Why Do You Do What You Do?

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Simon Sinek proposed in his 2009 TED Talk titled How Great Leaders Inspire Action that Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs, and other inspirational leaders communicate starting with “Why?” His talk is posted on YouTube and has garnered over 15 million views to date. It also led to a best selling book titled Start with Why. With this in mind, I want to challenge you to consider WHY you do what you do: – Why is your company in business? What is its purpose for being and does that inspire you? – Why do you choose to serve the customers you currently have? Have you consciously chosen them, or did they simply have money you needed? – Why are you running or working for your current company? Have you examined other options, or are you simply accepting a default solution to your need for income? – Why are you in the profession that you practice? Is it motivating and interesting to you? To help clarify your thoughts, Mr. Sinek suggests in his book: “By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief. WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?” As seen in this quote, the inquiry applies as well to a business owner as it does to an individual employee or a customer. If you are a business owner, a clear answer to WHY provides you a higher level of guidance that can decouple your thinking that otherwise may be occupied by analyzing the competition to figure out how your products must be modified to stay...
Invest in Yourself!

Invest in Yourself!

This week a new client came into my office and wrote me a check for several thousand dollars. They could have taken the money and gone on vacation, paid it down on a new car, or bought a new piece of furniture. Instead, they chose to invest in themselves to develop a clear career roadmap and move forward to a better job. Let’s take a closer look at their other possible expenditures: – A vacation might have been very enjoyable. This would have provided them the immediate gratification that many people desire. But, it would not have improved their future. – A new car might also have provided some immediate gratification, too. But it would also result in them continuing to spend money on a depreciating asset. – A new piece of furniture would be nice to have. They could enjoy it for a while, until it blended into the others. And it was sure to depreciate. Yes, the difference in investing in yourself is that you are investing to increase the value … to cause “appreciation” of your greatest asset: yourself. Yet far too few people ever do this. What about you? When was the last time you invested an amount of money in yourself that was in any way comparable to what you have spent on a vacation or a variety of depreciating assets … cars, furniture, clothes, electronics, etc.? For most people, they are their greatest asset. You can invest in yourself and make yourself more valuable. Such an investment can pay for itself many times over. Decades ago, workers assumed that their employers would invest in...
Are You in the Wrong Occupation?

Are You in the Wrong Occupation?

Are you in the wrong occupation? Probably. Here are a few of the top reasons you are likely to be in the wrong occupation: – There are over 10,000 standardized occupations and you have not even considered 9,995 of them – You would consider it wasting you education to go into another field – You are not happy in your current occupation, but don’t have an idea of what you would prefer more – You “fell into” your current occupation when you were younger and never thought about it any further – You are financially comfortable in your current occupation and afraid to change In fact, most people will spend more time planning their next vacation than they spend in their entire lifetime planning their career. So, why not take a moment now and consider five important questions? 1) Do you enjoy the part of your work that is directly related to your occupation? 2) Does your occupation pay at or above what your desire? 3) Are you proud of what you do? 4) Do you feel you are building the kind of career you desire? 5) Is the demand for your occupation growing and the outlook promising? Your answers to these five questions will tell you a lot about whether you are in the right occupation or not. If you are part of the majority of people … the ones who are in the wrong occupation … then finding a better one could be just what you need to kick-start your career happiness. As I mention in Chapter 3 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), “Experience, education, certifications, or other historical realities can be potential barriers...
Is It Time for a Proactive Career Change?

Is It Time for a Proactive Career Change?

When was the last time you searched for a job while employed, found one you liked better, and gave your employer your two week notice? Have you ever even done this at all? If not, you may be living in the past. Whether we like it or not, the average tenure in a job these days is three years or less. Examine the resumes of two or three friends and you are likely to confirm what I am saying. As I mention in my book, “Face the facts. The employer/employee loyalty “worm” has turned. Employers were the first to abandon the longstanding unwritten contract that had promised employment security in return for employee loyalty and hard work. You don’t need to make a choice regarding abandoning this contract because it no longer exists.” There are two basic strategies for dealing with these short job tenures. The traditional strategy is doing the best job you can and, when surprised by job loss, launch a search for new employment. The alternative strategy is to initiate a proactive job search while employed. I meet and speak with unemployed people every week who are not happy about being unemployed. For some, it can take quite a toll. I want you to experience as little of such negative impacts as possible. Making more proactive job changes can help. Here are some times to consider starting up a proactive search: – You don’t get along with your boss and you don’t see this changing in the future – You don’t like your job and don’t see any near-term positive opportunity for change – You are underpaid,...
Can the Corporate Brain Drain Be Reversed?

Can the Corporate Brain Drain Be Reversed?

A few weeks ago, a close relative of mine (a Gen Xer)  resigned his $130,000 a year job. He is a software architect, a profession in short supply. Why did he resign his job? Here are a few reasons: He felt the company management was dysfunctional; the company was milking an antiquated technology; the product that was supposed to be the “next generation” and would save the company was going nowhere; there was not future; he wanted to work on a product of his own that was more interesting and potentially more rewarding. Then, last week, I was in a meeting with another Gen Xer I had never met before. At lunch she told me that, even though things are going extremely well and there are great opportunities for her, she plans to quit her job soon. Why does she plan to resign her job? Here are a few reasons: She realizes that she has no passion for what she is doing; she took the job because a friend needed help and now she feels stuck; she wants to find something that will better align with her interests, even though she is not sure what they are. I saw this in my corporate career many years before. The most talented and motivated get frustrated in corporate organizations. They end up leaving because, other than a paycheck, their employers are failing to fulfill a reasonable percentage of their needs. And that’s OK with most corporations. They don’t even follow HR best practices and conduct “exit interviews”. If they did, they would learn from their management mistakes. But, they don’t. Instead, they...
New Year, New Career!

New Year, New Career!

Each new year offers a time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new one. And this year is no exception. With the economy continuing to improve, more people are likely to seek career improvement in 2015. As I reflected back on clients who were successful in making career improvements in 2014, a few specific ones come to mind…. In January, 2014, my post titled New Year’s Resolution: Quit My Job mentioned the President of a $300 million division. Although meeting 100% of his performance objectives and making over $400K, he felt that he could never make his boss happy. He engaged me to assist with his proactive search for a new job. Within a few weeks, he negotiated an amicable separation agreement that provided several months of severance. Ten weeks later, he landed a comparable position in a new company and collected double pay for quite a few months. This is a good example of what many high performers do. They take action early and typically are rewarded for their proactive efforts. In a subsequent post titled LinkedIn: Improve Your Visibility, Credibility, and Connect-Ability, I provided several suggestions for leveraging this power online system. A little later in the year, I was asked to assist a VP of Sales for a Fortune100 company with strategic LinkedIn and resume improvements. Within three weeks of completion, the VP reported being approached more frequently by recruiters with jobs that were more satisfying. His actions multiplied his options through increasing his LinkedIn visibility and credibility. Later, my post titled What Good Networkers Do… and Don’t Do mentioned a former client whom I had supported in making a transition from being a bank loan officer to starting...