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?

A great message this morning about never giving up! Have a great day…

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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Reality Check – Has Work Become Your Life?

Do you work to live, or live to work? 

I will write it one more time…

Do you work to live, or live to work?

Every time I hear that somebody passed away shortly after they retired, I hope that they took time to really enjoy life along the way. When I am working, I am a loyal hard-working solider. But when I am not, I am enjoying free time with friends and family when possible.

I saw a report on CNN a few years ago, and it gave me a horrible feeling in my stomach. The corporate world has made us believe in many cases that taking holidays shows a sign of weakness. When I hear that an employee has not taken holiday in several years, I always cringe.

This issue continues to get a lot of press, and work life balance has become more important than ever. Work demands and commuting makes our personal time very valuable. I have seen several managers and reps work way too many hours on a regular basis during my career. The question that I always have is…

What steps are you taking to insure that their work does not become your life?

Should it be common to work late at night?

  • At what point do you admit that there are inefficiencies in your work habits, and you need to change how you do your job?
  • Maybe you have too many responsibilities in your current role, and need to sit down with your manager to discuss the toll it is taking on you

There are still managers who subscribe to the theory of “most hours worked wins”, but this line of thinking is slowly going by the wayside.

I hate the saying “they were the first one in the office in the morning, and the last to leave at night”. How do we know that they are working all of that time? With all the distractions online, they may just be goofing off on the internet all day, or having “text-a-thons”.

I sent a group email one night at 10 pm from my home office once, just to tidy up a few odds and ends. I received a complaint the next day from one of my accounts. He asked me not to send correspondence at that time of night. I was a bit confused, so I asked why? He said that his phone vibrated on the night stand, and it woke him up! I forgot that some people are on call 24-7, and sleep with a phone close by.

I met an outside sales rep earlier in my career who told me that her kids had moved out, and she was not in a relationship, so work had taken over her life. She sounded far from excited about it!

I have heard of several organizations where employees never leave the office before their managers, even when they have completed their work for the day. This is one of the dumbest things that I have heard during my career!

Are you guilty of sending late night emails trying to “impress the boss”?  Give your head a shake. This is just silly!

I know several reps and managers who work constantly during their holidays. A good friend of mind was got caught by his wife returning customer’s phone calls from his backyard shed when they were packing for vacation! I still bug him about that, but his wife did not think it was very funny!

I understand there may be the occasional need to communicate with the office when on holidays.  But what does it say about the group that you surround yourself with, when they cannot “survive” for a few days, or even a couple of weeks without you?

I heard of the best “holiday-work compromise” from a rep a few years ago. He and his wife were going on a holiday without their kids. Things were both incredibly busy at work at the time. They agreed to one hour of work each morning at the hotel. But for the rest of the day, they left their cell phones in the room, and enjoyed each other’s company. Another rep was not so fortunate to be able to curb his work to one hour. He and his wife agreed to put his phone in the hotel safe before they left in the morning. That completely reduced his temptation to check every time another email came in!

I reference several European countries for setting the bar high for excellent work life balance. They have much more holiday time on average than most other parts of the world. Most stores and services even close during the day for a bit while the employees rest! How great is that? This is an unrealistic goal in many places including Canada and  the United States, but I believe the message is very powerful. These people definitely work to live and not live to work.

We only live once, and you need to sit down and think about what is really important in your life if this has become an issue. Focus on enjoying your personal life now while still keeping up with work commitments. Obviously everyone’s personal situation is different, and many circumstances come in to play. I get that. I work odd hours to keep up with projects that I am working on via my blog and other forms of social media. But I make it all work.

Health issues, stress and strain on your family life can come in to play due to a heavy workload, among other issues. Don’t fall prey to the vicious cycle of work becoming your life.

  • Do you feel like you are living to work, and not working to live?
    • What changes can you make ASAP in your current role if other priorities are more important?
  • Do you find it challenging to shut down “work mode” and get in to “family mode” when you are on holidays?
    • What steps can you take to make a “holiday-work compromise” as a first step (then eventually phase out work altogether)?
  • If your current situation makes it impossible to work to live and you prefer that, perhaps it is time to make a change!
    • Promise yourself to take one action step today towards making a change, or it will never happen

I stumbled across David Kanigan’s blog “Lead Learn Live” this morning and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read more posts over the next few days. One caught my attention in particular – “Do What You Love”. It is a real eye opener for those trying to find their way with respect to their career. I strongly recommend that you take a few minutes this weekend to immerse yourself in the message. Thanks David!

Live & Learn

We’ve all either given or received the career advice: “Follow your dreams.”  “Do what you love.”  “Love what you do.”

Recently, there have been an increasing number of counterarguments making the case that if we were all going to “do what we love,” we’d starve doing it.

I came across a 2006 post by Paul Graham: “How To Do What You Love” that offers what may be the best thought-leadership on the subject that I have read.

Graham is an essayist, programmer, and investor. In 1995, he co-developed the first web-based application, Viaweb, which was acquired by Yahoo in 1998. He has an AB from Cornell and a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard, and studied painting at RISD and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.  Graham’s blog is one of the most followed in the blogosphere.

It is an essay (longish for those of us with…

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