Archive for December, 2008

Becoming the best

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Unlike a lot of people I don’t usually make a list of New Year’s resolutions because I tend to act on resolutions right away, all year long, instead of waiting for the beginning of a new year. The same way I can start a diet on a Wednesday instead of waiting for Monday…

But a lot of people like to use this opportunity to reflect and set new goals and I think that’s a very positive way to start the year. This year in particular, there is one thing I think we should all add to the top of our lists: to become the best at what we do. Whether you improve your computer skills, or a certain process, whether you work on your communication abilities or specific skills you need for your particular job, you have to make it a priority.

In a tight job market, those who offer the best value are the ones who will find and keep jobs. And I’m talking all kinds of jobs. Check these examples of people who will soon lose their jobs if they don’t get their act together:

  • The emergency phone service operator who took my call after I was on hold for 10 minutes. When I said: “That was a long wait for an emergency service”, she remained quiet. She didn’t apologize and she told me (after sighing) that my condo already knew we didn’t have hot water because someone had called earlier. I had to insist for her to take down my unit number and report my problem.
  • The graphic designer that turns in her work two weeks past a deadline.
  • The editor who allows articles to be published in his/her newspaper without checking the facts.
  • The executive recruiter who is constantly back stabbing her colleagues thinking people don’t notice and don’t talk amongst themselves.
      I’m sure you have your own examples. Hopefully they refer to others and not to yourself! Just in case, let’s all make this the number one priority for this year: stretch the limits of how good we think we can be and challenge ourselves to the next level.

  • Watch your image

    Friday, December 19th, 2008

    Photo by María Fernanda Hubeaut

        Image is everything. People see you and the materials you present (your resume, your business card and even your Linkedin page and picture) as a reflection of who you are. If you are dressed professionally and hand out a clean, mistake-free resume you will project one image. If you show up at an interview with wrinkle clothes and fingers covered with ink-stains you will project a different one.

        The same goes for your pages on Internet. If you keep a Facebook or My Space page, make sure you use pictures and post text that doesn’t compromise your professional image because employers are Googling employees before they make a job offer.
        And if you use pictures in your professional life, please update them often enough that you resemble the person in the picture. It’s surprising how many people who present as part of their job use pictures that are twenty years old. They don’t realize how bad it looks when they are on the stage presenting and that picture is on the program or on a giant screen right next to them. (Once at a conference, I was trying to connect with an author and I couldn’t find him anywhere. I was using the picture on the back cover of his latest book as a reference. When somebody finally introduced me to him, I quickly realized why I hadn’t “found” him! He looked nothing like his picture.)
        If your visual image is important in your career, nothing compares to the work that a professional photographer can do for you. The picture you see above is from a recent photo session with my photographer María Fernanda Hubeaut to update my pictures which were only three years old. Check her website to see her incredible work.

      Surprise someone

      Thursday, December 11th, 2008

      Everyone likes surprises, especially during the holiday season and particularly, this holiday season that is so full of gloom and doom everywhere you look. Here’s an idea you should try.

      Pick someone in your network who you would not usually send a gift to, someone who has helped you with small gestures, such as putting your phone call through an important contact or someone who has moved your resume to the top of the pile so you could get that job interview.

      We all know people who have done those kinds of small favors that mean so much to us, and yet, they usually go unrecognized. So try this. Send them a small gift: a chocolate bar with a note; flowers; a balloon with a stuffed animal. Something that tells them you remember them and you value their help.

      You will put a smile on their faces and you will have become memorable. Those kinds of acts are what make you stand out from the crowd as people talk about you by the cooler this holiday season.

      Our identity

      Saturday, December 6th, 2008

      I was just up in Ann Arbor, Michigan presenting to a group of MBA students who are members of the Hispanic Latino Students Business Association at the Stephen. M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

      The group was wonderful and during lunch we talked a little bit about where each of us was from. As is the case more often than not, a few students had a mixed background. The winner, however, was a young man who looked Korean. He was born in Korea and moved to Chile when he was two years old. He lived between Chile and Paraguay until he was seven or eight, time at which his family moved to Brazil.

      A little while back, he moved to the US to study so, by now, he speaks Korean, Spanish, Portuguese and English and judging from the languages I heard him speak, he does so pretty well!

      “What do you say when people ask you ‘where are you from’?” I inquired curiously.

        “Brazil” He responded with no hesitation. And then went on to explain that when he lived in Brazil, his Korean friends had the same Brazilian influences that he had. But once he moved to the US he realized he had less in common with the Korean community here, as they are from Korea. “That’s when I realized I was really Brazilian,” he said.

      And of course, many Brazilians identify with the Latino culture, so here he was, hanging out with the HLSBA group.

      So, when people ask you ‘where are you from’, what do you say?