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.