Career

Sunday Slowdown

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Transition

  • Tons of great advice in this article about tailoring your resume to communicate to employers that you’re the obvious choice.
  • Pivot by Jenny Blake is getting a lot of hype right now. After listening to her interview on the Good Life Project podcast, I’m jumping on the hype train and borrowing her book from our local library.
  • Are you open to serendipity?

Adventure

Growth

  • I’ve been researching how to develop workout programs to put on muscle, and came across Adam Bornstein’s site, Born Fitness. I can’t recommend it enough, he has a gift for taking science-based research and translating it into actionable strategies.
  • Undated Passion Planners are on sale right now, perfect time to snap one up if you’re thinking about experimenting with how you schedule/organize your time.
  • I had a taste of what it would be like to commute to work on a plane this week, flying in and out of town on the same day, and I wished I had read this article first. I had Tip 7 down, but completely failed at Tip 6, eating once at 530am, and not again until 630pm.

Overcome Resistance + Defeat Fear of Failure

Do you remember the movie Girl Fight?

I watched it when I was 16 and was fascinated by this girl, this woman, who wanted to fight for a living and was willing to defy other peoples’ expectations to make it happen. What made her want to stand in a ring and get hit? Who told her she could do that?

For someone so entranced, it seems natural that the next move would be to sign up for a martial arts or boxing class of some sort and find out what this whole thing is all about. And that’s exactly what I did…

…18 years later. My first Krav Maga class is in two weeks.

What took me so long?

Two things.

The first is what Steven Pressfield calls resistance in the The War of Art. Resistance is that little voice in your ear whispering, “Don’t do it”, when you’re tempted to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

From an evolutionary standpoint, this voice has given us an advantage. Those who stayed safe spread their genes, resulting in today’s society. But now, instead of keeping us safe, this voice can keep us from exploring new hobbies and passions.

The second thing is a fear of failure. The older we get, the less often we get put ourselves in situations where we’re beginners. And the less often we experience the failures all beginners experience, the more we worry about getting something just right the first time we try it.

How to get past resistance + fear of failure?

Take action.

It’s really that simple.

It doesn’t have to be a huge leap or cost a lot, and it doesn’t have to be a fully formulated plan mapping your progress from A to Z. Just one concrete step, one bold decision to move a little bit forward.

Thinking about quitting your job and pursuing a new career path? Find one person working in a field you’re interested in and ask to buy them a cup of coffee to learn more about what they do.

Have a guitar lying around that you’ve been meaning to learn how to play? Put it where you can’t avoid it and commit to 5 minutes daily or learning your favorite song.

Want to paint but think you’ll never get past the stick figure phase? Get a piece of paper, a kid’s set of watercolors, and find a short, easy Youtube tutorial.

But what if I fail?

Good! Great! Contrary to popular belief, failure is not a bad thing.

The older we get, the more we’ve learned to avoid failure. And sure, it can be uncomfortable and maybe even embarrassing to fail. But that’s why you should fail fast!

The faster you fail, the more opportunities to grow. Each failure provides valuable information that allows you to adjust your approach and try again, or move onto something else that you like more.

If you learn to embrace it, failure will feel less like, well, failure, and more like opportunity.

Still need convincing?

CM Punk, a prominent WWE wrestler, made his debut as an MMA fighter in the UFC this past weekend. He spent 2 years training in preparation, earning a white belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, but went into the Octagon with no actual fight experience under his belt. And, it should come as no surprise, that he was easily defeated in round 1 by his opponent, Mickey Gall.

But that’s not where the story stops. In his post-fight interview, CM Punk said,

“In life you go big or you go home. I just like to take challenges. This was a hell of a mountain to try to climb. I didn’t get to the summit today. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop…I will be back believe it or not… Listen, life’s about falling down and getting up.”

CM Punk didn’t just embrace failure; he embraced it in front of thousands of viewers. And he didn’t allow it to defeat him. Instead, he immediately recognized it for what it was: an experience that provided invaluable lessons to help him continue on his path.

So, what can you fail fast at today?

How To Be a Leader and Build a Culture – 7 Takeaways From Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog

Our community library has this section right when you walk in called “It’s Your Lucky Day”. It’s where all the hottest new releases are, and when I saw Shoe Dog by Phil Knight on the shelf, I made a beeline for it.

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I’m a Nike fan, but not a fanatic. I don’t stand in insanely long lines for shoes, or wear only Nike gear. I also didn’t really know much about Phil Knight, or the origins of Nike.

But I am a fanatic of reading memoirs and biographies. I think it’s incredibly fascinating to see how people’s lives evolve, and what insights the power of hindsight brings.

Turns out, Phil Knight’s story is incredibly engrossing. Here are seven takeaways on leadership, failing and building a team.

Own Your Crazy

“So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy . . . Just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.”           – Phil Knight

Knight had no money, no experience, and no guarantees – just one crazy, half-baked idea. He took action on his idea before he could talk himself out of it, and that led to the creation of one of the world’s most well-known and profitable companies today.

Fail fast

“But my hope was that when I failed, if I failed, I’d fail quickly, so I’d have enough time, enough years to implement all the hard-won lessons. I wasn’t much for setting goals, but this goal kept flashing through my mind every day, until it became my internal chant: Fail fast.” – Phil Knight

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve delayed starting some new project or hobby because conditions weren’t perfect. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown…my own internal resistance holding me back.

But what happens if you don’t fight yourself? If you go into new things not only expecting to fail, but embracing that failure as an opportunity to learn?

Big things can happen. Nike-size things.

Overpromise, but deliver

Ever heard that phrase “under promise and over deliver”?

Knight takes a completely different approach. Time after time, he overpromises. From the beginning, when asked what company he represents, Blue Ribbon pops out of his mouth despite the fact that it doesn’t yet exist. From there it snowballs. Sure, we have an East Coast office (they didn’t). Yes, of course, we can come up with $20,000 (they were broke).

Knight consistently let the business evolve as fast as it wanted (despite many warnings from bankers and accountants to do otherwise), scrambling to play catch up. And because he was able to deliver on each overpromise, the company continued to successfully grow.

Granted, he barely scraped by on some of these deliveries. Part of the time he was able to do so because of his own hustle, but more often than not it was the people he cultivated around him who came through.

Which leads us to . . .

Build a tribe

Knight surrounds himself with people who get it. They get the crazy idea, they get what he’s trying to build, and they get each other. They play their strengths and weaknesses off of one another, becoming a strongly united front.

And because of that camaraderie, personal trade offs were frequently made for the good of the business. People moved across country because it was what the business needed. Parents of employees provided interest-free loans because a business that takes care of their son is a business worth taking care of.

When you invest in people, people invest in you.

It’s more than business

“It seems so wrong to throw all those hectic days and sleepless nights, all those magnificent triumphs and desperate struggles, under that bland, generic banner: business.” – Phil Knight

For Knight, Nike was always more than just shoes, and more than just money.

Nike was about building a family, establishing a non-traditional culture, and helping athletes achieve greatness. It was about innovation and making a product that would bring people health and happiness. It was about making a positive contribution to the world.

And because Nike was more than just a bottom line, Knight gave it more. He weaved his business and personal life together intricately, treating Nike like a child. His devotion and dedication saw the company through challenges that have sunk many a start-up, and entered Nike into the realm of greatness

Let truth lead the way

Those challenges that Nike faced ran the gamut from attempts at a hostile takeover to tax issues to shoe recalls. Each time they found themselves up against a wall, despite temptation to try to slip and slide through, Knight and his fellow cohorts stuck with integrity and transparency, telling the truth and relying on that truth to be seen by all parties involved.

And, time and time again, that transparency and integrity led them to positive outcomes.

Always ask if you’re doing enough

A leader who doesn’t reflect on how he leads is not a leader worth following for long.

Knight frequently seeks to learn from the leadership of past military giants, and from the strong male figures in his life. As Blue Ribbon Company grows and transitions into Nike, as his own family grows by two sons, he often reflects on how he’s doing and whether or not he could be doing things differently, or better.

Is his hands-off, minimal praise leadership really what his employees need? Is he spending too much time at work and not enough time with his family? Will his sons have some of the same challenges his way of being a father as he had with his own father at a younger age?

I highly recommend reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. In addition to the leadership and culture takeaways, it’s packed with a lot of fun memories and interesting sports tidbits, and is one of my new faves.

Three Copywriting Principles to Use in Your Next Cover Letter

Selling yourself is one of the most awkward, frustrating tasks when searching for a job. You know the value you bring to employers – but how can you best articulate that?

Copywriters face this challenge on a regular basis. They must create content that connects with the reader’s emotions and spurs some specific action. To do this successfully, copywriters often utilize specific frameworks and principles that have proven effective.

Applying these same frameworks to your cover letter will not only help you better sell yourself, but will also help ease the frustration of figuring out exactly how to say what you need to say.

Features vs. Benefits

Often times, we identify jobs to apply for by matching our set of skills to the position’s set of skills. These skills may be things like time management, attention to detail, organized, proficient in WordPress, etc.

But it’s not the skills themselves that appeal to employers; it’s the benefits that are derived from those skills. If you’re skilled at communication and problem-solving, what does that mean to an employer? Are you able to develop win-win solutions because you listen for the things that aren’t being said and can determine underlying motivations?

Make a list of your skills, everything under the sun, and let it sit for a day. When you come back to the list, translate these skills into benefits targeted to each specific position or employer. Convey these benefits in your cover letter.

The Rule of Three

Our brains instinctively search out patterns to process the world around us. We want to see patterns, and when we see them, we’re satisfied.

The magic number for pattern creation is three. Three components create a simple, easily identifiable pattern, and allow you to establish rhythm.

  • The Three Musketeers
  • Just do it
  • Veni, vidi, vici
  • I’m lovin it
  • 3 Men and a Little Lady
  • Snap! Crackle! Pop!
  • Taste the rainbow

Appeal to your reader’s bias for patterns and give them a sense of satisfaction by using the rule of three to discuss your qualities and the benefits you bring to the table.

“My experience with conducting research, analyzing data, and developing cohesive messaging ensures I’ll be effective from the start.”

AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

AIDA is a framework frequently used by Gary Halbert, hero of copywriting.

The idea behind AIDA is that first, you catch the reader’s attention. Next, you get them interested in whatever it is you’re offering. You build their desire by describing to them exactly how they’ll benefit, and then you tell them what you want them to do – in this case, hire you!

Of course it’s not as simple as that, otherwise every job seeker using this framework would be hired immediately. But this is a great technique to use when you have an example of a successful project that is directly targeted to the position you’re interested in.

Grab their attention with the deliverable you achieved (saved company $5M annually!), tell your story, and end by letting them know if you’re hired, you have the proven ability to deliver.

 

If you’re interested in learning more copywriting techniques, I highly recommend this Skillshare class. Good luck!

The Worst Thing You Can Do When Searching for a Job

You find yourself unemployed. Maybe you were laid off, maybe you quit out of desperation, maybe you casually sauntered out of the office and never looked back.

Regardless, here you are. Butt in a chair, staring at a screen. Alternating between endlessly scrolling through pages of job ads, firing off resumes, and refreshing your email to see if the last five companies you applied to have replied.

I’ve been there, caught in the mind-numbing loop. I know the sudden inability to articulate your skills, and the creeping doubt that conveniently shows up just as your head hits the pillow. I’ve been torn between the familiar and the possibilities, overwhelmed by indecision.

I’ve seen the dark side, my friend.

And I’m here to tell you, the worst thing to do when looking for a job, absolute worst, is to spend all your time looking for a job.

Here are three things to try instead.

Go on an adventure

Take a look at a map. Find somewhere you haven’t been. Aim for somewhere an hour and a half away (any shorter it’s too easy to say it’s not worth it, any longer it’s too inconvenient to go). Drive there. Take in the sights, absorb the ambiance. Meet some people. Love beer? Sample a pint at a craft brewery. Be open for anything.

Too tame for you? Go on a whitewater rafting trip. Volunteer on a trail-clearing backpacking trip with the nearest parks agency. Set off on a two week road trip and see the states.

Whatever adventure means to you, do that. Break your routine and make time for play. You’ll come back with a refreshed mindset, and a story to share during your next interview.

Take a class, learn a lesson, join a meetup

On a lark, I signed up for a plant identification class, which was as far away from my then-profession as you could get.

The morning of the class dawned drizzly and cold, and we traipsed through mud for hours. I was so fascinated by what we were learning, I hardly noticed. I didn’t decide to dedicate my life to botany, but to this day I still point out milk thistle and miner’s lettuce to whoever will listen.

If you know you want to change career paths, but aren’t quite sure what path is for you, use this opportunity to explore. Pick a hobby that’s always been on your to do list, or something random that catches your eye. Use an online learning platform like Skillshare to learn more about a career of interest. Listen to other people talk about their passions and let it inspire you. Challenge yourself and follow your curiosity.

(P.S. This class was fun and completely helped me overhaul my cover letter.)

Reconnect with yourself

Each month, around the time I paid bills, the intensity of my job search jumped a few notches. Visually seeing my money dwindling and having to acknowledge that another month had passed was hard. The devilish little voices telling me to apply for anything remotely similar to what I had been doing got louder and louder, even though I knew I was ready for something different.

As corny as it may be, every ending is the opportunity for a new beginning. Take some time to reconnect with your values, passions and goals. Define what success means to you, and then pursue it even if it’s the unknown.

Pick a day five years from now and write down in vivid detail what you’re doing and what your life is like. If it’s continuing your current line of profession, that’s great! Move forward with confidence. But if it’s not, this is your opportunity to take control and reset.

Need some inspiration? Check out Live Your Legend, or Good Life Project, or Level Up Your Life.

Too often, fear drives the job search. Fear of the unknown, fear of not having enough or being good enough, fear of not being able to provide. Be bold! Step away from the computer. Take time to play, to learn, to remind yourself what success means to you. And, when you’re ready and refreshed, opportunities will be waiting.