I really loved my job. And then my boss walked in one day and informed me that I was being laid off. That was a little over three years ago. There’s a lot more to the story than that, but it’s what happened next that I most want to talk about.
Upon receiving the news that day, I felt confused, disoriented, shocked, lost. It was around 10:00am on a Wednesday morning, and after going to the same office every day for the past three years, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with the rest of my day. Or my week. Or my life. I guess I was just supposed to go home. But the reality hadn’t really sunk in yet, and I wasn’t quite ready to face my wife with the news.
So I left the office and meandered aimlessly up Broadway with no specific destination in mind. Before I realized it, maybe an hour or two, and 50 blocks, later I somehow ended up at 81st Street and Central Park West, right in front of the American Museum of Natural History. So I went in and just wandered around Africa and Asia for a while, then the Planetarium, before settling under the big Blue Whale. Read More →
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” — Shakespeare’s Hamlet
We can’t always control what happens to us, but we do have the power to control how we think, interpret, and respond. Irrational thought patterns and overly hasty emotional reactions are among the leading causes of stress and anxiety.
By making ourselves consciously aware of, identifying, and then correcting distorted and/or anxiety-inducing beliefs, we can think and act more calmly and rationally, and ultimately make ourselves less stressed, more satisfied, and happier as a result.
Though there is some overlap among them, there are five types of negative thinking we are all guilty of at one time or another. Read More →
So I’m sitting at my desk typing up a memo, when all of a sudden I hear my boss’s office door swing open behind me. As I turn around to see what’s going on, I instinctively duck to avoid the object flying at my head. A box of pens hits the wall above my desk and breaks open, spraying 12 brand new blue Papermate medium ballpoints in all directions.
My boss had just thrown a box of pens at me. Read More →
Every year it’s the same thing. We start out the New Year filled with good intentions, high hopes, and a formidable list of life-changing resolutions. And for an indomitable few, those resolutions result in positive changes and personal growth. But for the rest of us, life tends to get in the way.
Before we know it, January is over and February flies by (it’s such a short month!). Then the spring holidays come along. Then it’s summer, and… well, you know the rest. That pledge to “start tomorrow” just leads to the eventual realization that today is yesterday’s tomorrow. So, what can we do about it?
We can start today. For real. Right now.
What we need to do is go from “resolutions” to “real solutions.” And one real-life solution that really works, is easy to do, and can kick-start us into action, is to start reading. And my recommendation is to start your New Year’s reading with any one of the 13 inspirational and motivational books on this list. Read More →
He's going to need a bigger desk.
“People do best, what they like best to do.”
That’s an old adage by Frederick W. Taylor, the original management guru. Seems like common sense, doesn’t it? And yet, so many people hate their jobs.
So why is that?
Well, think about your hobbies. You know, the things you do for fun. Whatever it is, whether it’s playing a sport, a musical instrument, practicing a craft, or whatever, you probably do it for at least one of the following two reasons: you’re good at it and/or you enjoy it. Otherwise, why do it? Read More →
This is what zen looks like.
There was a time, not too long ago, when I was traveling for business every week. That meant packing for three or four days on the road at a time, and it used to take me forever to decide which suits and shirts and ties I was going to wear. Once I got through all of that, I still had to choose the appropriate socks to match each of my outfits.
This may seem trivial, but I had about 30 different varieties of black or navy dress socks in my drawer, each with different designs, patterns, stripes, shapes, thread colors, etc. It began to take a toll on me. I stared deep into the drawer and questioned my decisions in life. Something had to change. Read More →
When it comes to “rules,” which of the following statements do you most agree with?
(a) Rules are rules…period.
(b) Rules are meant to be broken.
(c) It depends.
(d) All of the above.
(e) None of the above.
While there is no one “right” answer to the above question, the way you respond says a lot about you. The way you think and feel about rules in general will influence the decisions you make and the actions you take in different situations.
Let me tell you about two controversial, thought-provoking, and emotional incidents that occurred in the past week – both of which involved “following the rules” – and see what you think: Read More →
It’s all about the Little Pink Spoon.
One of my all-time favorite summertime pleasures is going to Baskin-Robbins and trying out a few new flavors with those little pink spoons of theirs. Ninety percent of the time I just end up getting Rocky Road, but I always enjoy tasting a few other flavors before ordering my cone.
Why is Baskin-Robbins so willing to give away their product for free? It’s obvious: they hope that by giving us a free taste, we’ll end up buying a cup or a cone or a pint or a gallon. So they gladly give away millions of little pink spoonfuls in order to make many millions of dollars more in return. It’s the same reason movies show trailers, cosmetics companies offer samples, and car dealers offer test drives: people want to try before they buy.
So, how do you bring the Little Pink Spoon Principle into play in your job search? By giving a prospective employer a “free sample” of what you have to offer, you’ll dramatically improve your chances of success. Here are three ways to do it … Read More →
It’s the classic Catch-22: You can’t get a job or change careers without the necessary experience … but how are you supposed to gain experience if no one will give you a chance?
The answer: find an internship or temp job! And this advice applies not just to recent graduates, but to ANYONE at any age, at any stage of their career. Read More →
One of the main reasons we hesitate, procrastinate, or fail to take action is that we feel like we lack the power to act.
When we’re out of work or stuck in a dead-end job, or struggling to get others to buy in to our ideas, or even to return our phone calls or emails, it sometimes seems as if we have no leverage at all.
But guess what: You have a lot more power than you think!
Last month I introduced the Five Levels of Proactivity model and discussed the key reasons why we may not be as proactive as we might like to be -– and how you can go from being inactive and reactive to super-proactive. Now I’d like to show you how to give yourself the confidence boost you may need to proactively take your game — and your career — to the next level. Read More →
Do you wait for things to happen . . . or do you make things happen?
Do you find yourself stalling for the “right” time to take action. . . or do you make “now” the perfect time?
Do you always find yourself one or more steps behind. . . or comfortably ahead?
Whether we’re talking about your personal life, your career, or your current job, one of the most overlooked keys to success is your degree of “proactivity,” which can help you get ahead of all the barriers, obstacles, and challenges that stand in the way of making things happen. Read More →
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And that leadership is not a destination . . . but a journey. I’m not exactly sure who “they” are, but regardless of who said what, there’s something moving and memorable about the power of a beautiful, colorful visual image like this one — and a simple, thought-provoking metaphor.
In my leadership workshops, as well as in the NYU graduate course I teach on “Transformational Leadership and Team Building,” we spend almost an hour discussing — and pretty much an entire semester referring back to — the single, powerful metaphor that we refer to as “The Leadership Journey.” “An hour on one simple picture? How can that be?” you might be wondering. Read More →
Of all the different management, leadership, communication, innovation, and thinking tools, tips and techniques that I’ve learned over the years, nothing has affected me more, or has had more practical applications, than Edward de Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” model.
De Bono, the guru of “thinking about thinking,” originated this framework that I now use, either consciously or unconsciously, literally every single day. It’s one of the best examples of how we can use visual and metaphorical thinking and communicating to solve real-world challenges. Read More →
Sitting in a San Antonio bar with a business partner in 1967, the entrepreneur Herb Kelleher grabbed a (now-legendary) cocktail napkin and sketched out a simple triangle while posing this question: What if we were to create a small, local airline that connected these three cities? With that sketch, the idea for Southwest Airlines was born.
The next time you are trying to generate ideas, brainstorm a solution, or explain a complex idea to someone, why not use a cocktail napkin — or a scrap of paper, or a flipchart or whiteboard — and sketch it out!
Even if you don’t think you can draw, it’s not about artistic ability . . . it’s about getting ideas out of your head and down on paper so they can be shared succinctly with someone else.
Once, a new coaching client of mine, a regional vice president at an international pharmaceuticals company, was wrestling with a costly, complex, and incredibly challenging business dilemma that had been distracting him and keeping him up at night for months.
On my first meeting with him, I solved his problem in less than five minutes –- simply by means of a napkin sketch.
It’s not that I’m so brilliant — in fact, I really didn’t fully understand all the complexities of his situation (that actually might have worked to my advantage) — and I can barely draw. But my napkin sketching ability saved the day. Read More →
We’d like to welcome Todd Cherches to the blog. As a co-founder of the BigBlueGumball training firm, he has a lot to say about ways to help your career through the power of visual thinking and learning. In his first post, he shows a simple tool you can create to help your job application break through the sea of text that floods hiring managers’ and recruiters’ in-boxes.
As we all know, the traditional resume is an important and essential part of the job search process — a way to efficiently tell your career history on a sheet of paper or two.
But after a hiring manager has sorted through thousands of resumes and interviewed hundreds of candidates, your text-based black and white resume can easily get lost in the crowd and buried in the pile (“I forget… who’s the guy who used to work for Disney and CBS?”).
This is why I recommend that you consider creating a visual bio or visual resume, a colorful, image-based version of your text resume. It’s a personal branding and marketing piece that you can take along on your interview, use as a visual roadmap to tell your story, and then leave behind. It will give you an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity and help you stand out from the crowd. Read More →