Sunday, November 25, 2012

Open doors, not closed boxes - your introduction

In the quest to build an elevator speech, or have a great introduction, there seems to be two approaches. The 1st is to try and cram an entire resume into a handshake. The 2nd is to limit information to name, current job designation and company.

Neither open the door to a conversation or create interest. Both simply offer oneself in a tidy (or lengthy) box for the listener to file. Our introductions have become like clothing labels, listing the basic materials and cleaning instruction but leaving out the colour, weight and feel that would entice someone to try us on.

I want to give enough information that I don't seem coy but not so much that the listener can place me in a category. I want the listener to respond - with a laugh, a question, a show of interest.

How does your current way to introduce yourself stack up?

My favourite introduction is still the six words exercise. "Hi, I'm Dennie... IT manager, artist and unappreciated parent."
There is also using descriptors that are the key items for which you'd like someone new to remember you. "Hi. I'm Dennie... poker of holes in plans and keeper of fingers in pies."
Even the first line of your resume could be echo'd in your introduction. "Hi, I'm Dennie... strategist, facilitator, student of transformation."

Regardless of the approach, your introductions should be genuine and not a sales pitch about how perfect you might be.

Like the "Hi how are you?" "I am fine." exchange that has become meaningless as the asker doesn't want a different answer and the responder has no genuine answer, one's introduction has turned into an unappetizing bite of nothing very useful or enjoyable.

Relationships - even when job hunting - start with helping folks understand why to talk to you. Don't throw away the very first sentences you say.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Resumes - is yours telling your story or just the facts?

Your resume will be given about 30 seceonds of a hiring manager's time. Don't waste a bullet point. Every line should tell - or lead to - a story.

In the past week, I've helped with over a dozen resumes and they all did the same thing: listed a job title and then proceeded to list what duties that job required, most of which were table stakes. "Managed a team" "Delivered projects on time/on budget" "Met with clients".


If you hadn't done those basic activities - also known as "table stakes" - then I assume your manager would have fired you. The duties were implied by the job title.

The real question to answer on your resume is:What did YOU accomplish in that framework of duties? What story are you trying to convey? Did you rock the world with a new process? Save someone oodles of money? Gain a new skill? Hire a brilliant successor?

Are you applying for a new role where you'll have to help the hiring manager understand your skills are transferable? What accomplishments in previous roles would illustrate those skills you hope to highlight?

Too often we think we'll get the chance to explain the above in an interview. The real trick is getting the interview by intriguing the hiring manager with the stories on your resume.

Make it short. Make it skimmable. Make it about you and not the job duties.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Calling it mentoring doesn't make it so

Mentoring appears to be the latest buzzword meant to convey everything from coaching to networking to teaching to asking a how-to question. It's like a sauce poured on top of any topic and voila! it's now "mentoring".

Let's be clear:
  • If I ask you a question and you help with the answer - that's not mentoring - that's asking a question
  • If you're my manager and you need me to get better at what I'm doing for you /the team - that's not mentoring - that's coaching
  • If we find we're taking the same course and study together - that's not mentoring - that's studying together
  • If I meet you and we have a great coffee discussion - that's not mentoring - that's building a relationship /networking
  • If I'm looking for a job or sales lead - that's not networking - that's a transaction
If I ask you to help me work through a long-term development plan and view of myself, to be a safe place where I can discuss the tougher questions - anything from heart-held career goals to work/life balance to office politics to self-doubt - then you're mentoring me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's ok to lose a day if you're sick

Is anyone else annoyed by the commercial that says "Life doesn't stop because you're sick"? As though listening to your body's need for rest some how lets everyone else down?

There's often a long list of reasons why we think we can't: parenting; deadline; big event... in fact all the things that make up a full and diverse life. We could make a similar list why we should stop: can't think as well; might infect others and keep the cycle of illness going; might prolong illness; might feel better; might discover no one noticed we took a day :-)....

It's ok to be sick and stop for a day. Raise this with your mentors and mentorees. Raise this with the women you know. Life doesn't have to stop but we can sure slow down for a day.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Please, no more shootings of women because they're women

There's been lots of news - and yet not enough - of the shooting of Pakistani girl activist Malala Yousafzai.  The Huffington Post has a good article to start you off if you're coming late to the story.

Standing up for the right to be educated should not prompt someone to pull a gun. I'm sure it would surprise some folks that anyone would even care enough about schooling to be violent. That's because it was not about education.

Malala was shot because she is a girl. Further, she's a girl asking for rights for girls. Her voice could have been raised on working conditions, on wages, on rape... and the fact that it was a female voice created enough outrage in some people's hearts that she was shot in the head.

"In this day and age?" someone said in the elevator.  Yes. Keep in mind that it also doesn't matter that it happened in another country. December 6, 1989 in Montreal, Marc Lépine shot nine women at the  École Polytechnique, claiming that he was fighting feminism. That's only one example. I'm sure many of you can think of less extreme situations that you may have witnessed in bars, workplaces and public spaces even in the past week.

We are each involved in our small crusades to open door to those less fortunate and those who are shut out from basic rights (and some basic courtesies) simply due to gender.

Moving away from victim to survivor... promoting International Women's Day... keeping the conversations going so folks can become educated or join the discussion... mentoring women... cheering others in their efforts... speaking up, out or at all... every voice matters; every effort helps.
Malala, the people around the world are sending you their best wishes. I promise to honour you - and all those who seek to make the world safer for girls and women - by continuing to keep my voice raised.

Please, no more shootings of women because they're women.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mulling things over from the conference

I forgot to mention that on the last day, I was asked to facilitate an informal table at lunch on women & mentoring - the issues, the experiences, the challenges.

Over a great lunch of pinto beans, chicken, rice, sour cream and cheese, I primed the pump reading a post I wrote called WiL the Men Speak Up?  I asked the table for their thoughts and experiences around the following questions:
  * Do we have enough female role models?
  * Does one only encounter barriers when one becomes a parent?
  * Are younger women not seeing barriers because no one sees them as a threat?
  * Why do so many men perceive a WiL issue (even if they can't agree on the root causes)?
  * Why is it easier to accept there's an issue if a man stands up first to validate it?

The purpose was not to reach consensus but to get folks to share experiences and ideas. As usual, the table started as quiet and then, about 20 minutes in, the conversation exploded. By the end of the 45 minutes, every woman at the table had jumped in and participated, sharing a story or advice.

There are no hard/fast answers. There are fewer answers without discussions like that one!

This is a topic about which I'm passionate. Feel free to search "women" on my blog and leave me comments on such posts as When Should We Act Like Men or Let's Get Emotional! ... or any other post that you may find.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My tweets from the conference

For those not on Twitter, here were my 'real time' Ah-Ha! moments at the conference.  Strangely, the conference had no hashtag set up. Several of us simply used #unmmc12.
  • "Understand your stand, then seek to understand" C Pettit
  • Closing style drives trust & comfort in a mentoring relstionship
  • "People do not resist change, per se. They resist loss." Dr M Searby
  • We need to acknowledge the sense of loss that comes with any kind of change
  • Success = know outcome, reasons, plan ACT...but beginning is most important
  • If one can't express an idea, one should pass selling it to someone who can...doesnt dimish credit, keeps brand clean
  • The kind/strength/nature of relationships around you contributes to success
  • The common variable for those who succeed against the odds is "a mentor" 
  • omg "mentoring" is Not a buzz word to represent daily/normal need to ask questions and find team solutions to immediate need!
  • Framework for online mentoring needs prior face/face relationship and/or face tech (webcam etc)
  • Coaching is for success today; mentoring is for success tomorrow
  • We learn best when we perceive no threat.
  • Nothing is less inspiring than someone telling you how smart they are and how vast their references vs sharing their smarts
  • Great conversation on mentoring in business. real world mentoring is messy! 
  • "sageliness w/in & kingliness w/out" is Confucious view of mentoring 
  • The issue of direct mgr as mentor is Not nepotism but TMI, confidentiality & support past immediate job/duties
  • Outdated statement? "women need mentors to teach acceptable behaviours in male world"
  • Cultural/social/emotional intelligence in mentoring - does MIT Center for Collective Intelligence have any research on this?
  • Are folks worried about "liability" if they mentor? (is this like good samaritan worried about being sued?)
  • How many business mentors think about learning styles when mentoring? should they?
  • Mentors choose mentees pick those like themselves...bad for women given it's men above the glass ceiling?
  • Mentoring = your actions speak so loudly I can't hear what you're saying
  • Road a yellow schoolbus into 1st morn of the mentoring conference. Like going to camp but with more suits and less singing.
  • Mentoring is listening.