Start Small to Win Big (or Fail Quietly)…

green shootsI don’t know about the rest of you, but I have had to learn to avoid making some goals virtually unachievable from the get go. Lose 20 pounds! Improve efficiency by 35% in your area! Grow your business by (ridiculously large) percent!

The chasm between where you are and where the dream might put you can seem really wide. Some folks are great at ignoring obstacles and blindly plowing ahead, sustained by some mix of endless optimism or ignorance. Most people I know can’t do that, nor do I think they should. One person’s dream is another person’s fool’s errand.

So how do I have big dreams or goals, make progress and NOT kill myself, my colleagues or those around me? Start small! Read the rest of this entry »

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Interviewing: Defending Weaknesses

All artwork/posters are wholly-owned imagery made by Getty Images.  Images numbers are on property release.,People who “win” in the interviewing process almost invariably are effective at what I would call “defending perceived weaknesses.” For any desirable position, the competition will be fierce. The margin between the candidate who gets the offer and “1st runner up” will be slim. Eliminating concerns can be as or more important than proudly highlighting strengths.

I remain surprised at how unprepared many candidates are for what seem to be obvious questions that poke and prod around their metaphorical soft underbelly. Stated differently, “how could you NOT know I was going to ask about that?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Clarity: Your actions speak so loudly, Part 2

reflection of manakinLast post we discussed being honest with yourself and whether you see yourself clearly. The next logical question then is, “do you understand how the world sees you?” Understanding our own motivations, actions, successes and missteps is important. We often fail to understand or forget how powerful a message we are sending through our actions. To repeat Mr. Emerson, “your actions speak so loudly, that I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

My father used to observe that as a leader, he couldn’t see into people’s hearts. All he could see was what they did. I think that’s exactly right. His point was that trying too hard to discern “intent” or “the content of people’s hearts” can be really challenging. Read the rest of this entry »

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Back in the saddle…

back in saddleEveryone hits a lull or loses focus on things they care about. For me, the blog has gone on virtual hiatus since I took a new role as Assistant Dean of MBA Programs at the Carlson School. I’ve had a weekly goal to get something posted every week for two years. And got a grand total of 4 posts up last year. That’s the same number I posted my last year at 3M when I ran a global business, we had our 3rd child and both my parents died. So not an impressive showing. It’s a great example of competing priorities, loss of momentum and a variety of other themes.

In the last few months a few things have changed. My partner and I agreed to shut down our start up, my job while crazy has become more “predictable” in year 3 and as I’ve reflected in my planning for the year I really miss the time, thought and feedback I get when I’m writing. I’m also a big new year’s resolution guy. So this year, my plan is to post 2x per month with something original. We’ll see how it goes.

As always, if you have any post ideas please send them along or post a comment. Also, if you have ideas for “renovations” to the site, please also offer them. Looking forward to 2015!

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Clarity: Your actions speak so loudly…

reflection of manakinRalph Waldo Emerson famously said “your actions speak so loudly, that I can’t hear what you’re saying.” I shared this with my son recently as one explanation for why effort matters. People can see your effort, or lack of. And in the end it shows in results.

But I think Emerson speaks to a broader theme about the games we play with ourselves and with others. I’m going to focus on the importance of being honest with yourself and others, as well as the importance of reading your environment.

Do you really see yourself clearly?

It is incredibly powerful to “know yourself”. It helps you make good choices about priorities, helps you be a strong teammate and in general makes for a happier existence. It’s also a journey, as we all change over time. I am both very much the same and very different today than 20 years ago.

For example, You say you really are committed or love something? Are you really? Read the rest of this entry »

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Career Decisions: Renewal and the Power of Choosing to Stay

green shootsSometimes, almost leaving makes you appreciate what you have even more.

Just recently, I had an opportunity to consider a new role in another organization. The process of working through the decision to stay or go personally and with my family required a fairly exhaustive analysis and a good deal of introspection.

We decided to stay.

In the aftermath of taking what was a fairly emotional family decision I have felt a sense of renewal and clarity at work. I am more encouraged about our prospects, recommitted to several ambitious goals and find that many things that had been irritating me don’t bother me as much. Or at least I’m more patient with them. Why?  Read the rest of this entry »

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Career Exploration Part 3: Phil’s Recent Journey

fish bowlsThe prior two posts (pt 1, pt 2) in this series laid out how to determine motivation, define potential pathways and then make progress.  At the risk of being self-referential, I’ll lay out my own journey over the last 3-4 years to show how I have applied these principles to two different journeys. The first is my current job which I would characterize as a “lateral” move and the other is a start up I am working on that I would put in the “divergent” category.

I find it helps to be specific in giving examples. But as always, please be creative in recognizing these as principles, not rules and apply them as makes sense in your life.

As a reminder, the steps in questions are:

  1. Determine motivation: Why am I seeking change?
  2. Define pathways: What are three “alternate realities”?
  3. Get going!: How do I start?
  4. Make progress: How many bridges do I need to build or cross?
  5. Choose: How do I make quality decisions along the way?
  6. Repeat.

Lateral Move: Assistant Dean

About two years ago, I moved into my current role as Assistant Dean for MBA programs at the Carlson School of Management at the University of MN. In some ways it was an obvious move but in others, not so much. Read the rest of this entry »

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Career Exploration Part 2: Test Alternate Realities & Build Bridges to Your Future

fish bowlsIn my last post I laid out a process first few steps to take in finding new opportunities. In this post I’ll offer some advice on how to get going on the ideas you generated.

First a reminder of the process:

  1. Determine motivation: Why am I seeking change? (Part 1)
  2. Define pathways: What are three “alternate realities”? (Part 1)
  3. Get going!: How do I start?
  4. Make progress: How many bridges do I need to build or cross?
  5. Choose: How do I make quality decisions along the way?
  6. Repeat.

Read the rest of this entry »

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North Loop Careers Launch

North Loop Careers - Final-01So as I’ve puttered for years on career topics and worked with students and employers through the prism of a business school, it became clear to me how poorly served many, many undergraduates are in today’s higher ed world. I am privileged to work at an institution that does a fantastic job. But the majority of kids do not have access to the quality or consistency of career advising that’s required in today’s rapidly evolving and globally competitive world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Career Exploration Part 1: Build Alternate Realities to Explore

fish bowlsAuthor’s note – As usual, this post started small and has become a multi-post monster. What began as the concept of “alternate realities” that I often use as a frame for discussing how to move forward in a career search blossomed into how to think about exploration more broadly. So we’ll spend a few posts in the coming weeks on some core ideas and a methodology for how to systematically lay out and begin building future opportunities.

Ever wonder how some things just work out professionally for a friend or colleague? Have you thought about why interesting opportunities seem to pop up for them, often times “non-obvious” ones? Are you looking to find more fulfillment but are reluctant to just jump into something you don’t understand? Read the rest of this entry »

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millerphillerPhil Miller
@millerphiller:
I've recommitted to a regular writing calendar and am always looking for ideas on what interests folks. https://t.co/PokGvJUDqJ
1 month ago
jedgar023Josh Edgar
@jedgar023:
RT @millerphiller: Good piece on trying to solve this issue: Can the U.S. Ever Fix Its Messed-Up Maternity Leave System? http://t.co/1BPbD5…
2 months ago
deirdreoppDeirdre Opp
@deirdreopp:
RT @millerphiller: Good piece on trying to solve this issue: Can the U.S. Ever Fix Its Messed-Up Maternity Leave System? http://t.co/1BPbD5…
2 months ago
millerphillerPhil Miller
@millerphiller:
Good piece on trying to solve this issue: Can the U.S. Ever Fix Its Messed-Up Maternity Leave System? http://t.co/1BPbD5Azqm via @BW
2 months ago