Reach YOUR Peak! Inside Scoop #6

RYP CoverOver the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about my new book “Reach YOUR Peak! Become CEO of Your Success!” and sharing excerpts of the 16 chapters with you. RYP is the culmination of four years of research and training that I have done and I’m very proud of the result!

The book can be read easily in a weekend but I encourage you to read each chapter and then reflect on the note section and “to do list” that you’ll find. Many of the suggested activities involve you talking with others who know you well and with peers in your workplace or industry. Treat each chapter like a mini-workshop and fully complete it before moving on to the next. RYP is built like a house – foundation, walls, roof, interior completion and finishing touches. Follow the plan, grow your knowledge and then move ahead to the next phase.

Today, we’ll take a look at Chapters 11 and 12:

Chapter 11 – “Neuroplasticity and the Turtle”

This chapter is really two parts of the same discussion about change. The first part of the chapter deals with the word “neuroplasticity” and the effect it can have on your ability to adapt to new things. I relate the story of a discussion that I had after a presentation to a group of accountants – very straight line, linear thinkers. One of the older members of the audience came up and told me that he thought he was too old to change and felt that some folks just aren’t made to handle different situations.

I did some research and found out that neuroplasticity means the “changing of neurons, their organization, and function via new experiences” or “such changes can occur as a consequence of many events, including the normal development and maturation of the organism.” In short, we are BUILT to change and absorb new things!

“We have established the fact that you SHOULD change. The VOWELS provide the roadmap for this process. We have just learned that with neuroplasticity, you CAN change- you are built for it.

The only real question left is this one…read it, then read it again, then put down the book for a minute, and read it a third time. This one is the basis of the whole process that will lead you to take charge of your career and think like a CEO:

Do you have the COURAGE to adapt?

Consider this quote from the late prime minister of Israel, Golda Meir: “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny inner sparks of possibility into the flames of achievement.”

Wow, there’s another one you need to read a few times!”

The rest of Chapter 11 is about a turtle that my son got as a Christmas gift. He was a real turtle, but also a perfect metaphor for change. This turtle didn’t like being off the beach, or being shipped in a little box, or living in a new habitat in my son’s room with two other turtles. The turtle’s name was Shadow and he basically stopped trying to adapt to his new space and eventually died while the other two turtles thrived.

“So what do a 9 year old and a 13 year old do when they lose a pet? They could have cried or called a friend. Instead, they Googled it – why do red-eared slider turtles die? They got some interesting responses. One from a hatchery on the West Coast said that if turtles don’t like being off the beach where they were born, don’t like living in a new environment, don’t want to compete for food with the other turtles, etc, they have what’s called a failure to thrive. A FAILURE to thrive. I had been sharing that wonderful word THRIVE with folks all over America, and here it was on a computer screen in a completely new light. When I read the response, I got chills.”

 

Chapter 12 – “Your Personal SWOT”

In chapter 12, we tackle the topic of using a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) to evaluate your business and determine what’s working and what needs improvement. Albert Humphrey of Stanford University is credited for coining this acronym and defining a SWOT as “a strategic planning method used to evaluate a project or business venture.”

To make the SWOT truly effective you must define the desired end state or the objective you want to achieve. For example, “What do you want your business to look like 12 months from now?’ Then you determine whether or not the objective is attainable given the SWOT results:

“The SWOT elements must be fully understood to be executed, so let’s look at each one individually:

Strengths: this refers to the INTERNAL characteristics of the business or team that give it an advantage over others in the industry or space;

Weaknesses: this refers to the INTERNAL characteristics that place the company at a disadvantage relative to others;

Opportunities: this refers to the EXTERNAL chances to make greater sales or profits in the environment;

Threats: this refers to the EXTERNAL elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business.”

In the next blog, we’ll take a look at Chapters 13 and 14. To order the book or the E-book now, go to my website at www.BradRaney.com and look for the link on the Homepage or go to the Products page. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Brad@BradRaney.com.

Thanks!

Reach YOUR Peak! Inside Scoop #5

RYP CoverOver the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about my new book “Reach YOUR Peak! Become CEO of Your Success!” and sharing excerpts of the 16 chapters with you. RYP is the culmination of four years of research and training that I have done and I’m very proud of the result!

The book can be read easily in a weekend but I encourage you to read each chapter and then reflect on the note section and “to do list” that you’ll find. Many of the suggested activities involve you talking with others who know you well and with peers in your workplace or industry. Treat each chapter like a mini-workshop and fully complete it before moving on to the next. RYP is built like a house – foundation, walls, roof, interior completion and finishing touches. Follow the plan, grow your knowledge and then move ahead to the next phase.

Today, we’ll take a look at Chapters 9 and 10:

Chapter 9 – “Uniqueness”

This chapter takes on my favorite of the VOWELS – Uniqueness. The definition of Uniqueness is “standing alone; radically distinctive and without equal.” Can you say that about yourself? Of course because you are the only one that has your own set of values, experiences, dreams, etc. The question is can you communicate your unique qualities to those around you – coworkers, teammates, clients?

Uniqueness is the key to creating an immediate visual image in your customer’s or colleague’s mind when they hear your name, see you pop up on caller ID, or when the get an email from you:

“This VOWEL is a critical element in truly reaching your peak because being unique is the one true advantage you have over your competition! They may have a similar product, better pricing, enhanced service or responsiveness – but they don’t have you! Your goal is to become not just a manager, sales person, or leader but a resource for those around you. The mindset that eventually develops into being thought of as a resource begins with standing out and leaving a lasting, positive, and distinct impression!

How do you display your uniqueness to those around you and your customers? Here are three ways you can begin to create a one-of-a-kind mental picture for these key members of your network: 1- Pull Back the Curtain; 2- Tell Them About Your Passions; 3- Describe Your Creative Problem Solving Skills.”

Chapter 10 – “Your Thri-vival Guide”

In chapter 10, the discussion turns to the next step of the process of climbing your mountain – the specific plan to conquer the climb. The Thri-vival Guide is built on recognizing that you indeed do have the requisite skills to become CEO of your success – how do I know that? Several reasons: you made it through the worst economy since the 1930s; during that tough year you were forced to learn new or very tough lessons in business; and by showing the ability to grow and change in a crisis, you have placed yourself in the top 1-2% of professionals who take control of their destiny by seeking mentors to help develop their skills to highest level possible!

There are two important questions that are posed in Chapter 10: 1- Can you visualize what your business should look like in a year from now? and 2- What is your plan to get from here to there?

“Okay, let’s take the first question. “Visualize what your business or work environment should look like” 12 months from now. Can you see clearly what you will be doing in a year? How does it make you feel? Whose lives are you impacting? What drives and stimulates you to get up every day and do it again?

For some folks, this question is easy because they have been dreaming about it for a long time. They can see themselves earning the income they want, sending their kids to college, saving for their own retirement, taking care of aging parents in a wonderful manner, and having time to play a little and enjoy their lives outside of the job.

Other people can’t see the forest for the trees, though, and this question stops the whole “plan to succeed” train right on its tracks. They are so caught up in their day-to-day survival that they have turned off the right side of their brain. The daily “work to survive” mode is in full flight, and their creative and “dreamer” brain functions have had their batteries removed. These are the folks that I have to work with the longest to get them to finally see the other side of the river. I have to help them understand that if they want to cross the raging rapids of fear and loss and change, they must build a strong enough boat for the trip and then set a direct course to the dock of their dreams and passions.”

In the next blog, we’ll take a look at Chapters 11 and 12. To order the book or the E-book now, go to my website at www.BradRaney.com and look for the link on the Homepage or go to the Products page. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Brad@BradRaney.com.

Thanks!

Reach YOUR Peak! Inside Scoop #4

 

RYP CoverOver the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about my new book “Reach YOUR Peak! Become CEO of Your Success!” and sharing excerpts of the 16 chapters with you. RYP is the culmination of four years of research and training that I have done and I’m very proud of the result!

The book can be read easily in a weekend but I encourage you to read each chapter and then reflect on the note section and “to do list” that you’ll find. Many of the suggested activities involve you talking with others who know you well and with peers in your workplace or industry. Treat each chapter like a mini-workshop and fully complete it before moving on to the next. RYP is built like a house – foundation, walls, roof, interior completion and finishing touches. Follow the plan, grow your knowledge and then move ahead to the next phase.

Today, we’ll take a look at Chapters 7 and 8:

Chapter 7 – “Intensity”

This chapter takes on the second “I” of the VOWELS – Intensity. Intensity at work is like the gas pedal in your car – you can’t jump in your vehicle, start it, push the accelerator to the floor and keep it there all the way to work. There are hundreds of obstacles in your path and you’ll probably crash into something well before arriving at your office! The same is true of your work day- you must know when and how to be intense, and strive for an even amount of laser focus and relaxation each day.

I started talking about work/life balance almost 5 years ago and now you hear about it everywhere. Companies have instituted “wellness plans” where they want you to sleep better, eat better, work out more, stop smoking, learn to deal with stress more effectively, etc. The reason is that your body is not built for constant stress and max intensity levels all day:

“Life is really about 3 distinct parts that make up a whole person: 1- your reason for being- your work, your craft, your passion; 2- those around you that you care for and that care for you; 3- rest and relaxation for your body, mind and spirit. If you start mixing the three segments of your life and let them bleed into one another, the consequences can be devastating. Hard work is fine. In fact, hard work is cathartic and uplifting in its own right. However if that’s all you do 12-16 hours per day, then  you have neglected either the folks around you that you love, or you have not given your body and mind time to heal properly from the tasks of the day.

I view the distinctive parts of one’s life as 3 colors on a pallet- red, yellow and blue. These colors are vibrant on their own and beautiful to look at. When they start to bleed together, the color dims, and the appearance is muted. If they become swirled together, the pallet turns into an icky color of orange or brown, with no crisp edges or defining elements. This is what happens to your life if you let your work, your loved ones, and your rest bleed into one another. Life becomes less colorful, less brilliant, and far less enjoyable for you and those around you!”

Chapter 8 – “Outlook”

In chapter 8, the part of your Attitude that other folks can truly see becomes the focus – your Outlook. Your outlook is your set of expectations or beliefs about things and people. It’s basically your mental picture of the future. It’s the part of your attitude that is not only internalized but surfaces brilliantly as a calling card for others to see. You must learn to control this vital VOWEL because this is the beginning of your professional legacy – the part others see in their minds when your name comes up:

“The good news here is that optimism is contagious. Positive ions attract positive ions. If you load a positive attitude into your computer, you will print out positive friends, coworkers, colleagues, clients and loved ones. That makes the formula for creating a truly great outlook pretty easy, right? Think good thoughts, put them deep into your psyche, and voila, you will have an amazing outlook on life!

Oh, were it that easy my friend! The speed bumps on your road to pure happiness are the negative influences all around the positive space you have tried to create for yourself. At work, the rabbit hole of negativity used to be at the water cooler – now it’s at the coffee pot. If the negative folks get coffee at 9am, you get yours at 8:30am…or 9:30am…or you bring your own coffee – but stay away from them! Unless you are strong enough in your positivity to pull them onto the life raft of a good outlook, paddle away from them – fast!”

In the next blog, we’ll take a look at Chapters 9 and 10. To order the book or the E-book now, go to my website at www.BradRaney.com and look for the link on the Homepage or go to the Products page. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Brad@BradRaney.com.

Thanks!

Reach YOUR Peak! Inside Scoop #3

RYP CoverOver the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about my new book “Reach YOUR Peak! Become CEO of Your Success!” and sharing excerpts of the 16 chapters with you. RYP is the culmination of four years of research and training that I have done and I’m very proud of the result!

The book can be read easily in a weekend but I encourage you to read each chapter and then reflect on the note section and “to do list” that you’ll find. Many of the suggested activities involve you talking with others who know you well and with peers in your workplace or industry. Treat each chapter like a mini-workshop and fully complete it before moving on to the next. RYP is built like a house – foundation, walls, roof, interior completion and finishing touches. Follow the plan, grow your knowledge and then move ahead to the next phase.

Today, we’ll take a look at Chapters 5 and 6:

Chapter 5 – “Effort”

This chapter covers the second “E” of the VOWELS – Effort. Many folks have told me that they thought that Energy (Chapter 4) and Effort are the same thing. They are similar but both are necessary and inextricably linked to each other. Think of Energy as a battery pack on your back and Effort is the push button that sets the Energy flowing. You can push the button all day long but if there’s nothing in the battery, nothing will happen. Conversely, you can have a full battery but if you don’t decide to put it to use, nothing will happen. You need both to be successful.

One of the things that will happen once you read the book is that VOWELS will come alive in every day life for you. I didn’t make them up, they are in our lexicon, and you will often hear them in sports:

“For instance, during the NBA Finals match-up between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, NBA Analyst Mark Jackson said, “That’s ENERGY, that’s EFFORT, that’s passion! And that’s how you win!” He was describing the full throttle mode that Dallas displayed in their NBA championship-clinching win. He broke up these two VOWELS – he separated them into different thought groups. He has often used them in combination to show two of the facets necessary for teams to excel.

What he was basically saying is that you must focus on what you can control- the effort you bring to your work- every day. You won’t always be on top of your game, but if you put fuel in your vehicle, turn the key to start your car, and keep your eyes on the road ahead – you will be successful!”

Chapter 6 – “Integrity”

In chapter 6, I turn the spotlight on one of the most important VOWELS – Integrity. Let’s face it, Integrity is about being honest. In business your Integrity is the only real calling card that you have to offer. If people can’t trust you, it doesn’t matter how great your product or idea is it will never be utilized.

Your business legacy is built upon your reputation and if your reputation is not pristine, your business legacy will precede you – in an incredibly negative way:

“If you must choose between your reputation and making money- choose your reputation! If you must make a difficult decision to tell a client or manager that you did something wrong – knowing that it might cost you or the company money – tell them immediately! You must think long-term and present the right idea regardless of the short-term hurdles that might come up!

You must put yourself in the place of the prospect or teammate, how would you want to be treated? With respect, honesty, and a high level of integrity? Or with disdain, disregard, and a general lack of caring? Of course, you’d want the former, and you must set a standard of service and respect that is beyond reproach.”

In the next blog, we’ll take a look at Chapters 7 and 8. To order the book or the E-book now, go to my website at www.BradRaney.com and look for the link on the Homepage or go to the Products page. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Brad@BradRaney.com.

Thanks!

Reach YOUR Peak! Inside Scoop #2

RYP CoverOver the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about my new book “Reach YOUR Peak! Become CEO of Your Success!” and sharing excerpts of the 16 chapters with you. RYP is the culmination of four years of research and training that I have done and I’m very proud of the result!

The book can be read easily in a weekend but I encourage you to read each chapter and then reflect on the note section and “to do list” that you’ll find. Many of the suggested activities involve you talking with others who know you well and with peers in your workplace or industry. Treat each chapter like a mini-workshop and fully complete it before moving on to the next. RYP is built like a house – foundation, walls, roof, interior completion and finishing touches. Follow the plan, grow your knowledge and then move ahead to the next phase.

Today, we’ll take a look at Chapters 3 and 4:

Chapter 3 – “Attitude”

This chapter begins the in depth discussion of each of the VOWELS – the seven habitual characteristics that start with A,E,I,O and U. I would have made Attitude the first VOWEL even if it didn’t start with A because it is the engine that drives the entire train of great habits.

One of the major points about Attitude is that it’s not what happens to you during the day, it’s your reaction to what happens to you that determines a positive or negative outcome. In fact I encourage the reader to start each day with an important 5 word phrase – “Each Day is a Gift”:

“I believe that Each Day is a Gift and that you get a box to open each morning. Inside it may be the best day of your life (you truly inspire your team to succeed or close a big deal). Inside it may be the worst day of your life (I have a mother in her eighties with health problems. I probably have a bad day box on my way at some time in the future). Or it might be just a normal, mundane Tuesday in the box.

Whatever is inside the box only lasts for 24 hours.It has nothing to do with yesterday (unless you want to bring positives with you from the day before!), and it has nothing to do with tomorrow. Inside the box is God’s gift to you – this day –right now! The question is what are you going to do with it? Will you take this lovely gift and sprinkle negativity and pain and disappointment on it, changing the molecular construction of a perfectly good day into one fraught with dark thoughts and contempt? Or will you decide to have control over this day, and that your gift to God is to live it to the fullest degree possible? I hope and pray you choose the latter!”

Chapter 4 – “Energy”

In chapter 4 I continue the VOWELS examination with the first “E” – Energy. Energy is the fundamental source of everything in the universe and to reach your peak you must fully grasp and understand how harness its power in your life. When you get tired, you make bad decisions and cut corners. The goal with Energy is be the same person at 9am Monday morning as you are at 5pm on Friday afternoon – that’s almost impossible unless you learn to grow and maintain your energy reserves.

Energy has become a subset of our society and we buy it from and sell it to each other all day long. One of the aspects I find most interesting are “Energy Coaches”:

“If you want to do something fun, Google the phrase “Energy Coach.” You’ll get hundreds of responses from folks who claim to be “The Energy Coach,” “the original Energy Coach,” “YOUR Energy Coach,” and many more! These “experts” have stepped in to fill the psychological void of how to manage your energy reserves. They give you practical tips on how to stay focused during a long day, how to break out of the rut of routines, and even how to work exercise into your workday and keep your mind sharp.

While for some people using one of these coaches is an option, I believe that you can control this side of your life on your own! I can’t give you your energy strategy because it’s very personal – it’s your own “secret formula.” While I don’t know your formula, I can share with you one of my energy tricks.”

In the next blog, we’ll take a look at Chapters 5 and 6. To order the book or the E-book now, go to my website at www.BradRaney.com and look for the link on the Homepage or go to the Products page. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Brad@BradRaney.com.

Thanks!

Reach YOUR Peak! Inside Scoop #1

RYP CoverOver the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about my new book “Reach YOUR Peak! Become CEO of Your Success!” and sharing excerpts of the 16 chapters with you. RYP is the culmination of four years of research and training that I have done and I’m very proud of the result!

The book can be read easily in a weekend but I encourage you to read each chapter and then reflect on the note section and “to do list” that you’ll find. Many of the suggested activities involve you talking with others who know you well and with peers in your workplace or industry. Treat each chapter like a mini-workshop and fully complete it before moving on to the next. RYP is built like a house – foundation, walls, roof, interior completion and finishing touches. Follow the plan, grow your knowledge and then move ahead to the next phase.

Today, we’ll take a look at Chapters 1 and 2:

Chapter 1 – “Do You Have the Attributes of a CEO”

This chapter covers the entire premise of the book – empowering the reader to take control of their personal lives and professional accomplishments by acting and making decisions like a CEO. For that to happen, one must have the traits of a CEO. Chances are, if you pick up RYP, you have the skills, abilities and talents of a CEO – even if you don’t know it yet!

The chapter takes a look at the personality traits and habits of some very famous CEOs (Bill Gates , Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Warren Buffet and more) and compares them in a number of ways. After this detailed discussion, the tables are turned on the reader and I ask them to think about their own leadership traits:

“Take the time to reflect upon the attributes that you possess that are common to great CEOs. Ask folks who know you well to give you a list of attributes they believe you possess and compare your list to theirs. More than likely, you will find some cross over between what attributes you think you own and what your friends and colleagues see as your strengths.

However, be ready for a bit of a shock if things you hold dear are not on your friend’s list. We often think we are better at something than we really are – it could be overconfidence or simple myopathy. You might also discover that others think you are much stronger in an area than you do – maybe due to your lack of confidence or fear of failure. Either way that it goes, this list comparison will be eye-opening for you and will begin to set the groundwork for areas that you need to improve in beginning to think like a CEO.”

Chapter 2 – “Learn Your VOWELS!”

In the second chapter I introduce the VOWELS concept that I created in 2009 to get my sales team through the worst economic year since 1930. The VOWELS are seven habitual characteristics that start with A,E,I,O and U and they are: Attitude, Energy, Effort, Integrity, Intensity, Outlook and Uniqueness. Once you learn to harness the power in each of these tools, you can build the future you really desire.

In subsequent chapters, the book goes into each VOWEL in detail but in this chapter I describe the necessity of learning more about these seven life skills:

“Learning to master these traits is critical to anyone who wants to set and achieve high goals – to go beyond what they think is really possible, to actually reach their personal peaks in every aspect of their lives!

The VOWELS form a chemical reaction with one’s own personal dreams, hopes, passions, and the result is the discovery and harnessing of one’s true vocation! God has placed special, unique gifts inside each of us. The VOWELS hold the combination to the safe where they are stored. Learn the tenets and you learn the sequence to finally open the vault and set them soaring!”

In the next blog, we’ll take a look at Chapters 3 and 4. To order the book or the E-book now, go to my website at www.BradRaney.com and look for the link on the Homepage or go to the Products page. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Brad@BradRaney.com.

Thanks!

Stay in the Game!

bowl game 2As most of you know, I’m a huge football fan. “Fan” is putting it lightly, really – more like a full blown, psychopath, nut job, ravenous, insatiable football aficionado! I create many analogies that work perfectly with my favorite sport, and today’s blog is no exception to that thought process.

When any top flight football team plays a lesser ranked opponent, somewhere in the lead up to the game you’ll hear the coach of the lower ranked team say “Our goal is to be in the game in the fourth quarter – if we can just hang in there with them, we’ll have a chance.”

Watching a game this past weekend with just this scenario on the field, it hit me – the job search process is exactly like the lower ranked team fighting a bigger, faster opponent. You can’t win the job in the first half of the game – but you can get eliminated from it. Your goal is to get to the fourth quarter – and give yourself a chance to win. You must realize that the job search process is not about finding the right candidate, it’s about eliminating as many of the wrong candidates as possible at the end of each quarter!

In the spirit of the College Football Bowl Season, here’s how the Job Search Bowl presented by Your New Vocation works:

First Quarter – The beginning of the Job Search Bowl is tough. You have to survive the First Quarter to even have a shot at the rest of the game. You must target the right potential employer based on the company’s mission and vision statements and your personal beliefs. You have to find a company brand that you’d be proud to wear for years to come. And you have to find a “champion” inside the company or someone who has a connection to the company (see my blog “Coaches, Champions and Cheerleaders”) to help guide your path. Then, you have construct and deliver your message to the right person (cover letter, resume, follow up notes), and follow up professionally to get a meeting or phone interview (see my blog “Professional Stalking”).

Also during the First Quarter, your resume will get screened once and perhaps even twice by a computer before a human ever sees it. That means you must create a very targeted resume and cover letter based on the points listed in the job requirements or from the conversations you have had with your champion. The First Quarter requires patience, determination and a tremendously positive attitude – no one you encounter will seem to be working with the same urgency as you and it will be easy to get frustrated with the amount of unreturned phone calls, unreplied emails, and the seeming lack of interest in your credentials. Hang in there! The goal for the hiring company or recruiting firm is to reduce the thousands of resumes they got for the position down to a manageable number. For instance, recently an HR friend of mine told me her company received 2200 resumes for some 10 positions they were looking to hire. After the First Quarter, she had that number down to just over a hundred that made the cut.

If you make it to the end of the first quarter, it means you have gotten a phone call or email to set up a preliminary interview (another major screening tool) with a live human being. Congratulations – you have won the First Quarter of the Job Search Bowl and you get to keep playing!

Second Quarter – In the Second Quarter, the game changes a bit. Things will seem to move a bit faster but keep your bottle of patience handy – like the Army, this quarter is fraught with the “hurry up and wait” mentality! Your screener interview will probably be done by a twenty-something who is working their way up the HR or recruiting ladder. They don’t want to do this interview any more than you do, and their goal will be to read the questions and take down or record your answers as fast as possible so they can get on to the next interview on their list. The screener may do one call per half hour all day long, for weeks on end. Talk about monotony! Do yourself a favor and try to schedule the screener interview early in the week or at least early in the morning, so you get someone on the other end of phone who isn’t crispy around the edges and is more conversant than normal! This part of the process will take those hundred or so candidates and cut them in half to around 50 (based on the example my HR friend gave me).

If the human screener interview goes well, one of two things usually happens next: 1- you get to take the “nothing but fun” online assessment tool, or 2- you get moved up the line to a second live human who does a more in depth 45-60 minute phone interview. Both of these options are ripe with danger so be ready to rock and roll with the punches!

You can’t really prepare for the online assessment tool – but you can ask the person who schedules it with you to describe how it works and what it’s used for. Most of the time these are “personality profiles” whose intent is to add a bit of depth to your resume and initial screening while working in a few “decision making” or “integrity” questions for good measure. If they tell you which one they are using (Myers Briggs, Color Quiz, etc) you can look them online beforehand and get an idea of the style of the assessment. However, all you can do when you take one of these is to answer it as honestly and openly as possible. Don’t try to figure out the angle of the questions or waste time with the “oh I get what they really want to hear” line of thinking – it will distort the impression you give to the company about you. Just be you – if you don’t fit what they are really after, that’s going to come out eventually. Better to know it now than weeks and weeks into the job search process with the company!

The 45-60 minute phone interview will probably be done by a senior member of the HR team or recruiting company who has years of experience in digging out the real dirt on you! They are usually skilled interviewers whose sole task it is to expose your weaknesses, trip you up on your resume if you haven’t been totally clear about your background, and to save the company or client time and money by rooting you out of the process. They will sound like your long lost best friend and try to get you to open up about your real feelings and beliefs. Don’t take the bait! Stay on guard and on point about why you want to work for the company, why you made that job change years ago (with the most positive spin possible), and never EVER talk bad about a past employer! You may get lured with a set up like “I’ve talked to several people who worked there and they all said it was a terrible place – was that your experience?” Stay off the rat trap, don’t take the cheese! Keep your answers positive and forward thinking. Always spin the conversation back to the pros of the match of your background and what the company is looking for. If you keep your head, stay positive, and sound like the same person at the end of the interview as the one who started the call, you’ll survive it and move forward.

In some cases the Second Quarter might include both the online assessment AND the skilled screener interview. Their goal is to take that number of 50 applicants and reduce it down to 10-12. If you make it to halftime be very proud – you are still playing the Job Search Bowl!

Third Quarter – The all important second half of the JSB begins with the part that you really wanted to start with – an actual live interview with a hiring manager! When you get the call or email to schedule this event, make sure you get the person’s name you are interviewing with – I know this sounds basic, but I have coached many job seekers who didn’t realize the importance of this info. You want the interviewer’s name and job title so that you can research them on LinkedIn, Google, a personal or company blog, industry websites, etc. Understand that if you are having an interview across the desk from a hiring manager, they already believe you have the skill set to do the job. Now what they must assess is “fit” – will you as a person be an asset or liability to the already existing team.

You must walk into that interview with 10-20 great questions to ask the manager about the company, the culture, their personal journey up the company ladder, etc. You will not have 10-20 great questions to ask if you don’t do this meticulous research! If you were meeting with a recruiter I would tell you that I want you to know more about the company than the recruiter does. You will not be able to know more about the company than the hiring manager does, but you still want to impress them with your knowledge and depth of understanding about the company’s philosophies, products, future growth plans, etc. The goal is for the hiring manager to look at you like you are someone who already works for his team – he just hasn’t given you a key card yet!

Once again, stay above the negatives in your past and far away from negative talk about a past employer. When you get the chance to ask questions, make sure they are framed in a positive manner and are always forward thinking. You want to be viewed as a problem solver and perhaps a person who brings new ideas to the table. The hiring manager should be thinking about how your skill set will help him do his job and run his department or division. If you do this well, you will have survived the Job Seeker Bowl through the Third Quarter! The goal here is for the company to have 3-4 top candidates left in the pool.

Fourth Quarter – You made it – you have played the game well and you are in the final quarter of the JSB! At this stage one of two things usually happens: 1- multiple interviews with other managers or department heads or perhaps a panel interview; and/or 2- the dreaded reference check! Both are critical and again the goal here is to not pick the best candidate to eliminate the 2-3 that don’t stack up.

If you get the multiple individual interviews, make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat your best energy foods, replay the conversation in your head with the hiring manager and find the most positive person inside you to present over and over during the day. The multiple interview game is about impressions. None of these managers will be directly supervising you more than likely, but they provide a little air cover for the hiring manager’s decision. After you get through the gauntlet, the hiring manager will call each of the others and ask “So, what’d you think?” This is not an in depth assessment of your skills – what is being judged is your “likeability factor”. Would this group of folks enjoy being around you or did you make them uncomfortable for some reason. Be respectful, be positive, ask a few great questions about the company, and act like you already work there!

Now, we get to a hot button item – your reference list! You need to supply references in three headings: persons you’ve worked for, persons you’ve worked with, and persons that know you well. The ones you’ve worked for show that you get the company goals and can follow direction; the ones you’ve worked with show that you have a great attitude, are fun to be around and are dependable; the ones who know you well talk about your integrity, trustworthiness and likeability. You only need 2-3 in each heading but make sure ALL of them know that you have just launched the reference missile and that will soon be called to talk about you. Blindsided references are seldom good ones, and again in this stage, the hiring manager is looking for a reason to eliminate you, not hire you. You need glowing, pristine, golden references to make it to the end of the game!

The Job Search Bowl ends with a decision – hopefully to bring you on board to your new vocation! You cannot control much about this last part of the game, but you will never win a JSB unless you get to the Fourth Quarter. The final decision is usually a tough one for a hiring manager – he likes all of the final candidates, but he can only pick one. Stay in the game enough times to get to the end and you will win. Don’t get discouraged if you get to this stage and don’t get the job – you are doing everything right! Just keep playing and keeping staying in the game – your Job Search Bowl Championship ring is waiting!

If I can be of help in your job search process, don’t hesitate to ask. That’s why I’m here!

Do You Have a Light Switch or a Dimmer?

I was conducting a sales training session with a group a couple of weeks ago and the topic was on running effective sales appointments. I am a consultative sales manager and trainer, and I implore my teams to spend a lot of time in asking the right questions and then using that info to build customized solutions for their clients.
My workshops are very interactive and I encourage conversation (and sometimes outright debate) over the concepts that are being presented. One of the sales people in the room was adamant about taking multiple options for the client to consider, saying that he learned that tactic years ago and it had always worked well for him. While that approach is common and can be occasionally effective, there’s an inherit problem with the “Chinese menu” style of proposals.

I believe that you must use the client’s previous input and build one targeted, unique, and impactful proposal for them to consider. If they have options they want to add or changes they want to make to the proposal, great! The more you involve them in building the solution the better! However, presenting three or four options or packages shows a lack of commitment on the seller’s part as to the belief they have in the effectiveness of their plans.

As our discussion continued about the topic, I said a phrase that had never come out of my mouth before. That is saying a lot because I’ve spoken to over 50,000 people across the country and conducted hundreds of workshops, and I’m always coming up with new ways to get folks attention and encourage them to change. The line I uttered was “Look, I don’t have a dimmer on my ideas, I have a light switch.” As soon as I said it, I watched several folks write it down and then the questions started. “What do you mean?” “How does that work?”

My Light Switch explanation went like this:
1- Listen Waaaay More Than You Talk – If you ask the client the right questions and then listen intently, take notes and ask proper follow up questions – without trying form the solution already in your head as you are asking the questions! – you will receive all the data you need to form the basis for your solution and presentation.

2- Involve Your Team in Brainstorming – Take the info you have gleaned from your client and gather the members of your team that have input into making your solution a reality. Without prejudice, share the findings from your client and get input from everyone in the room. White board the ideas, run a fun “no holds barred” brainstorm session, or if you must, consult each member of the team individually and get their input.

3- Let the Evidence Speak for Itself – If you did your job in the client interview and then allowed plenty of great ideas to flow during the team session, you should be well armed to form the best solution for the client. Look carefully at your notes, use your experience and intuition, and have the courage to build ONE UNIQUE SOLUTION for the client!

4- Flip the Switch to ON When You Present – The key to running the presentation appointment effectively is to be passionate about the solution or idea you have come up with. With all the data you have collected, the solution should be crystal clear. Even if it’s not, however, you must present your idea as the one, best, most effective path to success for the client.

5- Ask for Client Input – You definitely want client feedback after you present your idea because you want them to buy into the proposal as much as possible. The delicate balance is to believe deeply in your solution but to still be open to input from your client. However, you are the engineer of this train…if the client tries to take it too far off the tracks with massive changes to your proposal, you have to stick to your guns. This is what separates good sales people from amazing sales people – allow input but don’t give up your idea or control of the process just because the client has questions. You must believe in your proposal for your client to believe in it. If you waffle, he becomes uncertain and that could derail your entire presentation.

Bottom line, you can’t use a “dimmer switch” on your ideas. Don’t slide between high intensity and low level light with every response from your client. Flip the switch to ON and leave it there – believe in your information, believe in your ability to craft a great solution, deliver your idea with energy, and be passionate about forming a long term relationship with your client based on your expertise and their willingness to listen.

If I can help you flip the switch in your sales process, let’s talk soon!
Brad@BradRaney.com

COMMIT – The Ultimate CNA for Job Seekers!

The media sales teams I have coached through the years have always been centered on a consultative sales approach that features a top notch client needs analysis (CNA). The most recent version of my media sales training has included an acronym for the salient points of the CNA called COMMIT.

The COMMIT system involves questions/topics that include: Crystal Ball; unique Offers; Market Segment; Marketing & Advertising; Ideal Customer; Tell Them a Story. This strategy has worked extremely well in creating the basis for building tremendous trust between seller and client and in uncovering very valuable information that will help close the deal later in the process.

 Not only does my company help to create and build high performance sales teams, improve managerial focus and communication, but we also do a lot of work with job seekers. Specifically, we focus on helping people find what they were built to do and get them into their perfect job. (see my book “Improve Your VOWELS, Improve Your Career!”).

I have counseled thousands of job seekers in the past few years and I have stressed to them that one of the most important parts of the interview process is what I call “The Question” – the point in the discussion where the interviewer says: “Do you have any questions for me?” At that moment it is vital to have intelligent, important and impactful questions to ask. I have always taught job seekers that they need at least 15-20 great questions to ask.

 It occurred to me recently that the COMMIT CNA idea could work very well in the job seeker space. Therefore, I have revised the question topics to fit the interview process and to give job seekers a real roadmap to finding out key information about the company they are considering. Remember, interview the hiring manager as much as he or she is interviewing you. You want to make an informed and inspired decision to join the company – you need pertinent facts to help you make that call.

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 Here’s the COMMIT CNA that I recommend highly for job seekers:

 C- Crystal Ball – ask questions about the future of the company, new divisions, new products, etc

 O – Organizational Structure – ask questions about the hierarchy and culture of the company

 M – Managerial Style – you want to know about the company’s philosophies, decision making and the personal style of your department head and direct report

 M – Market Rank – ask about the competition and how the company differentiates itself in their market segment

  I – Ideal Employee – ask the hiring manager to specifically describe the ideal qualities he or she is looking for in their next hire

 T – Training – don’t forget to ask in depth questions about the training program during on boarding and especially the ongoing training opportunities for the future (tuition reimbursement, online classes, etc).

 Within each of these topics you might have 2-3 questions, which puts you right on track to the 15-20 great questions goal. To have that many terrific questions you must first do meticulous research – not cursory drive-bys of the company website, but deep research of the company including blogs, industry related articles, stock data, info on company leaders from LinkedIn or other online sources, etc.

 The goal of this job seeker CNA is for you to be able to COMMIT to the company and feel confident in your decision to join their organization. If you need help crafting your COMMIT questions, reach out – I’m here to help!

http://www.BradRaney.com

 

 

YOUR 365: Mile Marker 1 – January

I hope you have been squeezing the most fun, passion and challenge possible out of each of YOUR 365 so far this year – I know I have! Now that it’s the end of January, it’s time to stop and take stock of the progress you’ve made and make course corrections if necessary. 8.5% of YOUR 365 has passed, but you still have 91.5% of the year left to climb your personal mountains and reach the summit of your achievements!

If you used SMART goals (and I hope you did!) in setting your plans in motion, the T is of course “time sensitive” – so here are some tools to use to evaluate your trip so far.

Monthly Goals: If you made individual monthly goals for yourself, make sure that you take a good amount of time and clearly evaluate your wins and losses in January. Chances are you were not able to click off every item on the list, but put giant, bold and happy check marks next to every specific task or goal you achieved. Next, reward yourself! If you achieved more than half of your goals, have a nice lunch with a friend soon. If you achieved more than 75% of your goals, take your spouse or significant out for a great dinner. If you have check marks by everything on the list – Wow! Take an afternoon to go to a spa, take your family to a theme park, or go hiking somewhere you’ve always wanted to go! One of the best ways to continue positive results is to reinforce the behaviors you exhibited in January by linking those acts with some fun on the other end – rewards are important! After you take in your success, take a deep breath, and start again renewed in February with your goals clearly in your sights!

Quarterly Goals: If you set up quarterly mile posts, now is the time to take a look at your progress closely. You should be at least 33% down the path on your mission. If you are ahead – great! Make sure you understand why you are ahead (accidental or intended) and either continue your behaviors (if everything worked as planned) or modify them slightly (to account for the unexpected situations that helped you stay on course). If you are not at 33% yet, you must modify your behaviors very soon. Each day you wait puts you further behind the curve. This is a real DANGER ZONE! The biggest criminal in goal achievement is the feeling that “I will never be able to make it – I don’t have the time to make up the ground I’ve lost!”  Those feelings of negativity will take hold quickly if you let them. Remember that YOU are in control of YOUR 365 – let nothing dissuade you from your path – you are the windshield, not the bug! Make course adjustments quickly and keep your hands on the wheel!

Annual Goals: Annual goals are deceiving…sounds like you have plenty of time to get there…no problem, right? Don’t fall into this trap! You must be 8.5% toward your goal minimum – preferably 10% toward it. Why? Because as you climb your personal mountain the “mountain goats” will start to appear and try and knock you off. These nasty critters come in many forms – unexpected setbacks, waning seif confidence, low energy levels, changes in work or personal situations. Any or all of these will come up during YOUR 365 – be ready for them and plan to defend yourself against the mountain goats. The best way to keep them at bay is to stay AHEAD of your planned timeline, not behind. If you are doing well in January and are on track, DO NOT take your foot off the gas! Get as far ahead of your plan as possible because trouble is just around the next bend of your mountain. If you are prepared, the goats will be a nuance instead of a hindrance to your success.

Continue to focus on maximizing each of YOUR 365 – each day is precious and a tiny piece of the puzzle of your goal plan. You have the power and the ability to do this – believe it! Make this year the one you’ve always wanted – it’s up to YOU!

If I can be of help, don’t hesitate to ask!