Author’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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
I 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 »
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 »
Sometimes 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 »
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 »
A key challenge we face as professionals and leaders is how to assess performance of both ourselves and our teams. We can’t be everywhere all the time to observe and as hard as I try I can’t really watch myself objectively. There isn’t an “eye in the sky” observing us and our teams to allow clear evidence for performance. So how can we get close to “objective” assessment? I don’t have any perfect answers, but here are a few ideas.
This idea crystallized for me a few weeks ago when Shannon Sharpe (retired NFL tight end, now CBS analyst) said something on the NFL pre game show that struck me. He was referring to a former coach who used to say “I see better than I hear.” He went on to explain his coach’s observation that we say a lot of stuff, but what we do is more telling. In the NFL they say “film doesn’t lie”. You can tell me all you want to about how well you did, but how did the play/game actually go? NFL games have the full field view and you can see everything everyone did. No hiding. Read the rest of this entry »
Note: The following post is by a friend and former colleague of mine, Jon Matejcek. Jon is President of Dashe & Thomson, a Minneapolis-based firm that provides training and communication services for Fortune 1000 firms. He is unusually wise…
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to interview dozens of smart and experienced job candidates. It seems to me that college graduates and early-career job candidates get better every year at rounding-out their limited experience with relevant internships, volunteer positions, and coursework.
One thing that never seems to change, however, and that I continually find surprising and disappointing: most people are tremendously bad at interviewing.
It’s not because they aren’t good at selling their qualifications; it’s fairly easy – and common – to list one’s strengths and experience. And, most interviewees do a serviceable job of it. Read the rest of this entry »