More $ Career $ Advice

pay-gapThere is no end of career advice to be found. It may be industry specific or so broad that it could apply to anyone. The latter is not especially useful, so when I read Sally Krawcheck’s piece as it related to her top career advice, it was with a focus on investment, investment in yourself and the significance of creating more dollars. She is the former president of a Bank of America Division and owner of a women’s networking community. “Women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar on average. While that amount has risen, it is not close to where it should be and the difference in the dollar amount is alarming.”

According to Krawcheck, “If we ask for a raise and get one big enough to close that gap, the investment we have just made in ourselves earns us nearly a 30 percent return on what, for many of us, is our biggest asset: our income stream. Compare that with investing in a 10-year government bond when it was yielding 2.48 percent, or in the stock market, which has returned 7.3 percent on average over the past decade.”

She continues, “Put another way, if we earn $77,000 a year and take that up to a man’s $100,000, we’ll see a net gain of $23,000 annually, $230,000 over a decade and close to $1million over the course of a career. That’s if we never request, or get, another raise.”

You may not close the pay gap in one jump, but all progress counts. There is a lot of money that’s left on the table for no reason other than no one asked for it. Compensation is based on performance among other things, so list your accomplishments, practice the ask and do not apologize for your request.

Effective Body Language- Putting Your Best Self Forward

power-posesAccording to body language expert, Janine Driver, several key gestures can make a difference in how you are perceived. The following DO’s and DON’Ts are easy to picture and excellent reminders.

HOLD YOUR CHIN- It’s a thinking pose

PULL IN YOUR LIPS– Sucking in your lips suggests that you are holding back, perhaps attempting to hide something

STEEPLE YOUR FINGERS– Pressing fingertips to fingertips increases your authority

LOSE TRACK OF YOUR TILT– Tilting your head in serious situations makes you appear less believable. For general conversation, be aware of the direction of your tilt. To the right, you seem more attractive. To the left, you’re viewed to be more intelligent.

CROSS YOUR ARMS- It is a power position and makes you seem more standoffish. The action uses both sides of your body, engaging the logical left and creative right parts of your brain. Arm crossing makes us more likely to remain on a difficult task.

WRINKLE YOUR NOSE- It’s a universal sign of disgust

This is only a sampling and no doubt you can add many more gestures to the list, from making solid eye contact to leaning towards the person who is talking. But how close should you be and when does space become an invitation or a violation? Body language varies from culture to culture, so it’s important to learn what is most appropriate in a given group for your own comfort and that of others.
©Maureen Weisner 2017

Please Stop the Whining

no-whiningWe have all experienced the “Debbie Downer” character in our personal or professional worlds. Complaining has been elevated to a high art by these individuals and while entertaining at times, it’s more frequently draining and off-putting. Fault finding is valuable when you identify what’s not working and look for a solution. Occasional whining may be acceptable but if it rises to the level of chronically finding fault, it’s time to take stock. When crankiness has become an end to itself and a legitimate issue actually does arise, how likely will others respond to it?

Life is imperfect and for some people, complaining is a way to get or even deflect attention. Notice your own behaviors:
• Are they energy draining or energy building?
• Are you feeling powerless in a situation or a relationship?
• What is your typical response?

Chronic irritability distances you from others. If only they would change, then you might not have anything to object to. Focusing on what others need to do rather than on your own actions avoids the possibility of personal transformation and empowerment. Turn that critical eye inward.
• Identify what you would like to create
• What are you choosing to modify or eliminate?
• Channel the energy
• Ask for support from others
• Create a plan of action
• Engage


Are You Passionate or Curious?

questionsThe oft repeated mantra to clients in transition had been to seek out their passion, follow it and the money will somehow be manifested. If only life could be so well orchestrated that your deepest desires and interests would also provide a reliable stream of income. While anything is possible, and ideally the work you do will in great part be congruent with your values, skills and interests, how does passion play a role and what about curiosity? How are they connected?

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

Is it the chicken and egg question, also referred to as the causality dilemma? The latter refers to the relationship between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect), where the second event is a consequence of the first.

If you are curious by nature, are you likely to be more engaged in collecting information and learning new things? How long will your interest be sustained beyond the superficial unless there is more to maintain your attention? Some people are serially occupied by learning and satisfied to become knowledgeable about many things. In bygone times when we actually visited bookstores, did you wander everywhere or tend to gravitate towards particular areas? The same can be said for on-line sites. Do you jump around regularly or become more expert with specific sites for learning new information?

Remember the early days of a relationship, whether platonic or romantic, and not knowing if it could develop into something more? That excitement may have turned into passion, and deepened, or flamed out. In the workplace you may have been attracted to an industry or called to a profession because you were passionate about its values or the impact you could make.

Passion is an exciting emotion and it feeds us. Curiosity relates to an eagerness to know more about something or to get information. Inquisitiveness may lead you beyond the initial burst of enthusiasm or it can actually be the accelerant that fans the flames of passion. Curiosity expands our world, leads to great discoveries and engenders passion in many forms. Both are inextricably connected but when the passion wanes the inquiring mind may provide another way to retain the spark and focus on new directions with abandon to become, like Einstein, passionately curious.


Taking Notes

taking-notesAdmittedly I am a product of the Luddite era, when taking notes meant pen and paper, unless you had a working knowledge of shorthand. In class we all developed our own versions of transcribing the words of the lecturer into some legible form to be reviewed later. Unfortunately, “later” often meant well beyond the time when those scribbles made sense and the well intended abbreviations morphed into indecipherable gibberish. Fast forward to the present and, with few exceptions, students are keyboarding. Most people can type faster than write longhand, so why would you choose the latter? In short, digital note-taking is easier.

New information suggests that longhand may be a better tool for locking in learning and help us remember what we heard. UCLA researchers had students take notes at a lecture and quizzed them later. Even with the Internet disabled, long-hand note-takers performed better on tests. Mueller/Oppenheimer referred to the “desirable difficulty” —when an obstacle that can frustrate us, actually helps us learn. Students who were transcribing the lectures were acting as stenographers and not grappling with the task of taking in the information, processing it and creating a way for them to recall it. Note-taking is a two part process; encoding or creating the notes and storage – reviewing the notes later. Printing information in hard to read fonts was another example of “desirable difficulty”.

As an aside, in a class I recently took, I was the only one still writing notes by hand. What I also noticed was that many screens were not capturing the speaker’s words, but playing solitaire, scanning Facebook or checking messages. So, has attention become so fragmented that even in the middle of a lecture, the focus is elsewhere, accounting for the information retention gap? Or, can we make the best use of these tools selectively knowing that once you store a phone number in your mobile device, for example, you will not have to recall it from your memory, having sent it to the cloud and safely stored elsewhere.


Ignore the Small Stuff

5475688_m_-_crowd_gesturing_silenceYou have only so much energy. Spend it wisely.

Some things just aren’t worth your time and energy. Perhaps a co-worker refuses to greet you in the morning. Maybe a customer uses a sharp tone of voice. Your partner may forget to do an errand, sending you over the edge. Is it worth stewing about it, replaying the incident, slight or misbehavior endlessly? Possibly, but more often than not, we expend much more effort on minor grievances that can take on a life of their own, relinquishing our power to someone or something else

Think about how much time you’ve wasted on what really amounts to minor irritants when you could have used it to redirect your thinking and avoid getting trapped. Are you willing to carry along the annoying experience in the AM, through your day, only to share it in the PM with family or friends? How much “rent” can you charge to that earlier incident for taking up premium space in your head?

One effective strategy for managing frustrating situations can be as simple as counting to ten before engaging or responding. Try it when you’re sitting in traffic and before you lean on your horn. Another technique is to change the geography by physically moving to another space or area before reacting. Sometimes that action alone can make a huge difference.

Get smart. Don’t spend $10 worth of energy on a 10-cent problem. Learn to identify the higher value issues and act accordingly.

“Do not let trifles disturb your tranquility of mind…life is too precious to be sacrificed for the nonessential and transient…ignore the inconsequential.” ~ Grenville Kleiser

Has Your Career Been Delayed, Detoured or Derailed?

habitWhether you are returning to the job market or have a significant work history with some gaps, change is coming and you need to prepare. Are you an empty-nester? Took a buy-out or an early retirement and now what? Have you been laid off and unable or unwilling to relocate? Newly divorced or separated? Bored to death, scared to death, or just stuck? You’ve been out of the marketplace for awhile and are contemplating a re-entry, but where do you begin?

Getting back on track means something different for everyone. Perhaps you simply don’t like the career path you’ve been on, yet the salary is good enough and the benefits are important and could be hard to duplicate elsewhere. You remember being inspired and excited about your career at one point, but the job market is tight and you think you are too old to make a change.

According to recent studies, only 30-percent of Americans feel engaged or inspired at their jobs, which leaves a huge number of unhappy people in the workplace. The reality is that most of us need to earn a living and too often we check-out or settle for less than we should. However, when you spend 40+ hours weekly in addition to commuting time, don’t you deserve more? It could be the best time to reconfigure your professional life.

Ask yourself several important questions:
• What is your definition of work?
• Do you believe that making money will make you happy?
• Do you feel confident that you are exceptional at something?
• Do you believe in yourself?

At KICKSTART Your Transition ™ we want you to be equipped with the tools, strategies and skills that will make your job search and interviewing process less formidable. Preparation is key and distinguishes you from the rest. Make no mistake about it, this is your personal campaign and your success is directly related to developing a focused, proactive approach. Interviewers and hiring managers want to employ the right person and they need your help in making that critical decision. Take control of the process and view this as a full time commitment as you gain new skills and insights into an industry, a company, or a career path.

To learn more about our packages, programs and next steps in planning your encore career, exit strategy or career pivot, please visit our website.


The Future of Work

binocularsRecently, as I was departing from a Caribbean airport, I noticed a bank of pay phones on a wall near the gate. It actually took a minute to register what was right in front of me and to marvel at the instrument I had in my purse that made those phones relatively obsolete. The idea of picking up a telephone in a public area and placing the receiver near my mouth was revolting, and yet, that’s exactly what we did. Who was sanitizing the handset? Who even thought about the need to do so?

And then I began to consider what the consequences are when technology replaces something like the public pay phone. While it didn’t happen overnight, someone installed and maintained them, collected the coins and serviced the units. They were manufactured somewhere and aside from the very identifiable red phone booths in London; it’s unlikely that the need for production will increase.

According to Brian Whetten, PhD, “Recent research shows that 65 percent of current preschool students will work in a type of job that doesn’t even exist yet. Every 2 days, we now create as much information as was generated from the dawn of mankind through 2003. For someone working on a science degree, more than half the information they learn in their first year will be out of date by the time they graduate.

It’s truly an exciting time and your perspective probably depends in large part on things we don’t even yet know. Driverless cars will change the world dramatically and how could that impact your future? Will it potentially make your job obsolete or can you pivot into something else seamlessly? How prepared are you to keep an eye out for what’s coming towards you beforehand and look for new opportunities?

If you don’t choose to dedicate a significant part of your time checking future trends and their impact, I suggest a Department of Labor resource. O*NET OnLine has detailed descriptions of the world of work for use by job seekers, workforce development and HR professionals, students, researchers, and more.

For each job, O*NET provides the following information:
• Personal requirements: the skills and knowledge required to perform the work
• Personal characteristics: the abilities, interests and values needed to perform the work
• Experience requirements: the training and level of licensing and experience needed for the work
• Job requirements: the work activities and context, including the physical, social, and organizational factors involved in the work
• Labor market: the occupational outlook and the pay scale for the work

Being ahead of the curve can prepare you for what can be a new and ideally, an exciting career.


Time Management- The Pomodoro Technique

pomodoro-timerI‘d heard about a time management system called the Pomodoro Technique, created by Francesco Cirilio. It seemed too simplistic, but as they say, the simplest things often work best. According to users, this time management system is simple to learn, and life-changing when applied correctly. The Pomodoro Technique can be broken down into the following four basic principles.

1. Work with time, not against it: Many of us live as if time is our enemy. We race the clock to finish assignments and meet deadlines. The technique teaches us to work with time, instead of struggling against it.

2. Eliminate burnout: Taking short, scheduled breaks while working eliminates the “running on fumes” feeling you get when you push yourself too hard. According to users, It’s impossible to overwork when you stick to the system.

3. Manage distractions: E-mails, phone calls, Facebook messages, or suddenly realizing you forgot to get the car inspected– distractions constantly bombard us. Short of a true emergency, these things can be attended to later. This technique helps you log your distractions, and prioritize them for later.

4. Create a better work/life balance: Most of us are intimately acquainted with the guilt that comes from procrastination. If we haven’t had a productive day, we can’t seem to enjoy our free time. When you create an effective timetable and achieve your high-priority tasks, you can truly enjoy your time off.

“All this is great,” you may think, “but what do I actually do?”
• Choose a task
• Set a timer for 25 minutes
• Work on your task until the timer rings, then put a checkmark on a tracker
• Take a five minute break (you just completed your first Pomodoro)
• Repeat steps 1-4 three more times, followed by a 15-minute break.

That’s 25 minutes of steady, focused work on ONE task. No multitasking. No emails. No phone calls. No checking Facebook. Nothing! No distractions allowed!

Suggested tools from someone, not me, are:
1. A kitchen timer
2. Phone on Airplane mode
3. A quiet place to work and/or a good pair of headphones
4. Pen and paper for the Pomodoro check off marks
5. Five minutes each morning to plan out the day’s tasks
6. 30-minutes at the end of each week to review and plan for the next week

I’m definitely going to give this method a try and see how it works for me. My most productive times have been when I chunk activities and refrain from distractions. Multi-tasking is a myth, so a timer based approach, makes good sense.


A Book is a Dream That You Hold in Your Hand

book-club“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

I’ve always been a reader, averaging one to two books weekly. There are more volumes in our home than I will ever be able to read in a lifetime, but happily the possibility still exists. A tablet is ideal for travel, yet for the most part, I prefer to hold a book in my hands, to feel it; the energy is somehow different and more personally connected. Books are anyone’s ticket to other places, more information and a wheelhouse of knowledge.

Based on my own experience and the value I place on books and other written material as resources, I was surprised to see the following statistics compiled by the Robert Brewer research organization.

• 33% of High School graduates never read another book in their lifetime
• 42% of College graduates never read another book after college
• 57% of new books are not read to completion
• 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years
• 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year
• The more a child reads, the likelier they are able to understand the emotions of others
• Reading ONE HOUR per DAY in your chosen field will make you an international expert in 7 years!

Purchase books, reserve them at the library, share with friends and colleagues, even begin your own lending library at work. Vary your choices and pick something out of your comfort zone. When I travel, I frequently leave books at the front desk, especially guide books from that country. There are many ways to share so the gift of reading can continue.

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” Haruki Murakami