Blog Archives

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

This has been by far my most popular post in the nine months that I have blogged, and I thought it was time to revisit it and keep the conversation going. There are some incredible comments up for review. Some of my childhood friends even chimed in to challenge me with some of my content in the post. I would love you to take a read and  respond with your honest feelings on the subject. Maybe I will turn this conversation in to a mini e-book or something in the future because it sure captivated my readers. Enjoy!

I recently returned from a trip to my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Winnipeg is 8 hours north of Minneapolis, Minnesota if you are unaware. This is the first time in my career that I am able to work in my hometown since I moved away 11 years ago, and I was very excited to reconnect in my community.

Although most of the trip was awesome, I had a surprising conversation with somebody from my past that bothered me greatly. For those of you who know me well, I have “facial recognition software” engrained in my brain for remembering people who I grew up with. I was at the 100th anniversary of the suburb that I grew up in last Saturday and approached at least 15 people from my youth that I had not seen in 4EVER! That was so much fun. I digress…

I was at a trade show earlier in the week and ordered supper at a concession stand. I changed my drink order, and the person serving me smiled and gave a double take. They saw that I was wearing a name tag, and asked if I went to school in the suburb that I actually grew up in. I paused for a moment and said yes. Instead of saying that I did not remember them, I asked what their name was. After they replied, I instantly recognized their face.

The difficult part of the dialog is they hesitated to say their name out of embarrassment for the job that they were doing. I took a few moments to speak with them after receiving my drink, and saw them the next day as well.

21 years removed from high school, I was not expecting somebody to be working in that setting, and my “facial recognition software” was not activated at the time. If they were proud of the job that they were doing, and did not care what others  thought, they would have had no issue telling me what their name was.

There is a silver lining for this person. It is never too late to change career paths. The generation of  “go to school, get a job, find somebody, get married, have some kids, work at the same thing for 40+ years and retire” is long gone.

One of my best friends dropped everything in his late 30’s, started working towards a totally different career, and is now very close to completing his studies.

We can’t turn back the clock and hit “reset” to that day that we walked out of high school with that diploma in hand, but we can certainly hit the “reset” button RIGHT NOW and start working towards something more fulfilling.

If there is anything this experience really taught me, is that I have to keep working towards what I really want out of life, no matter how hard it seems sometimes. I would rather fall flat on my face and know that I tried, than think about it, and never do anything. I don’t care if you are in sales, management, general business, or doing whatever keeps you paying the bills, but be sure that you are happy doing it.

I will always keep trying, scratching and clawing towards surpassing my goals, no matter how tough things seem to get. Just ask those who played hockey against me when I was a one man wrecking crew pushing for victory as a kid!

  • How is your job/career going?
  • Are you jumping out of bed excited about what you are doing from the moment your feet hit the floor each morning?
  • If you had an unexpected meeting with somebody from your past, would you be embarrassed to tell them what you are doing?
  • If so, whatcha gonna do about it?

Have A Laugh Fridays – He’s Interviewing Me???

Expect the unexpected when you show up for a job interview!

Considering how structured and boring some interviews tend to be, this would have been rather entertaining!

Have a great weekend everyone…

Taking Chances And A Fool’s Eye View!

I am a firm believer that you have to be good to be lucky, and lucky to be good. Whatever the case me be, I am very fortunate that Broc Edwards has come in to my life.

I love reading his blog:

http://www.foolwithaplan.wordpress.com

A Fool’s Eye View of  Human Resources” is a breath of fresh air in a profession that can sometimes lack “jam”. He has a new book out called “What Thinks You?” which I am just loving! It is a collection of his best blog posts.

Check it out at:  http://amzn.to/17a3BRk

Before I got in to the meat of the book, I stopped in my tracks at the foreword. Check out this fantastic piece of writing by Joe Gerstandt titled “Taking Chances”.

jump in, just jump in, just jump.

moving forward,

leaning forward.

Forward Momentum.

always off balance.

carried forward,

never quite falling, but failing

well.

and failing often.

on the verge,

in flux,

something other than

comfortable.

open door.

serendipity.

opportunity

risk and reward

dance hand in hand.

Choose something.

Chase something.

Lean forward.

feel the thrill in your throat,

feel the electricity in your belly.

step away from what you know,

and dance.

be exposed, be known.

yes there are consequences,

always consequences

when you provoke the future

– Joe Gerstandt

http://www.joegerstandt.com

I wanted you start the week with a powerful message. Hope this did the trick. Please connect with Broc and Joe and check out Broc’s book. It will be well worth your time.

Have a fantastic week!

It gets hot in the Desert…

Great leadership quote for your Sunday! Thanks Tina….

Practical Practice Management

1412589_desert

“Leaders without a plan are just dynamic wanderers” ~ Unknown

10/17/14

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Just loved this blog post today on focusing on recognition for employees. This is an often overlooked, but very important issue to keep employees engaged!

HR Outsider

Recognition Recognition matters!  Survey after survey conducted in the last twenty years has shown the connection between recognition and business results.  Even though most managers know they should recognize the people on their team – they don’t or they don’t nearly often enough.  According to leadership expert Jim Kouzes, about one-third of North American workers say they never are recognized for a job well done while slightly more (44 percent) report that they receive little recognition for a job well done.

Ready to recognize?  Here are some ways to put spark into your recognition efforts.

1. Make it happen in the moment

Perhaps you feel like recognition might mean more at the department meeting?  Or maybe you would like time to get the words just right?  Don’t put it off.  When a person does something that should be recognized, provide appreciation in some form immediately.

Here’s one time when it…

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I really enjoyed this short blog post from Broc Edwards. He makes some very valid points comparing a job and a career. Enjoy!

 

fool (with a plan)

[Today’s flashback is a short piece I originally posted on September 5, 2011. Enjoy!]

I was watching Chris Rock’s “Kill the Messenger” the other night and was really struck by one of his comments. I’m paraphrasing, but he basically said that you know you have a career when there’s never enough time. You look at your watch and it’s already after 5pm so you plan on coming in early the next day. With a job, there’s too much time. You look at your watch and it’s just after 9am and the day stretches out ahead.

Absolutely brilliant! It doesn’t matter if you’re overpaid or underpaid, hourly or salaried, educated or uneducated, or what field you’re in or company you work for: if there’s never enough time to accomplish all that you’re excited about getting done, you have a career; if time is your enemy, you have a job. There’s a lot of…

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Job Search Day 3 – Are You Starting To See Dollar Signs?

Hiring managers can “occasionally” overstate potential compensation packages with a sales role during the interview process. Before you have even started the job, you begin to envision how well you are going to do, even before evaluating if it is an achievable goal. I have taken it so far as envisioning how my life will be if I made that amount of money! Silly, but these thoughts can happen if you start to get ahead of yourself.

The success may well happen early on, but realistically it will take longer, possibly years to get up to that level of compensation consistently. Everyone develops in a role at different speeds, and many factors can come in to play regarding earning potential.

They are always people who thrive and over achieve quickly, but they are in the minority. A good question for the hiring manager in the interview process is,

“What are the realistic total compensation numbers (on average) in the first three years on the job?”

If you have little savings, or limited ability to pay for expenses now, you need to consider what size of salary you take, compared to potential commissions and bonuses.

I got a hard dose of reality with this type of situation in one of the roles that I accepted.

I was given a ball park idea of how the previous rep had done in the territory the year before, and it was a fantastic number! I started to see lots and lots of dollar signs! It definitely blurred my vision.

I was very confident in my abilities by that point in my career, and felt great about the role. There was a small issue that the hiring manager failed to mention. The previous rep negotiated to keep all the large accounts in the territory when he moved to another region. These accounts contributed greatly to the overall compensation.

Not only did the previous rep negotiate to keep many of the high producing accounts, the pay plan changed 4 months after I started, taking a good chunk out of the earning potential that was so desirable when I started the job. Things can change in a heartbeat, and it is best to underestimate what you will earn for the first couple of years, and decide from there if you are still comfortable taking the role.

This is especially CRITICAL when you need money right away and accept a role with 100% commission or a limited base salary.

Job Search Day 2 – Don’t Underestimate A Career Aptitude Test!

Over the years when I was interviewing for sales and sales management roles, it was not uncommon for organizations to conduct career aptitude tests as part of the screening process. Although I never enjoyed doing these test, I quickly realized that most organizations put a decent amount of weight in to the results, so I started to put more thought in to my answers.

In general, the tests would cover these categories:

Leadership

This was more typical when I was applying for sales management roles. High scores in this category would show people who were competitive and could lead others at a high level. On the flip side, a low score would describe people who were less dominant and less assertive. I have seen this line of questioning when applying for outside sales rep positions as well. Employers loved to look for future leaders, and they would typically find them within a pool of candidates applying for outside sales positions.

Emotional

High scores would go to those candidates who were calm and even-tempered. A lower score showed that you had a sense of urgency and tended to be emotionally reactive.

Social

They are testing to see what your level of social interaction is. For a sales role, I think it is obvious that you want to score as high as possible. Being talkative by nature, outgoing, and generally engaging are traits that will give high scores in this category. If you are shy and don’t like engaging in conversations, you may want to look for a different profession!

Interpersonal

They are testing how sensitive and empathetic you are. If you are not sensitive to the needs of others and are not tactful, you will score lower. You will be perceived as more forthright and direct.

Task

How rule abiding and detailed focused are you? If you are conventional and meticulous, you will score high. If you are flexible and improvising, you will score lower.

Conceptual

When I first saw this category, my initial thought was how well could you handle different concepts and be open-minded. I was not too far off. They look to how imaginative and open to change you are. If you score lower, you probably prefer more predictability.

In general career aptitude tests tended to be 20 to 30 minutes in length. They were mostly multiple choice questions. I remember there being anywhere between 100 and 175 questions with these tests over the years. After doing a couple tests, I realized that they tended to ask similar questions many ways to uncover patterns in your answers. My advice is to be as consistent as possible in your responses. If you are stumped on any one question, I would not worry about it too much.

There are no right or wrong answers, but you need to think about the characteristics and qualities that they are looking for in an outside rep.

If you are outgoing, very social, motivated to succeed, and can work under limited supervision – those are probably key attributes that they are looking for.

That will be more desirable to an organization hiring an outside sales person than if you are:

Reserved, somewhat shy, like consistent income and need regular supervision.

As I mentioned above, organizations usually will use the test results as one of several criteria for selecting a candidate. I was hired for a role once, where the company put a lot more weight in the test results than I ever would have, but it worked in my favour!

I was down to one of the last two candidates for a role, and I got the job because I did better on the test. I was very fortunate because we were equally matched candidates.

This process was more difficult than any other test that I had ever taken before. The first test was taken during my first interview, and the second test was taken during my third (and last) interview. I think they both took close to one hour, and had 225+ questions.

Those initial feelings that you get about people in the first interview, and subsequently how they handle other interviews should have as much or more weight than test results, but that is just my opinion. I will save a more detailed commentary for a future blog post!

If I was sick, distracted for some reason, or just not having a good day, I would have missed out on a 7 year career that has changed my life forever. That would have not been fair to me, my family or the company who took the other candidate because they did better on these tests.

Job Search Day 1 – Don’t By Shy, Apply. You Never Know!

I had four hours to kill last week on an airplane, so I decided to revisit old content that I had archived. I was surprised by how much information I had on job searches; all the way from getting started on a search, culminating with evaluating offers. I will save most of it for the future. Perhaps release it in eBook format!

Until then, here are three of my favourite posts that I dug up and edited. Enjoy day 1!

I absolutely love being the dark horse in the interview process. If I was not expected to get a role, I took it as a personal challenge and stepped my game up to the highest level possible. It is always fun going through the process under those circumstances. There is no pressure on the underdog; just go in and do your best.  I would get this type of information by asking the recruiter who I was competing against for an opportunity. Sometimes it was better not to know, but on occasion I would ask and they would tell me.

I know for a fact that I was hired in at least one role that I had no business getting based on minimal experience in a technical field. It was down to four candidates, but I did not let the knowledge that the other candidates had solid industry experience affect my confidence in any way.

I had no pressure on me and did get the role which felt great. I impressed the toughest manager that I ever ended up working for in my career in that interview, and he gave me a shot. I have always told recruiters and/or hiring managers that all I need is the chance to impress during the interview process. Actions speak louder than words, and meeting people face to face confirms that I will shine, and am not just a bunch of credentials on paper.

Do not be afraid to apply for roles that need previous sales or industry experience. What do you have to lose? If they don’t want to meet with you, that is their choice, but at least you are giving them something to think about.

Remember, it is not uncommon for sales reps to work for several different organizations in a specific industry during their career because they have product knowledge and many business contacts. But bad habits can creep in to their day-to-day activities, and I am hearing from mangers recently that they will give more consideration to new reps entering an industry and/or sales all together. It is a breath of fresh air to bring new blood in and not “recycle” the same reps over and over.

Why is that?

New sales reps have a clean slate. They have no preconceived notions about the industry or particular customers. They are excited to have the opportunity to start in a sales role and grow with an organization. Many managers realize that they can train new employees, and teach them product knowledge, as long as they have the skill set to succeed long-term.

My most successful sales role started without industry experience or product knowledge. I was very nervous at first taking the role, but once I learned the product line and account base, it was smooth sailing from there. My tried and tested systems worked once again. I just had to “insert” the new products!

Why Hierarchies? The Pizza and Beer Syndrome by Broc Edwards

I have been following Broc Edward’s blog for quite some time, and always enjoy his content. This post on hierarchies caught my attention earlier this week, and I wanted to share it today. His insight on this topic is excellent, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did..

fool (with a plan)

Why do organizations look the way they do? Why are command and control hierarchies so popular? They seem like relics from days gone past. We spend a lot of time complaining about all their sins and proposing alternatives so why don’t we see flatter, collaborative, and self-directed organizations? They should be more adaptable, create more engagement, and be higher performing. Yet we keep perpetuating the command and control hierarchies that we spend so much time railing against. Why do we say we want one thing and make the choices and actions that lead to another?

Good questions and here’s the answer (you might want to write this down): pizza and beer.

No, really. Call it the “Pizza and Beer Syndrome” if you like. We can learn a lot about organizations by looking at human behavior. After all, organizations are a reflection of the philosophies, strategies, and approaches of individuals.

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