#DearGrads Your Work is just Beginning – Advice for New Grads

Courtesy Microsoft ImagesOver the last several weeks I have read many blog posts with great advice to the graduates of 2013. I figured it’s time I put  my experience to advice. Hopefully, our new graduates are in the social media world and reading all this excellent advice!! Al-righty, here we go…..

#DearGrads,

Your work is just beginning. Walking down the ceremonial aisle and reaching for that leather-bound folder containing that very important piece of paper is an awesome feeling. Typically there is a lot of emotion tied with this day. You’ve worked hard over the last 4 years to achieve this degree, you’ve built many relationships with people and lastly this day commences this part of your life’s journey. Your new chapter into adulthood is now beginning. 

My college experience was a bit different, I did not go away to school. I worked full-time while paying for classes with cash, so my journey was not only a little longer but lacked the full “college experience” dorms, friends my age, games, parties etc. I took night classes and many of my classmates were adults going back to school. This brought new appreciation to my pursuit of education and I felt like a learned a bit more about life experience from my classmates.

Here’s my advice for new grads:

  • If you know your direction and purpose then pursue it, hard!
  • If you’re not sure your direction, take time to figure it out. Employers want people who have demonstrated passion for the work they do. And by time I don’t mean take 4 years, while living in your parent’s basement rent free, I mean do some purposeful soul-searching.
  • Start planning your future, set some short-term career goals.
  • Get involved in your community and your desired profession. Join your local chamber, societies, associations, non-profits, meet-ups and volunteer.
  • Build your network your new professional network and invest in the relationships you built in school (the ones with friends, advisors and professors).

Transitioning into the workforce is harder than ever, developing a solid strategy for your entry into the “real” working world will set you apart from your competition.  So when you’re done enjoying a little vacation break from your last 4 years of hard work be ready to get back into that game!

Also check out my dear friends the Early Careerists. They are an excellent resource for new graduates and early careerists.

DJANGO Your Career Potential

DJANGO Your Career Potential(SPOILER ALERT: There may be portions of this blog that could be considered SPOILERS)

My husband and I finally rented DJANGO Unchained. Aside from being one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, this pre-Civil War western showing the brutality and utter cruelty of slavery, Tarantino style, brought depth to the characters of the film and the stories they told. I can’t say enough about this film and will simply say it was phenomenal and a MUST see at least one time! Oh and the end was totally kick a$s!

In my reflection of this film and this time in history my thoughts eventually swayed from the film content to the HR world. Mind you I’m obsessed with HR, I’m constantly looking at situations through my HR glasses. As of late I have thought a great deal about leadership and employee growth & development.

I then began to think about Christoph Waltz’s career. I questioned “Did he just bust out in the acting world at age 50?” I quickly learned that he’s been acting since 1977, but really hit it big with his performance in the 2008 film Inglorious Bastards. It was at that moment a light went off “Ah-ha”. It was the perfect match; Tarantino and Waltz. Tarantino (director/leader) was able to uncover the natural abilities Waltz always possessed. Tarantino’s direction and vision aided in uncovering Waltz’s his true potential.

Then my mind went back to the film and Jamie Foxx’s character Django. In the film, Django partnered with Waltz’s character, Dr. Schultz, to bounty hunt. Prior to meeting the doctor Django was enslaved. Shortly after working together the doctor noticed Django’s true potential. The doctor (leader) help Django by providing the tools he needed to uncover his full potential and to become the man he was always destined to be. Again, it was the perfect match.

Then my mind  took off and I was recalling many other Hollywood and well-known matches. It’s like the right mix is the path for true potential to be uncovered. In regard to our careers this formula is important to acknowledge. Why? Because when you find your match aka right leader the sooner you can develop and uncover your full career potential.

Ask yourself these questions:
Does your leader recognize your talents? Does your leader bring attention to your special skills? Does your leader provide insight, that helps to guide you on your career path? 

Is your leader uncovering your true potential? 

If you answered no to any or all these questions you may need to start searching for the right leader. You need to find that experienced person that will help guide you to be your best you. The one that will see your hidden talents and help you develop. The one that will help you unchain your full career potential.

The In Crowd – Networking Part 2

People Talking- Courtesy of Microsoft ImagesMy last post “Networking is BS” aka “Networking is malarkey” was a hit. My post was featured on the oh so fabulous social media pro, entrepreneur and author, Susan Avello’s site HR Virtual Cafe. As promised in that post I would give advice to being inclusive at networking events to, so here it is. My advice is based on what I have seen to be successful and what I know I want to see.

It was July last year when I started using Twitter for professional purposes and since that time have connected with many stellar HR, PR, SoMe Folks and more!  ILSHRM was the first conference and networking event I attended after establishing connections via social media. I was able to meet several of the people I connected with via Twitter, in real-life (IRL). While it was exciting, I’m not going to lie many of the encounters were kind of socially awkward. I felt like a regular person meeting celebrities and they looked at me like “OMG, is she stalking me?!” And no I’m not stalking your completely public profiles and information that you share with the world.  Anyway, of all the people I had met on social media first and then IRL Susan was the most sincere, open, friendly and genuinely engaging person I met at that conference.

Here’s how you too can be inclusive: This advice is for the seasoned professional that may get tied up in their “normal” behaviors and for the newbie that wants to know how to connect with others!

1.) Awareness: Be aware of your surroundings. While it’s important to be fully attentive while in conversation, make sure your blinders aren’t on. Notice passerby’s or people who are looking “lost”. You know the people I’m referring to, the ones walking around pretending to read the posted promotional materials and signage for the event. They are most likely just buying time. Take notice and invite them into the conversation, or excuse yourself from the conversation at the proper time and approach that person.

2.) Open circles: When speaking in a small group people have the tendency to gather in a closed circle style. To an outsider this says “Exclusive conversation happening here, no one else is welcome…move along“. The best way to counteract this perception is to make sure the circle doesn’t close. This is so easy to do because it really only takes the positioning of one person to open that circle. Create a space that allows outsiders to see they are welcome to join in the convo!

3.) Face Time: Eye contact, smile, greet! These are all the same skills we use when encountering anyone in the workplace and in life so do it here too! Your friendly demeanor will show others that you are approachable.

4.) I know you? I don’t remember but lets chat! If someone does approach you claiming to know you from somewhere and you don’t recall its ok to say  “Ok I don’t remember.  What’s your name? Nice to see you again!” Then show genuine interest in that person by asking thoughtful questions and really engage with that person.

The reality is not everyone will have a connection with everyone they speak to and that is completely natural and ok but that doesn’t mean we should deviate from common sense and social etiquette.

Happy networking!

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth? Listen Up People!

“Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth!” ~ Chris Tucker, Rush Hour. Guess what if you’re only hearing people speak you’re not going to “understand the words coming out of their mouth” and here is why….

Welcome to the 2nd Whine Wednesday of the HR life. Today’s whine is a classic, listening. Listening has been a concept at the forefront of my mind since middle school when we learned about how humans send, receive and interpret messages. The act of listening is more than just “hearing” the message being communicated, it’s the act of absorbing, processing and retaining that message. Hearing, in the workplace, is all too common cause of breakdown in communication. People think because they are hearing others speak means they are listening, well friends it’s totally different.

I experience a great deal of hearing in employee relations meetings. For example, an employee will see me to discuss an issue they are experiencing in the workplace. Now, I have trained my ear, my mind to fully and engage and listen to that employee. I’m careful not to make assumptions and jump to conclusions. I listen intently and collect facts and information before speaking. Nothing is more irritating than finally receiving the opportunity to speak and offer information, knowledge and/or advice than seeing the employee just hear me!

Here’s how you know someone is just hearing the your message:

  • Lack of eye contact
  • Glossy, blank stare or gaze in their eyes
  • Interrupting your time to speak
  • Continuing to state the same question or issue after hearing your message

Here’s how to aide someone to listen:

  • Engage them by asking questions like: “Does that make sense?” “Does this information help you?” “How can I best help you?”
  • Engage them with continue eye contact
  • Ask if you may complete your thoughts before they speak

Here’s how you can listen:

  • Maintain proper eye contact
  • Clear your mind from preconceived notions, thoughts and ideas. Essentially be unbiased.
  • Listen completely to the words they are saying
  • Do not interpret their words, just listen
  • Repeat back to them what you understand from the message they sent you
  • Ask questions and gain clarification

Hopefully, these tips with help you with the art of listening. A listener will have more opportunities to succeed than employees that just hear messages! The reality is everyone is a poor listener, aka “hearer” at times but in every conversation there is always an opportunity to get back on track and engage with the person you are speaking with to make sure there is limited breakdown in communication. Employees work best together when they understand each other, the company and the leaders expectations. There are less conflicts and time wasted when we actually listen to one another. So next time you’re talking with someone at home or at work, LISTEN UP!

Lance Armstrong “All apologies” -Personal Accountability

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 10-15 years then you know the drama that has followed the professional cycling industry’s top gun, Lance Armstrong. After years of brutally aggressive denial (to say the least) about accusations of his participation in “doping” and other banned performance enhanced substances Lance finally took ownership for his actions, well for the most part. He selected to interview with Oprah Winfrey about this topic. The interview aired in a 2-part series on OWN on Thursday and Friday of this week. I watched both episodes and here’s some of the discussion that ensued.

My husband, an avid sports fan and Lance Armstrong fan, was angered by his interview. In a nutshell, he felt Lance was withholding information and that Lance has a lot of work to do to regain his reputation within the professional sports industry. He mentioned several other athletes that did wrong and apologized “quicker” than Lance did based on that information it appeared he had a little more respect for those individuals. He felt Lance’s extreme behaviors and actions attacking those that accused him where in the least disgusting and as he said “He’s a douche-bag!”.

I can admit I agree the apologies are a little late for most, however he will get everything that is coming to him for his delayed reactions. As you may have read in my last post “Welcome to Whine Wednesday”, I have an issue with individuals that lack the ability to take ownership/accountability for their own actions. At the same time I completely understand that I have never lived another person’s life. I have never experienced another persons triumph, challenges, heart breaks, traumas, successes therefore I cannot say “If I was Lance I would have done A,B,C.” I’m not Lance I haven’t lived his life. 

While my husband pointed out Lance was a star from early on, and hand life handed to him, it still doesn’t change the root of who we are, however our environment can influence the surface of who we are and how we feel and act. Basically, my point is you cannot fully listen to someone when you are judging them.  I said to my husband I wasn’t going to jump on the “I hate Lance bandwagon“. I don’t care what analysts’ have to say about their perceptions on whether Lance was telling the truth in the interview. Anything outside of the words Lance uttered in the interview are just pure speculation and stories. The fact is Lance did not savagely murder his entire family, he lied about cheating in professional sport, an act may athletes take part in. Yeah, he took things to far I get it! But guess what he’s human, not perfect. No one is perfect. Everyone has weaknesses and demons. As a society we place too much unrealistic, and unnecessary expectations on our athletes and celebrities. We are all human and we all make mistakes!  He has to live with his mistakes, he has to learn from his mistakes.

This blog could be much long but I want to get to my point and move on. Here are my final takeaways:

  • Taking ownership for your actions earlier on is better. However, if you miss that boat owning up to your mistakes at anytime still offers you an opportunity to grow and better yourself.
  • When interacting with people try to zone in on their words, their story. Do not listen to all the “white noise” the stories and drama created by others. 
  • When you judge others you are loosing your opportunity to grow and be a better person.
  • Looking back is always clearer, we all wish there was something in life we could do differently. 
  • Lastly, remember we are all human, we all make mistakes no matter how perfect some of us may seem we are not. 

Live for today, Learn for tomorrow! ~Bonnie:)

What can we learn from complaining?

From Microsoft Images

From Microsoft Images

I’ve decided to start whine Wednesday on my blog. In my younger days I had a real wine Wednesday’s which included after work drinks with friends! This whine Wednesday is dedicated to allowing ourselves to whine a little. Please feel free to enjoy a little real wine, while you whine:)

The reality is we all need to whine a little from time to time. We don’t need to dwell on it but we need to release our whines into the world, pick up and carry on!

Many people have a tendency to whine whether it be about work, life, friends, family, our spouse (probably the biggest culprit, LOL) etc. I try to be a very positive person and most recently I’ve worked hard, and continue to, to change my mindset to instinctually think  “A majority of people are good. Most people are well intended and mean no harm.” Not surprisingly this mentality has helped tremendously with reshaping my attitude and feelings toward dealing with employee relations which leads me to today’s whine.

Today’s whine is a workplace whine about ownership. I dislike when people lack the ability to take ownership or accountability. The ownership/accountability whine is one that rears its ugly head now and then. We’ve all dealt with people who push blame onto others, onto companies, onto society, pretty much onto anyone/anything but themselves. I cannot tell you the number of calls I have received from employees over the course of my career that complain about the company, their co-workers, their managers and their work responsibilities, the list is endless. What these people fail to acknowledge is the role they play in their own lives, as if they are simple along for the ride and victims to the world. The reality is we are the drivers to our own ride!

I listen intently to employee concerns ( I have to because I need to be aware of any true harassment, discrimination or other sensitive issue) I often find the pattern of familiar behavior, the behavior “everyone else is the problem, not me I’m perfect!”  These people usually say things like “No body works as hard as I do!” “I do my job right but ABC is NOT part of my job and they should know that.” “My manager has never been in my position they don’t know what my responsibilities are, they don’t provide the right training.” “The computer I have doesn’t work that’s why I cannot complete my tasks.” Etc you get the point.

I like to be an advocate for self-control, accountability and ownership. When open to it, I share my advice with the employees. I do my best to coach them, to help them stand back and reflect on the situations. I say things like “We control our world and everything else is outside of our control. Take control of what you can, your behaviors are one thing you can control.”We can only be as good as we want to be! If you see in issue or problem find ways to fix it, not just complain about it.” “We can be influencers to others by setting a solid example of how work should be done and by collaborating with our leaders”. I don’t just spout out my sayings, keywords they come through the natural progression of our conversation. That’s my whine, I feel better already!!

When I whine out-loud I actually hear my thoughts and THAT allows me the opportunity to reshaped my perspective and get back on track. Sometimes it’s easy to harp on certain ideas and get caught in the downward spiral but hopefully Whine Wednesday will be a great support for us to share our whines, listen intently, share support & ideas, and collectively move along our happy ways.

Tips to move pass your whines: 

1.) Whine, or AKA vent. On a blog, to a friend, a trusted colleague and family member. Get the whine out of your head and into the world.

2.) Looks at the positive. Or try to at least understand where that other person could potentially be coming from, this helps put things back into perspective. 

3.) Remember a majority of people are well intended. If they cannot see their opportunities for improvement it’s because they are not ready or because they cannot recognize it. These people will either go through life miserable in every environment and never change or they will have that AH-HA moment and decide to take control of their lives.I can only control my world. In my world I help coach employees. If I’ve done my part to the best of my ability then I can walk away feeling accomplished.

4.) REMIND myself of steps 1-3:)

While this is a public blog site, lets consider Whine Wednesday our “safe zone”. What are some of your whines and how to you move past them?

That Funky Stuff! Writers Block

Oh that funky stuff! What I’m talking about is that “funk stage” we all seem to experience at some point in our lives; whether it be personal or work. I seem to have a funky ebb and flow, not like I’m manic, it just occurs with the natural progression of life and career . My funk seems to have a big impact on my ability to write, thus causing a writer’s block situation. There are certain times when I experience that FUNK and need to regain my focus. This is what I did to get back on track!

First, I stopped putting pressure on myself to start blogging again. Originally I planned to start blogging again once school commenced but that didn’t happen. Then as each day passed I kept thinking about my “NEED” to write. Thoughts like “It’s your personal brand. Your ruining your reputation by not fulfilling the guidelines of writing 2-3 times a week!” But thank I had a wake up call! I said to myself “Hey I write because I enjoy it. It is not a MUST do on my list of chores.” Once I said this aloud I realized it was okay to let it go! Let go of the timeframe. I took time to chill out and enjoy the holiday season with my family.

After the holidays I was hopping my funk would lift and I would immediately want to write. I drafted a couple of pieces but really wasn’t feeling the flow. So I stopped. By the way my technology problem was fixed (ie my iPhone was fixed as a Christmas gift to me) so the convenience of reading my favorite HR blogs was regained. After a couple of days of reading and sharing information I began to feel the zest, passion and positive energy slowly creep back into my life. It was a refreshing feeling!

Finally, I started to move my focus away from the things I cannot control. My truth is that there are many realities of this world both our personal and professional that can be negative. Focusing time, thoughts and energies on these realities is frankly a real bummer and a total waste of time. So I stopped. After allowing some time to pass I felt 100% again! I felt my passion to write emerge.

So just to sum it up, get out of that funky stage by:

  1. Eliminate Pressure to Produce Results
  2. Read industry trends and current events
  3. Free your mind from the elements of this world you cannot control
  4. Write:) 
  • And really at any point you may need to just STOP yourself and step back. Reflection can be rejuvenating. 

Happy Writing!!!