Monday, February 29, 2016

Skills list - part three - 60 min

By now you might be wondering why I'm spacing out the instructions.

Some of us have a tendency to read ahead to the end. Then we try to skip to creating the end product at the start. This sabotages the purpose of this exercise - to create a wholistic, unjudged skill set against which we can then put criteria. As your criteria and interests change, you can move the skills to different boxes.

First you have to have a list... that's the hardest part. Last week, putting the list into two columns, you judged each skill's worth to others ($). Today you'll judge them against your own current feelings /point in time.

Now the list moves into 4 quadrants. If you really enjoy/like doing the skill today (vs. yesterday or tomorrow), it should be in the top left quadrant. If you could pass a week or a month and not miss doing it, bottom left quadrant. Same for the right hand side.

Left Column                      Right Column
Worth paying me lots         Not yet worth solid $
Like doing                        Like

Left Column                      Right Column
Worth paying me lots         Not yet worth solid $
ok or indifferent                ok or indifferent            

You've now got a snapshot of what you have to offer and what you hope to learn/improve. As you get better at some things/ bored with others / find new skills, then you can update the list. I do this once a year.

Next week is the last set of instructions, promise.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Skills list: part two - 10 minutes

Take the list. Be glad you did it!
Divide it into two columns reflecting how good you think you are for each skill:

Left Column                      Right Column
Worth paying me lots         Not yet worth solid $

Set the "lots" to be whatever you consider top dollar for your current role.

  • I usually say would I feel ok taking $50 per hour which allows me to judge my baking against my communication planning on the same scale.  
    • I would not take $50 per hour for my chocolate truffles as good as they taste because they are not yet mastered
    • I would take $50 per hour for my knitted cuffs because they are
    • I would take $50 to create a change plan
    • I would not take $50 to have me negotiate alone with a vendor
Make sense?  Don't agonize over any item. If in doubt, ask those who helped you with the list creation to assist with a judgment call.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Skill list - part one: passions & potential

The next few Monday posts will be about creating a view of our skills that helps in figuring out what might motivate us in a job. Your preferences and abilities will shift over time; updating this once a year or so is usually good housekeeping.

This list can help you craft a cover letter, figure out what to showcase in a resume, explain to a manager what you bring to the table, and, most importantly, is a wholistic view of capabilities.

So for the next week or two, try this first step:


  • Single-spaced
  • No order
  • Personal & professional


Write down all the skills you have to offer – regardless of level of expertise.
·         Include everything you love to do
·         Include all you've been paid to do
·         Include all you're learning to do
·         NO JUDGMENT on the skills… if they meet the criteria above, put it down. We will sort it later.

Ensure big buckets are broken into their components  eg. Project Management is a big bucket… what skills do you mean if you say project management?

Ask friends and trusted peers to help you think of skills; to challenge you on what you mean (the big buckets).

This could take at least 2 weeks for about 30 min a day. Your list might be as long as 6-10 pages.

It's like an inventory of who you are with no sorting… a kitchen cupboard full of baking supplies before you've decided what to make.

e.g. I am a GREAT cake baker but a LOUSY icer…but I can ice a cake… so I would not list "baking" … too vague.. but cake baking and cake icing.

Other example:
writing monologues in different voices
speech writing for other people
editing executive presentations for tone and content
financial oversight of server assets

creation of project plans with key milestones

What are all the things you do?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Passion - the holy grail

In grade 3, I wanted to be a mystery writer of the gory and strange. By grade 6, I wanted to write plays. By grade 10, it was movies (I had an Oscar outfit all picked out). By college, I wanted to be a musician. By the end of college, I wanted to be a psychologist. By the end of university, I wanted to teach Science Fiction & Fantasy Literature. I dropped out of my first Masters' degree in Lit to be a touring stage manager and assistant director.... last year I was head of infrastructure planning for trading in finance. Careers don't always follow a straight line.

I was/am passionate about all my choices. I'm still a writer. I still study psych. I no longer play in an orchestra but I write music. My daily paycheque is in technology, being creative to help drive change and strategy.

I understand, from talking with my peers, that none of them knew what they wanted to be in the early years. I was lucky; I knew my goal. If you're like many of my friends... or my son and his friends... it's less about passion and more about aptitude. (What can we do well enough that someone will pay us so we can have a life?)

I believe we all have passions in our lives. Baking. Cooking. Running. Old movies. Sports. Woodworking... we call them hobbies. We love them enough to devote time and money to them. These activities refresh us, inspire us and keep us sane.

Lately, it seems like everyone is being told to "find your passion" and be reassured "the money will follow."  That's not always true. Circumstances (health, family, etc.) can get in the way. Sometimes you just are not sure what drives you at a particular time of your life. It can feel unattainable - the holy grail of opportunity.

Sometimes you have to construct passion.

I believe we can find a little something for ourselves in anything we do... if we understand what motivates us.

Over the next few Monday blogs, I'll lay out an exercise I constructed to help identify what gets us out of bed to go to work or helps to identify a new opportunity for ourselves.

If you don't know your passion, you only need to know how to ask yourself questions.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Feminist - a dirty word?

Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has been in the news a lot of late. He gets critiqued for being "too pretty," "too young," or "too trendy." It's like he's a woman and the world is trying to lessen his messages by wondering aloud how such a package could be taken seriously.

Then he says that - male or female - folks should not be afraid to stand up and be feminists. Go Justin!

Yet, just read the comments this GlobalNews article garnered.  Frightened. Angry. Dismissive. I wonder that we live in a world that can denigrate half the population. Plus shout down any who speak up.

Then someone walked by me in the underground yesterday and groped me on his way past while I stood talking with three other gentlemen.

Yes, we need to speak up. Yes, we need feminists. Yes, it's really the 21st century.