Posts Tagged ‘career development’

A simple way to end conflicts

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

I often hear friends, colleagues or clients complain that others don’t understand them. “He’s not listening to me,” or “She doesn’t understand what I want.” Sounds familiar? This kinds of misunderstandings happen in our private and professional lives all the time and more often than not, what’s behind them is a difference in unconscious standards. Let me explain what I mean through a story.

Marta is angry at her assistant Lisa because she frequently interrupts her while she’s trying to focus on her work. When she tells her: “Lisa, I can’t work if you are constantly interrupting me,” Lisa, surprised by her boss’ reaction responds: “That’s not true. I don’t interrupt constantly! I come in here once in a while to get answers so I can do my job well.”

What is true for Marta is not true for Lisa, and that is usually the case when the focus of our conversation is on who is right and who is wrong. What really matters is: is this type of communication producing a positive result for either one of these two women? If the answer is “no” then it behooves them to find a different approach regardless of who is right.

This situation can be easily resolved if Marta and Lisa sat down and discussed what constitutes “frequently,” “constantly,” and “once in a while” for each one of them. Say that Marta considers being interrupted three times a day as “frequent” and anything over three times a day “constant,” and Lisa thought that only five interruptions a day would be considered “frequent” and over that “constant.” Do you see how their differing standards (of which most of the times we are not aware) get in the way of producing positive results?

Once they sit down and clarify what each one of them means by these words, they can agree on new actions that help both of them achieve their goal: Lisa gets her answers and Marta feels that she’s maintaining her relationship with a valued employee. They can now agree on a new course of action: Lisa will accumulate questions and come into her boss’ office twice a day to get her answers and Marta will stop work at specific times during the day to focus her attention on her assistant.

Think about how many of these situations you experience in your life daily and ask yourself if there are certain “behind the scenes” standards about which you and the other person need to talk. What is “late” for you and what is “late” for your boss; what is “a clean room” for you and what is “a clean room” for your teenage child, what is “too much” work, talk, food, travel, for you and for someone else? The moment we start exploring these standards for ourselves and the people we interact with, a new realm of possibilities open up. I encourage you to try!

Uncover your Latinoness

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

The other day, after I gave a presentation about using your Latino traits to your advantage, a young female attendee asked me: “How can I advance in my career leveraging my Latino traits while avoiding the stereotypes?” It was a great question around a topic faced by many people who are second or third generation Latino and by those who have spent many years in this country and have learned to navigate the system well.

The tendency is to become overly assimilated and to forget where your roots are to the point where you may miss great opportunities to leverage that background to your benefit. This young lady avoided at all cost taking on assignments in Latin America or serving the Hispanic market as she believed, as many people do, that taking these kinds of assignments might pigeonhole her. And although this may be a good strategy at the beginning of your career, once you’ve proven your worth, you may want to reconsider it.

There are many Latino values that you should tap into. Having been raised by a Latino family has exposed you to certain experiences, world view and set of values that can be very useful in today’s marketplace. Finding out what they are and bringing them to the surface is the first step to leveraging their power.

So for instance, coming from an area of the world that experiences change constantly, your parents and grandparents grew up learning how to adapt. For them, the only way to survive involved creating alternatives to the way in which they conducted business or to how they managed their daily lives.

They instilled these skills in you, even if you didn’t realize it and in great part, you owe to your upbringing the ability to solve problems, the fact that you think fast on your feet, can change direction in a split second and can do several jobs with equal ease.

Your goal should be to communicate those unique skills as part of your value proposition to your bosses or prospective employers. That not only are you great at what you do, but on top of that, you have all of these Latino traits that will benefit the company. By aligning your value proposition to the company’s bottom line you have a much better chance to land a plum assignment or that coveted job.

Refine your work ethics

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Nowadays, a lot of young people are having a hard time figuring out how to enter the job market or how to keep the job they have. There’s tons of competition from other people their age and from older employees who have lost their jobs and have more experience. Even internships are hard to get by.

If you find yourself in this situation, take a good look at your work ethics because you may have to change a thing or two if you want to stay in the game.

  • Be punctual and observe deadlines. Having an excuse for every time you are late is not going to win you extra points.
  • Be thorough in the work you do and focus on the details. It shows that you care.
  • Be creative: think of new ways in which you can help your boss, your company, or a colleague. Anything that helps reduce costs or increase income is a step in the right direction.
  • Be self motivated. Employees who look for opportunities to grow or expand their responsibilities show leadership.
  • Turn off your cell phone and any other electronic devices that you carry around with you while you are at work or in a job interview. Nothing says “I don’t care about this business” as you talking to your friends (or texting them) every ten minutes.
  • Avoid spending time on your Facebook page or any other social network while you are at work. Try to use the computer for business only.
  • Take care of your appearance. With more and more options to choose from, employers can get their pick and they tend to choose people who take good care of themselves and look clean. So, you may have to cover up excessive body art, piercings, or tame down your hairdo.
  • Reinvent yourself

    Thursday, February 19th, 2009

    With the economy getting even worse, what is one to do to find a job? Well, it really depends on your skill set and the industry where you work.

    Many of my friends who work in the media business and in the financial markets have lost the jobs. Unfortunately, these are jobs that are unlikely to return. At least, they won’t be exactly the same and I’m sure there will be less of them than before the crisis. So in some cases, it makes sense for you to re-think about how smart it really is for you to try to get another job in that industry.

    If you’re a journalist and have both English and Spanish skills, you can branch out into other areas, such as writing consumer market research reports for companies such as Mintel or Nielsen

    Or you can work at the public relations or communications department of a large company that is currently doing well such as Walmart

    Or McDonald’s

    You can also try to start your own business, something that Latinos are naturally prepared to do. As immigrants and children of immigrants we still have that great entrepreneurial gene that makes us great entrepreneurs. Look beyond what you were doing before you got laid off and come up with a business plan to make it happen. It may be the fastest way to getting back on your feet and you may be much happier than you were before.

    There is no lack of great opportunities out there that you can take advantage of: from repairing household appliances (people will be less inclined to throw them out and buy new ones!), to buying and selling brand name-used clothing, to providing financial advice to families sending their kids to college or who need to refinance their homes, to coaching people on how to improve their resumes, to tutoring adults on using the Internet to improve their skills. The list is endless. Just take a deep look at your skills and experience, match it with one of the opportunities available in the market right now, and you will be on your way to a new career path.

    There are plenty of online universities where you can acquire additional skills to help you in the new field of your choice such as Kaplan or University of Phoenix and you can also check your local community college.

    Don’t let the general gloom and doom environment get you down. There are always diamonds hidden regardless of how tough the economy gets!

    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.

      Gaining Visibility for Career Advancement

      Friday, October 31st, 2008

      One of the secrets to advance in your career is to gain visibility. How do you accomplish this? There are lots of strategies that will make the right people notice you for the right reasons. One of them is by attending conferences and networking with presenters and attendees alike, or even better, by participating as a speaker so everyone notices you. While you are at a conference, don’t forget to ask questions. Watch this short video for more on that.

      A great networking tip on video

      Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

      Watch a one minute tip on networking that you can easily apply at the next convention or event you attend. I recorded this short video for a workshop that Speakers World will conduct at the NSHMBA conference in Atlanta, both on October 9th and 10th. The workshop is about developing a good presentation and it will be conducted by the great Brenda Besdansky. Don’t miss it if you’re around!