Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!

I declare 2010 to be the Year of Meaningful Compliments.

What's a meaningful compliment? One that you take pride in - overtly or privately. One that acknowledges something towards which you've strived or a quality you've been cultivating.

Pick a step/goal on your journey or a quality you'd like to have known as part of your personal brand. Something you want; not something someone else has said you should desire/seek.

Live it. Breathe it. Enjoy it.

And this year, when someone compliments on you on it - perhaps not evening knowing how important it is to you - you'll have your first meaningful compliment of 2010.

Collect them. Cherish them. If I get just one this year, I'm going to grin about it for months!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Forgotten resolutions

Those are the ones we don't think of as 'worthy' to be resolutions. We think of them and dismiss them as too easy or fun - as though resolutions must be like punishments for the excess of the previous year.

I call them the 'self-care' resolutions... the ones we never seem to get to as we do for others or do what's expected first.

Consider what might make 2010 brighter, simpler and cheerier for you. Mentoring others also means caring for yourself the way we suggest others care for themselves.

I'm going to read more non-business books (murder mysteries!). I'm going to buy a t-shirt in a bright colour and throw out worn undies in place of new. I'm going to stop apologizing if my eyes tear up during moments of frustration. Most importantly, I'm going to indulge in two over-priced Sunday lattes if it means an extra hour with my kid, hearing about his world.

My 'forgotten resolution' list is longer but you get the idea...

Of course, I have my career plans and my year plan. But first and foremost I resolve to to walk my talk, including in uncovering moments of joy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December wishes

However you celebrate - whatever your traditions - may this holiday season gather the best of your community around you.

May you be warmed by the goodwill of friends and family till we see longer days of sunshine and the first buds of spring.

Thank you for being part of another year of exploration and questions. Thank you for being part of my circle.

Much cheer,


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Mentor "A" list

Folks just aren't talking about mentoring as much they discuss networking. And yet mentoring and networking are two sides of the same coin.

In the joyous spirit of December, let's kick off a conversation about mentoring.

Over the next few months, with the help of the alphabet, a dictionary and you... Let's explore the different kinds of mentors there are! We either do these things for others or we seek them for ourselves.

Starting with "A":

1. Abandon"ment-or" – helps when the world seems to be ignoring you
2. Abutment-or – props you up while you try new things
3. Accompaniment-or – tries things with you
4. Accomplishment-or – someone you admire
5. Achievement-or – points out what there is to admire in you
6. Adjustment-or – helps make changes
7. Adornment-or – helps you dress better
8. Advancement-or – helps you rethink your career
9. Agreement-or – helps find a middle ground
10. Ailment-or – consoles you
11. Alignment-or – points in the right direction
12. Amazement-or – surprises you and changes your perspective
13. Amendment-or – offers alternatives
14. Amusement-or – sees the humour of the situation
15. Announcement-or – tells everyone about you
16. Apartment-or – knows where you live and is willing to meet you there
17. Appointment-or – teaches time management
18. Argument-or – helps you stand up and be heard
19. Arrangement-or – introduces you to new people
20. Assessment-or – helps you understands yourself
21. Assignment-or – tasks you with things to try
22. Assortment-or – offers multiple perspectives
23. Atonement-or – helps fix mistakes
24. Attachment-or – builds meaningful relationships
25. Attainment-or – helps you define goals
26. Augment-or – helps you be you in all facets

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Invisible Mentor - postings

Avil Beckford has written a lovely article about some folks' top 5 books for a desert island. Engaging and informative, it also proves that I should expand my own list a bit more :-)

She also interviewed me for her blog "The Invisible Mentor". Again, I shouldn't be trusted to answer questions without my PR person standing by. (it's an unpaid spot - let me know if you're interested)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reinforce existing ties

This is a great time of year. It's like when the library holds a "return old books and we'll waive all overdue fines!"

It's the time of year when it's perfectly ok to reach out to folks you haven't talked to all year without having to make excuses. Use a card, a call or a coffee - but now is the time to reinforce some existing ties within your network.

Evaluate your network. With whom have you not had a chance to catch up? Who are the folks for whom you should reinforce that you are happy they are part of your community? Who has gone MIA in your world and, if you care, can you reach out?

It's been a busy year full of change for many of us. We started with the best of intentions and got caught up in the minutae of running a life. So grab some time this month or next and and extend a hand - all fines waived!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The secret

What is it about the holiday month that makes folks so hungry for shortcuts and boxed answers? (I'm including myself) Time feels too short and with the excitement also grows anxiety.

So here's the secret - the one thing everyone must know - that I've learned about mentoring and networking...

You Don't Have To Be Good At It.

You need a purpose. You need desire. You must be willing. But you can do it anyway you want and figure it out as you go. Just jump in. Anytime. A community awaits you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Networking - things to ponder #5

Mentoring and networking are two sides of the same coin.

The relationship between the two activities are obvious to me.
* mentors/mentorees and connections to mentors/mentorees come from your community
* peer mentoring is a fundamental activity of your community
* new connections are a result of activity within your community
* feedback and comfort at events are a support function of your community

The list is longer and we can all add our favourites to build it.

At a meeting yesterday, I realized why folks keep the two activities in separate drawers of the mind. Because mentoring mentoring is still not widely understood and networking is still perceived as Going-to-an-Event.

Let's look at Going-to-an-Event...
If that's the only way you do networking, you've cut yourself off from 90% of the other means of meeting/deepening connections. It's like only eating brussel sprouts. (you might like them but you can't survive on them)

Walking into a large room full of strangers and told to 'mingle' is not everyone's idea of heaven. (That's why I've called myself "The Reluctant Networker" for so long)
* It ignores the daily opportunities - meetings, elevators, coffee lines, your family activities - we talk to people all the time!
* It ignores the existing connections for new ones
* It implies "bulk" shopping is the only option
* It limits you to networking outside your normal routines which can be difficult (child care; family obligations; personal commitments, etc.)

Networking is a daily activity, driven by your personal goals. Chances are if you know why you are doing it and towards what you are driving, you will have an easier time working through the how-to-do-it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What helps with your blocks?

It's 3am and I've managed to play 3 hours of solitaire and Snood. I have pile of work on one side and a list of blogs to write on the other. I've had 2 entire pots of tea, turned off the music and have resisted watching the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain on YouTube one more time....

What do YOU do when your mind stays stubbornly blank? Help a mentor out....?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Don't wait - prepare!

Most of us wait till we are changing assignments to redo resumes, think about our core skills and maybe develop a bio. It's like shopping for holiday gifts Dec. 24 - silly.


Since many of us find our day jobs a little quieter over the holidays, why not put aside 15 minutes a day (or even every second day) to brush up your tools? Make or revamp a skills list. Read your resume while you're not in a rush - find a better way to state your accomplishments or add the latest ones. Practice the holiday introductions you can use at parties and events.

Mentors - offer a holiday coffee to help your peers and mentorees focus on one of the above bits. No one should have to develop their tools alone!

Remember - you also need these tools to enhance your 'brand' within your current situation. The clearer your story - the more folks will offer to tell it!

Friday, December 4, 2009


I don't know about you... but I hate writing my bio. Either I sound flaky (though myself) or I sound like a cross between Mother Teresa and a machine.

I know very few folks who write their bios well. And even fewer who have their communities review them.

Here's a few thoughts I've picked up from the discussions around 'bios' this week:
1 - it's not your resume. It's what you hope someone from your inner circle would say about you if asked.
2 - therefore your bio can change depending on the circumstance but
3 - it's wise to have your circle review your bio. Sometimes they'll point out they'd say even nicer things than you wrote for yourself!

Put what's important to you in your bio. Add what has made you proud. Make it offer a 'taste' of who you and what you are like. Most of us just list our accomplishments (which really is of interest mostly to our mothers and those seeking a mentor) and never go any further.

- adding your philosophy
- mixing some personal highlights with the professional
- consider the bio as a conversation starter about you instead of a finite ingredient list of your skills

Play with your bio. I have a few versions of a 6 word bio which I can then also use as an introductory statement when meeting new folks. I have a full page bio. I have a bio for print and a bio to be read when I'm introduced to speak.

You're multifaceted. Your bio should open a window on the jewel that is you!