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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“It’s Your Choice”

A thoughtful and moving TEDxUMN talk from former student Adam Moen. It’s a powerful message about creating your own internal definition of success as well as finding meaning.  We all get evaluated and that can be important. But Adam’s discovery was that those definitions of success rang hollow and he needed to develop his own sense of meaning.


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Learning Through Failure

paper trailI think in life, it’s important to try to do things you might “fail” at. Whether it be trying a new personal skill (for me lately skiing) or a new idea at work.

I was reminded of this and how our culture doesn’t necessarily strike the right tone on this recently as my two boys debated a t-shirt.

My son Teddy (5th grader) was recently wearing a t-shirt with the caption “helping kids fail since 1998″. His 3rd grade brother Sammy tenderly observed how “stupid” that t-shirt was. A very sophisticated exchange ensued. Sam’s basic point was “I don’t fail” and “Why would you brag about failing?” Teddy got very animated in explaining the irony of the caption and how science works, but Sam was not going to be moved.

Setting aside the brotherly “love” involved, the boys were arguing a fundamental point both about how we view and run our lives and also how we work and lead. Read the rest of this entry »

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Career Management: Painful Lessons


Sometimes we learn from warm, positive reinforcement. Sometimes we get direct, clear feedback about what needs to improve. And then there are the times when you get indifferent silence. What follows is a brief example of learning that painful lesson and taking something away from it.

I just ran into a student who thanked me for one of these painful lessons that I inadvertently taught them.

The student in question is a very nice guy, had seen me give a few talks about management consulting and the Consulting Enterprise I used to run at the Carlson School of Management and knew a few of my students. He had connected with me personally and through those friends and I’d agreed to meet to discuss the Enterprise and careers in consulting. Read the rest of this entry »

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Success Destroyers: Failure to Commit

200517785-001I see a lot of people get hung up trying to get career decision making “just right”. This is usually an obstacle to success, particularly early in your career. As the saying goes, “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Here are a few thoughts on why and how to get unstuck.

Reality #1 – Not choosing is choosing: Make no mistake, deferring choices is often passive decision making. A friend of mine refers to as “the fallacy of infinite possibilities”. In it, we wait and wait for just the right thing but in the end are left without much because while we waited…life happened. Opportunities pass by. Windows close.  I see many people let “good” opportunities pass by waiting for “perfect” ones. Maybe I’m not enough of a dreamer, but in my experience you often don’t even know enough early in your career to know what perfect looks like. Which leads to… Read the rest of this entry »

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Career Management: Bet on yourself or your resume?

poker chipsWhat a great way to think about certain career and life choices.

The comment was made by Carlson School alum Sam Rosen while talking about entrepreneurship and risk at our “offroaders’ symposium” a few weeks ago. The event was a pilot attempt at better supporting more diverse set of students’ interests and needs in pursuing “non-traditional” career opportunities. The building was filled with students seeking “something different” and alums and area executives who had companies or roles that are off the typical b-school radar (think NGOs, smaller companies etc). Read the rest of this entry »

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Management Lessons: It’s So Simple

simpleSometimes things are so simple, but we either try to make them more complicated than they need to be or can’t see with the clarity we’d like to. I was reminded of this at a recent lunch with a mentor of mine when I asked the obvious question; “what are your keys to success?”

My friend is a retired senior executive who had sustained success in multiple businesses across his long career at a global F100 company. He drove results while being highly respected by everyone as near as I can tell. I’d point out that results and respect are not always correlated, by my friend was able to do it without leaving a trail of bodies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Networking: Know Your Community

networking“Software developers don’t schmooze. They talk about code & problems they’ve solved. Then they share their code.”

I was chatting with a friend at a church social about networking and meeting people when he popped this gem out. I thought this was a perfect summary of what I’ve referred to before as “networking with content”.

This topic comes up for me a lot, as I work with a number of new students every year. We preach that networking is critical to success in their search and discovery process (and it is). But we NEVER mean “go have a bunch of empty, value destroying meetings with important potential supporters.” Schmoozing doesn’t work in the long run.

So what does “effective” networking look like and what is relevant “content”? (Hint: it doesn’t mean you have to have vast experience or knowledge, but it does mean you have to be interested and interesting…) Read the rest of this entry »

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Twitter Updates
MorgannCarlonMorgann Carlon
RT @millerphiller: Carlson School faculty Kathleen Vohs on what boxer shorts can tell us about women's motivations:
2 months ago
tbprilltedi mason
RT @millerphiller: Carlson School faculty Kathleen Vohs on what boxer shorts can tell us about women's motivations:
2 months ago
millerphillerPhil Miller
Carlson School faculty Kathleen Vohs on what boxer shorts can tell us about women's motivations:
2 months ago