Opportunities —
and a little career advice

Opportunity-CactusEvery day brings its challenges—demanding tests of your abilities, resources, will, and character. These may be simple or seemingly insurmountable. Challenges will try you at school or work, or perhaps personally or emotionally. Challenges are nearly always opportunities to learn and grow if you look at them with open eyes and mind. Sometimes the opportunity of taking on a challenge is deeply hidden, or in the distant future—or will take effort and a level of grit and determination that you’ve never attempted before. Look for the opportunity in every challenge, success is there.

I read this article on career advice from Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn and wanted to share a few excerpts from it along with my own paraphrasing of its central tenants. You can read/view the entire piece from the link.

Excellent Career Advice From LinkedIn’s Billionaire Founder Reid Hoffman

http://www.businessinsider.com/career-advice-from-linkedin-founder-reid-hoffman-2014-6?op=1#ixzz35xKLoY4Z

Three keys to getting the most out of whatever career you want to have.

FIRST: COMPETITION

Competition: A lot of people will want YOUR dream job. You need a competitive advantage, so you have to figure out and apply:

  • Assets: What do you have going for you? brains, money (or access to it), network connections, education, experience, grit and perseverance?
  • Aspirations: Where you MIGHT like to go in the future.
  • Market Realities: What are people actually willing to pay you for?

Pursue worthy aspirations with your assets while navigating market realities.

How do you make a positive difference? Your assets (skills and connections) have value to those who don’t have them. Ask: “How can I help?” You’ll begin to understand other people’s needs. Fulfill those needs. Solve problems. Be willing to start at the bottom. Change the world.

SECOND: NETWORKS

Learn to proactively build networks to others. Every job requires interacting with people. People who control resources, opportunities, and information. Opportunities are attached to people. Seek out people who have the resources, opportunities, and information you want.

The people you spend time with will shape who are and who you will become. Hang out with those who are already the way you want to be. Yes, some of these people may be older than you. Don’t hold that against them. Experience has taught them the things that can help you navigate the hard market realities of the world.

Meet new people via those you already know. Your network is bigger than you think. Use it.

THIRD: RISK

The education system penalizes you for making mistakes. But in reality, you don’t know what the best plan is until you try. Making mistakes is part of the learning process. You learn by doing. Look for opportunities to TRY. Ask: “How can I help?” Whatever the situation, actions, not plans, generate useful lessons.

Actions help you discover where you want to go and how to get there.

In school, the most successful students make the fewest mistakes. But the most successful professionals learn to take intelligent risks. In the real world, playing it safe is not stability, it is one of the riskiest things you can do.

Prioritize plans that offer the best chance at learning about yourself and the world. Do not dismiss a career path just because you’ve heard how risky it is.

If the worst case means getting fired, losing a little bit of time or money, or experiencing some discomfort, it is a risk you should be willing to take. If the worst case means tarnishing your reputation, loss of all of your economic assets, or something career-ending, don’t accept that risk.

There will always be uncertainty. The best opportunities often have the most question marks. Taking intelligent risks will help you find opportunities that others miss.

Develop your competitive advantage. Build your network. Take intelligent risks.

Start where you are. Distant fields always look greener, but opportunity lies right where you are. Take advantage of every opportunity of service.

—    Robert Collier

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Attitude…

Your attitude determines your outlook on life. It colors everything you do. It affects how you respond to situations and how people respond to you. You, and you alone, are in total command of your attitude, and the results. This is power! A positive attitude is a feeling that you can, no matter what. A positive attitude means that enthusiasm is on your side. A positive attitude will help you overcome doubts, fears, and apathy. With a great attitude, you will never really fail.

Step up…and swing for the fences.

Oh, What A Year!

Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves.”
- Jawaharlal Nehru

I’ve been busy…

Like all things begun with good intentions, I intended to update this blog with great regularity. I certainly had the time to do so when I began. The economic recession meant that — as a marketeer — I difficult to even find the prospective horses to drag to water (sorry about the allusion to ‘you can drag a horse to water but you can’t make them drink’).

I had plenty of time on my hands to write, and I did.

Then a lot of things happened — both personally and professionally — that happily required virtually all of my so-called “spare” time.

So it now the end of the year. I look back and smile when turning the kaleidoscope that’s full of fragments of images of all that has passed this year. It was all fun.

Looking forward to the new year now, I am more eager than ever before to see and experience what may come.

I wish you, too, the absolute best for the coming year!

Do Good Ethics Equal Better Profits?

There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity.”
– Tom Peters

As the end of a year approaches that’s seen more than a few ethical lapses of integrity, I’d like to take a few minutes to bring up a point that is all too often lost in the media maelstrom.

How good are YOUR ethical practices?

How good are YOUR ethical practices?

Good ethics are good for business.

Whether you are trying to sell recruiting services or software, widgets or lollypops, financial products or better abs in 30 days; ethical practices that are based on moral integrity and fair, honest dealings will deliver better profits for longer periods of time. In fact, there is research that shows that businesses with a truly ethical culture enjoy better employee commitment and trust, improved investor loyalty and trust, and improved customer satisfaction and trust. All of which lead to higher profitability. (Curtis C. Verschoor, “A Study of the Link Between a Corporation’s Financial Performance and Its Commitment to Ethics”).

I don’t believe that there is any argument as to whether or not a business — whether a solo recruiter or a mega corporation – has a social responsibility to its stakeholders and to the global community at large to run their business in an ethical manner. They, and you, do.

The problem, and the challenge, is that knowing the right thing to do and doing it are two different things.

It’s a problem that is as old as mankind, and not one that will go away. Just as the recession we’ve been in can be traced to socially irresponsible ethical failures by individuals, businesses, government, and, yes, consumers. Just as the next recession will also be traceable to failures in human nature. It is not possible to legislate moral ethics and social responsibility — although many have tried and failed and others will keep trying.

That may seem both cynical and pessimistic, but it’s apparent that money still trumps all for many businesses and individuals. For example, a recent article in the New York Times pointed with glee at a group of freshly minted Harvard MBA’s who were going to take an oath to abide by ethical principles at their future jobs and careers. Yet fewer than 25 percent of that graduating class signed up to take the oath. Click here for the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/30/business/30oath.html]

The same article notes that ethics study programs at the college level are growing. One can only ponder why, and what impact, if any, they may have today or in the future.

So, are businesses today more socially responsible, or less? The Internet and other social media give consumers an amazingly powerful light to shine on those corporations whose practices are less than socially responsible. Those businesses who truly walk the talk will be socially responsible and reap the rewards. Those that don’t deserve to fail — assuming of course that the government doesn’t bail them out with our tax dollars.

I believe that learning the mechanics, methods and techniques of ethical business decision-making is absolutely necessary in order to be socially aware and responsible. However, it is no substitute for ethical integrity that is quite likely a combination of that which is ingrained into a person from childhood and their innate moral character. Thus, a businesses’ operations will reflect the character and socially responsible awareness of those employed.

At the end of the day then, when you’re counting the lucre from the deal you just made, you should be able to do so with a clear conscience.

The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.”
– Zig Ziglar

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You Named Your Baby Business WHAT?!

A 12-step Process to Naming Your Business Something You Won’t Regret Later.

Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of…”
– Socrates, Greek philosopher in Athens (469 BC – 399 BC)

BabyNameOne of the biggest mistakes a fledgling business can make is to mis-name itself. Over time your business will change, and the last thing you need is a name that doesn’t fit. It doesn’t matter if your firm is in the staffing or recruiting business or sells widgets like every other widget firm — your business name will define your firm for a LONG time. So you need to put some serious thought into it.

Herewith is my own 12-step process for coming up with a name. I’m not going to go into detail on the kinds of names you can use or other minutia (I favor coined names or neologisms for what it’s worth), for that you’ll have to do your own research — or better yet, contact me for help.

A 12-step Business Naming Process

Step 1: Get together your name selection team. There should be no more than three on the team. Why? First, you need some outside objectivity and thinking. Second, it helps to build consensus and buy-in — even though it is you who will still have to make a decision that you can live with.

Step 2: Define your business position, ‘elevator pitch’ and primary attributes. To name your business, you first have to define and position it in as few words as possible (I’ll be talking more about positioning in a future post).

Step 3: Establish your name selection criteria. For the most part an acceptable name might be based on the five criteria below, but you may have more or less criteria based on your business positioning.

  1. Articulate the brand’s attributes
  2. Be simple and easy to say and spell
  3. Translate well and be easy to pronounce in key international languages
  4. Be owned outright and defined (i.e., for a coined name)
  5. Be protectable: Trademark, Logo, Domain Name, etc.

Step 4: Review and secure whatever resources (such as books, software and/or outside naming consultancies) to assist in the name development process. You may start out brainstorming names with a variety of tools, then come to the conclusion that you need outside help. See the list of resources at the bottom of this post.

Step 5: Train Name Selection Team and those participating in name submission/generation on standard naming practices, methods, etc. This includes:

  1. Overview of the naming process
  2. Overview of naming development — what goes into a good name
  3. Types of names: Coined (neologisms), Evocative, Greek/Latin roots, Experiential, Adapted, Descriptive, Foreign words, etc.
  4. Sound & Language: Impact of pronunciation on meaning
  5. ‘Brainstorming’ and review process

Step 6: Review competitive product and company names and their positioning strategies. You have to avoid ANY miscommunication or infringement on their name or their position if you want to be successful (and stay out of court).

Step 7: Generate LOTS of names for review. You can’t have too many names to filter — I’ve seen more than 400 names developed for a “bet-the-business” product.

Step 8: First screening – kick out the obvious chaff at this step, but consider holding onto the really crazy names — you might just come back to them later.

Step 9: Second screening – filter names by your selection criteria, then develop rationales and possible taglines for names. This helps focus the meaning of the name for those who see it for the first time.

Step 10: Third screening – preliminary screening of names for trademark/domain use. Any name that can’t be registered as a trademark or as a dotcom must be discarded as it’s probably not worth your time and effort to pursue, unless you have deep pockets to buy it.

Step 11: Fourth screening – Select the name from your top candidates. Talk through it: How will your customers, partners, vendors and other stakeholders react to the name? Does it REALLY have the kind of positive connotations you want?

Step 12: Nuts and bolts time – make the name your own. Secure the domain(s), create a logo, trademark both the name and the logo and establish standards for using the logo and name.

Simple right? No. But a process will take a lot of irrationality out of the thinking that goes into naming your firm — and help you tremendously in branding your business for success as it should!

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Naming Resources:

www.igorinternational.com
www.namedevelopment.com
www.naming.com
www.namestormers.com
www.thenamingcompany.com
www.puretungsten.com
www.vibratonaming.com
www.trademrk.com
www.tmexpress.com
www.uspto.gov

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