Saturday, August 31, 2013

Doing Business In Deep Waters and Getting a Yes For Help

I just listened to a talk from one of my favorite inspirational speakers. The talk was about "Doing Business in Deep Waters". The speaker talked about people doing extraordinary things and how to spend your time. If you’re going to do anything great in life there is always going to be opposition, setbacks, delays, and critics. Many people get discouraged because of these things. People will ask themselves “why is this happening to me?” The answer is that you’re breaking new ground because you’re making progress. Those that go into deep waters with big dreams are going to face big challenges. Being in deep waters means that you’re not in the shallow waters with ordinary problems. When you’re in deep waters you’re trying to make a mark... you’re a history maker... you’re a world changer.

You need to know there are always going to be critics, and when you have big dreams you cannot expect ordinary problems. People don't talk about average people; they talk about extraordinary people. So take it as a complement when you are criticized, because it goes with the territory. You may try to move forward but find yourself facing major challenges. This is because you have a major destiny, and because you’re an extraordinary person you will face challenges. The good news is that there are people out there willing to help you with these challenges and help you come through those obstacles. Be selective in how and who you spend your time with. The critics that come against you will only bring you back to shallow waters and waste your time. Don't lose sleep over this, but stay in the deep waters and do what you’re destined to do. Set your face like flint and run your own race.

Getting a Yes for Help 

Often times when we are trying to move forward and overcome obstacles we don't know where to turn. When we reach out for help the challenge becomes getting people to say YES to our request. I am passionate about mentoring and paying it forward by helping those in need. I continue to try to create new ways to help build bridges for those that are looking for help and those that are willing to help. Connecting people has been one of my passions and this is the reason I created a mobile app called Hitch+. Hitch+ will give you the ability to explore daily insightful content, to share advice and easily get connected with great experts.

We are also excited to now have the ability to get you connected with over 10,000 experts through Clarity is a community of experts who want to help and have created a better way to scale the delivery of their expertise. If you want to know more about how you can get help or be involved with helping others then read Clay Herbert's article: The New Way to Say No (that's actually yes).

We love to hear from you. Please join us to share your dreams, give and get advice, and connect with great experts. Click on the logo below to find out how.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Keep Your Vision in Front of You

I spent some time this weekend thinking about the vision I have for myself and my 3 sons over the next number of years. There are things I see every day that remind me of what I am believing for, things that inspire me and ignite my faith.

There is a Proverb in the Bible that states: "Where there is no vision, the people perish."

With no vision, it's easy to get stuck where you are and expect nothing to happen. I know because at times with all the pressures of this world to achieve wealth and success it becomes difficult to know exactly where you fit in.

I admit my inspiration comes from some of the great mentors I have had in my life. The ones that want to make a difference and do something that will effect a change or impact someone's life.

Everyday I try to make it a goal to make a small impact whether at work, with my boys or people I meet socially.

I continue to develop and validate my own ideas of how to help others not only have a vision but a BIG vision for their lives. This includes teaching and helping people create ideas for practical, daily steps to set a vision as well as creating reminders. It's not enough to just dream it, you need to see it and let a seed take root in your heart.

If you have a big vision, then start believing in your heart that it will take root and see it come to completion. You will be amazed at what happens!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

5 Lessons I Learned On Commitment From Rocky Balboa

The past few weeks I have spent a number of days in intense meetings with a company that I am involved in. It is inspiring to see the leadership’s commitment to ensure that the company is successful in the future. One of the highlights for me was the passion they have to make sure people are growing and being challenged to be the best they can be at their job. It was not just talk but they are putting together action plans so that individuals have the support and mentoring they need in order to be successful.

As I reflected on the past few weeks I could not help think of the great Rocky Balboa (2006) speech he gave his son. Everyone loves to win but only winners love the process. It's exactly about how you come back, how you deal with failures, because a person who is truly trying to succeed will always have more failures than successes.

Here are the 5 Lessons I learned from Rocky's speech on commitment:

Don't Stop Being You
Somewhere along the line in my career and personal life I pushed myself so hard toward success that I forgot how to be me. When failure struck I allowed people and the things of this world to beat me. I started scrambling and struggled to do my best to make everyone happy. Don't stop being you because somewhere the YOU and your talents will find happiness.

Stop Looking for Someone to Blame
This can be so much of a distraction and a slippery slope. Get up every day and work on how YOU can improve and be better. At the end of the day, reflect on the wins and failures and make the next day even better.

Keep Moving Forward
We have all heard of the phrase “roll with the punches”. The key to overcoming adversity is to take the punches, forgive yourself and others and become flexible when dealing with difficult issues.

Take the Hits
You are either in or you are out. If you are 100% committed to something and willing to take what life throws at you, eventually you will win and become the person you’re supposed to be.

Believe in Yourself
The fact is no one believes more in yourself than YOU do. Get up everyday believing that you are working toward achieving your goals and win.

Here's the clip from the movie if you have never seen it before...enjoy.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Building my personal brand and not trying to screw it up.

It's been awhile since I posted a personal blog as I have been finding it tough to write. It's not always easy to sit down and put "pen to paper" that people would find worth reading and helpful. I like to mostly share some of my personal journey with the hope of helping someone be better at what they do.

In my last blog post I shared some personal stories of my own failures and some points on what I am doing to find success. One of the things I am working hard on is improving my personal brand in order to fix my weaknesses. For me it's finding the right mentor(s) that are not telling me how to run my personal, career or business life based on their strengths and experiences, but understanding my weaknesses and how I can fix them.

I think a mentor should treat you like a research project. Instead of telling me his life is the blueprint of success they openly acknowledge that there is no single path to success, what is right for them may not be right for you.

 Here are some things to ensure you don't screw up your mentoring relationship:

1. As an entrepreneur or career professional don't leech life lessons from your mentor but engage in with them in order to seek the answers as they are relevant to your business or career path.

2. Help your mentor learn. Mentors should be learning as they are guiding you through the process of making you successful.

3. Mentors should be uncomfortable with the status quo. Mentors should be interested in making themselves better as they are making you better.

4.  The best mentors don't play by the rules.

What are some things you are doing to improve your personal brand?

Here is my online Prezume using Prezi. Would you use this tool to increase your brand? Do you think this would capture interest to potential hires? Recruiters?

Monday, March 11, 2013

10 Ways To Handle Adversity

Guest post by Blake Young, Mentor+me member

I've always considered myself a freelance mentor with zero buyers. I may not own my own company or have throngs of underlings who survive on my whim, but I have been through many blenders in life. With each brush with adversity I noted several commonalities that would inadvertently help me through the next one.

1. Never take life too seriously. Humanity is nothing but a giant mess worthy of a good laugh.

2. Avoid hatred. It's an unnecessary burden well worth abandoning.

3. Peaceful acts of protest can be the most potent.

4. Always have an escape plan, no matter what - even when you're taking the high road. Some evil folks can't handle being ignored or failing to intimidate you, and they will come after you. Either be where they can't find you or end up somewhere for which they will pay dearly for hurting you.

5. You're never alone. Someone always can relate and usually has it worse than you.

6. Weird is the new normal. Embrace it and don't be afraid to express it - so long as it's totally legal to do so.

7. Never bully. You never know who will ignore rule #2.

8. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, except for the deliberate, immoral ones. The wisest people have the most scars.

9. Never attack. Only defend. The judge and jury will side with you.

10. Be nice. A smile will get you far in life on its own.

Memorize one or two of the above and just wing the rest.

Blake Young --
MBA, Bio-medical Management Concentration; BBA with honors, Management Information Systems; University of Memphis. Humor writer and dedicated sympathizer. Computer geek and high school survivor. Likes nachos.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy International Women’s Day!

History of International Women’s Day

Info provided by:

International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

n 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was the result.

Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women's Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic 'Triangle Fire' in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events. 1911 also saw women's 'Bread and Roses' campaign.

On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women's Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women's solidarity.

On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for "bread and peace" in response to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women's strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.

1918 - 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as 'International Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.

2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google some years even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as 'Women's History Month'.

So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

About this website is a global hub for sharing International Women’s Day information, events, news and resources.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Create Your Own Startup Community

Guest Post by Brad Feld.

While working on the book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City. I developed four principles, which I call The Boulder Thesis, that I believe are necessary for the development of a vibrant, long-term, sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem.

1. Entrepreneurs must lead the startup community.

2. The leaders must have a long-term commitment.

3. The startup community must be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate in it.

4. The startup community must have continual activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.

The Kauffman Foundation has been an incredibly powerful influence on my thinking around Startup Communities. As the leading foundation in the world supporting entrepreneurship, they’ve been an incredible source of knowledge, resources, experience, and wisdom on the topic.

In addition, they are incredibly creative folks. They worked with me to put together a short video as part of the Kauffman Sketchbook series which I completely love. I think it does a fantastic job of explaining the Boulder Thesis.

Brad is one of the managing directors at Foundry Group, a venture capital firm that invests in early stage software / Internet companies throughout the United States. He is also the co-founder of TechStars, a mentor-driven accelerator, author of several books and blogs, and a marathon runner. Read more.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Be Vulnerable

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

Guest Post by Brad Feld.

We are told that leaders must be strong. They must be confident. They must be unflinching. They must hide their fear. They must never blink. They cannot be soft in any way.


Last night, after my first public talk on the new book that Amy and I just released titled Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur, a woman came up to me afterwards and gave me two pieces of feedback. The first was that I expressed incredible vulnerability in my talk. She thanked me for that. She then suggested that I hadn’t done a good job of weaving the notion of vulnerability into the importance of the dynamics of the relationship that Amy and I have.

She was absolutely correct on both fronts. Amy and I allow ourselves to be very vulnerable with each other. We aren't afraid of each other and – by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable – we are more direct, honest, and clear about what is on our minds. It works both ways – we are more able to hear the other person, and more able to offer feedback in a constructive way, because we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

But it doesn't stop there. I’m allow myself to be very vulnerable with my partners Seth, Jason, and Ryan. And they allow themselves to be vulnerable with me and each other. We embrace the notion of “brutal honesty” with each other – we say things as we see them, as we believe them, and as directly as we can to each other – while at the same time recognizing that the other person is open to any feedback, in any tone, in any way. Notably, we are each vulnerable to each other, which makes our communication much more powerful and effective.

I try to be bidirectionally vulnerable with every entrepreneur I work with. I try my hardest, but when I hurt someone, I want to hear why. When I let someone down, I want to hear why. When I am struggling, I talk openly about it. When I've failed, I listen to why. And I hope that every entrepreneur I work with feels the same way, or whatever their version of “being vulnerable” is.

I’m vulnerable to the broader community I engage with. I’m open about my struggles – personally and professionally. I’m not bashful about being wrong, and owning it. And, when I get feedback, my ears are always open. Sure, I get plenty of random criticism from nameless, faceless people. That used to annoy me – now I just put them in the bucked of “anonymous coward” and delete it from my brain. If they can offer me the feedback directly, in their own voice, with their own identity, I’m open to it. I’ll let myself be vulnerable in that context. But I draw the line at random, anonymous attacks, especially ad hominem ones.

The great leaders I know are vulnerable. Maybe not to everyone, maybe not all the time, and maybe not in all contexts. But the allow themselves to be, simply, themselves. Human. They allow others in. They know they can be wrong. They know they can fail. And they know they can improve. Vulnerable.

That’s part of being a great leader. And a great partner – business or personal. And it opens you up to be a greater human. Thanks to the person who reminded me of that last night.

Brad is one of the managing directors at Foundry Group, a venture capital firm that invests in early stage software / Internet companies throughout the United States. He is also the co-founder of TechStars, a mentor-driven accelerator, author of several books and blogs, and a marathon runner. Read more.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Throw Your Life a Curve

Guest post by Whitney Johnson

Our view of the world is powered by personal algorithms: observing how all of the component pieces (and people) that make up our personal social system interact, and looking for patterns to predict what will happen next. When systems behave linearly and react immediately, we tend to be fairly accurate with our forecasts. This is why toddlers love discovering light switches: cause and effect are immediate. The child flips the switch, and on goes the light. But our predictive power plummets when there is a time delay or non-linearity, as in the case of a CEO who delivers better-than-expected earnings only to wonder at a drop in the stock price.

Enter my co-author, MIT-trained strategist and engineer Juan Carlos Méndez-García, who consults with both start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. According to Méndez-García, one of the best models for making sense of a non-linear world is the S-curve, the model we have used to understand the diffusion of disruptive innovations, and which he and I speculate can be used to understand personal disruption — the necessary pivots in our own career paths.

In complex systems like a business (or a brain), cause and effect may not always be as clear as the relationship between the light switch and the light bulb. There are time-delayed and time-dependent relationships in which huge effort may yield little in the near-term, or in which high output today may be the result of actions taken a long time ago. The S-curve decodes these systems by providing signposts along a path that, while frequently trod, is not always evident. Our hypothesis is that those who can successfully navigate, even harness, the successive cycles of learning and maxing out that resemble the S-curve will thrive in this era of personal disruption.

Let's do a quick review. According to the theory of the diffusion of innovations — an attempt to understand how, why and at what rate ideas and technology spread throughout cultures — diffusion or adoption is relatively slow at the outset until a tipping point is reached. Then you enter hypergrowth, which typically happens somewhere between 10-15% of market penetration. Saturation is reached at 90%+.

With Facebook for example, assuming an estimated market opportunity of one billion, it took roughly 4 years to reach penetration of 10%. Once Facebook reached a critical mass of a hundred million users, hypergrowth kicked in due to the network effect (i.e. friends and family were now on Facebook), as well as virality (email updates, photo albums for friends of friends, etc.). Though we could quibble, depending on our inputs, over when Facebook will reach saturation, there is no question the rate of growth has begun to slow and is now limited, if for no other reason, by the number of people who can access the service. (Here's some more on Méndez-García's Facebook and S-curve math.)

One anecdotal example of how the S-curve model can help us better predict the future is the experience of golfer Dan McLaughlin. Never having played 18 holes of golf, in April 2010, McLaughlin quit his job as a commercial photographer to pursue a goal of becoming a top professional golfer through 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. During the first 18 months, improvement was slow as McLaughlin first practiced his putting, chipping, and his drive. Then, as he began to put the various pieces together, improvement accelerated, consistent with hypergrowth behavior. While he didn't track how quickly his handicap decreased, making it impossible for us to build an S-curve, 28 months into the project, he has surpassed 91% of the 26 million golfers who register a handicap with the US Golf Association (USGA) database. Not surprisingly, his rate of improvement (if measured as handicap) is now slowing as he faces competition from the top 10% amateur golfers.

Just as understanding the S-curve can keep discouragement at bay as we build new knowledge, it can also help us understand why ennui kicks in once we reach the plateau. As we approach mastery, our learning rate decelerates, and while the ability to do something automatically implies competence, it also means our brains are now producing less of the feel-good neurotransmitters — the thrill ride is over.

As our learning crests, should we fail to jump to new curves, we may actually precipitate our own decline. That doesn't necessarily mean a financial downfall, but our emotional and social well-being will take a hit. Saul Kaplan, Chief Catalyst at Business Innovation Factory, shares: "My life has been about searching for the steep learning curve because that's where I do my best work. When I do my best work, money and stature have always followed." Or paraphrasing James Allworth, "Steve Jobs solved the innovator's dilemma because his focus was never on profit, but better and better products." Forget the plateau of profits: seek and scale a learning curve.

The S-curve mental model makes a compelling case for personal disruption. We may be quite adept at doing the math around our future when things are linear, but neither business nor life is linear, and ultimately what our brain needs, even requires, is the dopamine of the unpredictable. More importantly, as we inhabit an increasingly zig-zag world, the best curve you can throw the competition is your ability to leap from one learning curve to the next.

This post was co-authored with Juan Carlos Mendez-Garcia, managing director of 8020world. Born in Colombia, he has lived and worked in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Juan Carlos holds an MBA from MIT Sloan, a Masters in Systems Engineering and Bachelors on Electrical Engineering.

Images copyright 2012 Juan C. Mendez and Whitney Johnson. All rights reserved.

Whitney Johnson is a co-founder of Rose Park Advisors, Clayton Christensen's investment firm, and the author of Dare-Dream-Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream (Bibliomotion, 2012). Ms. Johnson is available for speaking and consulting. Follow her on twitter at @johnsonwhitney.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

You Aren't Trapped... Plan Your Work Around Your Life.

Guest Post by Anna Runyan

How I Changed My Career and Life To Make Me Happy

Have you ever felt stuck in a job just because you have to pay the bills?  I have.  Have you ever realized how debt influences your life and career choices?  I have.  Have you ever thought that you would do a different job if you didn’t have to worry about your student loan payments?  I have. 

After a few years, I got sick and tired of having these thoughts so I decided to make some huge changes in my life in order to take control of my career.  This month begins a new chapter in my career.  But first, here is the back-story:

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

We paid off $80,000 of Debt in 18 Months.

Seven years ago when my husband and I got married, we decided the best thing to do was take on lots of debt to keep up with the Jones’.  We continued to make large purchasing decisions such as buying brand new cars, traveling abroad and refusing to really think about our financial future.

Three years ago I happened to be reading another blog that was about getting out of debt.  The writer said she followed the advice from Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover and got out of debt.  So I checked it out.  When you have lots of debt, thinking about getting out of it is very overwhelming!  What I liked about this book is he put it all into baby steps, which just made it so easy!  With the advice in this book, my husband and I were able to pile away our income, do as much as possible to decrease our expenses and pay off $80,000 of student loan, credit card and car loan debt in 18 months.  (And yes, we did celebrate when we finished).  We still can’t believe it and are so happy that we made the choice to work our butts off early in our lives instead of just putting it off until later.
I am writing this today hoping that I can inspire just one other reader to take a different path for their financial future just like the other blogger who helped me change my life.

So what does that have to do with my career?
Everything.  Without debt controlling your life, you can make life and career decisions that really make you happy.   You have nothing hanging over your head nor do you have student loan, credit card and car loan bills piling up to pay.  You have savings available for emergencies and you aren’t living paycheck-to-paycheck wondering if you will ever have the life and career you dreamed of.  Not having to worry about debt allows your mind to open up so that you can really think about what makes you happy and what you really want to do with your life.  That is exactly what happened to me.
My husband and I got out of debt in April-12.  For the last few months, I have been able to really think about what I want to do for work.  I have been able to think about what makes me happy and what type of work fits best for my interests, values and mission in life.  I have been able to explore creative work assignments and new career opportunities that I never could have thought about with debt hanging over my head.

So, I decided to take a 50% pay cut.

Yep, that’s right.  Last month, I made the bold move of starting a part-time arrangement at work.  But, I don’t see this as stepping down.  Instead, this arrangement is giving me the opportunity to open up my creative side and apply myself in other places.  Since going part-time a few days ago, I have already received another job offer and a teaching opportunity at a University.  These things would never have opened if I hadn’t taken the time to evaluate my future career and myself.

I un-trapped myself and other options came flooding in for the other “part-time” of my life.

After this experience, I truly believe that your financial decisions and priorities directly affect your career.  If you need to pay bills and students loans, you may continue working at a job that you may not enjoy just because you have to pay those bills.  Which is fine! But, set a goal to pay off your debt in the next year or two and then move on to something that makes you happier! Get yourself out of the debt that is clouding your professional future and instead find areas that you will succeed at even more because you are passionate about them.  There are so many things you can do if you aren’t worried about paying off your debt.  You could travel, start a business, or take a 50% pay cut to explore and evaluate your professional future like I did.

You aren’t trapped.  Plan your work around your life, not your life around your work. Are you trapped? How can you start taking steps to untrap yourself?

P.S. If you want to know how I was able to go part-time, it’s really simple.  I just asked.  That’s it and they said yes.  So what are you scared of asking for at work?  A raise? A promotion?  Just ask.  What’s the worse that can happen?

Classy Career Girl, a blog written by Anna Runyan, provides advice to young professionals on how to be classy as they climb the corporate ladder.  Her blog covers topics such as business chic fashion, career motivation, personal development, networking, and office etiquette. Connect with her at http://www.classycareergirl.comIf you would like to learn more about how to find a career that you love to go to everyday, check out her free video training series at

Monday, January 28, 2013

How to succeed... take the shots!

Photo courtesy of  iStockphoto 
It was the spring of 2007 and I headed off to work to the same hi-tech company that I had successfully worked at for over 12 years. My commute was long but I loved my job as a Sr. Product Manager. I had a great team of direct reports and a number of product lines that I successfully managed. The business was fast-paced, ever changing, challenging and you had to be on top of your game to get results. I loved it and was happy to stay there the rest of my professional career.

A Step Back 
Taking a step back a few years, it had not been an easy journey for me personally. I had gone through two of my boys being diagnosed with type 1 Juvenile diabetes and one with cystic fibrosis. This caused a dramatic change to our family’s lifestyle, especially in the way we managed our three sons. On top of this, my marriage had become strained over a number of years which resulted in divorce and the selling of our dream home.

I accepted all these challenges, although some days it was a huge effort to be on top of my game personally and professionally. But I am not quitter and moved on, planning my life around my boys, work and the building of a new home. I found a property out in the country and built a place that the boys and I could enjoy. The place was completed in the spring of 2007 and I began to finally be settled and happy with moving on. I just wanted to focus 100 percent of my time with my boys and work. I was ready to give it my all, to do whatever it took to continue my move up the corporate ladder.

So back to that April rainy day in 2007. That day I was called into my boss's office and when I saw the Sr. HR person also present, I knew this was not going to be good. I expected the worst and that's what happened. They said I was no longer a good fit for the company and that I was going to be terminated immediately. I packed up my office and left gracefully that day. On the long drive home a number of thoughts ran through my mind. “What did I do wrong? Now what? I am going to have to start job searching right away. I’ve just built this new house and how was I going to afford to keep it? I am just going to have to bear down, start networking and use my contacts to help find a new job. It shouldn't be that difficult and I will be on the way to my next career opportunity.” Little did I know how hard it really would be. I spent almost a entire year finding a full-time job. I made a ton of mistakes and looking back, I would have done things a lot differently.

More Failures
The past 5 years haven’t been easy. I’ve had a number of failures personally and professionally, but these experiences have made me a stronger person and prepared me for the future. At times I was ready to quit. The rejections of job applications and interviews took their toll. The people that I thought would help me, didn't. I began to fall into the trap of bitterness and anger. I was mad at the people that fired me, at my ex-wife, at friends and even some of my family. It was slippery slope of self-pity and I was beginning to play the blame game. But because of my upbringing and Christian beliefs I knew this was a narrow path and I had to figure out a way to get back on track. So I began to seek out people to be mentors for me, people who would be willing to invest time into helping me get back on track. Soon I began to figure out a plan on what the next steps in my personal life and professional career should be. I believe that both your personal and professional life have to balanced in order to be successful.

Today, I have a full-time job and I do some part-time contract work. I spend my evenings and weekends working on my passion/obsession of making it easier for people to reach their highest potential by connecting them to experts who can help them with their career, business, startup or give general self-help. I am expecting great things for in 2013. The journey is long, hard and full of challenges but I never give up hope that one day my dream will be fulfilled.

Here are some of the shots I am taking to success...

1. Just Start Taking Shots 
Don't wait for the right people, job, funding or idea to just land in your lap. Start and do your best by taking the shots, fail fast, get feedback, make improvements and take more shots.

2. Tell People Your Story 
Be transparent and share your passion with people. I'm very passionate about making Mentor+me a better way people can help people reach their greatest potential. I have a story to tell and will spend more time meeting with people to share my passion.

3. Build Relationships 
Do this with customers, colleagues and other business relationships. Promptly reply to people who email you. Be open to their advice and requests and above all be appreciative for their time and help. If you make people feel like they’re part of what you’re building, they’ll become your advocates.

4. Sometimes, Rules Are Meant To Be Broken 
Test, stretch and don't give up when you hear "NO". You will get a lot of them if you are constantly pushing for what you think is right. Don't give up, keep fighting and try to get better.

5. Build A Team 
Surround yourself with talented, trustworthy people, and most importantly, don’t feel threatened by the talents of other people... embrace it. Build great relationships with the people you work with. Don’t be afraid to look vulnerable or to lead.

6. Set Short-Term Goals
People like to ask where you like to be 3-5 years from now. For me, the most important results are those that can be measured short-term. I like to think where I would like to be a month to three months from now. Accomplishing short-term measurable goals will only put you in a better position to achieve things in the long term.

7. Stay Fit
 I know everyone gives this advice but for me it has truly been a lifesaver. I always know when it's necessary to start watching what I eat or to take the time to increase my daily exercise habits. Getting outside for a run or walk or participating in a sports activity is just a better way to help you clear your head and possibly get the answers you need to solve a problem. If anything, it's a lot cheaper then eating too much and much better than spending time whining with someone on the phone about your problems. My mom used to put it like this... "Get outside and blow the stink off you."

8. Pay it Forward 
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in our own little world and all the problems. But each day try to think about ways you can impact a person's life. Pay for their coffee in the drive-thru, make a donation, volunteer, inspire others online or offer to mentor someone. If you need help getting started, download the Pay it Forward App here.

9. Enjoy The Journey 
Just have fun! I love this quote:
"Each goal has a destination and a journey. Many focus on the destination and not the journey and therefore, never reach the destination. Remember: Where you're going and how you get there are two different things. You must drive before you arrive." -- Dave Meyer

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to succeed... take the shots!

Photo courtesy of +iStockphoto 

Coming up next week... sharing some of my personal story of triumph over tribulation and some of the steps I'm taking to success.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What I Learned About Goals From Building a Toy Wagon

I am the youngest of 4 siblings so most of my childhood was spent trying to prove to my sister and two brothers that I can do things on my own. I had the fortune of growing up with middle-class parents in which my Dad had his own service business and my stay-at-home mom worked at her fine craft of sewing window coverings for her customers. My Dad and Papa taught me how to work a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, etc., so in most cases I am a pretty good handyman. I enjoy working with my hands but at times I don't read instructions well and tend to go about building or assembling things on my own.

Read the instructions.

As a kid, I was great at tearing stuff apart but not so great at putting it all back together, which in turn required me to ask for help. This great skill and art of "handyman-ship" progressed right into fatherhood. I remember my first son getting a Radio Flyer wagon. This classic unit came with the typical "some assembly required" printed on the box. So this great handyman headed off with his 12 drawer toolbox to build a simple toy vehicle. To me it was a no-brainer, 10 minutes...15 minutes tops, to get the job done. I mean how hard was it to assemble 2 axles, 2 sets of wheels, carriage and a pull handle. Instructions...are you kidding me?  I'm pretty good at visualizing how things should be put together. So this baby was done in no time flat and ready to ride.

Now came the time to test the fine looking machine out. My son was pumped, he hopped in and off we went down the street. Things were rolling along nicely. It was easy to pull with its nice big wheels but as we headed down the street all of a sudden it began riding a little rough and my son soon became worried that this ultimate street machine was not as stable as he had thought. As I looked back I saw that the wheels had some wobble in them. WHAT!? How could this be? This thing was brand new! I mean this fine handyman put it together -- how can there be anything wrong? So off we went back to the shop to see what was wrong.
Test and you might wobble but adjust accordingly.

As we began to inspect the wagon I realized that the wheel caps were making the wheels wobble. Maybe I needed to take a quick glance at the instructions. I reviewed the step-by-step instructions and realized that the 4 washers, that for some reason were unused and leftover, and the requirements of using a flat surface and piece of wood to install the wheels must be followed to ensure the wheels were installed on straight. Great, now I had to take the wheel caps off and re-assemble. Pulling the wheel caps off was not an easy job because once in place they tended to be clamped there for good. I made an attempt to remove them but 3 out of 4 became unsalvageable. So now what? I am somewhat of a perfectionist so I needed to get new wheel caps. Off I went to the store and explained to one of the store clerks my dilemma, in which he chuckled and said, "Didn't you read the instructions?" Embarrassingly I admitted that, no, I had not, and he took me to the backroom of the store where they assemble bikes and toys. He looked at me, smiled, handed me 3 new wheel caps and said, "Here, now go back and read the instructions step-by-step". I smile (red-faced) and said, "Yes of course".

Reaching you goals might take longer than you think BUT
don't give up!

So what turned out to be a 10-15 minute job was now close to 2-hours. Lesson learned... well for this project anyway.  From then on my other two sons had great Radio Flyer wagons done and assembled in 15 minutes flat. No problem.

As I reflect on 2012 and what was accomplished, there were some goals that got "assembled" well and there were others that wobbled and required some additional instruction and reassembly. At times this is just the way I think and learn or some would call it "learning the hard way".  As I plan my goals for 2013, I really try to visualize what the end result will look like. How I am going to get there? What instructions and help will be required?  Setting goals are great but what's most important to be successful is assembling the proper instructions. I tend not to over analyze things. In fact, I like to look at ways to make them simpler. As mentioned in my previous blog, our goals in life require a process, a series of steps. How we get there requires instruction and some assembly to get it done.

Don't over analyze, keep it simple, reward yourself for the experience knowing the next time will be much easier.

At Mentor+ME, we are here to serve you. If you are looking for help, advice or guidance in career planning/development, business startup or an area of self-improvement, we want to be your connection and resource. Jump on board with us and make 2013 your best year ever!

Don't go it alone.