Career Advice

What’s the best advice you ever got?

We get advice all the time. From people that we know, we respect and those we don’t know and we don’t necessarily respect….but we learn from regardless. Here is a collection of advice from a group of people from all walks of life…. May something resonate with you!

1. Don’t lose sight.

“‘People who used to run car companies were really into cars. People who ran hotel chains loved hospitality. Now, everything is run by accountants, and you feel it as a consumer.‘ This slightly grumpy rant from one of my mentors, the famed mad man Martin Puris, inspires me to stay focused on the purity and passion of a business pursuit.”  –Andrew Deitchman, co-founder of The New Stand

2. You get only what you settle for.

“The best business advice I ever got came from my dear old Dad. It’s quite simple and immeasurably powerful. It goes like this: ‘You, and only you, should set the value of your talents, ideas, services, and/or product. Don’t ever expect anyone to pay or give you more than they have to.’ As an entrepreneur, you have to get used to the fact that, quite often, you’ll be faced with an offer that seems less than the value of your talent, ideas, services, or product. That’s business. You are the sole arbiter of what you, your ideas, services, or product is worth. Therefore, what you get is what you are willing to settle for. You have to fight for what you feel you’re worth. Not that settling is necessarily a bad thing, but where you end up is what you settle for. Sage advice.” –Neil Powell, fine artist and co-founder of Mugnacious

3. Be clear and transparent.

“I learned many things while working for Steve Jobs in the ’90s, including what not to do. While Steve was arguably the greatest marketer of our generation and gave some of the most inspirational speeches of our time, he wasn’t the best communicator when it came to individuals. Steve didn’t set defined expectations for me or other employees: he simply knew it when he saw it. Watching him operate made me recognize the importance of clarity and transparency with my team, and how imperative it is to set expectations and effectively communicate with them. The more transparent I am about where I want to take the company, the clearer my team is about how to get there. Making sure everyone is on board before you make business decisions will help ensure you won’t alienate people (sometimes your best ones) in the process.” –James Green, serial entrepreneur and CEO of technology company Magnetic

4. Forget “having it all.”

“These days, there’s an ongoing debate about whether women can ‘have it all,’ and I’ve often been asked that question. I’m a person who likes to give 100 percent to everything I do. I want to be the best at my job and as a mother. But I realize I can only give 100 percent in the moment. If I’m at work, am I giving 100 percent to my kids? No. If I’m at home, am I giving 100 percent to my work? No. It’s a balancing act, but worthwhile as long as we don’t kid ourselves that we’re superwomen.”  –from the book Getting Real by Gretchen Carlson, host of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson on Fox News, used by permission

5. Don’t get caught in analysis paralysis.

“Work is never going to be as slow as it is today. The pace of business in general — and start-ups specifically — will only quicken in 2016. So, we have to make a lot of important decisions quickly. I got some great advice early in life, which was: ‘Sometimes you won’t know the right decision, so you have to make the decision right.’ In other words, when you lack perfect information and time, you have to be thoughtful about your process, be diligent in your analysis, then make the decision quickly. After that, it’s all about execution and putting all your energy into making it work.” –Don Smithmier, founder and CEO of The Big Know

6. Listening is very different from hearing.

“The best piece of advice ever imparted to me comes from my mom, who is fond of saying ‘What you say matters less than what people hear and understand.’  As a teacher, she was a brilliant listener, and she used what she heard to build a bridge between what she needed to teach and how the student needed to learn. From that, she taught me to focus my efforts on helping people understand rather than on what I wanted to tell them. She taught me how to hear, and it is the single most important skill in my professional success.” –Courtney Buechert, founder and CEO of creative marketing agency Eleven, Inc.

7. Put your weirdness into your work.

“These words were spoken to me by famed voice-over and recording artist Ken Nordine. This was many years ago, and I’ve carried these words with me ever since. He recognized that we all get a little weird from time to time, but it’s how we choose to channel our weirdness that’s key. To offset my very ordinary life, I infuse every project I touch with experimental and fluid creations. It’s what’s led to my best work and most successful endeavors. With weirdness and imaginative thinking embedded in all facets of your work, you are free to spend the rest of your time enjoying the little things in life, a balance that is delicate yet so profound.” –David Slayden, founder and executive director of designer-founder accelerator BDW

8. Action creates opportunity.

“There’s a variety of advice that has had lasting impact, but this is the one that I continue to return to on a weekly basis. It’s a quote from my former CEO. This phrase remains valuable in the big and small, in the tactical and the strategic. We are in an industry that requires the creation and fostering of constant change. We have to invent new ideas, create new services and capabilities, all while increasing the quality of our craft. So while we can all spend an endless amount of time contemplating and planning, there is one force that cannot be denied. Take action, as it will surely create and open up new opportunities.” –Ed Brojerdi, CEO of  KBS New York and co-founder of Spies & Assassins

9. No cohesion, no team.

“In creative industries especially, teams are central to the work. They are integral to collaborative cultures and, far more often than not, essential to innovation. What too many people fail to recognize, however, is that two or more people working together doesn’t automatically constitute a ‘team.’ These people may be partners and co-workers, but that’s not enough to effect the magic that genuine teamwork can produce. When I was running the brand-strategy practice for consultancy FutureBrand, we assembled teams to take on each assignment and were careful to include a diversity of skills and backgrounds in each. I couldn’t help but notice, though, that certain teams were far more effective than others. In a management meeting, we discussed the issue and then we each went off to gather more data. When we reconvened, the lesson became clear: No cohesion, no team. It turned out that the highest performing teams simply liked each other more. They would break for dinners. Go bowling. Share their weekend plans and recaps. They genuinely cared about one another. And that led to a level of performance that far outstripped anything that less cohesive teams could hope to achieve. I keep that lesson in mind, not just when I’m putting teams together but also when I’m hiring. However brilliant or accomplished a prospect is, I don’t want to hire that person if he or she can’t play well with others. I look for the right mix of skills and mindset, of course, but beyond that I want to know that the person will be worthy of colleagues’ trust and a positive presence within the company. If not, I’d prefer that person play on someone else’s team.” –Andrew Benett, Global CEO of Havas Worldwide and Havas Creative Group

10. See the spaces, not the trees.

“This is a snowboarding reference. It can be daunting, standing at the top of the mountain readying yourself for the trip down, and seeing all the trees in your path. But the key is to see the space between the trees. This sort of mindset, seeing the opportunity and not the obstacles, is important as you start out on your next life chapter, both personally and professionally. When you’re deep into your work or facing a personal challenge, it’s easier to see the barriers, but don’t let them stop you from pursuing the opportunity that exists around them. Remember the business of your business. Many companies get caught up in the service they provide versus what actually drives their business. For example, Twitter is a micro-blogging service. But at the end of the day, what pays the bills is selling ads and sponsored tweets on the platform. Don’t lose sight of the actual economics of your business; it’s what keeps the lights on

How To Spot An Irreplaceable Employee

Great employees and employers show mutual admiration (Shutterst0ck)

Employees and employers have a shared interest in discovering the attributes that define the all-time favorite employees. Employees want to be the most-favored, and employers seek to attract those individuals who seem irreplaceable.

Michael Gottlieb is the founding partner of Momentum Law Group – a law firm that serves entrepreneurs. At a recent meeting of his monthly CEO round table, he asked the group, “ What attributes would you use to describe your all-time favorite employees? ” The list of attributes is surprising. Even more surprising is that the group of 12 CEOs all agreed on the list.

No Drama

At the top of the list: Lack of drama. These favorite employees don’t complain. They don’t seek attention. They don’t gossip. They simply perform their jobs without a need to draw attention to their professional or personal challenges.  They don’t see a need to remind others of how challenging the task might be. They don’t call attention to the fact that someone else didn’t complete their task.

Jeff Lesher, Principal at EntreQuest, an award-winning consultancy with a vision to shift engagement in the work world to transform the real world, says, “Most highly valued employees not only perform their jobs admirably – with skill, focus, and passion – they do so in a way that demonstrates their commitment, first and foremost, to the work.”

 Jeff further explains, “ Drama is selfish ; the more selfless, low drama approach typically is a symptom of high commitment more than a direct intent.” It reminds me of the scene between Billy Crystal’s character and Meg Ryan’s character in the movie When Harry Met Sally:

Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally Albright: Which one am I?
Harry Burns: You’re the worst kind. You’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.

Most high-drama people don’t see themselves as dramatic.

Operational Focus

The next item is commitment to operational execution. Top employees don’t just talk about ideas or identify problems. Rather, they always focus on how to accomplish the task at hand.  These talented individuals know that there is a big difference between having intention and getting things done. The most valued employees know that nothing matters until it is implemented and achieving results.

Top employees know that their commitment to customers and accomplishment can help to grow the business and engender customer trust. These superstars always follow-through and don’t need reminders of what is important .

Initiative: Confidence And Internal Motivation

Top employees don’t wait around to be told what to do. Once they know the goal and they are self-motivated to move toward that goal each day. Nothing will get in their way. Some might see them as stubborn. Most see them as possessing superpowers.

Their greatest superpower is the ability to receive and internalize feedback. They have sufficient confidence and self-awareness to accept constructive criticism as a way to improve, without seeing the input as negative.

This superpower only surfaces in work environments where employees are not punished for taking risks. Confident self-starters will happily take constructive feedback. If you punish them for taking initiative, they’ll sit back — probably while searching for a new job where they can unleash their initiative.

What The Experts Say

According to HeliosHR’s CEO, Kathy Albarado, “The fact that CEOs cite a desire for ‘No drama’ could point to a gap in hiring practices. With the right screening and interview process, you should be able to spot those most likely to be valuable members of the team.”  Kathy encourages employers to seek similar attributes that the Girl Scouts of America teach young women:  Courage, Character and Confidence.  The courage to take risks, the character to follow through,and the confidence to take feedback.

Gabe Muller is the COO of Glassman Wealth Services, named “Best Place to Work” in the Washington DC area by Washingtonian Magazine and the Washington Business Journal three years in a row. “I love the three attributes of 1) Solution orientated mindset, 2) Adaptability; and 3) The ability to receive feedback and collaborate with others.”

Notice that the themes are consistent with the CEO round table that Michael Gottlieb assembled. Also take note that nobody is listing skills, educational background or certifications. While those capabilities are important, nobody said that their all-time favorite employee had the best technical skills.

The best employees get stuff done with passion and results. If you don’t value your employees who demonstrate those attributes, rest assured that another employer is anxiously waiting to meet them.

It’s Your Turn

What do you think makes for favorite employees? Share your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on LinkedIn- https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4499329 or Twitter.@winerycareers.com

Bestselling co-author of Same Side Selling, Ian Altman is a popular keynote speaker, and host of the Grow My Revenue Business Cast. He has 2 children, a dog, and a wife he doesn’t deserve

Instead Of Looking For Your Purpose Or 'One Thing', Try This

When talking about their careers, there are two stories I often hear women telling themselves:

  • “Unless I figure out the one thing I’ve always wanted to do, I’m going to be miserable.”
  • “I’ve invested so much time striving to be successful in this industry, if I transition to something else it’ll have all been for nothing.”

Women (and men) often feel an urgency to find their ‘one thing.’ Or, they stay in the same industry longer than they’d like because they feel obligated or stuck. To discuss finding purpose and getting unstuck I talked with Nicole Antoinette, the host of the Real Talk Radio podcast. Antoinette is a self-described “recovering self help addict” and a queen of reinvention.

nicole-antoinette

Nicole Antoinette Photo Credit: Foxes + Wolves

With a resume that includes highlights such as camp director, owner of a web design firm, goal setting coach, and cookie shop owner, Antoinette says the theme of her career has been change.

This is a dramatic juxtaposition to her husband, an engineer at Twitter whose path has been pretty linear. She says, “He’s taken the more traditional or ‘recommended’ path that was put on a pedestal when I was younger: pick your thing and become really good at your thing.”

Around the time she turned 30, Antoinette struggled with shame and guilt that she hadn’t found her ‘one thing’ like her partner. Without her ‘one thing’ all the choices she had made in her 20s felt like a waste. She asked herself, “What’s wrong with me that I’ve had all of these seemingly unrelated careers?”

Paths Aren’t Always Linear, But Skills Are Transferable

Antoinette felt badly about this pattern of behavior until she had a realization. “The model of pick one thing, get better and better at that thing, and always be continually interested in that thing is actually pretty rare.” Stories of achieving greatness through perseverance in the same profession (picture Michael Phelps) are the ones celebrated in the media, she argues, which causes us to falsely believe that kind of career consistency is the norm.

In addition to craving an idealized ’one thing’, people are reluctant to lose all the opportunities they’ve created for themselves in their industry. Antoinette, who’s had at least 4 careers already, says if you go to do something else, all the experience, skills, and relationships you’ve developed come with you. “ It’s not like you leave a job or an industry and someone comes and ‘Men in Blacks’ your brain ,” she explains referencing the memory erasing technology from the popular film series.

For example, the same organization and communication skills that made her a good camp director were a tremendous asset when she ran her own business. As I started my consulting practice, a woman I’d met in my last role, managing a political campaign, became my first client.

Ask Yourself Good Questions

When it comes to her own transitions, Antoinette says the best advice she’s ever gotten is to ask yourself good questions, such as:

Referencing her own experience, Antoinette says, “If you’re actually willing to go back and ask yourself again and again, eventually you just get sick of yourself,” and get to the answer.

Asking herself those questions relentlessly, she realized she didn’t care about having a big flashy career. She says it took all of her 20s to accept that a “capital C Career” wasn’t important to her. She challenged the idea that there was a finite destination to reach, and she’s not looking back. Or as she says,“F*ck, I’m so much happier now.”

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or decades in, consider giving yourself permission to explore what kind of work is fulfilling rather than searching frantically for your ‘one thing’. Who knows, maybe cookie shop owner is in your future.

Lelia Gowland helps women negotiate and navigate their careers. Learn more about her e-courses on negotiating a raise, a promotion, and a new position at gowlandllc.com.

6 Traits- What To Hire For:

Benchmark-logo_trans 2

 

Celebrating 21 years in the Wine Industry

 

There’s two things you need to know, right off the bat, about these hiring criteria.

First and most obviously, the six criteria on Danny’s list are psychological traits, not technical skills.  Even though it is generally easier to hire for technical skills, whether they are knife skills in the kitchen, great customer-centric leaders like Meyer feel confident that they can teach technical know-how to almost any newly-hired employee, but on the other hand find the idea of teaching empathy, teaching work ethic and so forth to be essentially a fool’s errand, much better addressed in the selection process than in post-employment training and discipline.

The second point is this: Even though you’ll be hiring for personality traits rather than technical skills, you still need to develop highly-skilled employees before they even face the first customer. Otherwise, you’re doing your customers (and your company) a huge disservice.

 

Meyer: “I used to think that you could just hire people for their emotional skills and if they had the six essential emotional skills, that’s all it took. I learned the hard way that you can’t unleash somebody’s hospitality unless you have first completely drilled all the systems, the technical skills and know-how that are needed, to a point of excellence.”

In other words:  These wonderful, warm personality traits that you have hired your new employees for aren’t going to manifest themselves in ways that are useful to your customers until the training for skills is complete and has become second nature.

Meyer compares this to learning to drive a stick shift.

I remember when I first learned to drive a stick shift [as a teenager back in St. Louis], I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. And until I had learned to be proficient at doing that, I wasn’t having any fun while I was driving. I wasn’t switching the stations on the radio dial. I wasn’t telling jokes to my friends. I wasn’t pointing out the beautiful trees on the side of the road.

At that beginner’s stage, I was “all systems all the time.” But once I learned those systems, how to shift gears, find a sticking point when I was on a hill, all those kinds to things that are really taught. Once I cleared all that out, that’s when I could get back to being myself and pick the best music for whoever was in the car, tell jokes with people, you know, enjoy the scenery.

So even though the emotional skills that lead to hospitality are not really teachable, but they are also not revealable until first you’ve learned the systems, the technical side of getting the job done.”

Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants hire for what Meyer calls an employee’s “hospitality quotient.”  These are the six traits he feels are required for an employee to have the potential to provide true hospitality to the guests of his restaurants.

Here’s his list of six traits to hire for, which I’m using here with his permission and hope you find useful.

1. Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full);

2. Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning);

3. Work ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done);

4. Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel)

5. Self-awareness (an understanding of what makes you tick;

6.  Integrity (a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment).

Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant, customer experience speaker and bestselling business author, most recently of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service

 




4 Ways to Maintain & Improve Communication

Communicating with coworkers, managers and employees honestly and effectively takes skill- especially when there is a sensitive or challenging issue at hand. Good leaders establish communication methods at the beginning of any relationship and regularly reassess this process for the best results. If you would like to improve workplace communication, here are methods to practice.

Multiple communication methods

Keep multiple lines of communication open. For example, have text and email protocols and of course direct call instructions for everyone to choose from. Let others know how they can reach you and which methods are preferred.

Preference for discussions

It is very easy to misinterpret responses and instruction via email or text. When there needs to be a clear understanding, a phone or face-to-face meeting is always preferred.

Focus

Often, if a problem is discussed, it can take a while to get to the root of the issue. Encourage coworkers to focus on only one problem at a time. Focus on a solution for the problem, and then schedule another meeting to follow up while staying focused on a resolution.

Discretion

Co-workers want to know that you can keep a confidence. When a team member comes to you with concerns or questions, they need to know the conversation is in confidence in order to maintain trust, and an “open line” of communication.

Encouraging Workplace Collaboration

Highlight Meaning – From entry-level positions to seasoned managers, employees want to know what they do is meaningful. Meaning in the workplace includes individual purpose and company purpose. Those who are involved in the wine industry have an interest in and passion for wine, which creates a natural basis of meaning for motivation and enjoyment. The key is highlighting this shared meaning between all employees to foster workplace collaboration. Often it is too easy to slip into a state of complacency instead of shared meaning. When the focus is on meaning and purpose, positive work ethics and collaboration naturally fall into place.

Designate and Fluctuate – Not only do employees want to clearly understand their responsibilities, they also often want new experiences and responsibilities in the workplace. Responsibilities are often valued differently by each person, as one employee may think certain tasks are mundane while another may think the same responsibility exhibits trust in them. By learning about different responsibilities, you can balance out these perceptions and create a more expansive type of job awareness.

Create Community – Workplace interaction can reach a plateau, where employees relate to one another as acquaintances rather than as friends. By creating events for the workplace (such as a holiday party or birthday month celebration), you encourage employees to better know one another. When friendships form in the workplace, collaboration, teamwork and empathy naturally increase. From seasonal themes to sports and events themes, there are many options to get employees involved in working on something together.