Tag Archives: Stretching

Some Random Thoughts on Networking… Please Add Yours

I went to a networking event recently, held quarterly by a LinkedIn contact.  It was my first time in attendance because I am putting pressure on myself to network more, and farther outside of my comfort zone.  I will benefit, but it does take energy.

understanding

My thoughts:

  • It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, you don’t live in a box so you need to figure out how to keep your contacts fresh.
  • Most people have as many and possibly the same reservations that you have about going.
  • Follow up matters – but is also dependent upon your intent for starting the contact in the first place.
    • How many people do you know that just go through motions because they have been told that they must?
    • One person I know went to coffee with a new contact and was frustrated when the new contact didn’t seem to understand the point of the coffee meeting follow up.  (Hint: it isn’t a coffee klatch.)
  • You need to spend a couple of moments before the event getting your thoughts together about your own expectations for the event.
    • If it is your first event, your objective can be as simple as getting through the event.  Be yourself – your most vivacious self that you can muster.
  • Some people will be there just to collect cards – these are probably the folks who had the most yearbook signatures in high school and a lot of trophies.  Don’t spend too much time with them.
  • This is social, so have some fun.  But remember appropriate behavior for the occasion.

 

Ultimately, networking should help each of us to find people to expand our community.  What do you have to say?

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations, All rights reserved

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Forget About Fix It and Forget It

I wonder if the copywriter who came up with ‘fix it and forget about it’ thinks about how that phrase has permeated our modern over-booked lives.  I don’t even remember the product that prompted the creation of the phrase, do you?  (I Googled it and got a series of cook books, didn’t keep searching.  So join in and make this a conversation if you know.)

 

Well, the phrase is apt for cooking, but not a good fit for most other parts of life and certainly not a good career strategy.  I have seen it applied too many times as a career strategy though.  Yikes.  It often goes something like this:

  • Get some schooling – degree, certificate, what have you
  • Get a job somewhere
  • Get regular promotions
  • Retire

By the way, this isn’t a plan – it resides somewhere closer to the wishes, hopes and dreams department but sometimes people have trouble telling the difference.

 

No, fix it and forget it jobs are those ones that leave you in a series of tiny cubicles until you aren’t in the workforce anymore.  (And just a note for you foodies out there, I know that you don’t think this is apt for cooking either, that it only applies to one pot meals for busy families, not carefully planned experiences.)  It means doing the bare minimum, marking time until the end of each work day, never raising your hand for special projects, not taking the initiative to learn new things.

 

Abraham Lincoln, known to be a strategic thinker, public domain-Matthew Brady, 1862

Abraham Lincoln, known to be a strategic thinker, public domain-Matthew Brady, 1862

Since this blog is all about thinking, I’m not sure why a fix it and forget it type might even be reading this, but you never know.  Plus the phrase got stuck in a groove of my head and this is a way to exercise it out.  (I have no idea why it popped in and stuck around, perhaps I heard it on the radio like those songs that loop in your head sometimes after you get out of the car.)

 

Maybe I have been thinking about copywriters since I read a review of a new book coming out that is based on the ‘a diamond is forever’ DeBeers campaign from 1947 (written by a woman, Yes!) that lives on.  Anyway, the United Negro College Fund had a point; a mind is a terrible thing to waste.  So don’t fix it and forget about it, use it.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Formal Learning Meets Life Long Learning

(This post is my take on the Daily Prompt Back to School.)

 

I keep a long quote, spoken by Merlin, which is from The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White that I won’t reproduce in entirety here, but starts out telling us that “the best thing for disturbances of the spirit is to learn”.  Merlin goes on to expound about the way that life ages us and difficulties peck at us but our response should be to “learn why the world wags and what wags it”.

 

Clearly I keep this quote because it speaks to me.  I was raised to seek out knowledge and this was nurtured by my own personality as well as by engaging and inspiring teachers throughout my school years.  I understand that others may have had very different experiences which have made their achievement of knowledge through formal learning very impressive indeed.  I build nearly every day upon that foundation of learning that was started very early for me, not often in a formal learning setting.

 

public domain: Socrates & Plato

public domain: Socrates & Plato

Though I did just go back to school this past spring to earn a certificate in Project Management.  And last fall I took my first credit class, in Supply Chain, in more than a decade.  It is very helpful to combine knowledge gained on my own and through doing with knowledge gained through formal learning.  With the weight and importance placed on testing and metrics, it is not surprising that somehow formal education is considered ‘better’ and more worthy than knowledge gained on one’s own.  But is it appropriate?

 

There are a number of people from the past whom we revere, rightly, but who were mainly self-taught in some manner or who expanded well beyond the parameters of their initial core area; Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Danny Kaye… I wish some women would come to mind, but I know that there are many more people of both genders.  Would these people now be rejected because they didn’t have lots of letters after their names to prove their worth?

 

I gain great benefit from learning, different kinds of benefit when I curate the information myself or join a formal class, but always there is great benefit in continuing to learn.  This is why I keep this quote close to mind always.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Travelling for Work

The economic malaise has mostly put the kibosh on travelling for work, a boon for many because most of us aren’t fond of business travel.  But I keep hearing that business travel is on the upswing.  We should all be prepared to accept the challenge of a business trip as a great chance to grow.

travel

I remember the first trip that I took for work, thinking back now the expense must have been hefty – 3 of us travelled from the office in the Midwest to Pittsburgh for a same day meeting, with the sales fellow flying in from his home office on the east coast to meet us, and then on to the customer’s office together.

 

This meeting was with a large customer, one that had the potential for increased business so the face to face meeting made sense from a big picture perspective.  Each operational discipline was represented and I now understand that the objective was to build rapport and make a strong showing to this customer that they were an important account for our company.

 

At the time, I had just taken over this account from another rep, I didn’t know the right questions to ask therefore I didn’t know the reason for the meeting, the objectives, or much of anything else.  I went in pretty blind, but trusting that I was one part of a strong group.

 

It was true that I was an unseasoned member of a very seasoned team – each member of this team would later become an ally, a mentor, in some manner a guide to me as I learned more about the corporate world.  This was my opportunity to see each of them up close and in a different setting.

 

I’m not sure that I contributed much more than another body in our show of force, but I learned.  I showed a willingness to go beyond my comfort zone that became a building block going forward.  Based on this experience, I would say to jump on a chance to travel for work.

 

Additional thoughts:

  • Accept the challenge if it is offered – get a sturdy understanding of the expectations, though
  • Change your filter, but don’t lose it – people have slightly looser rules outside the office, but there are still rules and you will see them back in the office
  • Be a sponge while on the outing – look at dynamics and process – but store some questions for later

I admire folks that travel all the time for work, I think that I would find regular travel wearying – and would have need to leave myself a note on the night stand telling myself where I was in case I woke up disoriented.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Accepting a Compliment

This post isn’t for the narcissists among us, unless you have an interest in seeing how the rest of us feel about compliments.  We are taught to say please and thank you as children, and perhaps some parents include the niceties of accepting a compliment.  The rest of us not only turn varying shades of red when complimented, we get tongue tied.  (I still have reading Peggy Klaus’ book, Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It on my to-do list.)

 

I don’t remember my exact age, but it would have been in the 12-14 year range when my method of dealing with compliments was abruptly altered.  Prior to this incident, I would argue with the person offering the compliment.  (Sound familiar to anyone out there?)  One day a well-meaning but sharp tongued adult told me that I was being rude by contradicting the compliment.  I was taken aback and hadn’t yet found my more vocal current style.

 

Luckily the adult went on to say that if I felt uncomfortable with a compliment, the best response was always to say thank you.  And leave it at that.  No explanation necessary, certainly no need to contradict the compliment.

photo credit: Wikipedia, public domain

photo credit: Wikipedia, public domain

 

Since that day I mostly only continue the practice of hedging a compliment in my head.  I have to qualify that because people who know me well read this blog and might feel the need to bring up a time or two when I didn’t just graciously accept a compliment.  On an off moment, or couched in a weakness – like my lack of style.

 

Would any of you like to share an experience of giving or receiving a compliment?  I have found as I get older that the more specific compliments are the most memorable and likely to impact the quality of someone’s day for the better.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Timid Courage

Have you ever surprised yourself by doing something you thought was completely out of character, especially something public, especially something brave?  I hope that your experience turned out positively.  So you were willing to try it again.

timid courage

I grew up waiting for the yearly showing of The Wizard of Oz on TV, and the Cowardly Lion was one of my favorite characters because, despite his fears, he goes out of his way to help and protect his friends.  He gave up dignity to help each of us understand real courage.  He was afraid of his own tail for crying out loud.  But he entered the Witch’s castle to save Dorothy.

 

Rosa Parks wasn’t trying to be courageous or be an icon for a movement when she kept her seat on the bus that day, she was just tired.  More recently Malala Yousafzai probably wasn’t trying to be an international sensation when she decided that she deserved an education.  These women have become well known for showing courage, but we each know plenty of people who have exhibited courage in the face of something fearful.

 

Courage is something that just shows up inside of us when we stick to a principle.  It isn’t loud or obnoxious.  Courage doesn’t need to be broadcast, or even want to be.  It isn’t something to aspire to because it just doesn’t work that way.  It can be quiet, it can be fierce, it gets us through a bad moment and out the other side.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Are You a Joiner?

I know that it is a big buzz thing right now to be a collaborator, but I actually really like to collaborate with someone else or in a small group.  I like how the additional mind power can build a better and stronger framework for an idea.  I like how the varied experiences of the group participants can inform the method of implementing the idea and possibly staving off unintended consequences.

joiner

I’m not naturally a joiner though.  Put me in a group and I will become part of the group, ask me to find a group and join it and I will find something else to do.  Especially if I have time to think about it.  If I find out about a meeting for something that I can see benefit to and the meeting is that day or the next day, I am much more likely to actually do it.  Give me a longer time frame and I will potentially talk myself out of it.  (This is the introvert in me – I’ve missed out on some interesting experiences.)

 

Now I do get why more strongly introverted people that don’t see a benefit to collaboration would avoid joining groups unless pressed, but I don’t have a solid answer as to why I duck groups.  Particularly when I join a group and find great, energetic people.  The answer is just because and that isn’t a compelling argument – no matter how you look at it.

 

So I have to challenge myself to fight this avoidance.  I am in job search which means that in my work aspects I need a new pack to run with and so I have joined not just one (which I did immediately before I had time to object) but two job search groups.  I had to be pressed (gently but firmly) by a new friend into joining the second – why would I need two of the same thing?

 

And yet, and yet I am so very pleased with this nudge.  Each group has a very different tone and dynamic and I get very different things from each group.  I am not the only person that I know who participates in both groups, yet these groups still meet different needs and come at the same things from different angles.

 

So I have a challenge for my fellow non-joiners out there – working, job search, what have you – find a new group and join it.  See the world that you know from a different angle and find out what that does for you.  There are so many wonderful people to encounter.

 

Find a group, take a class – something related to an existing interest.  Sit in the back quietly at first if that make you feel better.  Get a sense of things, pick out one or two people that look approachable; smile at anyone who approaches you and say hi.  Ask them what got them to this group.  Just be open to possibilities.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

 

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My Mind Simply Refuses

I do hope that I find that I am not alone in this one.  Do you have information that you just cannot, no matter how hard, how often, how many methods you try absolutely cannot seem to remember the next time that you need it?  (Right now my mind is finding it quite amusing not to give up the specific word, to use as an example, which I always confuse with another word.  The one which made me think of writing this post just a little bit ago.  Hilarious.)

 

photo credit-news.sciencemag.org

photo credit-news.sciencemag.org

Now if this were a math issue, I could commiserate with my mind’s disinterest.  I can’t tell you the number of times I sat in a math class, thought I understood the lesson, only to find out that apparently I missed something – or that something hadn’t bothered to stick around and make it into long term memory.  I get the logic of math, but some element of it eludes me and math and I are comfortable with this current agreement.

 

Microsoft Word and I regularly fight over sentence structures, I don’t recall all the detailed grammar rules terribly well, but if the sentence sounds the way that I intended I am ok with my mind not bothering to dust off all the grammar rules that I learned once upon a time.  Noun?  Check.  Verb?  Check.  Sounds ok when spoken?  Check.

 

Sometimes I get just a wisp that I retained the needed thing once and it was stored somewhere around up there – yes, there’s the spot.  But the needed thing has perhaps been moved to make way for some other reference, or grouped with something similar.  I can bemoan that it is missing, or I can figure out how to look it up again.

 

My example word is refusing to even give any hints.

 

In instances like this when the knowledge is a word I am particularly consternated.  A WORD.  I’ve always loved words, why would one trip me up?  I know that I’m trying to hard – I can’t Google myself out of this one.  I’m thankful to Google for most of the other times when my mind just says nope, didn’t keep that one around.

 

Ah, ha – one of the words I always confuse is restive.  Not the word that started this whole thing, but a little closer.  Whew.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

 

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What Do You See When You See It?

Have you ever noticed how often you can be discussing something with someone else or within a group and be well into the conversation before it comes to light that you aren’t in agreement at all when it seemed as though you were, or possibly not even discussing the same thing at all?  For instance what if you were talking about POV and you meant point of view when the other person interpreted it as something completely different.

Optical Illusion 2

Professionals in the court system know this is why eye witness testimony can be suspect, but juries which are made up of people who don’t necessarily know the psychology put a lot of weight on eye witness testimony.  Where was the eye witness standing, what was this person doing at the time that might have absorbed their focus, what are this person’s prejudices?  All of this and more affects your point of view, your perspective of an event.

 

I still love a visual that someone once used with my son who had been involved in an altercation with a friend.  The person held up a magazine between himself and my son.  He asked my son to describe what he saw and my son gave a description of the front of the magazine.  Then the person gave his own description of the magazine from his point of view, which was of the back of the magazine.  They were both describing the same object factually, but the descriptions didn’t jive because each was of an unrelated portion of the whole.  This was an aha moment for my son and I was excited to be part of it because I had not ever seen such a concrete and straight forward example of point of view before.

 

As a person with the writer’s observational viewpoint, I often find that I get clued in to the point when points of view diverge before others in the room.  My writer self wants to watch and see what happens and my process self wants to correct the divergence as quickly as possible to prevent wasted energies.  My role in the conversation determines my actions.  If time is crucial or I am leading the discussion, I will speak up.  If there is a chance for a growth opportunity for the participants, then I will often let the divergence play out.

 

I have always believed in the power of words.  It is crucial to choose the right word to describe your thoughts within a situation, to convey your meaning to others in a manner that they will understand.  Sometimes words that are devastating to one can just slip off the tongue of another with hardly a thought to the consequences.  Vigilance at all times is not possible, but perhaps we should flip the magazine around every once in a while to see what the other person sees.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

 

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Shall We Dance? A Happy Story of Collaboration

We know that there is strength in numbers; it has been proven time and time again throughout history.  We should use this knowledge in our work life to our advantage as well as for the organization’s success.  Finding one or two people either in the same department or your counterpart(s) in another department, especially if you have complementary strengths is a good exercise.

There are many good reasons to collaborate, ponder this one:

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Collaboration will strengthen the end result of the project because each person can bring their own point of view which includes their experiences, emphases, and expectations.  Shared knowledge gets richer.

“Our future depends on being clever not individually, but collectively.”

~ Matt Ridley

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

~ Margaret Mead

When I was younger, I wanted to go it alone so that no one could make fun of me if they didn’t like what I was doing and so that I could garner all the praise for myself when it went right.  As I got older, and especially working in a very complex organization, I realized the value of seeking out compatriots.

It started out merely as discussion, but grew into process changes that benefited many.  The department that I worked in handled only one part of customer transactions since these tend to work cross departmentally, and we began to realize that if we took a look at the transaction process together, we could improve it before we had difficulties.   Additionally, we each grew in our overall knowledge as we continued to work together.

dance

Try it out, dancing is better with a partner.

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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