Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Blog has moved to!

As of September 1st, 2009, this "What If" career advice blog has moved to my new and improved website offering career coaching, free how-to career advice videos, and of course my weekly career tips blog. Please join me there now for my latest blog posts!

Change always comes bearing gifts. ~Price Pritchett

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A New Approach To Your Dream Job

Today's job market is anything but stable. In order to manage your career effectively you need to allow for change and be ready to take advantage of the opportunities in a dynamic economy. To do that takes a new approach to figuring out your dream job - one that , according to author Dr. Katherine Brooks, involves Chaos theory and "Wise Wanderings". Here are the highlights from my interview with Dr. Brooks last week on Making a Living regarding her new book, "You Majored in What?":

--Change is constant. We have seen the pace of change quicken in our careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average people are changing jobs an upwards of 8 times. Rather than react to change, it's important to adapt and plan for changes to come. For Dr. Brooks, Director of Liberal Arts Career Services at the University of Texas at Austin, Chaos theory is a better way of managing your career because it assumes change is a constant. It also helps you see the underlying order in chaos, even if it's not immediately apparent. Chaos theory is used to predict the weather and it can be use to predict your best career path. To do that, you have to be willing to do some wandering.
--Wandering to a wiser career path. According to Dr. Brooks, your past experiences can point to important threads or themes in your career. By writing down all of the different, interesting or significant things you've done and experienced, you can identify basic categories of your ideal career. Without organizing them, the goal is to capture proud moments, valuable life lessons, unique jobs, awards and unusual experiences that you've had both in and outside of work throughout your life. Then group these significant things that you've done or have had happen to you. For me, I wandered back through my past and identified that Career, Media, Coaching and Change were recurring themes. I had been wandering along a path of sorts all along even before formalizing my experience into the career coaching and radio hosting career I have today.
--Make the connection to your dream job. Dr. Brooks recommends that once you've identified your themes and skills, it's important to brainstorm how your skills might be of interest to an employer (or a customer if you have your own business). This is especially important for college students whose majors might not translate directly into a corporate job. For example, if you have a degree in history, you can study the history of the company you are interviewing for and point out key trends, goals and opportunities based on the lessons learned in your history courses.

Overall, we cannot expect that we will work in one industry for one employer in one line of work. That doesn't mean your career has to be chaotic. Rather your career can present a chance for you to learn and grow in new ways as evidenced by one of my favorite quotes - "Change always comes bearing gifts" (Price Prichett). What gifts can change bring for you?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Finding Joy In Your Career is Not a Luxury

Spending time doing what you love is not a luxury, it's a necessity. It's how the best in their fields got to where they are today -- just ask Deepak Chopra. I did. I interviewed him on Making a Living and he fervently said he will NOT do an activity if it doesn't bring him JOY. Think it's too risky or unrealistic for you to do the same? Think again.

If you truly want success, if you want to reach the heights of your potential, can you really afford to waste precious time on activities that suck the life out of you? You can make conscious choices and better focus your efforts. To help, here are some productivity tips from another guest on my show, Mitzi Weinman, founder of

Don't just plan, anticipate.
Planning your day with a classic to do list is good but if you want to be most productive, you need to anticipate what could pop-up. For instance, for every meeting on your calendar, plan time before for preparation and after for follow-up. Unplanned tasks may land on your plate and if you leave space for them, you won't feel stretched for time.

Work from top to lowest priority.
If you get the most important tasks out of the way early in your day, you'll not only feel more accomplished, but also more comfortable leaving the office at day's end.

Schedule meetings later in the day.
Meetings can be productive but that time is best spent later in the day according to Mitzi. She recommends using your energy wisely by setting aside morning time for strategic or creative activities that require a lot of thought.

Is there a smart way you manage email, a busy schedule and family demands? Share your comments below and call Making a Living (866-675-6675) every Wednesday at 4 pm EST/1 pm PST. The career hotline is always open to discuss whatever career dilemma, goal or idea you want to discuss.

Tune in this Sunday 6am EST for a replay of Making a Living on SIRIUS 112 and XM 157. Try SIRIUS XM free!-- I give advice on standing out from the crowd in a competitive job market -- especially important for recent college graduates!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Journey Inside the Mind of a Career Coach

Recently I was featured on the Personal Branding Blog by Dan Schawbel - a great resource for tips on becoming known for your passion and expertise.

Dan interviewed me about career coaching, from the qualifications you need, to what makes a successful career coach, to how to keep your brand name out there and get new clients.

Read my interview on the Personal Branding Blog

For more branding tips and to ask your career questions, tune into my segment on Living Today with Mario Bosquez - Tuesdays at 3:30pm EST on SIRIUS 112 and XM 157. Call in at 1-866-675-6675. Free 7-Day Trial of SIRIUS!

What do you want to be known for? How are you branding yourself? What tools and resources have worked for your marketing strategy? Share your comments below.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Work Life Balance Reality Check

It seems there's always a reason to be busy. When the economy is good, we're busy because there's too much work coming in. When the economy is bad, we're busy because we have to do more with less. Even the actual word business implies that to be productive we have to always be busy (i.e. "busy-ness"). Is there any room for work life balance in this busy work world we've created?

For that answer and a reality check on the state of work life balance in the current economy, I interviewed work life expert Cali Williams Yost this week on Making a Living. According to a recent study conducted by Work+Life Fit, Inc., work life flexibility survives and is here to stay as employers surveyed continue to give access to flexible work options the same amount or more than they have in the past.

So flexibility exists, the question is how do you get it? To answer that question, Cali and I discussed some key steps.

--Take Ownership of Your Schedule. Most people would have better work life balance if they made more conscious decisions about where they are spending their time. Cali suggests putting down all of your work and personal commitments into one calendar so you can truly see what you've committed to. Once you know where your time is going, you can be more conscious about spending time on top priority work and personal activities.
--Be Proactive. If you want a flexible work arrangement, its best if you go to your boss with options. Most managers are too busy themselves to focus on how to best manage your work/life. You know your job best so come up with a better, faster or cheaper way to get work done in a way that fits your flexible schedule and your boss will be more apt to say yes.
--Think Fit not Balance. Cali is famous for revolutionizing the way we look at work and life. She says that balance presents an all or nothing approach that is unrealistic for most people. She recommends instead to focus on finding the right fit between work and life that suits your needs not some 50/50 standard.

There's more to making a great living than just being busy. In fact, if it's not about being busy at all. It's about making conscious choices about how you spend your work and personal time so you are always doing what's most important to you!

For more work life tips join me for the next Making a Living with Maggie on Wednesday at 4pm EST. I'll be talking about ways you can be most productive and work smarter not harder.

Friday, July 10, 2009

An Easier Way to Land Your Next Job

Landing your next great opportunity doesn't need to involve an endless array of resume revisions, phone screens and interviews.

There is an easier quicker way using less official channels and Marci Alboher was on Making a Living with Maggie this week to share her insights on this back door approach. According to Marci, a regular New York Times Contributor and Author of Working the New Economy blog, some of the best job opportunities are landed through contacts made at social events where people share a common interest whether that be kayaking or poker. Because the activity isn't work related, it gives people a chance to get to know each other's interpersonal style which is key part of working well together.

Marci also stressed how important it is to become visible to your network for what you do best. To do that she suggested proactively looking for ways to help the people in your network using your expertise. For instance if you're a graphic designer and learn about a friend's new business venture, offer to help with some of the organization's marketing materials. It's an easy way to demonstrate your abilities to someone who could be in a position to hire you at some point. One word of caution, it "takes a longer courtship" as Marci puts it, to land a job in through unofficial channels. But considering that Marci landed a New York Times column through a monthly poker group of other journalists, it sounds like time well spent.

For a replay of Making a Living with Maggie, tune in this Sunday at 6am EST. Use this FREE trial of SIRIUS Radio!

You'll also hear a very inspiring day in the life interview with Laura Howard. A former entertainment executive, Laura decided to combine her passion for food with her work and is now a very successful ice cream entrepreneur and founder of Laloo's Goat Milk Ice Cream.

Here's to you Making a Great Living!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Leadership 101 - Are you ready to be in charge?

Power and authority have a bad connotation. Because of that many people shy away from taking charge at work. But what about servant leadership - being in charge as a way to be of tremendous service to people. It's not a concept I created but one I'm educating my clients and radio listeners about.

Just last week, I had leadership experts Gail Steinel and Mike Policano on "Making a Living with Maggie" talking about their book, Excuse Me, Aren't YOU in Charge? These two are not just theorists. Gail in fact was a pioneer for women leadership in the consulting industry, recognized twice by Consulting Magazine as a Top 25 Consultant. I experienced Gail's leadership firsthand - when she was head of Arthur Andersen's Business Consulting Practice where I was an employee.

Here's what I learned from Gail about being a great leader:
--Be accessible. - Gail is the type of leader who remembered your name and would stop and talk to you in the hallway. She was never too busy to make time for her employees.
--Support your people's ideas and passions. - In their book, Gail mentions one particular leadership experience that stuck with me - where she supported an employee who wanted to build a new recruiting strategy. Gail encouraged the employee to get involved and the young woman ended up winning an employee-of-the-year award.
--Be honest. - I saw Gail lead during Andersen's best times and it's demise with the Enron debacle. She was always upfront with honest answers and I always felt I could trust her. For leaders today this is perhaps the biggest lesson - be someone your people can really trust and your best employees will always stick with you.

Find out more about leadership 101 on Gail and Mike's blog! And share your greatest leadership moments here - what's the best quality you've seen in a leader? Do you consider yourself to be a servant leader?

And tune into Making a Living with Maggie this Wed, 4pm EST. I'll share ways to be at your best and ready for an accidental interview! Not sure what I mean, tune in with this free 7-day SIRIUS trial!