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Updated: 2016-08-29T13:49:01-04:00

 



Holding Space for Change at Work

2016-08-29T13:45:58-04:00

I have been absent for some time from this blog, in large part because I have been consumed for the past several months with holding space for people going through big changes in their lives. This has not been easy. Holding space for change never is. What has been confusing and confounding to me in this process is WHY I've struggled so much with what I'm doing. Helping people who... I have been absent for some time from this blog, in large part because I have been consumed for the past several months with holding space for people going through big changes in their lives.  This has not been easy. Holding space for change never is.  What has been confusing and confounding to me in this process is WHY I've struggled so much with what I'm doing. Helping people who are in the midst of a change is the core of my work. I've been doing it for years. Why has it suddenly become harder somehow?  This morning I ran across a fantastic article by Heather Plett on holding liminal space. She perfectly describes why things are shifting for me now and it helped several things click into place.  Change in a "Professional" Context Most of what I do is connected to helping people navigate changes in career and work. In the "professional" realm, we are very task-focused. What actions do I need to take? What is on my "to-do" list? How do I make and implement the right plan?  So we approach professional transitions from a place of wanting to know what we should DO and tend to constantly search for the RIGHT ACTION to take us toward our goals. We may pay some lip service to the emotions that go with these transitions, but we don't tend to spend a lot of time on the emotional aspect because to be "professional" is to have control of our emotions, especially any emotions that threaten to become "messy."  In the work I'm doing with long-term unemployed individuals (unemployed for more than 6 months), this plays out as an obsessive focus on revising the resume, creating a great LinkedIn profile, finding the hiring manager, etc.  In the work I'm doing with startup entrepreneurs (many of whom are also long-term unemployed), they are consumed with creating a website, marketing to customers, getting that first deal in the door.  There is a place for action, no doubt, and I spend a lot of time helping people figure out the right actions to take. There are ways to conduct a job search that are more or less likely to result in success and I can share those. There are ways to start up a business that are more or less effective and I can also share information about that.  But this is where I've been experiencing the challenge.  I'm sharing the information, showing people the "right ways" to do things, but many people are still stuck.   I've encountered this before, of course, and I've certainly worked with people's emotions about change. But the sheer volume of people I'm encountering who struggle with being stuck has forced me to really dig more deeply into what's going on.  Change vs. CHANGE What I'm realizing is that there's change and then there's CHANGE. And what qualifies as "change" (with a lower-case "c") and what qualifies as CHANGE really has to do with whether or not this is puts someone in a "liminal" space.  As Heather describes it in her post: Liminal originates from the Latin word “limen” which means “a threshold”. In anthropology, liminality is “the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants ‘stand at the threshold’ between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.” (from Wikipedia) A liminal space, then, is a period in which something (social hierarchy, culture, belief, tradition, identity, etc.) has been dissolved and a new thing has not yet emerged to take its place. It’s [...]



The Friday Work-Out-Loud Roundup: Failure Resumes and the Trauma of Unemployment

2016-02-19T10:29:48-05:00

https://novoed.com/creativity13/reports/50142 Last Friday's Work-out-Loud Roundup got away from me, but I'm back in the saddle again this week to share what I've been learning . . . Write a Failure Resume I'm running a 9-month Leadership Academy for a local Chamber of Commerce and yesterday's topic was continuous learning and learning from failures and mistakes. Inspired by some reading I'd been doing on the idea of a failure resume, including... https://novoed.com/creativity13/reports/50142 Last Friday's Work-out-Loud Roundup got away from me, but I'm back in the saddle again this week to share what I've been learning . . .  Write a Failure Resume I'm running a 9-month Leadership Academy for a local Chamber of Commerce and yesterday's topic was continuous learning and learning from failures and mistakes.  Inspired by some reading I'd been doing on the idea of a failure resume, including this article and this example, I had participants develop their own failure resumes, writing up what they perceived to be their failures in both their professional and their personal lives and what they learned as a result of their "failures."  Then they paired up to talk about the experience of writing the failure resume and what they learned from themselves in the process.  In our debrief on the experience, a few insights emerged: Different people had different definitions of what it meant to "fail."  Often "failures" were really a matter of not living up to someone else's expectations. And if that was the case, was it really a "failure"? For many people, their failures fell into one or two key categories. Mine, for example, tended to be about not following through on promising opportunities, allowing myself to get distracted by too many options and not focusing on those that were most promising at the time. These categories indicated some areas where we could identify growth opportunities. In my case, it was a wake-up call to be more mindful of my tendency to be distracted by too many possibilities.  Although a few people in the group found it to be a "depressing" exercise, most said that it was cathartic and that it gave them a different perspective on what they'd previously perceived as failures. They also identified some key areas for growth for themselves as a result of going through the process.  If you do this for yourself, I highly encourage you to do it with at least one other person so you can discuss your resumes after the exercise. My group agreed that it was the combination of reflecting on failures and then sharing them with each other that made this so valuable.  The Trauma of Unemployment On Tuesday, I had the honor of being part of a Roundtable discussion with the US Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, convened by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.  The Roundtable was part of the Heldrich Center's New Start Career Network, where I'm working as a volunteer career coach and as the "coach of coaches," supporting the other volunteers. This is a project to support workers over age 45 who have been unemployed for 6 months or more.  We had several job seekers at the Roundtable who shared their experiences of being out of work, teetering on the edge of homelessness, draining their retirement and other savings, and dealing with the loss of identity and self esteem that is a huge part of being unemployed in America.  They used words like "devastating" and "hopeless" to describe their experiences and I was struck once again by the recognition that job loss and being unemployed are forms of trauma that people are having to deal with on a regular basis.  One thing I mentioned in my comments to the Secretary was that we are quick to overwhelm people with advice on what to do to find a new job, but we are NOT generally acknowledging the extent to which people have been traumatized--by their job loss, the period of unemployment that follows and, in many cases, the experience of being in a toxic work environment that often precede[...]



How is "Mega Problem Denial Syndrome" Impacting Your Career?

2017-08-31T16:46:04-04:00

One of my favorite writer/thinkers, Umair Haque published a fantastic post on Friday about what he calls "Mega Problem Denial Syndrome" or MPDS: Let me introduce you to the biggest little problem in leadership: Mega-Problem Denial Syndrome (MPDS). As often in life, it’s the little problems that turn out to be trickier and more troubling than the big ones—like postponing having that troublesome lump scanned because you’re too busy/scared/lazy. Certain... One of my favorite writer/thinkers, Umair Haque published a fantastic post on Friday  about what he calls "Mega Problem Denial Syndrome" or MPDS:  Let me introduce you to the biggest little problem in leadership: Mega-Problem Denial Syndrome (MPDS). As often in life, it’s the little problems that turn out to be trickier and more troubling than the big ones—like postponing having that troublesome lump scanned because you’re too busy/scared/lazy. Certain challenges may seem distant and therefore small today, yet the pervasive hesitance to even acknowledge them is standing squarely in the way of leadership. This post is important for two reasons. First, he puts his finger on how MPDS is at work when we're talking about the futures of Millenials and (to some extent) Gen-Exers:  Millennials are the first generation in history—not just American history, but that of the modern advanced world—that will experience lower living standardsthan their parents. They won’t enjoy retirements, savings, pensions, careers, steady raises, security, stability, assets, homeownership (and maybe even working democracies, societies, a planet) on a par with those that their parents’ generation enjoyed. Think I'm overstating the case? Congrats! You just fell prey to Mega-Problem Denial Syndrome. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the economic damage done by the Great Recession was on the order of a historic war, catastrophe, or disaster. That damage is like a disabling illness, not a cold: It doesn’t "go away," it leaves societies on lower trajectories of human potential. And it's the young who are going to suffer that loss the most. They're already on lower career trajectories and will earn and save lessfor life. Anyone crushed by debt yet forced to work increasingly insane hours for comparatively worse wages (often in jobs and industries that contribute to the inequality whose consequences they suffer) is not free in any meaningful sense of the word. Anyone crushed by debt yet forced to work increasingly insane hours for comparatively worse wages . . . is not free in any meaningful sense of the word. But you’ll hear precious few business leaders discussing that, let alone doing anything about it. Instead, the prevailing narrative is that the economy’s recovering, and everything’s going to be just fine and dandy, thank you very much. That’s not leadership; that’s an alternate reality built on delusional wish fulfillment. From a career perspective, Millenials and Gen-Exers are living in a world that is not currently optimized for their success. I think it's important to recognize this and start talking about what we need to do to make changes. Too much of what passes as career advice is geared toward the changes an individual is supposed to be making to improve their prospects for employment. The bigger elephant in the room is that these prospects are pretty dismal for a lot of people. Your perfect LinkedIn profile and your "personal brand" don't mean anything if the real opportunities are dwindling.  The second reason this post is important is because MPDS is at work in virtually field of human endeavor. Every organization, every industry, every occupation has those "small problems" that, when ignored or not recognized, will add up to something huge later on.  Our greatest opportunities may lie in our ability to call out and acknowledge these issues--can we recognize these "small problems" and can we see how they may have huge positive or negative impacts in the fut[...]



Career Success Practice: Keep a "Damn I DID that!" List

2016-02-09T14:33:03-05:00

My friend and colleague Melissa Rowe of Capture Greatness keeps a list she calls her "Oh sh*t, I DID that!" list where she captures all of her accomplishments for the year. Melissa does this as an annual exercise, but as another friend, Rebecca Fabiano pointed out earlier this week, spending some time at the end of each month thinking about this question can be a great strategy for giving you... My friend and colleague Melissa Rowe of Capture Greatness keeps a list she calls her "Oh sh*t, I DID that!" list where she captures all of her accomplishments for the year.  Melissa does this as an annual exercise, but as another friend, Rebecca Fabiano pointed out earlier this week, spending some time at the end of each month thinking about this question can be a great strategy for giving you more immediate feedback on whether or not you're achieving your goals.  It's also an excellent way to feel a sense of progress, which can sometimes be sorely lacking when we get buried in our list of "To Do's" each day.  When I look back over my January list of accomplishments, here are a few: Launched another cohort of my Speedy Startup group, where I'm working with people who are unemployed to start up their own small businesses.  Facilitated two conversations at the NYCETC Policy Forum on New Ways of Working.  Launched the Leadership Lab with Rebecca.  Started a year-long organizational development project with FNC in Philadelphia where we are working on using appreciative inquiry and art of hosting techniques to create a more inclusive, transparent space for making change in local communities.  Conducted two online coaching events for the volunteer coaches of the New Start Career Network, a project I'm working on with Rutgers University that supports NJ residents over age 45 who have been unemployed for 6 months or more.  I also managed to stick with my plans to end my work days by reflecting on what happened that day and new questions or insights that emerged for me, which was an accomplishment in being disciplined, let me tell you! Putting the list together was pretty easy--I looked back over my calendar and my daily journal reflections to pull it together. My plan is to add this to my Yearbook journal for the month of January so it will be there for my year-end reflections--or when I need to remind myself that I do actually accomplish some things.  So what's on your "Damn I DID that!" list for January? And how could keeping a list like this help you in your career?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and celebrate your successes!  [...]



Working Out Loud: Appreciative Goals, Staying Relevant and The Value of a Personal Newsletter

2016-02-05T09:37:14-05:00

Every Friday, I'm posting about things I'm learning and sharing the resources and information I found most valuable during the week. Setting Some Appreciative Goals I'm currently reading Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Drive Winning Performance and Build a Thriving Organization and finding it to be a wealth of wonderful ideas for bringing appreciative inquiry into my daily practice. In setting my development goals for February, I've added... Every Friday, I'm posting about things I'm learning and sharing the resources and information I found most valuable during the week.  Setting Some Appreciative Goals I'm currently reading Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Drive Winning Performance and Build a Thriving Organization and finding it to be a wealth of wonderful ideas for bringing appreciative inquiry into my daily practice.  In setting my development goals for February, I've added these two ideas from the book to my list: At the beginning of the day, I'm asking myself: How will you contribute good today? How will you add value to others, bring out their best and/or set positive ripples in motion? Then I'm checking back on this at the end of the day for my one-sentence journal entry.  Ask questions at least 3x more than you give advice. People--this is HARD. It's reminding me that I tend to immediately go to solving problems and giving advice, rather than using questions to help other people draw out their own answers. I'm trying to be more mindful of this tendency and to pause when I feel myself wanting to give advice and to, instead, go back to asking questions. I can tell this will be a work in progress.      How Do You Learn and Stay Relevant?  My colleague and co-conspirator in the Leadership Lab, Rebecca Fabiano, had 6 hours to kill on a train during the recent blizzard that blasted the East Coast. She spent part of that time pulling together this newsletter where she listed all of the listservs and newsletters she subscribes to in order to stay relevant in her field. What a fantastic resource for the people she's working with! Imagine if you and other colleagues did something similar. . .  What About a Weekly Personal Career Newsletter?  Rebecca's newsletter reminded me of this article from Aja Frost that I'd seen a few months ago on the career benefits of starting a weekly personal career newsletter. Aja recommends using TinyLetter (a Mailchimp product) that is a free and lightweight way to share what you're working on, your ideas, thoughts, etc.  How could you jumpstart your career aspirations if you started a newsletter like this?    These are just a few things from my week. . . what have you been learning about? What resources can you share?  [...]



Working Out Loud: The Holy Sh*t! Edition

2016-01-29T09:59:59-05:00

As part of my goal in January to do more "Working out Loud," I'm experimenting with doing a Friday Roundup, sharing a few thoughts, links, etc. that have emerged from my work during the week that I think could be useful to you too. This week I had several holy sh*t moments related to how work is changing that I wanted to share. . . The Rise of the Robots... As part of my goal in January to do more "Working out Loud," I'm experimenting with doing a Friday Roundup, sharing a few thoughts, links, etc. that have emerged from my work during the week that I think could be useful to you too. This week I had several holy sh*t moments related to how work is changing that I wanted to share. . .  The Rise of the Robots and the Threat of a Jobless Future OK, I'm behind on my reading. Martin Ford's The Rise of the Robots was published back in May 2015 and it's been on my "to read" list for awhile, but I hadn't gotten around to it until I was on Amtrak Monday morning, headed to a Policy Forum where I was leading a breakout on "New Ways of Working." All I can say is "Holy Sh*t." I've been talking for awhile about how technology is impacting work (Part One, Part Two and Part Three) and that we all need to be looking at how AI and robotics (not to mention nanotechnology and the Internet of Things) are going to change or even eliminate our jobs. But Ford lays things out so cogently, so persuasively--and the picture isn't pretty, even for people who have thought their jobs were safe.  He writes, for example, about Narrative Sciences Quill application, which can analyze staggering amounts of data, identify patterns, relationships, themes, etc. and then write a report that is indistinguishable from that written by a human!! Or there's WorkFusion, software that can analyze projects and determine which tasks can be immediately automated, which can be crowd-sourced to sites like Elance, which need to be done by in-house professionals. It can then automatically post freelance job openings to Elance or Craigslist and manage recruitment of freelancers and assigning of tasks to the freelancers. This is without human intervention! WorkFusion is constantly monitoring the productivity and work of the freelancers, learning new ways that the work might then be automated further. Even as these freelancers are doing the work, they are also training the software that will eventually lead to their replacement! This is happening RIGHT NOW, people--not 20 years in the future. And these are just a few examples that Ford lays out in his book.  Clearly this is going to create some big changes for so many jobs! Google's AI Beats a Top Player at Go My next "holy sh*t" moment was this article from Wired Magazine on how the Deep Mind system had beaten a top human player at the game of Go, which is exponentially more complex to play than chess. This is an example of the "deep learning" that Ford talks about in his book that is leading to major breakthroughs in the field of artificial intelligence.  The technical stuff is interesting to me, but maybe not to you. What is important to understand here is that this is another big breakthrough in terms of machines learning how to think like humans. And, again, that has big implications for many careers.  2016 Corporate On Demand Talent Report My last holy sh*t moment came when a friend forwarded this report to me. Here are some highlights:   One of the ongoing conversations I have with people--both unemployed and currently employed--is about that desire to find the next great full-time "permanent" job. It's clear that this is not the direction in which businesses are moving. Increasingly, they are looking for "on-demand" professionals who will increase flexibility and lower their labor costs.  Between sophisticated software, robotics and the "on-demand" workforce, companies can make record profits with far fewer employees.  This is why we're looki[...]



3 Questions for Career Leadership

2016-01-27T08:33:21-05:00

One of the videos we're using for the Leadership Lab is this TedTalk from Roselinde Torres on what it takes to be a great leader. In it, she identifies 3 questions that 21st century leaders should be asking themselves that I think apply to all of us who want to take charge of our careers. Where are you looking to anticipate change? Torres says: Great leaders are not heads down,... allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/roselinde_torres_what_it_takes_to_be_a_great_leader.html" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"> One of the videos we're using for the Leadership Lab is this TedTalk from Roselinde Torres on what it takes to be a great leader.  In it, she identifies 3 questions that 21st century leaders should be asking themselves that I think apply to all of us who want to take charge of our careers.  Where are you looking to anticipate change?  Torres says: Great leaders are not heads down, they see around corners, shaping the future not just reacting to it.  She suggests that we need to always be asking ourselves these questions: Who are you spending time with? On what topics and questions? What are you reading?  Where are you traveling? How are you distilling all that you learn from these things, looking for the implications for your work and your life and then taking action NOW?   These questions are particularly important to our work world. So much is changing so quickly that if we are not acting in more future-oriented ways, we are likely to be left behind. It's critical that we develop our capacity to "see around corners" if we want to continue to grow in our careers.  What is the diversity measure of your personal and professional networks?  Here, we need to be asking ourselves about our capacity to develop relationships with people who are very different than we are. We have a strong tendency to associate with people just like us, but our best work and life happens when we are able to have diverse connections and are able to nurture relationships with people who see things differently than we do.  Are you courageous enough to abandon a practice that has made you successful in the past?  What a fantastic question! Part of what can make us less resilient, less able to adapt to changing conditions is our inability to let go of what has made us successful in the past. This question invites us to be aware of how past practices that worked well in one environment may not be helping us in a new situation. Too often we become wedded to what has always worked and it becomes impossible for us to move forward because we cling to habits that no longer serve us.    I invite you reflect on these 3 questions as they relate to your career and life--what emerges for you in the process?  [...]



Working Out Loud: The Friday Roundup (1/22/16)

2017-08-31T16:47:48-04:00

As part of my goal in January to do more "Working out Loud," I'm experimenting with doing a Friday Roundup, sharing a few thoughts, links, etc. that have emerged from my work during the week that I think could be useful to you too.   As part of my goal in January to do more "Working out Loud," I'm experimenting with doing a Friday Roundup, sharing a few thoughts, links, etc. that have emerged from my work during the week that I think could be useful to you too. Disrupt Yourself Earlier this week, I ran across this article from Thomas Koulopoulous on a 30-Day plan for disrupting yourself. It outlines a simple and fun process for doing something different every day to get yourself in the habit of moving yourself out of some of your ingrained habits and patterns. In this process, you are experimenting with both inconsequential habits (like using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth) and meaningful behaviors (like reading a career-related book for 20 minutes one morning).  Doing these activities is going to be on my February goal list. I also think it would be a great exercise to do with a team or mastermind group. For the meaningful behaviors, you could work together as a team to identify some different things to experiment with or you could each work on your own to come up with some activities you want to push yourself to try. Each week, you could then talk with your colleagues about how it's going and what shifts you might be noticing.  Although I'm a big believer in establishing some good habits that eliminate a lot of daily decisions to free up brain space for creativity, I also think that disruption as a habit makes a lot of sense, so it's something I want to experiment with doing.    Knowing When to Stop One of my ongoing projects is a Business Leadership Academy I run for a local Chamber of Commerce. Our sessions are scheduled from 9-3 and I try to have a mix of activities going on to keep people's energy levels up.  In yesterday's session, around 2 p.m., the energy in the room shifted. About half the group started shutting down and you could feel things just get heavier. A few people tried to help me keep things moving, but we just had too many others who were disengaged.  I made a decision awhile ago that when I'm facilitating things, I'm not going to keep going because "we have material to cover." It's a waste of time for everyone. So I cut our session short yesterday and sent everyone on their way.  One of the participants came up to me afterward to thank me. He said "I really appreciate that you ended things rather than insisting on keeping us here. I've been in too many meetings and training sessions where people just insist on continuing and it's the most painful thing about working sometimes."  I take this kind of monitoring of energy and knowing when to stop for granted--it's become something I'm always scanning for in group work. The conversation made me realize, though, that not everyone does this.  Knowing when to stop something is a skill. How do you do with knowing when it's time to end something?  Learning Out Loud at a Conference and Using Appreciative Questions to Learn and Connect  I've been working with NYCETC to put together their annual Policy Forum, designing the breakout sessions, putting together a lunchtime discussion based on appreciative inquiry and planning for how they will document learning throughout the conference. I ran across this great chart that I wanted to share:   I also wanted to share the Appreciative Questions we'll be using during lunch at the Forum. They focus on: Exceptional Partnerships Strategic Opportunities Technology that Serves Continuous Learning Integrity in Action Our plan is to have these questions at all of the tables and we'll be inviting people to discuss one or more of these with their group as a different [...]



Three Workplace Trends Women Should Know About

2017-08-31T16:48:02-04:00

Over the past few weeks, some workplace trends have been showing up in my feeds that I think should be of particular concern to women. Age Discrimination Starts as Early as 35 PBS Newshour reports that age discrimination for women at work is now starting as early as 35. The older you get, the fewer callbacks you get. Employers report that their concerns about "older" workers range from "an inability... Over the past few weeks, some workplace trends have been showing up in my feeds that I think should be of particular concern to women. Age Discrimination Starts as Early as 35 PBS Newshour reports that age discrimination for women at work is now starting as early as 35. The older you get, the fewer callbacks you get.  Employers report that their concerns about "older" workers range from "an inability to deal with change," to "less active," "less technologically savvy," and "more likely to be absent from work." These are the concerns they've cited for years when talking about the 50+ crowd, but for women, it's now trickling down even younger.  Long-Term Unemployment Has Impacted Older Women the Most The Kansas City Fed reports that women over 50 have been the hardest hit by long-term unemployment, which is defined as being out of work 27 weeks or more.   Technological Advances Likely to Impact Women More than Men The World Economic Forum released a report, The Future of Jobs with a section on The Industry Gender Gap. With current trends, we are on track to lose 7.1 million jobs--largely in white collar administrative types of positions, more often held by women--and to gain 2 million jobs in computer, engineering and mathematical fields---a net loss of 5 million jobs.  In absolute terms, men will lose 3 jobs for every job gained. But women will lose FIVE jobs for every job gained.  The loss of 5 million jobs is bad for everyone, but it's worse for women. Traditionally male-dominated fields are taking on new-found importance in the new economy and unless there are big changes in women entering these fields, hiring trends, and employer work environments, women are likely to miss out on the major shifts coming to the economy.  These trends don't paint a rosy picture for women at work. I'm particularly disturbed by how age discrimination is dovetailing with gender, especially if this discrimination is starting even earlier. Women already face a rough road in terms of wage parity, access to opportunities and career advancement. When you add in age discrimination as a factor, that's a double whammy.  What are your thoughts on these trends? And what should we be doing to deal with them?  [...]



Working Out Loud: The Friday Roundup (1/15/16)

2017-08-31T16:48:38-04:00

As part of my goal in January to do more "Working out Loud," I'm experimenting with doing a Friday Roundup, sharing a few thoughts, links, etc. that have emerged from my work during the week that I think could be useful to you too. Working Out Loud: Yearbooks, Goal-Setting and Planning After I wrote my post a few weeks ago on using a Yearbook Journal to set goals and track...  As part of my goal in January to do more "Working out Loud," I'm experimenting with doing a Friday Roundup, sharing a few thoughts, links, etc. that have emerged from my work during the week that I think could be useful to you too. Working Out Loud: Yearbooks, Goal-Setting and Planning After I wrote my post a few weeks ago on using a Yearbook Journal to set goals and track progress, my colleague Rebecca Fabiano and I spent some time creating our own yearbooks. We facilitate a monthly meeting for youth development professionals called the Sandbox and decided that this would be a great topic for our January meeting. (Note--here are follow-up links and resources from the session you might be interested in related to planning, etc. ) As part of the session, we had people sit in small groups to discuss these questions: What BIG plans do you have for yourself, your program, your staff and/or participants? What excites you about planning for the year ahead? Who else is involved in your planning/goal setting? Who might you want/need to involve this year? What are your go-to strategies for planning, organizing and goal-setting? What would you like to blow out of the water and do better when it comes time to planning/organizing/goal setting? How do you capture your, your program, participants and/or staff’s successes? What tools do you use for organizing, goal-setting, reflecting? My group was only able to get to a couple of these in the 20 minutes we allotted, but in that short time, each of us walked away with a new idea we wanted to try. For example, one of the questions we discussed was "Who else is involved in your planning/goal-setting and who do you want to involve?"  This led one person to share that she was using Cozi.com to coordinate family to-do lists and to get her kids to share and reflect on some of the highlight of the year.  Another woman in my group said that she has set up a jar in her kitchen where she and her family were writing down great things that happened to them during the week and then putting those in the jar for them to look at and remember their year. We talked about how this idea might also be used within their department and with some of the teens they are working with.  What struck me was how taking a few minutes to talk about some of our personal practices was so inspiring and engaging for all of us. We each felt like we'd walked away with some actionable ideas and were excited about the different possibilities that came up.  Does Someone Need Your Information or Your Inspiration? One of my current projects is working with the New Start Career Network, a Heldrich Center/Rutgers University initiative to help people 45+ who are unemployed for 6 months or more. I'm acting both as a volunteer career/job search coach and as a coach for the other volunteer coaches.  One of the things that happens a lot when we're coaching people in a job search is a big focus on informational stuff--how to write a resume, how to create a great LinkedIn profile, how to answer specific interview questions, etc.  But the thing is, while this can be helpful, often the real hurdle that people are dealing with is their own self-confidence, which has taken a beating from the rejection that is so much a part of job search for anyone who is unemployed, but especially for people who have been out of work for awhile.  I've also found that people who h[...]



What Is Your Vision for a Better World?

2016-01-14T09:44:00-05:00

This week I'm posting positive questions from the Encyclopedia of Positive Questions by Dianna Whitney and I'm inviting you to respond to those questions via comments so we can gather positive stories of our career growth and leadership. Visions of a Better World When work is in service to a larger purpose, it is life-giving and compelling. People want to contribute. They get great satisfaction from knowing that their work...This week I'm posting positive questions from the Encyclopedia of Positive Questions by Dianna Whitney and I'm inviting you to respond to those questions via comments so we can gather positive stories of our career growth and leadership.  Visions of a Better World When work is in service to a larger purpose, it is life-giving and compelling. People want to contribute. They get great satisfaction from knowing that their work and their organization are positive forces in the world.  When have you most felt like your work was part of a positive force in the world, when you felt an alignment among your principles, purpose and practices? Tell a story about what you were doing.  What do you see today (not future possibilities, but beginning to happen right now) that gives you hope for the future? This could be something on a global scale or a personal experience. It could have to do with social or political events, or it could have to do with what you've experience in your organization or community.  What do you wish for your organization and the people you work with?  As we've been doing with the previous questions, drop me a line in comments to share your answer. Or talk with a colleague or friend and then share what happened in that conversation. I'd love to hear your thoughts!   Join Rebecca Fabiano and I tonight at 7 p.m. (EST) on Blab when we'll be talking Leadership 2016 Resolutions. How do you want to grow as a leader this year? What are your goals and how do you plan to get there? What are your favorite resources for leadership growth? It will be a fun, interesting conversation--we hope you can be there!  [...]



What Has Been Your Most Inspirational Learning Experience?

2016-01-13T09:22:00-05:00

This week I'm posting positive questions from the Encyclopedia of Positive Questions by Dianna Whitney and I'm inviting you to respond to those questions via comments so we can gather positive stories of our career growth and leadership. Today we're talking about inspirational continuous learning. This week I'm posting positive questions from the Encyclopedia of Positive Questions by Dianna Whitney and I'm inviting you to respond to those questions via comments so we can gather positive stories of our career growth and leadership.  Continuous Learning In a changing world, competitive advantages goes to those organizations and individuals that can change, grow or learn fasters than others. When at their best, organizations embrace continuous learning and become learning organizations in which people continuously challenges themselves to move out of their comfort zone, think in new ways and acquire new knowledge and experiment with different ways of working.  Continuous learning creates an exciting work environment, full of creative possibilities for the organization and its members. It stimulates people to go beyond the usual to discover and create better, more financially and socially effective ways of doing things.  Describe an organization or environment that you've been in that has most inspired you and others to want to learn. What made this such a favorable place for learning?   How did you and others grow and change as a result of being in this environment?   What contributions were you able to bring back to one another, the organization, or the world at large as a result of having been part of this system?  Every time we learn, we become bigger people. Even if we learn something that seems to have nothing to do with our work, the changes we experience as we learn make a difference in our work performance.  What are your personal learning challenges--the things that you're curious about, that you'd like to learn more about, that will help you become a bigger human being?  In what ways will you change as you grow into these new aspects of who you are?  How do you see this new you contributing within your organization?    If this question seems like too much, respond to just one aspect of it in comments. Let's get out of discussions of deficits and learn from what's positive and strong in our lives.  Join Rebecca Fabiano and I tomorrow, January 14, at 7 p.m. (EST) on Blab when we'll be talking Leadership 2016 Resolutions. How do you want to grow as a leader this year? What are your goals and how do you plan to get there? What are your favorite resources for leadership growth? It will be a fun, interesting conversation--we hope you can be there!  [...]



What's the Most Challenging and Exciting Career Development Opportunity You've Experienced?

2017-08-31T16:49:23-04:00

This week, I want to invite you to join me in exploring the best in your career--what gives you life and energy? What do you want MORE of? For the next few days, I'm going to post a positive question from the Encyclopedia of Positive Questions by Dianna Whitney and I'm going to invite you to respond to that question via comments so that we can gather stories of positive career experiences and learn together about what gives life to our work. In our work and careers (and in life, for that matter), we tend to focus on what David Cooperrider calls "Deficit Discussions." We ask questions about what's not working or what's wrong and generally treat everything as a problem to be solved.  For sure this is how I see so many of us approach our career planning. We tend to think about it most when we feel dissatisfied or when external forces like a lay-off force us to consider what we might do next.  This week, I want to invite you to join me in exploring the best in your career--what gives you life and energy? What do you want MORE of?  For the next few days, I'm going to post a positive question from the Encyclopedia of Positive Questions by Dianna Whitney and I'm going to invite you to respond to that question via comments so that we can gather stories of positive career experiences and learn together about what gives life to our work.  I also want to suggest that this would be a fantastic way to connect with friends or colleagues--taking 30 minutes or so to interview each other, using these questions.  So here's the first question.  Career Development In today's rapidly changing environments, an organization's success depends on the learning capacity of its members. In successful organizations career development is a responsibility shared between the organization and its employees. Career coaching, training and opportunities for advancement demonstrate the organization's value for career development. When people are committed to career development, they are in a mode of continuous learning about their job and about themselves. They focus on their unique gifts and talents and their contribution to the organization. As people develop, they have more to offer their team and the organization. Everyone benefits from learning.  Tell me about the most challenging and exciting career development opportunity you have experienced. What was it? Why did you decide on it? What made it challenging and exciting? How did you benefit? How did the organization benefit?  How do you learn best? Tell me about a time when you learned something very challenging. What contributed to your learning? Tell me about the work experience in which you have learned the most. Tell me about the situation. Who else was involved and what did they do? What did you do to foster your own development? What made this a highpoint learning experience?    If responding to all 3 parts of this question feels like too much, pick just one aspect and respond to that. Or talk with someone else about it and then let me know how the conversations went via comments. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!   Join Rebecca Fabiano and I this Thursday, January 14, at 7 p.m. (EST) on Blab when we'll be talking Leadership 2016 Resolutions. How do you want to grow as a leader this year? What are your goals and how do you plan to get there? What are your favorite resources for leadership growth? It will be a fun, interesting conversation--we hope you can be there!  [...]



Working Out Loud: The Friday Roundup

2016-01-08T09:28:47-05:00

As part of my goal in January to do more "Working out Loud," I'm experimenting with doing a Friday Roundup, sharing a few thoughts, links, etc. that have emerged from my work during the week that I think could be useful to you too. As part of my goal in January to do more "Working out Loud," I'm experimenting with doing a Friday Roundup, sharing a few thoughts, links, etc. that have emerged from my work during the week that I think could be useful to you too. So here goes: Appreciative Evaluations I started work this week with a new client, FNC Philly. Over the next year, we'll be working together to help them build from their positive core and strengthen their partnerships and relationships within the community. One thing they are doing that I LOVE is using Appreciative Inquiry as the basis for their performance evaluations. This means lots of open questions, like: What are you proudest of from this last 6 months? What has been your greatest success? What are you doing that works best and that has the most value for you, your team and the organization?  To become even more effective, what do you want MORE of?  Thinking of the future, imagine your dream role, doing exactly what you'd love to do and feeling very proud of what you achieved. Tell us about that. What does it look like? What have you done to get there? What has happened to help you get there?  Imagine how your work life would change if these were the kinds of questions you were discussing in a "performance review"? You may not be lucky enough to work at an organization that asks these kinds of questions, but you can certainly use them yourself as part of your own career/leadership planning process.  Leadership Resolutions 2016 As Rebecca Fabiano and I get ready to launch the Leadership Lab on January 30 (Only 4 slots left at this point, so sign up if you want to join us!), we wanted to host some online conversations on how people are setting their leadership goals for 2016 and what resources they're using, connections they're making, etc. We had our first session on Tuesday and got into some really interesting discussions about owning your identity as a leader (many of us don't) and the role that serendipity can play in your leadership growth. We also gathered some of our favorite reads and resources--you can find them here.  We'll be hosting another session through Blab on January 14 at 7 p.m EST so if you want to join us, you can subscribe to the broadcast here or just go to that link next Thursday at 7 p.m.    What I'm Reading Six Million Missing Jobs--The Georgetown Center for Education and Workforce has published a report indicating that since the Recession, we still have a deficit of 6 million jobs. It's the worst for people with a HS diploma or less, but even college grads still have big problems. And nearly 1/3 of workers are temporary, contract or freelance--another reason I'm always pushing the multiple income stream approach to your career.    The Company You Work for Is Not Your Friend--I LOVED this LifeHacker article. Don't get me wrong. There are great, wonderful people in every organization. But when push comes to shove, most organizations are going to be focused on their survival and success as an organization, NOT on your life and career. Sometimes I think we need reminders about this because I see SO many people who sacrifice and work their tails off for their companies, only to find that in doing this, they've forgotten themselves. Then when the hammer drops and they're laid off or troubles start up, not only do they have to deal with the associated practical problems, there's this huge sense of betrayal--like how could they DO this to me?[...]



Working Out Loud: How I'm Planning for January 2016

2017-08-31T16:50:19-04:00

As Rebecca Fabiano and I continue to work on launching the Leadership Lab, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how I have some bad habits that get in the way of how I lead in my life and work. One of these is how I plan and organize things. As I reflected on 2015 over the holiday break, it became clear to me that I've fallen into the... As Rebecca Fabiano and I continue to work on launching the Leadership Lab, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how I have some bad habits that get in the way of how I lead in my life and work.  One of these is how I plan and organize things. As I reflected on 2015 over the holiday break, it became clear to me that I've fallen into the trap of being too reactive about things. Most months, I was focused on just getting through all the tasks on my "To Do" list, many of which were probably not even things I needed to do. I've been caught up in doing things right, rather than in making sure that I'm really doing the right things.  There are a lot of problems with this approach--the biggest one being that I always feel frazzled and all over the place, which means I'm not really doing my best work. I also find that other people's priorities tend to dominate when I'm in this reactive mode. And I'm less reflective and focused on learning. None of these are good for me personally or professionally.  I know I'm not alone in this--it's how many of us approach our work--so I thought it might be helpful if I shared some of the thought process and approach I'm trying out as I move into January 2016.   Getting the Right Planner Although I love using digital strategies for a lot of my work, when it comes to planning and reflecting, I still love pen and paper.   I've experimented with using composition books and sketch books for capturing ideas, notes, plans, etc. but the biggest problem I have with this strategy is that things aren't very well organized. Notes related to a particular project or idea session can be scattered throughout my books and using post-its to mark different sections quickly gets out of hand. I decided to experiment this year with using the Staples Arc series of notebooks because I like how easily I can add, remove and re-arrange pages. I can also add in calendar pages, task lists, pocket dividers, and zippered pockets.  I invested in the hole punch as well so that I can add just about anything I want to my book, including note cards, drawings, unlined paper (which I love), customized covers and sections, etc.  My verbal explanation may not give you the best picture of why I chose this particular notebook. This video is part of what convinced me to try it out: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xQpsufsTWa4" width="560">   I invested in one notebook for the Yearbook I want to maintain for 2016 and then I got the All-in-One Notebook as my daily planner.  This year I'm trying out the plastic covers. If I like the system, I may invest in the leather bound versions next year.  Customizing the Planner This is how I set up the planner: Calendar Pages--I got the Arc Calendar planner and put the January pages at the front of my book. They include a month-at-glance, two pages for Planning (I'll say more about that in a second), and then daily pages for each week.  Sections for Each of My Major Projects--Following the calendar pages, I then set up sections for each of the major projects I have going on right now. Each section has relevant notes, timelines, resources and ideas and I'm using the colored sticky notes to mark each project in my notebook.  Ideas/Inspiration Section--This is where I'll keep track of [...]