Ten Holiday Gifts To Give To Your Career

December 23, 2010 on 12:04 pm | In career coaching | No Comments

You give holiday gifts to nurture and celebrate family and friends. Don’t forget to nurture and celebrate yourself! Here are 10 holiday gifts that will advance your future career and celebrate past milestones:

  1. Restaurant gift card. I’ve written before about the power of networking over meals. If you have a crazy schedule and can’t do full-out lunches, get a Starbucks card so you can at least grab coffee with colleagues and friends.
  2. Clothing store gift card. You need a professional wardrobe whether it’s from a specialty store like Ann Taylor or a general department store like Nordstrom. 80% of communication is non-verbal, and appearance is a significant part of this.
  3. Professional association membership. This is an investment in your networking as you deepen professional ties and meet new people. This is also an investment in your training as you stay abreast of the latest industry news and innovations.
  4. Business magazine subscription. In addition to your specific area, it is helpful to know about the broader economy. Yes, you can get some of this from general news, but a dedicated business magazine often has more in-depth market analysis and insight.
  5. Beautiful journal. Make it a gratitude journal and celebrate your blessings. Make it a scrapbook of everything you have achieved. Make it a repository for ideas.
  6. Professional headshot. Speaking engagements and press mentions are ways that recruiters find you. A great shot can also enhance your online profile.
  7. Electronic reader. Keep all your business and career books in your Apple iPAD or Amazon Kindle, and never have an excuse for not reading.
  8. Multiple business card holders. I wish I had a nickel for every networking event I attended where someone had switched bags and therefore forgot her cards. Have nice business card holders in multiple quantities for all the bags you bring to professional events, and keep each stocked with your current cards.
  9. Private coach. This could be someone who specializes in something directly career-related such as communication skills, executive coaching, or career change. Or maybe you need an image consultant to help with your brand or a personal trainer to get more energy.
  10. Tuition. You don’t have to get another degree. Learn a foreign language, improve your digital media skills, take an improv class to improve listening and spontaneity.

This post also appeared on Forbes.com:  http://blogs.forbes.com/work-in-progress/2010/12/22/ten-holiday-gifts-to-give-to-your-career/

What Comedy Class Taught Me About Goal Planning

December 16, 2010 on 5:26 pm | In life coaching | No Comments

A few weeks ago, I completed a stand-up comedy class and blogged about it for CNBC:  Five Things Comedy Class Teaches You About Job Search.  When I took the class, I didn’t intend to find parallels with job search but it was an unexpected benefit.  This often happens with planning — you expect one result but other things (sometimes better things) happen.

I got really close to my comedy classmates, and we are producing another show together.  I’m spending more time on comedy than I anticipated, which doesn’t seem like a good idea given that I have a business to run.  But it feels right, and it’s still flexing my marketing muscles just in a different way.  Sometimes it’s good to veer off an initial plan as long as directionally you are still going where you intended (and it feels right).

Plans are often neat.  Execution is often haphazard.  There’s something haphazard about my adventures in comedy so far.  I took the class rather unexpectedly (why I took the class is fodder for a future blog post!).  Now I have my second show within two months, and I am co-producing a show early 2011, learning all about producing on the fly.  This is not anything like I planned, but my goal has always been to remain active in creative pursuits and this is how things have unfolded.  Don’t be so focused on the plan that you miss unexpected opportunities to get the goal some other way.

If you are curious about watching my comedy adventure in action, you can see me at Comix on Wednesday, Dec. 29 at 7p.  Call 212-524-2500 and mention my name with your reservation to get in for a $10 cover (normally $15-$20).  There is a 2 drink-minimum.

Life Checklist for the Upcoming Year

December 9, 2010 on 1:35 am | In life coaching | No Comments

In a recent column, I offered a career checklist.  We also have important but not career-related appointments and responsibilities we know well in advance.  Whether you have a day runner or electronic organizer, schedule them now.  Next year, you have an automatic reminder and a ready to do list.

Annual physical

Dentist appointments

Haircuts and spa treatments

Vacations

Annual income tax filing

Estimated tax payments/ accountant check-ins

Investment portfolio review

Company benefits and insurance review

Insurance payments

File purging and reorganizing

Family events

Birthdays and anniversaries

Special dates with significant other

Finally, assign those ad hoc, must-do household projects to specific days in 2011.  When you set a specific date, you actually do it!

PLAYING DEFENSE

December 2, 2010 on 1:07 am | In career coaching, life coaching | No Comments

No one wins a game by playing defense.  However, good defense gives the offense the chance to do its job.  Defense, therefore, provides the foundation for success.

Playing defense in your job search means giving yourself enough time to stay in the search for your efforts to pay off (maintaining your cash flow by judiciously using your severance or taking temp work to make ends meet).  It means pacing yourself (making sure you do something towards your search every day rather than in periodic but unreliable bursts of inspiration).  It means protecting yourself from the wear and tear of a long search (e.g., burnout, settling for less out of fear). 

Playing defense in your career means building a solid foundation (adding skills, increasing industry and functional expertise, growing a nest egg).  Some of these steps also fall into your offensive strategy, as increased skills and expertise may lead to promotions or better jobs.  Increased savings may encourage more risk-taking.  But they are also defensive moves because a foundation of skills and expertise keep you necessary to your employer’s team.

Playing defense in your life means protecting what you already have, so that you can focus on your dreams.  No one becomes rich from owning insurance, but medical, disability, and homeowners insurance may prevent unexpected poverty and give peace of mind so you can concentrate on your game.  Maintaining good health is good defense – as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Fostering good family and social relationships is a defensive strategy.  You’re not trying to win anything from them.  But you are building a foundation of support and love from which springs the confidence and inspiration to go for your goals and succeed.

It’s December, the end of another year.  Do your annual insurance check.  Renew your gym membership.  Send out holiday cards.  Maintain your foundation.

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