employee

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

5 Signs You’re a “Unicorn” Employee

unicorn

Unicorns are hard to catch. Back in the 1500s, it was believed that only fair young maidens could gain the trust of these elusive, horned creatures.

I’m no fair maiden. Still, in my time, I’ve had the luck of getting close to many magical unicorns … in the form of “unicorn” employees. Not to be confused with unicorn companies—startups valued at $1 billion or more—“unicorn” employees, for me, are staff who possess a unique set of qualities that make them extremely rare and valuable. Like actual unicorns, they’re hard to find, but once hired, offer up enormous benefits in the workplace. To name a few, they shatter expectations, raise the bar for everyone and are simply a joy to be around. Unicorn employees can literally take your business to the next level.

Whether you’re looking to build a unicorn army, or hoping to boost your own value in the workplace, here are the five key qualities of unicorn employees:

You aren’t limited by your job title. 

In the span of about 5 years, my company, Hootsuite, went from a 100-person tech startup to a 1000-person global company. Through this stage of “hyper growth,” employees who truly flourished were flexible and intellectually curious.

Earlier on in the business, this meant having the ability to wear many hats and excel at varied tasks, critical at a fast-growing startup. For example, just because somebody’s job title was “Office Administrator,” didn’t mean she would shy away from pitching in on a major marketing campaign by helping brainstorm some catchy tweets.

Later, as the company grew, unicorn employees jumped at the chance to dive deeper into specific, growing areas of business, which needed good people. Some even decided to move across several departments. I saw unicorn employees make surprising leaps—one even went from financial specialist to software engineer. I think this is so important to employee growth that we recently launched a new pilot initiative, called the “stretch program,” to help people expand their knowledge and expertise across the business … and grow their unicorn horns.

You think big and small. 

Exceptional employees are able to think strategically. This means having the ability to take a step back and see the overall company goals, or the industry as a whole, then apply it to your work. To be effective in business, you must be able to see the big picture.

On the flipside, while big-picture thinking is critical, I’ve also found that the best employees also know the devil is in the details. Running a business requires meticulous attention. A minor copyright issue, improperly executed email campaign, or even what seems like a small technical glitch can end up being catastrophic, affecting a lot of clients in a short period of time. The best employees are those who take the time to read the fine print. These are the types of people I know I can entrust with serious responsibility.

You have true grit. 

The concept of “grit” has made its way into popular culture recently, perhaps sparked by psychologist Angela Duckworth’s popular TED talk and book, on the subject. She defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” and says it’s a crucial factor to achieving success.

I couldn’t agree more. Being an entrepreneur since I was a teenager, I’ve learned that the business world is like being on a boat in the open sea. Whether it’s a patch of rough waves or an unexpected storm, unexpected obstacles are inevitable. During these turbulent times, having grit—a dogged persistence—can help you keep focused on the destination. In fact, that very outlook helped my billion-dollar company weather the storm and get to the next level. Unicorn employees have true grit, and are able stay calm and focused on the task at hand, even on choppy seas.

You’re respectful by nature.

The ability to work well with others is a skill that benefits any workplace. It seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised.

A few years ago, I put out a job posting for a high-level sales role. Many people applied, and after a series of interviews, I had some top candidates in mind. However, when I checked in with my executive assistant at the time, I was shocked to find out how many of those people who had been personable and courteous to me, had been downright rude to her.

Unicorn employees are respectful by nature, and would never treat someone—regardless of title —in this way. It’s something that absolutely sets a stellar employee apart from an average one. In fact, this is so important to the well-being of our staff, it’s been built into two of our four core company values: “Respect the individual,” and “lead with humility.”

You get it done. 

A few years back, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner sent out a short status update on his platform: “In simplest terms possible, the people I most enjoy working with dream big, get it done, and know how to have fun.”

The update blew up, striking a chord with the tens of thousands of people who commented and liked it. (Weiner followed up by writing a full post on the topic.) Like him, I too am a huge proponent of having fun at work and believe it’s crucial to success. However, I can’t stress how important it is for people on the job to be able to get shit done. After all, no matter how great a co-worker is to be around, if he can’t produce actual results, his presence is isn’t ultimately helpful and may even be damaging to others. Great teams can be shattered by a single member who can’t get shit done.

Meanwhile, studies have shown that top performers contribute to a business 10 times more than their average counterparts. In fact, some firms, including Microsoft, claim that figure to be 100 times.

The bottom line: At the end of the day, you can be respectful, multi-talented, tenacious, detail-oriented and a big thinker. But if you don’t produce real results and move the needle, all those traits are wasted. You must be able to execute. It’s an essential unicorn quality.

For companies and business leaders, it’s probably worthwhile to put some extra time and effort into chasing unicorns. Unlike their mythical counterparts, they’re very real and they can change your company. And for unicorn employees in the making, it’s never too late to grow your strengths and make yourself more rare and valuable than ever.

CEO @ HootSuite

Image: Evonne Heyning