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  • Become a Credible Communicator: Make Honesty Your Policy!

    By Craig Harrison

    When you speak, do people listen? You don't have to be E.F. Hutton to command attention and respect in the workplace. But you do have to be credible.

    Credibility in the workplace means believability. Simply put, do people believe what you say? Is your reputation based on a track record of telling the truth? Are your estimates accurate, your forecasts realistic and your word solid? Or are you a big talker, a storyteller or a spin doctor? Strive to be a credible communicator.

    The Right Way to Speak and Write

    From the moment you submit a resume and then interview for a job, the credibility counter is activated. Are your CV's assertions accurate, your chronology factual and your affiliations, degrees and awards correct? Whether spoken or written, our communication must withstand the test for truthfulness.

    Whether or not you are "found out" during the interview process, you can lose your job and damage your career immeasurably when you lie, misstate or misrepresent your accomplishments. Pulitzer prize winning authors have been undone, as have supposed war heroes and many a politician, by aggrandizing or completely falsifying one's past accomplishments. You're also susceptible to blackmail when you lie and are then threatened with exposure. As we've just seen, there is no "luck of the Irish" involved when you lie about your credentials, even as the head football coach for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

    For entrepreneurs this is especially true. You ARE your business. You must be beyond reproach. Even a hint of impropriety can be fatal. Your goal is to ooze integrity through your words and deeds.

    Your Word Is Your Bond

    People listen to what you say and how you say it. In every job situation you have the opportunity to become known as a person of his or her word. Conversely, you can become known for shading the truth, for telling people what they want to hear, or parsing words as a defendant might do under cross examination in a court of law.

    We've all heard of the boy who cried wolf so many times that when a wolf finally appeared, people had long since stopped listening. This boy's credibility had long since turned non-existent. The same is true in the workplace. Whether you cry racism, sexism, ageism or favoritism it's important that there be credence to your claims. You do everyone a disservice if you falsely accuse or ascribe such motives to actions that otherwise occur.

    Words Are Sticks and Stones

    Beyond misrepresenting your own accomplishments or capabilities, be cautious of assertions made about others. Character assassination can be fatal to careers, and not just the person you're blaspheming. Whether or not you're a manager your words carry a weight to them that affects others. Gossiping about others or spreading falsehoods or even half-truths can flag you as dangerous, untrustworthy and ultimately unpromotable.

    One of the keys to success in the workplace is engendering trust from your co-workers. If you are gossiping or betraying confidences you destroy your own credibility - as an honorable co-worker, a safe confidante, and am ally.

    Take the High Road

    Workplaces provide ample opportunities for you to earn credibility. Every time you make a deadline, do what you say you'll do or are there in a time of need for others, the department of the company at large, your credibility rises.

    Times when you defend the honor of co-workers who aren't present, refuse to engage in gossip, or caution others to give co-workers the benefit of the doubt, you are showing wisdom and professionalism, which raises your credibility in the workplace.

    Similarly, when you "say the right thing" or "do the right thing" in ethical situations your credibility is enhanced.

    Tell It Like It Is

    Often employees fall down when it comes to admitting mistakes. The credible communicator can admit errors or mistakes in a forthright and direct manner. Everyone makes mistakes, yet the credible communicator can address them and go about rectifying them, restoring confidence in him or herself. Those lacking in credibility might try to cover up, ignore or minimize their folly, often compounding the error of their ways. Ultimately, it's less important that you made a mistake, than that you fixed it and can assure others it won't happen again.

    Know When to Say No

    The credible communicator doesn't just tell people what they want to hear. Life would be easy of we could say "yes" to every request we received. Yet realistically, agreeing to something you ultimately can't deliver on is detrimental to your reputation. Develop the fortitude to say "no" when it's the right answer, even through it may not be the popular one. Over the long term, you will be respected for the accuracy of your assessments, decisions and determinations, even if the news isn't music to the ears of all who listen. Sometimes the truth isn't popular or pretty, but a person who is a "straight shooter" is respected by all.

    Earning Your Stripes

    Strive to boost your credibility rating at work and in your professional relationships. You'll know you're succeeding when you hear others tell you they know they can count on you, have confidence in your projections and feel secure in their knowledge you're on the team. Don't be in-credible. Strive to be incredible!

    Source: Business Know-how

  • The real importance of a good night's sleep

    By Dr Mark Porter

    We may not understand fully why we need to spend about a third of our lives asleep, but you need only to have one bad night to realise just how important sleep is. It is essential but, despite major advances in our understanding of the processes involved, it remains something of a mystery.

    It is tempting to think of sleep as a period of physical recuperation but the energy that we save while in bed amounts to the equivalent of a slice of unbuttered toast. Lack of sleep has little effect on our physical performance the following day.

    When I ran the London Marathon in 2003 I was reassured by one sports physiologists that a sleepless night before the race would not impair my running ability. So it proved. However, longer-term sleep deprivation can have significant physical consequences and has been linked to a range of problems including hormone disturbances, depression, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Some experts believe that long-term sleep deprivation can accelerate ageing.

    Even short-term sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on our brains.

    A good night's sleep is essential for the day-to-day functioning of the brain. Recent research suggests that sleep helps us to consolidate our memories of what we have experienced and learnt during the day, and that it encourages more efficient connections between the various centres responsible for tackling complex tasks.

    So it should come as little surprise that while I was able to complete a marathon after hardly any sleep the night before, I struggled with the mental arithmetic necessary to calculate how fast I needed to run to make my target time.

    Lack of sleep blunts mental agility and leads to drowsiness, irritability, mood disturbance, poor judgment and an inability to concentrate or multitask — only 20 hours without sleep can have the same effect on driving as being over the legal drink-drive limit.

    So what constitutes a decent night's sleep? While you are asleep your body goes through different stages in a cycle that lasts approximately 90 minutes, and may go through five of these cycles in a night. The stages are drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep and dreaming — also known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. At this point your brain waves are almost as active as when you are awake. About 75 per cent of your night is spent in non-REM sleep and about 25 per cent is spent dreaming. While young children and teenagers often need more, most adults under 60 seem to thrive on about seven to eight hours a night. There is, however, tremendous variation between individuals.

    The acid test is whether you feel sleepy the next day — and that is different from feeling "tired". Sleepiness is a feeling of abnormal drowsiness — of wanting to shut your eyes — often accompanied by a tendency to nod off. "Tiredness" is a much more vague term, meaning lack of energy, drive or motivation. Typically, it is a symptom of problems other than a pure lack of sleep, including underlying medical conditions such as depression or an underactive thyroid.


    Sleepiness is largely subjective but doctors do have a useful screening tool — the Epworth Sleepiness Scale — that can be used to gauge whether it is excessive or not. Ask yourself how likely you are to doze off in the following situations. Score 0 for never, 1 for occasionally, 2 for often and 3 for most of the time:

    Sitting and reading

    Watching TV

    Sitting in a public place such as a theatre or a meeting

    As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break

    Lying down in the afternoon

    Sitting and talking to someone

    Sitting quietly after an alcohol-free lunch

    In a traffic jam in a car, stopped for a few minutes.

    A score of more than 10 suggests that you are not getting enough sleep or that you have poor-quality sleep caused by some form of sleep disorder (such as heavy snoring). You should consult your GP. If you are not drowsy then you are almost certainly getting enough sleep, no matter what you think.

    Source: The Times

  • 7 tips for handling a mean manager

    By Rachel Farrell

    Michelle Ward has worked for a slew of mean managers in her career. One of the most notable, she says, was a bully. "The better you did your work, the more he'd verbally abuse you," she recalls. The second was when she was an assistant to an executive who made her unpack five boxes -- which she had spent all day packing -- so he could have diet orange soda when he came into the office that night.

    But Ward, now a career coach, says that dealing with these types of managers came down to one thing: standing up for herself.

    "By standing up for myself and/or not engaging, it allowed me to keep my self-confidence up, regardless. It didn't make it an unemotional situation and it didn't make me enjoy working there, but it felt better for me than taking his [abuse]," she says.

    When it comes to managers, there are many personality types to deal with -- demanding, micromanaging, hands-off or even relaxed. But perhaps the worst kind of manager to deal with is one who is downright evil.

    Bosses are mean to their employees for many reasons. Don Hurzeler, author of "The Way Up: How to Keep Your Career Moving in the Right Direction," says one is reason is that people imitate the behaviors they experienced early on in their own careers.

    "If someone is new in the business, impressionable and sees their boss manage by intimidation and by being a bully, they may think that is the way to be when they become a boss," he says.

    Some mean managers may not be confident in their own abilities to manage, he adds.

    "To cover up the fact that they have a poor self-image and poor management communication skills, they become that mean dictator that no one dare question," he says.

    Some mean bosses will tell you that they're nasty because they have high standards, but that's just an excuse, says Kathi Elster, president of K Squared Enterprises, an executive coaching firm, and author of "Working With You Is Killing Me" and "Working for You Isn't Working for Me."

    "The real reason that a boss feels they can be mean to their employees is because they are unhappy with their own situation at work. Let's face it, being the boss means that you are in a power position and have control over those who report to you, and it can be tempting to take out your own disappointment on those in a weaker position."

    It's important to note, however, that there's a difference between a boss who is perceived as mean because he is tough and a boss who is mean because he is a bully, says Treivor Branch, author of "The Drama-Free Workweek" and CEO of The Branch Solution LLC, a workplace issues and conflict resolution consultancy.

    "A bully enjoys belittling and berating employees to cover up their own insecurities. The bully may scream, yell or humiliate employees to make them feel incompetent and fails to recognize or reward good work," he says. "A boss who is simply tough has high standards of excellence, but at the same time recognizes and rewards employees for good work."

    Doing good work might be hard in a toxic work environment. While some employees may be able to perform effectively under a mean boss, more will crumble under the consistent pressure of trying to meet the demands of mean, unreasonable boss, Branch says. And that makes for less productivity, which is not good in today's work climate.

    "Employees perform best in a happy, healthy work environment. Fewer workers taking on greater responsibilities is already a recipe for disaster. Now, add mean or spiteful bosses; employee stress shoots through the roof, thus impacting their ability to effectively complete even mundane tasks," he says. "Bosses who are mean will eventually experience a decrease in employee commitment, a rise in errors and poor work quality, as well as increased interpersonal conflicts and team dysfunction."

    If you have an evil boss, here are seven tips from Branch and Hurzeler:

    1. Make the distinction.

    "Make sure you have not confused 'demanding" with 'mean.' There are lots of demanding bosses out there, who demand you do the job you are paid to do. If you are not qualified to do that job or cannot do the job for some reason, the problem is actually yours. What might sound mean to you is probably just the facts being placed before you. Suspect yourself and do all you can to deliver as required on your job," Hurzeler says. "If you have delivered on time and as promised, and the boss is still mean to you, sit down and talk to the boss. Maybe you have missed the point of his or her ineffective behavior, or maybe you do have room for improvement. The boss will learn of the negative effect that they are having on you and may work to change his or her ways. If you don't bring up your grievances in a clear and constructive way, nothing will ever change."

    2. Take a break.

    "Working for a mean or bully boss can be one of the top stressors in the workplace and can cause severe stress-related health problems. In view of this, it is essential for employees to take a stress break when they are confronted with a mean or bully boss. Take time off from work for at least a week and be sure to visit your doctor during this time," Branch says.

    3. Don't shut down.

    "If you fold up under the pressure of a mean boss, the boss is then given the sword to take you out of the game. The mean boss wins and you lose," Hurzeler says. "Bring your best game to work every single day and you will outlast or win over the mean boss. You win. Mean loses."

    4. Document

    "Employees should begin to document the mean boss's behavior. Make note of negative actions taken by the boss and how they are impacting employee productivity. Include details such as dates, times, specifics of the mean boss behavior and employees targeted. Include what attempts, if any, were made by you or other employees to address the situation and the outcome of such interventions," Branch says.

    5. Constructively confront "Meet with the mean boss to address your concerns. Keep your emotions intact. Do not scream, yell or become aggressive. Keep your tone calm and even. Be careful not to point the finger or focus on the individual, but rather seek to understand and resolve any concerns the boss may have which lead to the mean behavior. Ask open-ended questions. Ask how you can better support the boss," Branch says.

    6. Report the boss "Make your human resources department aware of the situation, especially if the situation escalates following your discussion with the boss. Be sure to present your documentation. In addition, you may want to contact an attorney as some of the boss's actions may violate laws regarding hostile work environments and may be eligible for legal action," Branch says.

    7. Plan your exit "The negative impact of working with a mean boss is too great. If you are in a situation where you work for a mean or spiteful boss, plan your exit. Update your résumé and begin circulating it internally and externally," Branch says. "Work your network to learn about unadvertised opportunities in other areas of the company or at another company. No employee should have to work in a mentally, emotionally and, in some instances, physically debilitating environment."

    Source: MSN Careers

  • Market Research Is Vital for Small Businesses

    By Lea Strickland

    RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (TheStreet) -- Too many organizations market without a plan, wandering around trying to find customers. It's ineffective, inefficient and expensive. The more time it takes to find your customer and hone your product, service or technology, the longer you have your money tied up.

    That's why one of the most important investments a business can make is market research. Without it you are investing your resources on what you believe versus what you know, risking your business and livelihood.

    Getting to know your customer before your product is fully designed and launched is less expensive than creating a product (and a lot of it), putting it in the market place and ultimately finding out that the customer is not interested, willing to pay the price or in need of the product at all. Perhaps even worse is to put your product on the market and find that the product:

    Is missing a key benefit the customer "must have"
    Creates a demand ... for your competition
    Is too expensive
    Lacks impact on a buyer's status or image
    Does not work for the customer

    Market research versus "we believe"

    Recently I was discussing the purchase of secondary market research reports (industry analysis conducted by research firms for sale) for products under development by different clients. The clients felt the research was "too expensive" for the "tight budget" each claimed. But there is no expenditure more expensive than continuing to invest in product design, prototyping and development without an understanding of your customer and the industry!

    A four- or five-figure investment in market research can save you tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in product development expense. It's a likely 10% of your budget for product development and understanding what the customer wants and needs -- and understanding why the industry hasn't delivered -- versus spending 100% of your budget on a product that misses the mark and fails to capture the customer. Which is more expensive?

    If this is your first product, you should value market and customer information even more highly than businesses with established products and existing customers.

    Another point to make: While social media, Internet searches and all the other online "free" resources can provide windows into issues, they are anecdotal evidence or opinions, not facts. It will not provide you with the broad insights and support that come from fact-based market research. (And don't expect investors to give you money because you saw a single YouTube clip on the issue.)

    What you need from market research:

    Facts and evidence about the industry, customer, competition and more.
    Understanding of the players, potential and potential profits.
    Key benefits the customer wants.
    Identification of opportunities by market segments and niches, to know where to introduce your product.
    Trends: product, industry and market.
    Issues and problems with existing products, companies and industry
    Financial information on price, cost, revenues, volumes, discounts, setup costs and so on.

    When it comes to designing and launching products, what you don't know can cost you.

    Source: The Street

  • 20 Ways to Overcome Shyness

    By Think Simple Now

    Can you remember the last time you stepped into a room full of strangers and felt that self-conscious and awkward feeling rush over you? Or that heart thumping moment when you wanted to ask someone on a date, but were too shy to do so? Or wanting to approach someone for business, but was too hesitant to actually do it? That anxiety in the pit of your stomach in social situations? Does it always feel like something is holding you back?

    Regardless of whether you are introverted or extraverted, we can all relate to that feeling of shyness at some point in our lives. Socially, we tend to have the misconception that only introverts experience shyness, but that is not true. Shyness has more to do with being uncomfortable with one's self, especially around other people.

    This article is the result of collaboration between Amanda Linehan, an introvert, and Tina Su, an extravert. Together, we wanted to shed some light on the topic of shyness in a collective perspective from both extremes. We will also share the ways that we used to turn shyness into personal empowerment.

    The Three Components of Shyness

    According to Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci of the Shyness Research Institute, shyness has three components:

    Excessive Self-Consciousness – you are overly aware of yourself, particularly in social situations.

    Excessive Negative Self-Evaluation – you tend to see yourself negatively.

    Excessive Negative Self-Preoccupation – you tend to pay too much attention to all the things you are doing wrong when you are around other people.

    Can you relate? When you are experiencing shyness, can you fit your state of mind into one or more of the above categories? We sure can.

    Why Do We Experience Shyness?

    We all experience shyness differently and on varying degrees. However, root cause can be boiled down to one of the following reasons:

    1. Weak Self Image

    This is especially true to our experiences in high school. We would believe in the fallacy that our unique qualities were not interesting, cool or worthy of anyone's admiration.We would try to fit in with everyone else, resulting in us not feeling like ourselves.

    Amanda: Looking back I'm not even sure I knew what my unique abilities were, I just knew that everybody else seemed to be a cooler, more interesting person than I was, so I tried to imitate them…poorly.:)

    Tina: I thought of myself as cool, because I was loud, and worked very hard at keeping that image. It was of course, a false image that I worked hard to keep. It was exhausting and I was exceedingly self conscious. Even though people didn't view me as shy, but I felt shy most of the time with a lot of built up anxiety. Turns out, the 'cool' kids themselves have weak self images and wanted to fit in with everyone else.

    2. Pre-occupation with Self

    When we're around other people, we become extremely sensitive to what we're doing, as if we've been put on center stage. This creates anxiety and makes us question our every move. Our focus centers around ourselves and particularly on "what I was doing wrong". This can cause a downward spiral.

    Amanda: Coupled with a weak self image,I didn't thinkIwas doing anything right! And this would start a cycle that I couldn't get out of. What I understand now is that is that most people are not looking at me with the detail thatI was looking at myself.

    Tina: I too was very sensitive to my every move around other people. My senses were heightened to the way I talked, walked, laughed, etc. My focus was on how to not screw up in front of other people, and this made me very nervous. What I understand now is that everyone is so caught up with their own insecurities that they hardly notice yours.

    3. Labeling

    When we label ourselves as a shy person, we psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations. We may say to ourselves, "I am a shy person, than it must be true that I am shy. This is how I am, and this is the way things are." When we label something, that thing has the perception of being fixed and therefore we must live up to the expectations of the labeling.

    Amanda: I was known by others as a shy person, or a quiet person, and this perception held me captive at times. People expected me to be a certain way and so I was. And knowing that other people regarded me as shy, in addition to my not wanting to be shy, resulted in great anxiety when I was with people. I really wanted to show myself to others when I was around them, but it was easy to simply go along with what others expected from me.

    Tina: Deep down, I felt the anxieties from shyness often, yet, when I'm around people, I had to live up to the expectations that I wasn't shy. My experiences with shyness would manifest in unusual ways, like when I'm ordering food, when I call someone on the phone, or speak to strangers. I would never let that side of myself show, but I do experience it. In those moments, I can hear myself say, 'I am shy.'

    How to Overcome Shyness

    We've both experienced different variations of shyness, and through practice and increased awareness we have both overcome this. The following are tips that have helped us overcome this uncomfortable feeling.

    1. Understand Your Shyness

    Seek to understand your unique brand of shyness and how that manifests in your life. Understand what situation triggers this feeling? And what are you concerned with at that point?

    2. Turning Self Consciousness into Self Awareness

    Recognize that the world is not looking at you. Besides, most people are too busy looking at themselves. Instead of watching yourself as if you are other people, bring your awareness inwards. Armed with your understanding of what makes you shy, seek within yourself and become the observing presence of your thoughts. Self awareness is the first step towards any change or life improvement.

    3. Find Your Strengths

    We all have unique qualities and different ways of expressing ourselves. It's important to know and fully accept the things we do well, even if they differ from the norm. If everyone was the same, the world would be a pretty boring place.

    Find something you are good at and focus on doing it. An identifiable strength will boost your natural self esteem and your ego, helping you better identify with yourself. It is a short term fix, but will give you the confidence you need to break your self-imposed barrier of fear.

    See how your unique strength gives you an advantage. For example, Amanda is a naturally quiet person who prefers to spend time alone. She learned that she listens better than others and notices things that others miss in conversations. She also discovered that her alone time has given her a better understanding of herself.

    4. Learn to Like Yourself

    Practice appreciating yourself and liking the unique expression that is you. Write a love letter to yourself, do things you enjoy, give gratitude for your body and its effortless functions, spend quality time getting to know yourself, go on a self-date.

    5. Not Conforming

    Trying to fit in like everyone else is exhausting and not very much fun. Understand that it is okay to be different. In fact, underlying popular kid's public displays of coolness, they too are experiencing insecurities, self-consciousness, and awkwardness. Accept that you may not be perceived as the most popular social butterfly, and you may not want to be either. At the end of the day, being popular will not make you happy. Accepting your unique qualities can set you free.

    6. Focus on Other People Rather than focusing on your awkwardness in social situations, focus on other people and what they have to say. Become interested in learning about others, and probe them to talk about themselves. You can try pondering the question while interacting: What is it about this person that I like?

    7. Releasing Anxiety through Breath

    Anxiety and fear can feel overwhelming if you are practicing to become more assertive in order to overcome this fear.

    One simple technique to calm this anxiety into manageable bites is taking deep breaths with your eyes closed, while concentrating on just your breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly while clearing out all thoughts.

    Another technique is from yoga: counting as you inhale and then as you exhale. Slowly leveling out your inhale and exhale duration. Example, 4 count for in and 4 for out. Once your breaths are leveled, add an extra count during your exhale. This means slowing down your exhale by just a tad as compared to your inhale. Continue for a few minutes until you are comfortable, than add another count to your exhale. You can easily do this in the bathroom, or in a spare room of when you need it.

    8. Releasing Anxiety through Movement

    One way of viewing anxiety is that it is blocked energy that needs to be released. We can release this energy through physical movement.

    Exercises like jogging or walking will help to re-channel some of the blocked energies, but also helps by pulling you out of the situation and shifts your state of mind. This refreshed state of mind will help by adding perspectives to things.

    Another effective technique is a simple muscle meditation/exercise. Sit down or lie down. Bring awareness to every part of your body, starting from your toes and moving up your body to the top of your head. At every part of your body, tighten the muscles at the center of awareness for 3-5 seconds, and then relax. Repeat this until you get to the top of your head. Remember to breathe.

    9. Visualization

    Visualizing yourself in the situation as a confident and happy person helps to shape your perception of yourself when you are actually in the situation. Close your eyes, sit back somewhere relaxing, listen to some relaxing music, imagine yourself in a scene or situation and see yourself the way you would like to be. In this scene, how do you feel? What do you hear? Do you smell anything? Are you moving? What do you see? Get all your senses involved to make it real.

    10. Affirmation

    Words can carry incredible energy. What we repeatedly tell ourselves, gets heard by our unconscious mind, and it acts accordingly. If we repeatedly tell ourselves that we are incapable, and too shy to do anything, we will become increasingly aware of evidence to back up this 'fact', and our actions will always match what we tell ourselves. Similarly, if we repeatedly tell ourselves that we are capable, confident, and wonderful human beings, our unconscious mind will likely surface the awareness that gives evidence to this new 'fact'. While, we can't lie to ourselves, positive visualization and affirmation are helpful in placing us along the road of positive thought patterns.

    11. Do Not Leave an Uncomfortable Situation

    When we leave shy situations, what we are really doing is reinforcing our shyness. Instead, face the situation square in the face. Turn the fearful situation into a place of introspection and personal growth. Become the observer and dig into yourself, answer the questions: why do I feel this way? What caused me to feel this way? Can there be an alternative explanation to what is happening?

    12. Accept Rejection

    Accept the possibility that we can be rejected and learning to not take it personally. Remember, you are not alone and we all experience rejections. It is part of life and part of the learning process. The key lies in how you handle rejections when they come. It helps to be mentally prepared before they happen: Never take it personally. It was not your fault. It just wasn't meant to be. The scenario was not the best fit for you.

    Find the lesson – what did you learn? There is a lesson ingrained in every situation. And through these life lessons lies the potential for you to become a better person, a stronger person. Nothing is lost if you can find the lesson. See these as the blessings in disguise.

    Move on. Recognize that when you fall into self-pity, you are not moving forward. Nothing will be changed from your self-pity. When you start to recognize this, it becomes clear that only energy is wasted while we feed to our problem-seeking ego. Pick yourself up, dust off the dirt and move on to the next thing. Try again, try again, try again. It will pay off!

    13. Relinquish Perfectionism

    When we compare ourselves, we tend to compare ourselves with the most popular person in the room or we compare ourselves with celebrities we see on TV. We set excessive expectations by comparing ourselves unreasonably to people unlike ourselves and wonder "why can't I be that?" We carry with us a vision of another's perfection and expect ourselves to fit that exact mold. And when we don't fit, we beat ourselves up for it, wondering why we are such failures. You see, the problem lies in our emphasis on fitting into a vision we have created in our minds, which is not us. Let go of this perfect image, create visions of yourself out of the Being from who you are, naturally; and let that expression flow, naturally.

    14. Stop Labeling Yourself

    Stop labeling yourself as a shy person. You are you, you are unique, and you are beautiful. Can't we just leave it at that?

    15. Practice Social Skills

    Like any other skill, social skills can be cultivated through practice and experience. The more you put yourself out there, the easier it becomes next time. If you have a hard time knowing what to say, you can practice what to say ahead of time.

    16. Practice Being in Uncomfortable Situations

    Sometimes, it is not the social skills we lack, but rather the lack of self confidence that we may succeed, and a heightened fear that we will fail. Placing yourself in these uncomfortable situations will help to desensitize your fear towards the situation. The more you force yourself to face it, and to experience it completely, you will realize that it is not that bad after all. It may be hard for your ego to accept at first, but quickly you will find that you can just laugh and enjoy it.

    17. The Three Questions

    During social settings where you may experience nervousness, periodically ask yourself the following three questions. Doing so will distract yourself from more self-destructive thoughts. Make it your mantra:

    Am I breathing?
    Am I relaxed?
    Am I moving with grace?

    18. What is Comfortable for You?

    Going to bars and clubs isn't for everyone, and that's okay. Understand what feels comfortable for you, and find people, communities and activities which bring out the best in you. You can be just as equally social in settings that you connect with on a personal level, than the popular social settings. You don't have to be doing what "everyone" else is doing. Besides, everyone else isn't necessarily happy, despite your perception as such.

    19. Focus on the Moment

    Becoming mindful of what you're doing, regardless of what you're doing, will take focus away from the self. When you are having a conversation, forget about how you look, focus on the words, fall into the words, become absorbed in the words. The tones. The expression. Appreciate it and give gratitude for it.

    20. Seek and Record Your Successes

    As you overcome this condition we've been labeling as shyness, you will have many wins and realizations about yourself. You will gain insights into the truth behind social scenarios. You will start to view yourself differently and come to recognize that you can become comfortable and confident. When these wins and realizations happen, make sure to keep a notebook and write them down. Keeping a journal of your successes will not only boost self confidence, but also shift your focus towards something that can benefit you.

    Source: Think Simple Now

  • Develop an Effective Small Business Website

    By All

    The best Web sites are those that serve the purpose of their owners. For some businesses, a Web site provides the backbone of the company's retail operation. For many other companies, the site offers an adjunct source of sales revenue along with their brick-and-mortar operations. Some businesses use a Web site primarily for promoting their products or services and keeping their name in front of the public.

    No matter what the use will be, it is generally a good idea to look at other Web sites to get an idea what you feel would work best for your business. Look at each site with a critical eye.

    Ask yourself:

    Do I like the layout?

    Is there a logic to the sequence and the information?

    Is the site easy to navigate or am I clicking repeatedly to find what I'm looking for?

    Is the site current?

    Are products and/or services clearly displayed?

    Is the sales checkout process simple and quick?

    The best Web sites are user-friendly, easy on the eyes (visually appealing), entertaining, informative, and current.

    Some site planning and Web page design tips include:

    Less can be more, so don't overcrowd a Web page.

    If you are selling items, make sure your product photos are large enough to see clearly. Try to illustrate the key features.

    Title each page so that they are easily located by the user and by search engines.

    Make each page easy to navigate.

    Try to be concise with text. You can always have readers click to get more information.

    Make the home page the center of activity. Make sure it is always easy to return to. Clearly define the purpose of the site and create an image on your home page. Provide customer service, phone numbers, and contact information that clearly illustrates an accessible business behind the site.

    Make sure the color of your text is easy to read against the background you've selected. Experiment with different colors to see which creates the best presentation.

    Double-check all links often to make sure they work.

    Don't get caught up in "bells and whistles." Just because the software, Web designer, or Web-hosting service allows you to include a myriad of features doesn't mean you need them.

    Make sure the site loads quickly. Don't let graphics slow it down.

    Be diligent about copyright usage and make sure you have the rights to all information you are posting.

    Besides dotting the i's and crossing the t's, so to speak, you not only want to make sure your site looks good and works properly, but that it best represents your business. Also, keep in mind that you need to promote the Web site. Unlike the line in the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come," a Web site will not attract visitors unless you register with several search engines and promote the site on all company literature, with all sales, and on all advertising and promotion pieces.

    Source: All

  • 6 ways to make your next presentation outstanding

    By Alina Dizik

    If you know how to create an effective presentation, you'll always be able to get your message across to your audience. To really succeed, keep in mind that the focus is on the presenter, not just the materials, says Andrew Dlugan, founder of, a public speaking website. "Remember that you are the presentation," Dlugan says. "It's not your slides or your handouts that your audience has come to see. If it were, you could just email them a soft copy."

    Here are six ways to create an outstanding presentation:

    1. Stick to a clear outline

    Organizing your presentation will make it easier for listeners to understand your point. Customize a framework that includes "a beginning where you tell your audience exactly what it is they will take away from this talk, a middle that includes the details and explanations, and an end that ties it all up with a restatement of purpose. And [then] send them off with a distinct call to action," says Adria Firestone, a presentation and voice expert. As you go through your presentation, stick to the structure and avoid going off on tangents.

    2. Learn more than you need to

    It's always best to over-prepare for a presentation and have a deep knowledge of the subject, Dlugan says. While you don't need to share everything you know with the audience, it can come in handy when answering their questions. "This will allow a presenter to handle related questions in a Q&A session in a credible manner," he says, though he warns against overloading the audience with information unless they've asked for it.

    3. Do some market research

    Create a presentation that's effective by understanding the demands of your audience, says Sherri Thomas, author of "Career Smart–5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand." To do this, Thomas suggests speaking to key members of the group about their expectations in advance. "What many presenters don't understand is that your audience knows what they want, and they may not be able to focus on what you're saying until they get that information," she says. "The less resistance and more support you have in a meeting, the easier your presentation will be."

    4. Throw in a few telling anecdotes

    "Whatever the subject matter, using laughter and storytelling can be a great way to keep your audience interested," Firestone says. Pick an anecdote that's concise and fits the framework of your presentation. "A story illuminates and makes your point unforgettable," Firestone says. When telling your story, be sure to share something about your own life and experience. Adding a bit of biographical information can help you further connect with the audience.

    5. Don't make technology your entire arsenal

    Whether you're using a new iPad app or simply scrolling through PowerPoint slides, it's important to use it as an aid not a crutch. "Don't be upstaged by your technology," Firestone says. "No matter how magnificent your technology, there is nothing like a live enthusiastic human sharing valuable information." To avoid mishaps, practice using the device before the presentation has started–especially if you'll be presenting in an unfamiliar space.

    6. Vary your tone

    If you're dreading the presentation or bored by it, the tone of your voice is bound to reveal your true emotion. Keep this in mind and exaggerate your enthusiasm during the presentation by varying the tone of your voice. While you don't want to come across as fake, you should use your voice to demonstrate that you're truly excited about the subject matter.

    Source: MSN Careers

  • Managing Your Social Network Addiction

    By Ibrahim Husain

    Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, Friendster, Tumblr, Xanga… the list goes on and on. And if you are any sort of tech savy, there is good chance you are a member of multiple social networks. Even I have accounts with at least 5 of these. While there is a lot to be gained by using these services, there is also a lot to be lost.

    In case you hadn't heard, Facebook users share not only a social network of over 200 million, but also significantly lower grade point averages (GPAs) than their non-member classmates (according to Time Magazine). And apparently Jennifer Aniston ended her relationship with John Mayer because he was addicted to Twitter (as apposed to drugs like other musicians… ). This begs the question, how many of us are addicted to social networks, and what can we do about it?

    You may think, "I'm not addicted, I can quit anytime!" Well if you have more Facebook friends than real friends, something must be done. If you spend more time on Twitter than in sunlight, it's time for change. If you spend more time working on your LinkedIn profile than doing actual work, it's time for an intervention. Regardless of your excuse, this is not ok.


    Obviously the first step in your rehabilitation is to admit there is a problem. How could you not pick up groceries on your way home from work, yet somehow you twitted 3 times before making it home? You have a problem, and until you realize it, there is nothing we can do for you.

    You need to realize that these systems are in place for you to use, not to use you. They are tools, not lifestyles. If you are using the tool for anything other than it's intended use, chances are you are wasting time. Don't fret though, with hard work, discipline, and the help from Lifehack, we can beat this addiction, and use these tools the way they were intended.

    Here are a few tips that can help you monitor your social network use, and ensure that you are being productive instead of wasting time.

    Track Your Time Online – The simplest way to ensure you aren't wasting time in any one place is to monitor your time. Use a stopwatch and set a limit. When time is up, log out, regardless of what's left. There is always tomorrow.

    Remember the Telephone - I know, it's so primitive. But a call to a friend works just as well as a Facebook message, and it is real human interaction, something we are losing touch with.

    Go Outside – get away from your portal to the network. Get some sunshine, chances are you need it. Limit Your Memberships – There is no need for memberships to 15 different networks. In fact, there is no need for even 2 memberships of sites which do the same thing. Choose Facebook or Myspace, but not both. Digg, or StumbleUpon. This will probably cut your memberships in half, and hopefully cut the time spent on them down also.

    Use Your Networks Productively – When I first used twitter I followed anyone, and had thousands of followers. Strangely though, people rarely responded to my twits, and it was like I was invisible. I decided I'd only use twitter if I could be productive with it, so I unfollowed thousands of users (now below 200), and use Twitter only to share and interact with people with similar interests as mine. Now my Twitter is a tool, not a time warp.

    Prioritize - Use these tools only when your work has been done, or during down time. Don't spend time updating your profile or changing your pic when there is work to be done. This will not only save you time and increase productivity, but will build self discipline as well.

    Stop Procrastinating – Many times we get on Facebook or twitter when we have real work that we just don't want to do. Stop that! Get the work done. Once you finish you'll have all the time in the world to spend making friends on Facebook.

    Remove the Cellphone Apps – You don't really need Facebook or Twitter on your phone. Nothing on there can be that important. Save your social networking for when you are behind the desk and limit the distractions throughout the day.

    Spend More Time With Close Friends and Family – You aren't the only one who suffers when you spend countless hours on MySpace. Your family and friends don't see you, because you are too busy learning how to customize your backgrounds and take crazy pictures from all different angles for your profile pic. Cut out the cancer and get back to friends and family.

    It's time to take back your free time. Remember that these sites are built to make money, not increase your productivity. Nobody is looking out for you except you (and me…). Follow my tips and live life in the real world instead of the e-world. Trust me, it's more fun this way.

    Have any other tips to help your fellow addicts get through this rough time? Leave a comment below, and let us know you care.

    Source: Lifehack

  • Quality Family Time: It's All In The Balance!

    By Robin McClure

    If your nightly refrain is how tired you and the kids are, perhaps your family is struggling with how to balance work, school, and activities. Here are some quick tips for juggling the various schedules and spend some quality time together:

    Create a family night. The solution is simple and can create memories to last a lifetime. Whether it's movie night, take-out night (think pizza or Chinese, for example), game night, or a family walk night, the key is that a night each week is designated for together time. Relax...and talk with each other! You might be surprised the things you learn from your kids on your special night.

    Enjoy and interact with your child's friends. Yes, really! Letting kids "hang out" at your place gives you valuable insight into what interests and motivates your own child as well as understanding the "crowd" he or she is associating with. For younger kids, an hour or two with a friend can teach sharing, responsibility, taking turns, and other traits through actual learning and experiences. And don't forget that many child experts indicate that free time for play and social interaction can be better for a child's development than too many organized or structured activities.

    Let your child choose his/her interests, and not you. Too many well-meaning parents sign their kids up for activities they're truly not at all interested in or good at, then face conflicts and power struggles as a result. It's another issue all-together if your child constantly begs to sign up for activities and then wants to quit, but kids at even a young age develop certain interests and dreams that they want to pursue. And, they most likely won't be the same dreams you had either! Be careful to choose your battles and accommodate activity requests where practical.

    Consider the commitment when making decisions. More and more activities are emphasizing additional practices and time requirements in today's competitive world. You as the parent have to decide if a particular activity is appropriate for your child. Options for time-pressed families is to sign kids up for a recreation league vs. a select season; for pee wee-cheerleading instead of a year-round squad, for example.

    Determine your child's commitment as well. If your kid says an activity "might" be fun, avoid committing to a full season or year. Not only could it present a problem for your child if he/she doesn't like it, but will infringe on the other players/members participating in the activity. Many teams rely on a certain number of players or kids to form a group, and a last-minute pull-out could cause an impact on everyone else. If you're not sure, consider signing your child up for a mini-camp or week-long or short session instead. If your kid loves it, then you can always seek something more in the future.

    Assign family responsibilities. If everyone in the family is participating in some type of activity, then general household chores may be harder to get accomplished due to lack of time. Have a family meeting and explain that in order to do these enrichment activities/sports/music, everyone will have to pitch in to make sure the clothes still get washes, dishes done, and table cleared. If you set expectations up front, any grumbling will be minimized. Even small kids can help set the table, clear dishes, or take out the trash cans to the curb.

    Watch for signs of being overextended and adjust schedules as needed. If your kid's grades starting plummeting or you get a note that says Emma often falls asleep after mid-morning snack, you may be asking too much of them. Keep in mind a child's age, personality, and true interest in making decisions.

    Encourage the "all for one and one for all" concept. A family who plays together, stays together is the message and encourage your kids to support each other's activities and endeavors.

    Above all, keep family first! Keeping your priorities straight will ensure a happier, better-adjusted family.


  • Japan Crisis Offers 5 Small-Business Lessons

    By Laurie Kulikowski

    The devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan should spur small-business owners here in the U.S. to review -- or perhaps create -- emergency plans.

    With all the planning, managing and overseeing a business owner is responsible for in smaller firms, emergency plans may take a back seat. But an "emergency" doesn't need to be an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale.

    It could be a weather-related event such as a heavy snowstorm, given this year's rough winter across many parts of the U.S., something like the massive power failure across the eastern seaboard in 2003, a fire or the death or injury of an owner or key employee.

    The basics are easy: Back up data on separate servers and have a chain list of employee phone numbers. But what if the backup server is in the same office as the disruption or cell phone service isn't working?

    "A lot of people talk about crisis plans," says Richard Levick of Levick Strategic Communications, a public relations firm specializing in crisis communication, but business owners and employees should also be able to identify where employees are and even know spouses' names and contact information.

    Given technological advances, contact information could be more useful as a mobile, instantly updated app, Levick says.

    Business owners also should not assume customers know of an interruption. Levick says owners should communicate frequently and in as many places as possible -- through Twitter, Facebook and email, for instance, with customers.

    Most importantly, a small-business owner must have the ability to lead his or her team through the crisis.

    "Employees are looking to any source of information as quickly and accurately as possible," Levick says. "A small-business owner needs to step into that leadership role, and you can only get there by anticipating or being prepared."

    Business owners should anticipate chaos and confusion and be able to offer a sense of calm to employees, he says. Preparation need not be overwhelming or expensive. Here are a few simple and cost-effective tips to have in place -- just in case:

    1. Be in the cloud

    Emergency or not, businesses of all sizes days should already back up their databases by not only having emergency servers (preferably in a state less prone to natural disasters), but adding employee access to virtual servers. Cloud computing is a new-age term for something the Internet does naturally -- keep information on the Web, where it can be reached from wherever there's a working connection. Information technology firms pushing the cloud server include VMWare(VMW), Hewlett-Packard(HPQ), IBM(IBM), EMC(EMC) and Rackspace Hosting(RAX).

    Citrix Online, a unit of Citrix Systems(CTSX), is a leader in offering remote-connectivity programs for small businesses. Web-centric programs such as its GoToMyPC or GoToMeeting can help businesses and their employees function just about anywhere in the world via so-called Web commuting.

    Technology aside, Citrix Online President Brett Caine says it's important for businesses to have clear policies and rules surrounding what he refers to as "work shifting."

    "First you have to identify the people, the roles and the kind of rule set around a flexible policy," Caine says. While sales work may make sense, "not all roles are suited for work shifting. Can the role be done outside the physical location, and do you have confidence and trust that the [employee] can do these things without oversight and supervision?"

    Particularly in emergency situations, those working remotely need to "over-communicate" with staff, clients and others, he adds.

    2. Cross-train employees

    Annie Searle, former senior vice president for enterprise risk services for Washington Mutual and head of its crisis management team, suggested that business owners cross-train employees so work can be done even if an expert is missing.

    "Small businesses may be more inclined than large companies to do that because fewer people wear more hats, but suppose you don't have power. Does someone know how to manually create an invoice and take payment?" Searle asks.

    According to Searle, now an operational-risk consultant, a quarter of all small businesses go out of business after a high-impact event.

    "They can't survive because they don't have a way to stay in business," she says. "They haven't thought of a plan that involved a workaround."

    True, situations differ for, say, restaurants and technology firms, but "whatever the circumstances, you have to imagine what your manual workaround will be," Searle says.

    3. Create emergency preparedness procedures

    Businesses and offices should also have emergency supplies, such as a first aid kit, water bottles, defibrillators, fire extinguishers, battery-operated flashlights and other shelter-in-place supplies on hand, according to a checklist for small businesses created by the American Red Cross and FedEx(FDX).

    Business owners and employees should also know where to find gas and water lines and how to turn them off if needed.

    Searle also suggests that business owners "pre-identify" where employees can "duck-cover-hold" during an earthquake or other event.

    Business owners should also have a system in place to find employees in an emergency -- as well as spouses and kin.

    4. Establish a succession or business continuity plan

    Creating a business continuity plan isn't just for natural disasters. Experts recommend them for general planning purposes, especially if a business is owned by more than one person.

    Barry Sloane, chief executive of Newtek Business Services(NEWT), which works primarily with small businesses, says owners should be knowledgeable about financial planning and put together a budget that projects revenue and expenses a year or two out and includes monthly updates.

    This will "enable a business to be able to manage their liquidity needs, capital needs and risk," Sloane says. "Business owners are entrepreneurs. They may not necessarily be organized."

    There should also be a succession plan if an owner can't return to work. If a business has two partners, they may "have an agreement between them which allows the other to have operating control or the ability to buy out the partner," Sloane says. "Those are good things to have in place."

    5. Practice practice practice

    Experts could not emphasize enough the need for businesses to practice what they preach. Once plans are formulated, businesses should hold drills several times a year so employees know what to do in an emergency.

    "A crisis plan is both brilliant and also a false feeling of security. It's only great on the day you wrote it. [For it to be useful] you need to practice it at least twice a year," Levick says.

    Source: The Street

  • Dealing with Difficult People

    Can you recall the last time you had to deal with a negative or difficult person? Or the last time someone said something with the intention of hurting you? How did you handle it? What was the result? What can you do in the future to get through these situations with peace and grace?

    No matter where we go, we will face people who are negative, people who oppose our ideas, people who piss us off or people who simply do not like us. There are 6.4 billion people out there and conflict is a fact of life. This fact isn't the cause of conflict but it is the trigger to our emotions and our emotions are what drive us back to our most basic survival instinct; react and attack back to defend ourselves.

    In these instinctual moments, we may lose track of our higher selves and become the human animal with an urge to protect ourselves when attacked. This too is natural. However, we are the only animal blessed with intelligence and having the ability to control our responses. So how can we do that?

    I regularly get asked "How do you deal with the negative comments about your articles? They are brutal. I don't think I could handle them." My answer is simple, "I don't let it bother me to begin with." It wasn't always this simple, and took me some time before overcoming this natural urgency to protect myself and attack back.

    I know it's not easy, if it was easy, there wouldn't be difficult or negative people to begin with.

    Why Bother Controlling Our Responses?

    1. Hurting Ourselves

    One of my favorite sayings is "Holding a grudge against someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." The only person we hurt is ourselves. When we react to negativity, we are disturbing our inner space and mentally creating pain within ourselves.

    2. It's Not About You, It's About Them

    I've learned that when people initiate negativity, it is a reflection of their inner state expressed externally and you just happen to be in front of that expression. It's not personal, so why do we take it personally? In short: Because our ego likes problems and conflict. People are often so bored and unhappy with their own lives that they want to take others down with them.

    There have been many times when a random person has left a purposefully hurtful comment on TSN, and regularly checked back to see if anyone else responded to their comment, waiting eagerly to respond with more negativity.

    3. Battle of the Ego

    When we respond impulsively, it is a natural and honest response. However, is it the smart thing to do? What can be resolved by doing so? The answer: Nothing. It does however feed our ego's need for conflict.

    Have you noticed that when we fight back, it feels really satisfying in our heads? But it doesn't feel very good in our soul? Our stomach becomes tight, and we start having violent thoughts?

    When we do respond irrationally, it turns the conversation from a one-sided negative expression into a battle of two egos. It becomes an unnecessary and unproductive battle for Who is Right?

    4. Anger Feeds Anger. Negativity Feeds Negativity.

    Rarely can any good come out of reacting against someone who is in a negative state. It will only trigger anger and an additional reactive response from that person. If we do respond impulsively, we'll have invested energy in the defending of ourselves and we'll feel more psychologically compelled to defend ourselves going forward.

    Have you noticed that the angrier our thoughts become, the angrier we become? It's a negative downward spiral.

    5. Waste of Energy

    Where attention goes, energy flows. What we focus on tends to expand itself. Since we can only focus on one thing at a time, energy spent on negativity is energy that could have been spent on our personal wellbeing.

    6. Negativity Spreads

    I've found that once I allow negativity in one area of my life, it starts to subtly bleed into other areas as well. When we are in a negative state or holding a grudge against someone, we don't feel very good. We carry that energy with us as we go about our day. When we don't feel very good, we lose sight of clarity and may react unconsciously to matters in other areas of our lives, unnecessarily.

    7. Freedom of Speech

    People are as entitled to their opinions as you are. Allow them to express how they feel and let it be. Remember that it's all relative and a matter of perspective. What we consider positive can be perceived by another as negative. When we react, it becomes me-versus-you, who is right?

    Some people may have a less than eloquent way of expressing themselves – it may even be offensive, but they are still entitled to do so. They have the right to express their own opinions and we have the right and will power to choose our responses. We can choose peace or we can choose conflict.

    15 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People

    While I've had a lot of practice dealing with negativity, it is something I find myself having to actively work on. When I'm caught off guard and end up resorting to a defensive position, the result rarely turns out well.

    The point is, we are humans after all, and we have emotions and egos. However, by keeping our egos in-check and inserting emotional intelligence, we'll not only be doing a favor for our health and mental space, but we'll also have intercepted a situation that would have gone bad, unnecessarily.

    Here are some tips for dealing with a difficult person or negative message:

    1. Forgive

    What would the Dali Lama do if he was in the situation? He would most likely forgive. Remember that at our very core, we are good, but our judgment becomes clouded and we may say hurtful things. Ask yourself, "What is it about this situation or person that I can seek to understand and forgive?"

    2. Wait it Out

    Sometimes I feel compelled to instantly send an email defending myself. I've learned that emotionally charged emails never get us the result we want; they only add oil to the fire. What is helpful is inserting time to allow ourselves to cool off. You can write the emotionally charged email to the person, just don't send it off. Wait until you've cooled off before responding, if you choose to respond at all.

    3. "Does it really matter if I am right?"

    Sometimes we respond with the intention of defending the side we took a position on. If you find yourself arguing for the sake of being right, ask "Does it matter if I am right?" If yes, then ask "Why do I need to be right? What will I gain?"

    4. Don't Respond

    Many times when a person initiates a negative message or difficult attitude, they are trying to trigger a response from you. When we react, we are actually giving them what they want. Let's stop the cycle of negative snowballing and sell them short on what they're looking for; don't bother responding.

    5. Stop Talking About It

    When you have a problem or a conflict in your life, don't you find that people just love talking about it? We end up repeating the story to anyone who'll listen. We express how much we hate the situation or person. What we fail to recognize in these moments is that the more we talk about something, the more of that thing we'll notice.

    Example, the more we talk about how much we dislike a person, the more hate we will feel towards them and the more we'll notice things about them that we dislike. Stop giving it energy, stop thinking about it, and stop talking about it. Do your best to not repeat the story to others.

    6. Be In Their Shoes

    As cliché as this may sound, we tend to forget that we become blind-sided in the situation. Try putting yourself in their position and consider how you may have hurt their feelings. This understanding will give you a new perspective on becoming rational again, and may help you develop compassion for the other person.

    7. Look for the Lessons

    No situation is ever lost if we can take away from it some lessons that will help us grow and become a better person. Regardless of how negative a scenario may appear, there is always a hidden gift in the form of a lesson. Find the lesson(s).

    8. Choose to Eliminate Negative People In Your Life

    Negative people can be a source of energy drain. And deeply unhappy people will want to bring you down emotionally, so that they are not down there alone. Be aware of this. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands and do not mind the energy drain, I recommend that you cut them off from your life.

    Cut them out by avoiding interactions with them as much as possible. Remember that you have the choice to commit to being surrounded by people who have the qualities you admire: optimistic, positive, peaceful and encouraging people. As Kathy Sierra said, "Be around the change you want to see in the world."

    9. Become the Observer When we practice becoming the observer of our feelings, our thoughts and the situation, we separate ourselves away from the emotions. Instead of identifying with the emotions and letting them consume us, we observe them with clarity and detachment. When you find yourself identifying with emotions and thoughts, bring your focus on your breathe.

    10. Go for a Run … or a swim, or some other workout. Physical exercise can help to release the negative and excess energy in us. Use exercise as a tool to clear your mind and release built up negative energy.

    11. Worst Case Scenario

    Ask yourself two questions,

    "If I do not respond, what is the worst thing that can result from it?"
    "If I do respond, what is the worst thing that can result from it?"

    Answering these questions often adds perspectives to the situation, and you'll realize that nothing good will come out of reacting. Your energy will be wasted, and your inner space disturbed.

    12. Avoid Heated Discussions

    When we're emotionally charged, we are so much in our heads that we argue out of an impulse to be right, to defend ourselves, for the sake of our egos. Rationality and resolution can rarely arise out of these discussions. If a discussion is necessary, wait until everyone has cooled off before diving into one. 13. Most Important

    List out things in your life most important to you. Then ask yourself, "Will a reaction to this person contribute to the things that matter most to me?"

    14. Pour Honey

    This doesn't always work, but sometimes catches people off guard when they're trying to "Pour Poison" on you. Compliment the other person for something they did well, tell them you've learned something new through interacting with them, and maybe offer to become friends. Remember to be genuine. You might have to dig deep to find something that you appreciate about this person.

    15. Express It

    Take out some scrap paper and dump all the random and negative thoughts out of you by writing freely without editing. Continue to do so until you have nothing else to say. Now, roll the paper up into a ball, close your eyes and visualize that all the negative energy is now inside that paper ball. Toss the paper ball in the trash. Let it go!

    Source: Think Simple Now

  • Say No to People Making Demands on Your Time

    By Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

    Are you overscheduled and overstressed? With today's busy schedules, you're not alone. One way to pare down your schedule is to get good at saying no to new commitments. Whether you say "yes" instead of no out of guilt, inner conflict, or a misguided notion that you can "do it all," learning to say no to more requests can be one of the biggest favors you can do yourself and those you love. It helps reduce stress levels and gives you time for what's really important.

    Difficulty: Easy

    Time Required: Very little. And it will free up time for what's important!

    Here's How:

    1. Just say, "I'm sorry. I can't do this right now." Use a sympathetic, but firm tone. If pressured as to why, reply that it doesn't fit with your schedule, and change the subject. Most reasonable people will accept this as an answer, so if someone keeps pressuring you, they're being rude, and it's OK to just repeat, "I'm sorry, but this just doesn't fit with my schedule," and change the subject, or even walk away if you have to.

    2. If you're uncomfortable being so firm, or are dealing with pushy people, it's OK to say, "Let me think about it and get back to you." This gives you a chance to review your schedule, as well as your feelings about saying "yes" to another commitment, do a cost-benefit analysis, and then get back to them with a yes or no. Most importantly, this tactic helps you avoid letting yourself be pressured into overscheduling your life and taking on too much stress.

    3. If you would really like to do what they're requesting, but don't have the time (or are having trouble accepting that you don't), it's fine to say, "I can't do this, but I can…" and mention a lesser commitment that you can make. This way you'll still be partially involved, but it will be on your own terms.


    1. Be firm -- not defensive or overly apologetic -- and polite. This gives the signal that you are sympathetic, but will not easily change your mind if pressured.

    2. If you decide to tell the person you'll get back to them, be matter-of-fact and not too promising. If you lead people to believe you'll likely say "yes" later, they'll be more disappointed with a later "no."

    3. If asked for an explanation, remember that you really don't owe anyone one. "It doesn't fit with my schedule," is perfectly acceptable.

    4. Remember that there are only so many hours in the day. This means that whatever you choose to take on limits your ability to do other things. So even if you somehow can fit a new commitment into your schedule, if it's not more important than what you would have to give up to do it (including time for relaxation and self care), you really don't have the time in your schedule.

    5. This article has more strategies for finding time if you're too busy.


  • Importance of taking
    a break at work

    There's no hiding the fact that our working lives are manic. We have bosses to please, deadlines to meet, goals to achieve and a whole medley of other duties to juggle. So with all this in mind, if I preach the importance of taking a break at work, I can hear you say, when do I possibly have time?

    The answer is simple - find time. Taking a break at work can do wonders, not only for our overall productivity but for our stress levels too. Relationship Services conducted a survey of 1,593 couples and found that 31% cited stress at work as a common reason for arguments at home - proof that equilibrium at work has an important effect on other areas of your life.

    In an attempt to combat work-related stress, head honchos at Cambridge University's counselling services recommend taking regular breaks to recharge our mental batteries, thus improving concentration and overall mood. According to Cambridge University's research, the average adult has a concentration span of between 5-45 minutes - not as long as we might think.

    Simply taking a walk to the office vending machines every so often can do us the world of good - not only improving our work productivity, but our home lives too. This ensures you have a mouth watering array of snacks on hand. Put simply, it is the perfect all-in-one snack and drink solution.

    Despite this, some of us more contentious types often feel guilty about taking a break at work - especially if we have a deadline looming ahead of us. The fact of the matter is, those of us who recognise the importance of taking a break are more likely to be alert and productive than those of us who don't. That colleague of yours who's frowned upon for making too many trips to the vending machines may actually be on to something after all.

    So next time your mind wanders or you feel red in the face, just remind yourself of the importance of taking a break at work ( with a delicious coffee, tea or soft drink in hand, of course ).

    Source: All Best Articles

  • How to Start
    a Career in Day Trading

    The challenging aspect of any kind of investing is timing the market. But this is exactly what the day trader endeavors to master--rather than investing, day traders step in to buy and sell stocks all within a matter of hours or minutes. They are the stock market equivalent of house flippers. Whereas long-term investors can place orders and leave their positions untouched for weeks, months or years, a day trader must be ever vigilant for opportunities. Starting a career in day trading is time consuming and stressful, and not for everyone.


    1. Get educated. The notion that knowledge is power absolutely applies to day trading. Long before the first trade is ever made, most traders spend years gaining formal and informal education on markets, the economy and trading instruments. In addition to the wide array of books and television shows available, there are also many trade school programs that train individuals on the finer details of finding and executing short-term trades.

    2. Practice with a simulator. No beginning trader is ever as good as he thinks he is, and even the most experienced traders will test new strategies in simulators and with back-testing. Also called paper-trading, a simulator allows a trader to make imaginary trades and track the performance. Though nothing exactly simulates the stress of having real money on the line, simulators are among the best ways to gain experience.

    3. Open a trading account. No trader should ever use funds they need for short-term bills or expenses. In fact, they shouldn't put any money in their trading account they can't afford to lose. This one simple form of discipline can prevent life-changing disasters and help a trader maintain an even and objective view towards their trades. The SEC requires a minimum account equity of $25,000 for pattern day traders.

    4. Manage risk. Cash is the lifeblood of the trader, and there's nothing so catastrophic as losing huge amounts of cash--even if it's money you can afford to lose. With no cash, no trades can be made, so one of the most important activities of a trader, especially a beginner, is managing risk and limiting losses through the use of stop losses and options.

    5. Network. The market is huge and there are more factors involved each day than any one trader can know. There are also so many markets that one person simply can't watch them all. Successful day traders, then, tend to network and develop relationships with other traders with whom they can share information and discuss strategy. A day trader's network, in fact, is usually a major part of their initial and ongoing education.

    Source: e How

  • 5 things you can
    learn from Jay-Z's career

    By Anthony Balderrama, CareerBuilder Writer

    I recently came across Zack O'Malley Greenburg's book "Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office." I have to admit that I didn't know if a hip-hop icon had much to teach me (aka a regular worker) about succeeding in our respective fields. But seeing as career books often begin to sound alike when you read the summaries on the flap, I couldn't pass up this interesting angle. Plus, he's just a good artist.

    I didn't doubt Jay-Z was a prime example of success. His picture might as well be next to the Wikipedia entry on "living the dream." Whether or not you're a fan of his music -- and between "Empire State of Mind" and "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," you have to like at least one of his tracks -- you can't deny that the man has been able to achieve and exceed his goals. Jay-Z (née Shawn Corey Carter) has countless hits, co-founded Rocawear clothing, co-owns a basketball team, and was an executive of two different record labels. Oh, and Oprah picked his 2010 autobiography to be one of her favorite things, which is about as coveted an endorsement as you can hope for.

    But after reading Greenburg's book, I have to admit I understand why he makes a superb guide for your career, even if you are looking to be an investment banker or grocery store manager instead of a hip hop legend. If you look at what Jay-Z has done with his career, you might realize that what made him successful is what makes many great leaders successful.

    Below are five lessons that I think we can all learn from Jay-Z's career:

    1. Find something your passionate about and make it part of your life

    What Jay Z did: Jay-Z is a sports enthusiast. He's a proud Yankees fan and he's been a courtside fixture at NBA games for years for The Cavaliers, Knicks and Lakers. Not content with just being a fan, Jay-Z assembled a team (that included Lebron James) in 2003 to play in Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC) and then became a co-owner of the New Jersey Nets.

    What you can do: Many of us are sports fans, but few of us have the bank account and business savvy to own an NBA team. However, we can find a way to make one of our passions part of our everyday life, even if your interest doesn't fit within your current job. For example, if you are obsessed with politics but you work at a clothing store, you should leave your opinion of Congress at home. But that doesn't mean you can't start your own political blog or become a contributor to another one. That way you can immerse yourself in a subject you love and still improve your analytical and writing skills. You never know what will become of your side venture -- maybe a new business opportunity. Maybe nothing will happen beyond gaining readership, but at least you'll have space where you can indulge your passions.

    2. Market yourself

    What Jay-Z did: One of the other reasons Jay-Z decided to assemble that basketball team in the EBC? He knew it was great marketing. He branded a bus with the image of a sneaker he designed for Reebok, had the team tour in it, all while his music blared. And then they'd celebrate at the club he owned in New York. It was his project from top to bottom and he wasn't afraid to promote it.

    What you can do: The odds are slim that somebody will walk up to you and say, "Wow, all that great work you do? Unbelievable! Let me offer you this high-paying job that is perfect for you." Instead, make sure you let your boss know when you perform well. Don't brag, but forward any positive feedback you get from clients or colleagues

    If you're looking for a job, piece together an impressive portfolio or résumé. Think about the awards you've won, leadership positions you've held, and references who will speak glowingly about you. Don't play meek when it comes to finding a new job because employers don't have time to beg you to talk about yourself. Impress them from the beginning. (And if you can afford to plaster your face on the side of a bus, go ahead.)

    3. Know when to move on

    What Jay-Z did: In 2003, at the peak of his career (up to that point), he decided to retire. Barely 34, Jay-Z felt he couldn't top himself, so he decided to walk away. (That said, he un-retired a few years later, which is something we have criticized before, too. So don't cry "wolf" either.")

    What you can do: Jay-Z retired, but most of us don't have that luxury right now. However, if you're just going through the motions and the excitement and passion you once had are lacking, then don't be afraid to look around. Maybe you need to talk to your boss, find a new job or get into a new industry. Whatever is right for you, make that move. If you're spending 40 hours each week doing a job that bores you, then you're wasting a lot of your life. You'll be so much happier and more productive if you're interested in what you do.

    4. Be willing to shake things up

    What Jay-Z did: When Jay-Z took over Def Jam records in 2005, he couldn't believe that the business model hadn't changed for decades, and employees had no incentive to work hard. He wanted to see people trying new things -- taking risks and competing to be more innovative than the other. So he held a retreat with the employees, told them what he wanted, and then began to transform the organization. Greenburg notes how people were intrigued by the fact that Jay-Z wanted to learn as much as he could about the business.

    What you can do: When you're not the boss, you can't revamp the organization. But workers can get the attention of the boss and other leadership by coming forward with new ideas. If you're the person interacting with customers every day, you know when the process can be improved and what would make your job more efficient and maybe bring the company more money. Always be respectful, but don't be afraid to be bold once in a while. It can be the only way you stand out sometimes.

    5. Manage your private life

    What Jay-Z did: Jay-Z and Beyoncé are basically music royalty, and when they began quietly dating, everybody wanted to know about it. Yet, they wouldn't comment on their romance, and even to this day the married couple is tight-lipped about any personal information. Therefore you hear more about his and her music than about their personal lives, unlike some famous people.

    What you can do: You don't need to keep your marriage a secret from your manager, unless you want to, but your weekend partying or marital bickering don't belong at work. Often, professionals decide to post Facebook photos of their drunken adventures or get into a big fight with a spouse over the phone so that the entire office hears. Suddenly your personal drama overshadows your hard work. Remember that your professional reputation is a significant factor in promotions, raises and even layoffs. Don't let a killer keg stand undo your years of hard work.

    Of course, there are a lot of other things Jay-Z's done right in his career, so I suggest checking out "Empire State of Mind." It's especially refreshing if you're a music fan and/or someone who's not keen on the typical career guides.

    Source: MSN

  • How To...
    Negotiate Salary

    By Sakina Rangwala

    The road to negotiating salary is filled with ups, downs and doubts, but if you're able to secure the salary you want, you may be a more efficient worker. We spoke to several experts in the field to answer some common questions about the process.

    Know Your Worth

    How do I determine my worth?

    Finding out what you are worth requires research, self-reflection and networking.

    Robin Meyer, associate director of the Office of Career Counseling at Williams College, says salary survey sites on the Web can be helpful, and she also recommends the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) as a good source. Job postings and ads on the Internet, in newspapers and in trade journals are also helpful.

    Look into your professional history and ask yourself, "What do I bring to the table?" Get advice from vocation and job counselors if you don't know where you're headed, says Cary Silberman, a human resource consultant with The Negotiation Institute.

    Meyer suggests documenting your professional progress. "Keep a kudos file to keep track of items like positive work evaluations, examples of your best work, thank you notes from clients, awards or recognitions so that you have them at your fingertips when you need them," she says.

    Last, but most importantly: Network, network, network. Experts agree that the best source of salary information is other people in the same field.

    "You are worth different amounts in different markets…What's more, you may be worth more to one company than you would be to another," says Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O'Clock Club, a career counseling and outplacement organization.

    Ultimately, "you're worth whatever they will pay you," says Meyer.

    What factors impact my worth?

    Many people believe that skills, experience and education are the only things that impact their worth in terms of salary. However, there are several other factors: geographic location, industry, company size -- and sometimes even who you report to -- can determine your worth, says Joe Kilmartin, managing director of compensation consulting at

    He notes that worth sometimes depends on the state of the job market and the personality of the applicant.

    "Personality is a very important factor, because you may have the best background but if your personality does not mesh into an organization, you may not get what you are worth," he said.

    How do I find out the typical salary for my position?

    Check the job announcement for a salary range. If it's not listed, you may have to do some research. "For a unique job, look at job sites specific to your occupation, like nurses should go to a job site catering specifically to healthcare workers," Kilmartin advises.

    If you can't find what you are looking for, it may be because you are not searching correctly, says Kilmartin. "One of the biggest complaints users have with [] is when an employee mismatches their job."

    For example, he says, you may be looking at the salary information of a senior accountant and have the same title but you've been at your company for less than two years and may not be eligible for the "traditional" salary of a senior accountant.

    If you aren't lucky enough to have access to the results of a compensation survey targeting your profession, experts recommend talking to people in your field.

    "You need to find out what you as a real person are worth to real companies," says Wendleton. At networking meetings you should ask, "What kind of salary could someone like me expect at your company?" she says.

    Be Prepared to Negotiate

    When's the best time to bring up the subject of salary?

    Most job seekers are anxious about salary discussions and want to get it over with as soon as possible. But according to Wendleton, "The person who brings up a number first loses the game."

    She says it is important to talk about the job before you talk salary.

    "Create a job (offer) that suits both you and the hiring manager. Make sure it is at an appropriate level for you. If the job is too low-level, don't ask about the money, upgrade the job!" Wendleton says.

    Once you have negotiated the job and have an offer in hand, that's when you should start salary negotiations.

    However, if you are in your final round of interviews and the employer still hasn't mentioned salary, Silberman recommends throwing the ball in the employer's court by asking politely how much they are offering -- or ask about a salary range for the position.

    Meyer adds that you should not be afraid to turn down a job offer. Instead, have your own "walk-away number in mind," which represents the minimum salary that you will accept before you say, "thanks but no thanks." It is always better to ask and be turned down than not to ask at all!

    Do I have to disclose my salary history?

    Experts agree that honesty is the best policy when it comes to negotiating salary, whether you are weighing offers or disclosing salary history.

    It is common for employers to ask about a salary range; they do so to gauge your expectations and see if they can afford you. For the same reason it is critical to understand that, "If your salary is more than they want to pay, they will discard your application. If your salary is very low, they will discard your application and assume that you are not qualified. So you have only a one-third chance of getting it right and moving along in the hiring process," says Wendleton.

    Be careful about disclosing your salary history too soon; postpone the topic until you have a better idea of what they will offer by politely mentioning that salary won't be a problem and that you and the employer should be able to come to a mutual agreement.

    If you decide not to postpone the conversation, Silberman suggests disclosing your salary history. "But don't just use a blank statement by saying I earned $40,000 period -- steer the conversation by saying that you made $40,000 in your past job but learned many skills and are worth an increase in pay to $50,000."

    Silberman calls this the win-win negotiation theory. Developed by Dr. Gerard Nierenberg, it ensures that all parties benefit from the negotiation process, producing more beneficial outcomes than the competitive winner-takes-all approach.

    I have a job offer from Company A and a higher offer from Company B. I really want to work for Company A. What should I do?

    It would seem like an ideal situation to pit one offer against the other and weigh your options, but don't disclose that to companies you are applying to.

    According to's How to Deal columnist Lily Garcia, "It is in poor taste to try to leverage an offer to obtain a higher salary from another employer." However, she says the higher offer does give you a sense of what you might be worth and this can help to guide your negotiations with the first company -- without disclosing the other offer.

    If it truly is your dream company, most job seekers are willing to accept a lower salary, Garcia says, but if there are some other constraints that are preventing you from accepting that lower offer, you can make them aware that you need to make a certain amount of money in order meet your mortgage payments, for example.

    Source: The Washington Post

  • Where Will You
    Be in Five Years?

    by Amy Gallo

    Most people have been asked that perennial, and somewhat annoying, question: "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Of course it is asked most often in a job interview, but it may also come up in a conversation at a networking event or a cocktail party. Knowing and communicating your career goals is challenging for even the most ambitious and focused person. Can you really know what job you'll be doing, or even want to be doing, in five years?

    What the Experts Say

    In today's work world, careers take numerous twists and turns and the future is often murky. "Five years, in today's environment, is very hard to predict. Most businesses don't even know what's going to be required in two or three years," says Joseph Weintraub, a professor of management and organizational behavior at Babson College and co-author of the book, The Coaching Manager: Developing Top Talent in Business. While it may be difficult to give a direct and honest response to this question, Weintraub and Timothy Butler, a senior fellow and the director of Career Development Programs at Harvard Business School, agree that you need to be prepared to answer it. And you need to treat any conversation like an interview. "Every person you talk to or meet is a potential contact, now or in the future," says Weintraub.

    The first step is knowing the answer for yourself. "It's a very profound question. At the heart of it is 'where does meaning reside for me?'" says Butler. You have to clarify for yourself what you aspire to do with your career before you can communicate it confidently to others.

    Be introspective

    Figuring out the answer to this question is not an easy task. "The real issue is to do your homework. If you're thinking this through in the moment, you're in trouble," says Butler. In his book Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Discovering Your Next Career Path, Butler cautions that you need to be prepared to do some serious introspection and consider parts of your life that you may not regularly think about. "It starts with a reflection on what you are good at and what you are not good at," says Weintraub. Far too many people spend time doing things they are not suited for or enjoy. Weintraub suggests you ask yourself three questions:

    1. What are my values?

    2. What are my goals?

    3. What am I willing to do to get there?

    This type of contemplation can help you set a professional vision for the next five years. The challenge is then to articulate that vision in various situations: a meeting with your manager, a networking chat, or a job interview.

    If you don't know, admit it

    Even the deepest soul-searching may not yield a definitive plan for you. There are many moving parts in people's career decisions — family, the economy, finances — and you may simply not know what the next five years holds. Some worry that without a polished answer they will appear directionless. This may be true in some situations. "For some people, if you don't have the ambition, you're not taken seriously," says Weintraub. But you shouldn't fake it or make up an answer to satisfy your audience. This can be especially dangerous in a job interview. Saying you want P&L responsibility in five years when you have no such ambitions may land you the job, but ultimately will you be happy? "Remember the goal is to find the right job, not just a job. You don't want to get it just because you were a good interviewee," says Weintraub.

    Know what they're really asking

    Butler and Weintraub agree that while the five-year question is not a straightforward one. Butler says that hiring managers rely on it to get at several different pieces of information at once. The interviewer may want to know, Is this person going to be with us in five years? "The cost of turnover is high so one of my biggest concerns as a hiring manager is getting someone who will be around," says Butler. There is another implied question as well: Is the position functionally well-matched for you? The interviewer wants to know if you'll enjoy doing the job. Weintraub points to another possibility: "They are trying to understand someone's goal orientation and aspirational level." In other words, how ambitious are you? Before responding, consider what the asker wants to know.

    Focus on learning and development

    You run the risk of coming off as arrogant if you answer this question by saying you hope to take on a specific position in the company, especially if the interviewer is currently in that position. Butler suggests you avoid naming a particular role and answer the question in terms of learning and development: What capabilities will you have wanted to build in five years? For example, "I can't say exactly what I'm going to be doing in five years, but I hope to have further developed my skills as a strategist and people manager." This is a safe way to answer regardless of your age or career stage. "You don't want to ever give the impression that you're done learning," says Weintraub.

    Reframe the question

    Research has shown that it's less important that you answer the exact question and more important that you provide a polished answer. Enter the interview knowing what three things you want the interviewer to know about you. Use every question, not just this one, to get those messages across. You can also shorten the timeframe of the question by saying something like, "I don't know where I'll be in five years, but within a year, I hope to land several high-profile clients." You can also use the opportunity to express what excites you most about the job in question. "In any competitive environment, the job is going to go to someone who is genuinely interested and can articulate their interest," says Butler.

    Principles to Remember


    - First, do the contemplative work to develop a personal answer to the question
    - Understand what the interviewer is trying to gather from your response
    - Shorten the timeframe of the question so you can give a more specific and reasonable reply


    - Make up an answer you don't believe in
    - Provide a specific position or title; instead focus on what you hope to learn
    - Feel limited to answering the narrow question asked — broaden it to communicate what you want the hiring manager to know about you

    Case Study #1: Know where you thrive

    Bob Halsey found out about the opening of associate dean of Babson's undergraduate program the same way everyone else at the school did — through an email announcement. He had been on the faculty as a professor of Accounting for 12 years and recently had taken on the role of chair for that department. Prior to his academic career, he had been in the corporate world, holding a CFO position at a retailing and manufacturing company and working as the vice president and manager of the commercial lending division of a large bank.

    The associate dean job appealed to him because it was similar to the positions in which he'd thrived in the corporate world. Reflecting on his years of experience, Bob knew he most enjoyed being in a supporting role, rather than the top gun. While an associate dean position is often seen as a stepping-stone for those who eventually want to become dean, Bob wasn't interested in that. He didn't want to be the center of attention, now or in the future.

    Plus everyone at the school loved the current dean, Dennis Hanno, and Bob knew it would be unpalatable for him to talk with the nominating committee about eventually unseating Dennis. When asked about his future plans, Bob was clear: "I said, 'I'm not coming in with any designs on becoming dean. And if Dennis leaves, I will keep the train going until we get a new dean. I have always been a terrific number two. I am the person who can make your number one a success.'" Joe Weintraub, the expert from above and a member of the committee, said it was clear that Bob was passionate about the role, and the committee was impressed with his candor. He said that under other circumstances Bob might have appeared to be lacking aspiration, but in this case his response simply told them he was the right person for the job.

    "When people really want a job, they tend to overpromise. I figured it doesn't do me any good to get in under false expectations," says Bob. "My motivation in taking this job was to work alongside and learn from Dennis." He has been serving as associate dean for close to a year now and has found the satisfaction he was looking for.

    Case Study #2: Be honest about the future

    Three years ago Margaret Quandt was working as an HR generalist at Bristol Myers Squibb when a former colleague who worked at CitiGroup called to ask if she was interested in applying for a generalist job. At the time, Margaret wasn't sure she wanted to continue along the generalist track. She knew she eventually wanted more specialty experience. "I went into HR to be an HR professional, not to be a generalist," she says. But her contact told her there would likely be other more specialized opportunities in the future, so she decided to apply.

    During an interview with Brian, the SVP of the division that she would be supporting, he asked her, "Do you want to run HR someday?" Brian was a highly ambitious senior executive; as the SVP of Commercial Payment Solutions, he held full P&L responsibility. Margaret answered, "I don't know." She could see Brian react immediately: "His whole body language changed and he sat back in his chair". She then qualified her response, "Aspirationally yes," she said, "but I also love teaching and research. I'm a young woman in my childbearing years and I've worked with enough women in HR to know that we don't always get to do what we aspire to. It's really hard for me at this point in my career to look more than three years out." Brian paused for a long time and then said, "That's one of the most honest answers I've heard." After the interview, Margaret was concerned she might have blown it, but she was happy with her decision to be honest. "I don't lie in interviews," she says.

    Margaret got the job and soon after she was hired Brian confessed that he had been concerned about her answer at first. But as he reflected on it, he realized how much sense it made. It showed him that Margaret was both thoughtful and serious about her career. Margaret was the HR generalist to Brian's division for 17 months; then, as she'd hoped, she was promoted to her current, specialized role managing a global leadership development program for high-performing managers.

    Source: Harvard Business Review

  • Making Sure Your Employees Succeed

    by Amy Gallo

    It's common knowledge that helping employees set and reach goals is a critical part of every manager's job. Employees want to see how their work contributes to larger corporate objectives, and setting the right targets makes this connection explicit for them, and for you, as their manager. Goal-setting is particularly important as a mechanism for providing ongoing and year-end feedback. By establishing and monitoring targets, you can give your employees real-time input on their performance while motivating them to achieve more.

    What the Experts Say
    So, how involved should you be in helping employees establish and achieve their goals? Since failure to meet goals can have consequences for you, your employee, and your team, as well as the broader organization, you need to balance your involvement with the employee's ownership over the process. Linda Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and co-author of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, says "A manager's job is to provide 'supportive autonomy' that's appropriate to the person's level of capability." The key is to be hands-on while giving your people the room they need to succeed on their own. Here are some principles to follow as you navigate how to best support your people in reaching their objectives.

    Connect employee goals to larger company goals
    For goals to be meaningful and effective in motivating employees, they must be tied to larger organizational ambitions. Employees who don't understand the roles they play in company success are more likely to become disengaged. "Achieving goals is often about making tradeoffs when things don't go as planned. [Employees] need to understand the bigger picture to make those tradeoffs when things go wrong," says Hill. No matter what level the employee is at, he should be able to articulate exactly how his efforts feed into the broader company strategy.

    Make sure goals are attainable but challenging
    Since employees are ultimately responsible for reaching their goals, they need to have a strong voice in setting them. Ask your employee to draft goals that directly contribute to the organization's mission. Once she's suggested initial goals, discuss whether her targets are both realistic and challenging enough. "Stretch targets emerge as a process of negotiation between the employee and the manager," says Srikant M. Datar, the Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Accounting at Harvard University and contributor to the Goal Setting module of Harvard ManageMentor. Be careful though: your team members are likely to resent you if you insist on goals that are too challenging to accomplish. At the same time, you don't want to aim too low, either. If you are overly cautious, you will miss opportunities and settle for mediocrity. "When done well, stretch goals create a lot of energy and momentum in an organization," says Datar. But, when done badly, they "do not achieve the goal of motivating employees and helping them achieve better performance as they were designed to do," he adds. Even worse, poorly set goals can be destructive to employees' morale and productivity, and to the organization's performance overall.

    Create a plan for success
    Once a goal is set, ask your employee to explain how he plans to meet it. Have him break goals down into tasks and set interim objectives, especially if it's a large or long-term project. Ask your employee: what are the appropriate milestones? What are possible risks and how do you plan to manage them? Because targets are rarely pursued in a vacuum, Hill suggests that you "help your people understand who they are dependent on to achieve those goals." Then problem solve with them on how to best influence those people to get the job done.

    Monitor progress
    Staying on top of employee progress will help head off any troubles early on. "We often get problems because we don't signal that we are partners in achieving goals," says Hill. Don't wait for review time or the end of a project to check in. Review both long-term and short-term goals on a weekly basis. Even your high-performing employees need ongoing feedback and coaching. Ask your employee what type of monitoring and feedback would be most helpful to her, especially if the task is particularly challenging or something she is doing for the first time.

    When things go wrong
    Very few of us reach our goals without some road bumps along the way. Build relationships with employees so that they feel comfortable coming to you if and when problems arise. If your employee encounters an unforeseen obstacle, the goal may need reworking. First, however, ask him to bring a potential solution to you so you can give him coaching and advice. If his efforts to solve the problem fail, you will need to get further involved.

    What about personal goals?
    Some managers neglect to think about what an employee is personally trying to accomplish in the context of work. "If I account for the interests of the whole person, not just the work person, I'm going to get more value from them," says Stewart D. Friedman, Practice Professor of Management at the Wharton School and author of Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life. For example, if your employee has expressed an interest in teaching but that is not part of his job responsibilities, you may be able to find ways to sculpt his job to include opportunities to train peers or less experienced colleagues.

    The first step is for you to understand what these goals are. Ask employees if they have any personal goals they want to share with you. Don't pressure them; they should only share these aspirations if they feel comfortable. Friedman suggests you then ask, 'What adjustments might we try that would help you achieve your goals?" This allows the employee to take ownership over the solution. Just as with work goals, you need to be sure personal goals contribute to your team, unit, or to the company. "It's got to be a shared commitment to experiment and mutual responsibility to check in on how it's going. It's got to be a win for both," says Friedman.

    When goals aren't met
    There will be times, even with the best support, when employees fail to meet their targets. "Hold people accountable. You can't say 'Gee, that's too bad.' You need to figure out what went wrong and why," says Hill. Discuss with your employee what happened and what each of you think went wrong. If the problem was within his control, ask him to apply the possible solutions you've discussed, take another stab at reaching the goal, and check in with you more frequently. If it was something that was outside of his power or the goal was too ambitious, acknowledge the disappointment but don't dwell on it. "Do the diagnosis, get the learning, and move on," says Hill.

    It's possible that you may have contributed to the problem. Be willing to reflect on your role in the failure. Were you too hands off and failed to check in frequently enough? Did you not review his work in a timely way? Have an open discussion about what you can do next time. "If you don't hold yourself accountable, they're going to have trouble with you," says Hill.

    Principles to Remember

    Connect individuals' goals to broader organization objectives
    Show employees that you are a partner in achieving their goals
    Learn about and incorporate employees' personal interests into their professional goals

    Allow employees to set goals alone
    Take a hands-off approach to high performers — they need input and feedback to meet their goals as well
    Ignore failures — be sure people have the opportunity to learn when they don't achieve goals

    Case Study #1: Being a partner in goal attainment
    Meghan Lantier is known at Bliss PR for being a natural people developer. As the vice president of the firm's financial services practice, Meghan manages several senior account executives, including Shauna Ellerson*. Meghan has overseen Shauna's work since Shauna started at Bliss four and a half years ago. Since the beginning, they have set goals through a collaborative process: Shauna develops draft goals, Meghan comes up with ones she believes Shauna needs to focus on, and then they identify the overlap between them. "I want to make sure they are manageable but stretched too," says Meghan. The two regularly check in on these goals. Meghan takes a hands-on approach, providing Shauna with regular input. They also sit down together at least four times a year to have a more formal discussion about Shauna's ambitions.

    One of Shauna's goals is to become more of a thought leader on one of their largest financial services accounts. She has mastered the day-to-day work of managing the client and now needs to focus on the bigger picture. Shauna has been working on this goal for several months now by speaking up more in client meetings and providing more input into the content, not just the process, of their work. "We don't need a goal review session. I give her constant feedback in the context of the work," says Meghan.

    Meghan also knows that ultimately Shauna is responsible for her own achievements. "I'm fully invested in making it work but I realized the limitations I have as a manager to make it happen," she says. It hasn't been necessary to talk about the consequences if Shauna fails to meet the goal — there are natural consequences in Bliss's high-performing culture. If you don't succeed, you don't get the better assignments.

    *Not her real name; changed since publication

    Case Study #2: Supporting personal goals
    Amy Werner took a job at the New York City-based search firm On-Ramps just over three years ago. Amy joined at an integral time in the firm's growth and quickly became a key asset to the small firm. Sarah Grayson, one of the firm's founding partners, manages Amy and explains, "Amy has a lot of institutional knowledge and is a high performer." When she first began she was working toward a degree in social work but taking classes at nights and on the weekends. A year and a half into the job, Amy's school schedule became more complicated. Her internship requirements made working a traditional, full-time schedule difficult. Because of her star performance, Sarah and her fellow partners were keen to keep her on board while encouraging her to complete her degree. Amy remained full time but now works two days a week in the office, completing the rest of her hours on nights and weekends. As Amy says, "They have been nothing but supportive."

    The firm has a semi-annual review process where goals are set and discussed; they also do more frequent check-ins on goals during weekly meetings. Amy and Sarah have talked a lot about how On-Ramps can support Amy not only by providing a flexible schedule but by thinking about the intersection of her studies and her work. They've found that there are lots of transferable skills between her job as a search associate and her work as a social worker, such as interviewing and client management. In explaining why they are so supportive of Amy's educational activities, Sarah says, "We wouldn't have done this for a low performer. We have to ask ourselves, 'What would it take to hire another Amy?'" Amy will be finishing her master's degree in May and she and Sarah have begun to discuss what's next for her. Both hope that there is a way to combine her skills in search and her interest in social work to create a job that is ideal for both her and On-Ramps.

    Source: Harvard Business Review

  • Why Most Product Launches Fail

    by Joan Schneider and Julie Hall

    As partners in a firm that specializes in product launches, we regularly get calls from entrepreneurs and brand managers seeking help with their "revolutionary" products. After listening politely, we ask about the research supporting their claims. The classic response? "We haven't done the research yet, but we know anecdotally that it works and is totally safe." We've been fielding these calls for so long that we can often tell from one conversation whether the launch will succeed.

    Can You Hear Me Now? One of Our Biggest Misses

    Most won't. According to a leading market research firm, about 75% of consumer packaged goods and retail products fail to earn even $7.5 million during their first year. This is in part because of the intransigence of consumer shopping habits. The consultant Jack Trout has found that American families, on average, repeatedly buy the same 150 items, which constitute as much as 85% of their household needs; it's hard to get something new on the radar. Even P&G routinely whiffs with product rollouts. Less than 3% of new consumer packaged goods exceed first-year sales of $50 million—considered the benchmark of a highly successful launch. And products that start out strong may have trouble sustaining success: We looked at more than 70 top products in the Most Memorable New Product Launch survey (which we help conduct) for the years 2002 through 2008. A dozen of them are already off the market.

    Remember Any of These Short-lived Successes?

    Numerous factors can cause new products to fail. (See the sidebar "40 Ways to Crash a Product Launch.") The biggest problem we've encountered is lack of preparation: Companies are so focused on designing and manufacturing new products that they postpone the hard work of getting ready to market them until too late in the game. Here are five other frequent, and frequently fatal, flaws.

    40 Ways to Crash a Product Launch

    Flaw 1: The company can't support fast growth.

    The Lesson: Have a plan to ramp up quickly if the product takes off.

    Mosquito Magnet

    In 2000 we worked with American Biophysics on the launch of its Mosquito Magnet, which uses carbon dioxide to lure mosquitoes into a trap. The timing was perfect: The West Nile virus scare had elevated mosquitoes from irritating nuisances to life-threatening disease carriers.

    Mosquito Magnet quickly became one of the top-selling products in the Frontgate catalog and at Home Depot. But American Biophysics proved more adept at killing mosquitoes than at running a fast-growing consumer products company. When it expanded manufacturing from its low-volume Rhode Island facility to a mass-production plant in China, quality dropped. Consumers became angry, and a product that was saving lives almost went off the market. American Biophysics, which had once had $70 million in annual revenue, was sold to Woodstream for the bargain-basement price of $6 million. Mosquito Magnet is making money for Woodstream today, but the shareholders who originally funded the device have little to show for its belated success.

    Flaw 2: The product falls short of claims and gets bashed.

    The Lesson: Delay your launch until the product is really ready.

    Microsoft Windows Vista

    In 2007, when Microsoft launched Windows Vista, the media and the public had high expectations. So did the company, which allotted $500 million for marketing and predicted that 50% of users would run the premium edition within two years. But the software had so many compatibility and performance problems that even Microsoft's most loyal customers revolted. Vista flopped, and Apple lampooned it in an ad campaign ("I'm a Mac"), causing many consumers to believe that Vista had even more problems than it did.

    If Vista were launched today, the outcome might be even worse, owing to the rising popularity of Twitter and YouTube and the prevalence of Facebook "hate" pages. As social media and user-generated reviews proliferate, the power of negative feedback will only increase—making it even more imperative that products be ready before they hit the market.

    Flaw 3: The new item exists in "product limbo."

    The Lesson: Test the product to make sure its differences will sway buyers.

    Coca-Cola C2

    For its biggest launch since Diet Coke, Coca-Cola identified a new market: 20- to 40-year-old men who liked the taste of Coke (but not its calories and carbs) and liked the no-calorie aspect of Diet Coke (but not its taste or feminine image). C2, which had half the calories and carbs and all the taste of original Coke, was introduced in 2004 with a $50 million advertising campaign.

    However, the budget couldn't overcome the fact that C2's benefits weren't distinctive enough. Men rejected the hybrid drink; they wanted full flavor with no calories or carbs, not half the calories and carbs. And the low-carb trend turned out to be short-lived. (Positioning a product to leverage a fad is a common mistake.)

    Why didn't these issues come up before the launch? Sometimes market research is skewed by asking the wrong questions or rendered useless by failing to look objectively at the results. New products can take on a life of their own within an organization, becoming so hyped that there's no turning back. Coca-Cola's management ultimately deemed C2 a failure. Worldwide case volume for all three drinks grew by only 2% in 2004 (and growth in North America was flat), suggesting that C2's few sales came mostly at the expense of Coke and Diet Coke. The company learned from its mistake, though: A year later it launched Coke Zero, a no-calorie, full-flavor product that can be found on shelves—and in men's hands—today.

    Flaw 4: The product defines a new category and requires substantial consumer education—but doesn't get it.

    The Lesson: If consumers can't quickly grasp how to use your product, it's toast.

    Febreze Scentstories

    In 2004 P&G launched a scent "player" that looked like a CD player and emitted scents (contained on $5.99 discs with names like "Relaxing in the Hammock") every 30 minutes. The company hired the singer Shania Twain for its launch commercials. This confused consumers, many of whom thought the device involved both music and scents, and the ambiguity caused Scentstories to fail.

    When a product is truly revolutionary, celebrity spokespeople may do more harm than good. A strong educational campaign may be a better way to go. The product's features provide the messages to build brand voice, aided by research and development teams, outside experts, and consumers who've tested and love the product.

    Flaw 5: The product is revolutionary, but there's no market for it.

    The Lesson: Don't gloss over the basic questions "Who will buy this and at what price?"


    The buzz spiraled out of control when news of a secret new product code-named Ginger and created by the renowned inventor Dean Kamen leaked to the press nearly 12 months before the product's release. Kamen, it was said, was coming up with nothing less than an alternative to the automobile. When investors and the public learned that the invention was actually a technologically advanced motorized scooter, they were dumbfounded. Ads showing riders who looked like circus performers perching on weird-looking chariots didn't help, nor did the price tag—$5,000. Instead of selling 10,000 machines a week, as Kamen had predicted, the Segway sold about 24,000 in its first five years. Now it sells for far less to police forces, urban tour guides, and warehouse companies, not the general public. If there was ever a product to disprove the axiom "If you build it, they will come," it's the Segway.

    Some of these problems are more fixable than others. Flaws 1 and 2 are largely matters of timing: If the launches of Mosquito Magnet and Microsoft Vista had been postponed, the manufacturing and quality problems might have been resolved. Even though companies may be wedded to long-established or seasonal launch dates, they would do well to delay if waiting might increase the odds of success. Flaws 3, 4, and 5 are trickier, because they relate more directly to the product itself. Managers must learn to engage the brand team and marketing, sales, advertising, public relations, and web professionals early on, thus gaining valuable feedback that can help steer a launch or, if necessary, abort it. Hearing opposing opinions can be painful—but not as painful as launching a product that's not right for the market or has no market at all.

    Source: Harvard Business Review

  • 10 Reasons You Aren't Rich

    By Jeffrey Strain

    The reason why you aren't a millionaire (or on your way to becoming one) is really quite simple. You probably assume it's because you aren't earning enough money, but the truth is that for most people, whether or not you become a millionaire has very little to do with the amount of money you make. It's the way that you treat money in your daily life. Here are 10 possible reasons you aren't a millionaire:

    10. You Care What Your Neighbors Think

    If you're competing against them and their material possessions, you're wasting your hard-earned money on toys to impress them instead of building your wealth.

    9. You Aren't Patient

    Until the era of credit cards, it was difficult to spend more than you had. That is not the case today. If you have credit card debt because you couldn't wait until you had enough money to purchase something in cash, you are making others wealthy while keeping yourself in debt.

    8. You Have Bad Habits

    Whether it's smoking, drinking, gambling or some other bad habit, the habit is using up a lot of money that could go toward building wealth. Most people don't realize that the cost of their bad habits extends far beyond the immediate cost. Take smoking, for example: It costs a lot more than the pack of cigarettes purchased. It also negatively affects your wealth in the form of higher insurance rates and decreased value of your home.

    7. You Have No Goals

    It's difficult to build wealth if you haven't taken the time to know what you want. If you haven't set wealth goals, you aren't likely to attain them. You need to do more than state, "I want to be a millionaire." You need to take the time to set saving and investing goals on a yearly basis and come up with a plan for how to achieve those goals.

    6. You Haven't Prepared

    Bad things happen to the best of people from time to time, and if you haven't prepared for such a thing to happen to you through insurance, any wealth that you might have built can be gone in an instant.

    5. You Try to Make a Quick Buck

    For the vast majority of us, wealth doesn't come instantly. You may believe that people winning the lottery are a dime a dozen, but the truth is you're far more likely to get struck by lightning than win the lottery. This desire to get rich quickly likely extends into the way you invest, with similar results.

    4. You Rely on Others to Take Care of Your Money

    You believe that others have more knowledge about money matters, and you rely exclusively on their judgment when deciding where you should invest your money. Unfortunately, most people want to make money themselves, and this is their primary objective when they tell you how to invest your money. Listen to other people's advice to get new ideas, but in the end you should know enough to make your own investing decisions.

    3. You Invest in Things You Don't Understand

    You hear that Bob has made a lot of money doing it, and you want to get in on the gravy train. If Bob really did make money, he did so because he understood how the investment worked. Throwing in your money because someone else has made money without fully understanding how the investment works will keep you from being wealthy.

    2. You're Financially Afraid

    You are so scared of risk that you keep all your money in a savings account that is actually losing money when inflation is put into the equation, yet you refuse to move it to a place where higher rates of return are possible because you're afraid that you will lose money.

    1. You Ignore Your Finances

    You take the attitude that if you make enough, the finances will take care of themselves. If you currently have debt, it will somehow resolve itself in the future. Unfortunately, it takes planning to become wealthy. It doesn't magically happen to the vast majority of people.

    In reality, it is probably not just one of the above bad habits that has kept you from becoming a millionaire, but a combination of a few of them. Take a hard look at the list, and do some reflecting. If you want to be a millionaire, it's well within your power, but you'll have to face the issues that are currently keeping you from creating that wealth before you will have a chance to call yourself one.

    Source: The Street