Posts Tagged ‘career’

Lessons Atop a Paddle Board

By Susan Whitcomb | 1 Comment »

pic for aug blog2Hawaii held lots of fun new adventures for me this summer—one of which was Paddle Boarding. We stumbled on an amazing fellow, Ian Foo, who has a paddle board/surf shop called Hypr Nalu right by the harbor. Ian is a former investment banker who worked on Wall Street and lived all over the world. Now he spends his days building his own beautiful surf boards, designing surf apparel, and teaching people how to surf. And he’s really good at it.

When my husband first looked into paddle boarding, he told Ian we didn’t want lessons—that we’d just take the boards out and have some fun. Ian persuaded him to start with a lesson, and I’m glad he did. Without a lesson, I would’ve been swallowing lots of salt water, and miserable!

So here are some lessons I learned from atop my paddle board:

paddle 1Always look up. Whether it’s paddle boarding or work/life, if you’re looking down (at the turbulent waters, at your problems), there’s a really good chance you’re going to fall. Look up (at where you are headed, at your vision, or, from a spiritual stance, at God).

  • So where is your focus?
  • What do you want to look at?
  • What we focus on grows!

 

paddle 2Stay balanced. Ian taught me to balance with feet shoulder-width apart, stay in the middle of the board, and use my core to power the arm strokes. In life, we know when we get out of balance—too much of one thing, not enough of another, or even over-using our strengths, which can turn into a weakness.

  • What allows you to come back to center, where you’re strong and secure?
  • Is it a tried-and-true routine?
  • Is it the discipline of executing on key priorities?
  • Is it staying true to your niche clientele?
  • Is it self-care?

 

Keep paddling. When you see turbulent waters coming, keep paddling! Keep taking action. Keep doing the right things. If you don’t, you’re guaranteed to fall off the board. (I know from experience!)

  • What do you need to do more of?
  • What do you need to do less of?
  • What do you need to do differently?

 

And, most important in my paddle boarding lessons, I learned to stay focused on the experience and enjoy the journey. Even when I fell and swallowed seawater, I reminded myself, you are alive—enjoy the journey!

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X-Men, Coaching & Rewriting the Future

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

x-men-days-of-future-past-professor-xMany moons ago when I married my husband, I was NOT a sci-fi fan. It was about last on my list of favorite movie genres, right above horror films. Give me a British drama or chick-flick any day of the week, but “no thank you” to sci-fi.

 

How things change. I soon learned that if I wanted to see a movie with my husband, I needed to be open-minded to what he liked. And so I’ve learned to appreciate movies like the X-Men and Inception and 2001 Space Odyssey. Last weekend, the whole family went to see X-Men’s latest release, Days of Future Past. Without spoilers, the movie points out how our choices today can impact not only our lives but many others’ lives in the days to come.

 

shutterstock_29017780(1)As a coach, you can imagine that “I’m all over that!” Choices create change. We all know that choosing to eat healthy today (and every day) will help create health in the decades to come. For business owners, choosing to spend time on marketing today will help create new business in the months to come. For job seekers, choosing to pick up the phone and have meaningful conversations with networking contacts today will create trust and more job opportunities in the weeks to come.

 

For change to happen, we need to create an environment conducive to change (the “helpful how’s”), and we need “inspiring why’s” associated with the change. Let’s start with the latter. Let’s say you want to change your financial situation for the better.

 

  • shutterstock_88446508(1)The Inspiring Why’s: We all have reasons for why we want something. To achieve significant change, go beyond the obvious. For example, perhaps you want to boost your finances because your child needs braces for her teeth. That’s a valid reason.

    But stretch a bit to think beyond this. What do those braces represent? Is it a life of greater confidence for your child? More opportunities for her? Better dental health down the road? Or maybe some of the “inspiring why” has to do with you: The opportunity to feel like you have provided well for her? The ability to learn something new (how to market better, how to provide a new service, etc.).

    If you really, really want to create change, go deep with your “why’s”!

 

  • shutterstock_150769385(1)The Helpful How’s: How does your environment need to change to help create change? Is it that you need to surround yourself with experts, mentors, and role models who inspire you? Is it that the television or Netflix needs to get turned off? Is it that your calendar needs to get rearranged so that activities that bring the highest income and highest impact take priority? Is it that you need to clean your desk so you’ve got room to create and hear yourself think?

    All of the inspiration in the world (the “why’s” above) won’t create change. It must be paired with meaningful action!

 

So think about what you want in the future. Then consider: What’s your “inspiring why”? What’s your “helpful how” to conduce change? Share your story!!

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Leveraging Gratitude in Career Coaching

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

infographic gratitudeNumerous researchers in the field of positive psychology have learned that gratitude impacts many areas of our lives, as the infographic to the right shows:

•        Happy people’s income is roughly 7% higher

•        Grateful people on average give 20% more time and dollars.

•        Grateful people will have 10% fewer stress-related illnesses, be more physically fit, have blood pressure that is lower by 12%.

•        Grateful people are 20% more likely to get “A” grades

I wish there were statistics on how gratitude impacted job seekers’ success rates! If there were such stats, I’m confident they would show that grateful job seekers network more easily, get jobs faster, and negotiate bigger salaries (this last one is borne out in the first bullet above, with happy people having incomes 7% higher).

Gratitude ushers in the concept of provision. It causes us to view the world through a lens of possibility instead of problem, to believe “I have everything I need … right now.” The negative emotions of fear, anxiousness, and worry are based in anticipation of not having enough …  not having enough control, certainty, time, money, energy, health, protection, resources, wellbeing, wisdom, appreciation, acceptance, trust, ease. Simply put:

half full half empty•        Lack of enough is scarcity.

•        Plenty of enough is abundance.

 

Practical Application

So how do you leverage gratitude when coaching your clients? If you are working with someone who is bummed out over a job loss, be cautious about coming straight out and saying “what are you grateful for?,” because it can sound insensitive.

Instead, first acknowledge the pain. For example:

“I hear the frustration… not what you were hoping for.”

And then, consider saying something like”

“Without denying those feelings, what do you hope this situation will open up for you … make possible for you?”

This is a way of tapping the gratitude emotion without using the word “grateful” or “gratitude.” So, dear colleagues and friends, what do you hope your current situation will open up for you?! :)

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Leadership Coaching-Shifting from Entitled to Empowered

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

shutterstock_66132007(1)Have you ever worked with a coworker, employee, or coaching client whom you just wished could shift from “entitled” or “victim” thinking to “empowered” and “victorious” thinking? How different would our lives be–our careers, companies, families, communities, nations be–if we defaulted to the latter (empowered, victorious)?

I often hear managers and coaches ask the question, “How do I get someone to shift from ‘entitled’ to ‘empowered’?” Here are a few ideas:

shutterstock_131766014LEAD: Lead first. Live it yourself. Start by being a role model. See possibility and provision in every challenge, every routine, every everything . . . everywhere and all the time.

 

shutterstock_164791667LOVE: Love them. I know. It sounds a little politically incorrect to use the word “love” in the workplace, so let me explain. Care about the people you are coaching or managing—be interested and intrigued by who they are, what they can become, how they can contribute. Be selfless—do not be concerned about potential negative consequences to yourself if the person you’re coaching/managing gets what he wants (e.g., a manager who doesn’t want his “golden goose” producer to get promoted because it will leave the manager in a lurch).

 

shutterstock_158356859LEVERAGE: Leverage them. Leverage their strengths. No one can or will move forward when focusing on what’s wrong with them, what’s missing, what isn’t up to par. But when they look at their strengths—when you help them focus on their strengths—you’ll see a visible change happen…a hope and confidence that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

 

shutterstock_131706869LOOK: Look into the future with them. Explore what they want, whether today, tomorrow, ten years from now. Note: It’s best to do the looking forward after you’ve done the prior tip of “leveraging,” because people will be in a more optimist place to dream about what they want to create when they’re operating from their strengths.

 

shutterstock_109555592LEARN: Explore with the person what she needs to learn to move forward, to do things differently, to gain new ground. All too often, if we haven’t achieved a meaningful goal, it’s simply a matter of learning new skills, new thinking, new feelings that will support the goal. Look for opportunities to apply the learning, whether in a stretch role, with additional responsibilities, in a special assignment, or in an existing role.

Enjoy empowering yourself and supporting others in the process!

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What’s your Wiring–Growth and Gain or Drought and Drain

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

garbage-in-outGIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. The same can be said about the wiring in our brain. Wiring that we have created over the decades, whether intentionally or unintentionally, may be good and helpful, or it may be bad and draining/disruptive.

The good news is that if you’ve got a negative habit or thought pattern that you’d like to get rid of, it’s just a matter of creating new wiring. That allows us to change the GIGO acronym to Good In, Good Out. Sound good?

So how do you create new wiring? Here are four ways to flip the “on” switch in your brain. There are 2 F’s and 2 R’s, or F2R2 for short:

 

shutterstock_1327892121.       Focus: What we focus on grows. Research showed that participants who were blindfolded for 30 minutes began growing new neural pathways in the auditory processing areas of their brains.  So choose where your focus will be this week: is it on growth and gain or is it on drought and drain?

 

shutterstock_1047168292.       Future: Looking into the future kicks our brains into the prefrontal cortex where we can envision the future, see possibilities, explore options, and create a picture of what we’re moving toward. Whether you want to look  years down the road or 6 minutes into the future, think about what you want to create.

 

shutterstock_1265292593.       Reward: When you are expecting a reward, your brain will be more attentive. What’s the reward you want as a result of your future focus? Is it more income, more clients, more job opportunities, more peace? Name the reward. Explore it. Flesh it out in your mind. What’s your reward?

 

shutterstock_929713214.       Relevance: To create new wiring, the topic must be relevant to your needs. Learning how to speak Chinese (if that’s a goal) will not be easily attained if there isn’t some relevance attached to it. It (learning Chinese) will quickly be drowned out by the barrage of other competing priorities. So make sure your goal is relevant for this time-and-space in your life. Rate it on a scale of 1-10. If it’s not a high score, what needs tweaked in order to make it higher?

 

If you’re working with job seeker clients, this one question can encompass all four of the above F2R2 elements: What do you want to focus today that will you move you toward your rewarding and relevant goals?

The question can also work for us individually as coaches. So what’s your focus?

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Networking Even Works for 17-Year-Olds

By Emmeline Whitcomb | 1 Comment »

Guest blogger Emmeline Whitcomb

Emmeline_Whitcomb_Photograph

Emmeline Whitcomb

Growing up as Susan’s daughter, I’ve heard her ‘preach’ networking over and over again. At 17, I tried some of these techniques for myself and, no surprise, found them to be successful. Here’s the story of how I landed my first job as a Marketing Intern. There are lots of details here, which shows that networking to land a job isn’t a straight, simple line. And if you just want to jump to the end to hear what I learned about networking, feel free!

The process started 6 months ago. Back in March of this year, I was on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus interviewing for a prestigious scholarship. During the two-day interview event, there were multiple panels featuring different types of programs and activities on campus. One panel in particular included the Career Center, represented by the director and one of his employees. After the panel and open-floor questions, Susan pushed me to meet with the director immediately after the session. I asked if it would be all right to come in the next day and meet with him to ask a few questions. But my main goal in setting up the meeting was simply to make a connection with people at one of the most important places on campus.

shutterstock_99172223The next day Susan and I met with him. It was a little uncomfortable for me due to the fact that I was still a senior in high school and not very far along on my career path. Still, I was glad to be able to ask him questions about what employers wanted from college students. At the end, I gave the director a signed copy of my book, Wisdom Without the Wrinkles, full of inspiring bits of insights and wisdom designed for tweens and teens. A few days later, I sent him an e-mail thanking him for his time and connected with him via LinkedIn with a personal message, rather than the LinkedIn default message. Nothing happened immediately, but it was a connection I was extremely grateful to have later on.

Fast-forward three months to June at the 2013 MBA Career Services Council Conference in Washington D.C. During my time attending as an intern (and daughter) with Susan and The Academies, I was able to connect with multiple people in the career and recruiting world. While sitting down with two recruiters from national companies during dinner the first night, I asked if they had any advice on how to be exceptionally successful during my first year of college. One recruiter mentioned that it would be good to look into a work-study job at the Career Center because, in addition to the experience, I might also be able to get a first look at new jobs and meet recruiters.

Later during the conference, I was able to meet several people working at SMU in their MBA program, including the Career Center Director for SMU’s Cox School of Business. Now, it might have been normal for me to think, “She’s so high up on the academic ladder. How could she possibly be interested in talking to me?” But, I didn’t let that scare me into not talking with her. I told her I was planning on majoring in Marketing, which is in the SMU Cox School of Business.

She was gracious enough to offer to connect me with the Associate Director in the Cox Business School who specializes in coaching marketing students. At the end of that same day, I sent the MBA Career Director and other helpful people I had connected with a follow-up e-mail thanking them for their advice.

Jaymin_Patel_Emmeline_Whitcomb (By the way, I followed the tips in Jaymin Patel’s book, The MBA Guide to Networking Like a Rockstar. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it—and it’s not just for MBAs!)  Here I am on the right with Jaymin Patel.

 

I made sure to ask the MBA Career Director about connecting me with the Associate Director. About a week later, I received an e-mail from the Associate Director saying that the MBA Career Director had told her about me. I replied professionally and promptly to set up a time to meet with her in-person when I was going to be on campus for Orientation at the end of July.

During my Orientation, I made sure to go back to the undergraduate Career Center to ask about job opportunities, as suggested by the recruiter I met over the summer. I walked in and stood in line for only 30 seconds before I noticed the Career Center Director, whom I met with back in March, casually walking down the hallway. After we exchanged “hellos” I told him I was exploring internship opportunities at the undergraduate Career Center. He quickly responded with a friendly “Well, sit down!” for an impromptu meeting, where he told me about all the positions available for students. He mentioned a Marketing position (my intended major!) and said I could come in the next day to talk about the job with him and some of his colleagues.

That next day, I first had a meeting with the Associate Director for the business school (the marketing expert), whom I had been emailing with over the summer. Before I said anything, she showered me with praise over my e-mail skills. (Mostly because I had made sure to be prompt and professional—again, thanks, Jaymin!)

shutterstock_110884730When we met, I made sure I had a few on-point questions prepared—asking for her advice on the things she specialized in. Other than that, I allowed the time to be a period that I could simply make a connection and get to know her. At the end of our meeting, I told her that I had previously looked her up on LinkedIn and found that she had worked at the undergraduate Career Center where I was headed next for my informal interview. Once I mentioned that I was about to go meet with the Director and a few of his teammates, she immediately became excited for me and said that she would send them a short recommendation via e-mail as soon as we were done talking.

I then went straight from the Associate Director’s office to the undergraduate Career Center for my informal interview. Before I could even sit down, they mentioned that the Associate Director had just contacted them with a positive reference of me! When the three interviewers at the Career Center asked me if I had any questions, I made sure to ask some! I stayed engaged and inquisitive during the entire conversation.

shutterstock_116237026Three days later, the formal listing and written application for the job would be available. By the fourth day, I got an e-mail from the Career Center asking me if I would like the student marketing position. My obvious answer: YES!

To me, the amazing part of this story is that it happened because I forced myself to be courageous and talk to successful people who I thought were “too high” for me. But, that’s exactly what got me the job: a trickle down of references.

So here’s a recap of what I learned about networking:

  • Take initiative and look for opportunities.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to people, even if they are far above you in rank or position.
  • Ask people for their advice—be willing to admit that you don’t know everything.
  • Keep up with people over time. It takes more than one email to build trust.

I hope my networking success story will encourage the job seekers you work with!

—————

Emmeline Whitcomb is currently a freshman attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, pursuing a Marketing degree as a Hilltop Leadership Scholar, a Hunt Leadership Scholarship Finalist, a Career Development Ambassador, and for personal enjoyment, a member of SMU’s well known a capella group! At 16, Emmeline wrote a leadership book designed for teens called Wisdom Without the Wrinkles: A Teen’s Insights on How To Be a Successful Leader, Earn Respect, and Create an Amazing Life. Emmeline highly values joy and accomplishment in life and has dedicated much of her time to mentoring others. Her message that perspective changes everything has inspired teens to find confidence and success despite life’s challenges. She is also a co-author of Girls Lead, written by Julie Marie Carrier and the BeYOUtiful Club and will continue to write and speak at events to be able to share inspiring and positive messages to young teens around the country.

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