side of the equation, and they’ll end up on the “top of the heap?”

I realize that human nature often trumps any societal emphasis on proper behavior. I totally know that when you are the person being escorted to the door with your box of belongings under your arm, most fellow employees back away with horror like you’ll give them the plague. Whew. They’re so relieved it’s you and not them. It seems to be programmed into our all-American genes. Darn straight.

So, here’s the biggest take-away of this discussion: keep your head high, and believe in yourself and your abilities. So what if you’re off the beaten path for a while? BLAZE A TRAIL.

Happy hunting!

Di Chapman

Words to Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service

So – here you are!

January 14, 2010

It’s January 14th, 2010, and here you are – browsing a site called “The Daily Job Hunt.” Ouch! Perhaps this HUGE detour on the road of life was not in your personal strategic plan. Or – “Ouch!” again – you are in a frying pan in your current position, and you recognize handwriting on the wall that says it’s time to move on.

We’re glad you’re here at The Daily Job Hunt, reading our strategies, no matter what your circumstances! Today’s job hunting process forces you to examine your perspectives about who you are, how you see life around you, what you believe is your true purpose, and how you define your personal brand.

We know, we know! It sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? Who’d have thought that job hunting at an accomplished stage of your life would require so much self-examination? Or such willingness to take a good look at yourself in the mirror, metaphorically and literally, to honestly evaluate the impression you give to others?

Ahhhh…. perhaps you’ve been the leader at the top of the totem pole for many years. That’s tough. We absolutely FEEL for you…. Nonetheless, we are going to give you real world STRAIGHT TALK about what it’s going to take to get you to the next destination in your career.

Most of us have a tendency to see “the job hunt” literally like a hunting expedition in the wild. You are chasing down potential job leads and networking situations with all of the fervor of King Arthur. You’re “hunting” them down to do what? KILL them? A piece of advice: Don’t fight it! The job hunting process serves a purpose with the right strategy. It can change your life for the better if you do it right. It can be – wait for it – the best thing that ever happened to you!

Make a commitment today to see your job hunt as a chance to EVOLVE and make progress in your journey through life. Make a commitment to transform yourself and the image you project to the world while you are shaping up to land your next act. We won’t sugar coat it: You’ll never get a second chance to make a great “first impression.”

This blog is about the power of “Back to Basics” job hunting. It’s about straight talk. Let’s change your life. Let’s start now.
Di Chapman
CEO, Words to Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service