Monday Morning Mayhem Makeover

imagescakc7fr7My schedule is no longer based on a Monday-Friday, fixed timetable. I have flexibility and can organize my workday to suit clients and myself with late afternoon and evening appointments. Technology has made it possible to accommodate time and space that was unthinkable not so long ago.

I now prepare for the week ahead differently, and the lessons I learned by harkening back to anxiety filled Sunday nights still serve me well. To avoid unnecessary morning chaos, having systems in place is crucial. The fewer decisions you have to make daily about mundane things, the better.

While I don’t suggest taking fashion tips from the Steve Jobs school of black mock turtlenecks, simplicity is the key to being organized. A very successful client who manages her time to the minute has streamlined her work week wardrobe. She owns five pairs of black slacks of varying fits and lengths that she rotates. They all hang in the same part of her closet along with tops, jackets, and accessories that work together. Her standard is a white shirt as a fall back.

Meal time choices can also take too much time. If after doing a quick self-inventory, you realize that you always eat x for breakfast and y for lunch with variety thrown in for dinner, relax. You’ve just removed more decision making from your thought processes and at the same time freed up resources for other critical thinking. We all have a capacity to function at a high level and when we limit the number of “extras” to weigh, it is liberating.

When you spend time on Sunday evening to prepare for the week ahead with respect to wardrobe and meal planning alone, you will find that you can handle the inevitable curve-balls more easily. At the very least, you’re probably dressed and fed.


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.


Give a Work Presentation

speaker presentationDoes the thought of public speaking throw you into a state of panic or is it another terrific opportunity to demonstrate your ease in front of an audience? Most of us are called upon at some point to speak to a group and/or present materials to share information. No matter your skill level, with focused persistence, proper preparation and timing during a workday, you can increase the odds of a positive result. In fact, it’s not only what you say in that meeting with your boss, but when you say it.

The best way to avoid having your ideas met with blank stares and stifled yawns is to schedule your presentations on Tuesdays, around 10:30 AM. According to Andrew Bradbury, author of Successful Presentation Skills, “In the midmorning, early birds are still going strong and the night owls are getting into the stride of their day, meaning everyone in the audience should be energized and receptive.” Furthermore, in a recent survey commissioned by the staffing agency Accountemps, Tuesday was found to be the most effective day to show off Powerpoint skills. I can hear the groans already but when strong visual are called for, it does not mean that “death” by Powerpoint will follow. People are in the full swing of their workweek and not yet distracted by the upcoming weekend. And, with a Tuesday presentation, if follow-up is necessary, there is still a cushion of three more workdays. Given that you managed all else, to ensure the most receptive audience, timing really is everything after all. Remember to smile. The audience is on your side, they want you to be successful.

Consider both personal and professional circumstances where timing strategically made a difference.
• Did you notice the receptiveness of your audience?
• How will you factor time and day into future presentations?
• Schedule something ASAP based on these suggestions
• Compare a Tuesday AM meeting to another day and time

© 2016 Maureen Weisner

Appearances DO Say A Lot

happy-woman-fotolia_12331389_subscription_xxlYour appearance has a direct effect on first, second, and third impressions. I recently attended a networking event and was introduced to an interior designer who looked as if she had just emerged from a wind tunnel on a rainy day. Would I ever hire her? That would be very unlikely. It was not a question of stylish attire or even an extenuating circumstance that might have occurred in the parking lot moments earlier. On the contrary, the designer seemed quite comfortable and eager to exchange business cards. It has been my experience that the external is also an expression of the internal and vice versa. Attention to detail is important and you will be judged on it well before you have an opportunity to even be introduced.

In business, the opinions of others matter. Business etiquette experts suggest you consider the following:

• Do my clothes conform to the company policy or do they push the limits? Too short, tight, low-cut or too loud?
• Are my clothes in good repair? Free of stains, odors, rips?
• Do I dress appropriately for the situation? Is the meeting at Starbucks or a private equity firm?
• Am I prepared for an emergency? Keep an extra outfit in the office, just in case.

Body language is an important part of overall appearance:

• Eye contact– do you look people in the eye. Focus on the area between the eyebrows rather than a stare down.
• Posture- Standing or sitting in an erect manner, conveys a confident image…no slouching
• Gestures– Lean slightly forward to demonstrate engagement and receptivity
• Nervous habits– foot tapping, fidgeting or other unnecessary movements give off a sense of uncertainty.

Advance preparation can make all the difference and you never know who you will be meeting in the course of your day.

©2015 Maureen Weisner

Lucky of Purposeful?

imagesCAADD1X9There are some days when it feels like everything is running smoothly and other times it may feel like the end of a long run can’t happen soon enough. It’s human nature to focus on what’s not working than to revel in the moments when you are in the flow and the Universe is cooperating fully.

Do you consider yourself to be a lucky person? Are you someone who takes full advantage of opportunities, focusing on them as they arise?

“Things worthwhile generally don’t just happen. Luck is a fact, but should not be a factor. Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best… Luck is the residue of design.” –  Branch Rickey

Buying a winning lottery ticket is sheer luck as the odds are certainly not in your favor nor did any scheme in particular give you better probabilities.  The more sales calls you make will increase your chances of closing a deal. The more swings at bat, shots at a goal or auditions you attend will increase the likelihood of your success. Too many people excuse their own limitations to by crediting other’s achievement to luck. Lucky people actually do things that allow them to take advantage of chances that they position themselves for. Not everything works out of course, but wishing, hoping and praying for success is not a formula for success. What’s you action plan, setting aside the rabbit’s foot or 4-leaf clover?

According to author Kevin Daum, there are 5 “secrets” of lucky people.
1. Play to your strengths: We waste too much time and energy doing things that we probably don’t do well.  Focus on what you do well and delegate the rest or find a partner to compensate for your weaknesses.

2. Prepare in advance: Unlucky people often get that way because they are reactive and unprepared. A business plan, for example is a template. The point in having one isn’t to follow it for the sake of staying on track. Rather, it is to establish a structure for smart decision making that allows you to adjust and succeed.

3. Start early: It’s not necessarily about rising early, but beginning projects well in advance. So many people want to put their energies into things that provide immediate gratification. The most fortunate people I know are the ones who planted the seeds early and are now in a better position to have choices and take advantage of the most promising ones.

4. Connect with as many people as possible: The key to success is access to opportunity. Access comes from influence. If you are influential, people will bring opportunities to you. The way to build a following is to provide value to many people. How are you providing the sort of value that will cause people to spread your thoughts and attribute credit to you?

5. Follow up: Opportunities come and go because people do not follow up in a timely manner, or ever in more cases than not. Following up is often more powerful and impressive than the act of initiating.