Monday, February 27, 2017

March 8 - International Women's Day

What are you doing for IWD this year?

It is often a day that passes with little fanfare. There are no marches or gifts of flowers. No moment of silence and no block parties. ...but there could be any of that.

The beauty of the day is we can make it our own with gestures large or small. We can take a minute, hour or day. It can be quietly personal or extended to whomever we please. The focus can range from general celebrations of respect to ideas supporting further economic, political and social contributions  by women.

Stuck for ideas? Try:

  • a beverage date with good friends 
  • offering 30 minutes of your time to a woman for career (or other) support
  • blog a tip or a tool
  • sign up to be a mentor
  • thank a woman for something specific that inspired you
  • send a note to a political leader about change you would like to see
  • leave comments on social media for sites/blogs/ articles which made you think
  • attend an event
  • volunteer at an event
  • create an event
  • call your mom, aunt, sister
I will be cheering all our choices!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Be an applicant, not a supplicant

Too often when applying and interviewing, we're so intent on being the best possible candidate that we forget job satisfaction is a two-way street. Your and your job are in a relationship and that means if you go in as though it's all about the other party, you may never start from a firm foundation.

Is it too brazen to ask yourself "what will I get out of this company /position / challenge?"  Nope.

It is definitely worth knowing the top skills you bring to the table; these are the skills you present to the potential manager to show why they should hire you. These are the skills that mean you are the best candidate. These are the skills that will benefit the company.

The question that often gets asked by the hiring manager is "why this company?"  This is often used as a further opportunity to show how much the company will benefit from your presence because it's a match-made-in-heaven. Let's take a different angle.

"Why this company" is a chance to explain what you are hoping to achieve in the position for yourself. Evaluating both sides of the equation better showcases a situation for mutual benefit.

  • What skills are you hoping you'll improve or learn? 
  • What leadership or management trait do you want to experience or deepen? 
  • What industry perspective are you intent on adding to your resume? 
  • How does this take you a step further in your career plan (as worked out with your mentor)?
  • Will you be able to build on the same vision, ethics, passions...?
If the job is building on the skills you have, what is the job offering you that's new(er) and necessary to your plans and passions?

You bring great things to the table. It is respectful and necessary to identify and request opportunities beyond a paycheque be be offered in return.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Networking and mentoring are like dating

It is February after all…. Here’s my top 10 ways networking and mentoring are like dating.

10 - It’s all about making connections. Some will lead to more, some will lead to dead ends, some will take you to unexpected places.

9 - You have to be willing to like the person with whom you are attempting to connect. 

8 - You have to be willing to offer and accept criticism - good and uncomfortable.

7 - Food is the best way to start building bridges. Coffee and chocolate are natural conversation starters.

6 - Self-depreciation is not sexy during a first meeting or career discussion.

5 - Intense discussions are best held in daylight.

4 - A common vocabulary and shared experiences are great ways to avoid micommunication.

3 - Someone who insists they're always 'right' will ‘miscommunicate’ with you a lot.

2 - A bottle of Shiraz will not help them change their mind.

1 - Keep your sense of humour at all times!

Monday, February 6, 2017


Persuasion is a simple word that has neither good nor evil implications. The dictionary lists: "...the act of causing people to do or believe something..."

Persuasion can be achieved through:

  • debate
  • argument 
  • discussion
  • trust & patience
  • persistence 
  • influence

and other approaches spanning an emotional and intellectual range as varied as snowflakes.

We have all done much of the list and probably more. Anyone with kids knows they are quick studies in techniques aimed at being persuasive.

Often, the first time we meet, we are trying to persuade each other to accept a new friendship / see an opportunity / hear a story, etc. We negotiate and persuade every day. It is a common communication approach.

Only when the discussions stop should we worry. When arguments are presented as facts, when only one side gets to talk, when choice is removed...then it isn't persuasion it is force. As employees we may be given direction but we retain our right and ability to influence. As family members, there may be house rules but we can negotiate. As communities, we can debate with other communities to create shared understandings. As a mentor, I can only offer but never demand.

Persuasion and empathy might be the two hot skills for 2017.