Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I had a meeting today with the owner of a business based in Raleigh, NC. During our conversation I shared with him that I have a blog. He asked me why I created the blog. I told him that I wanted to share with others what I have learned from those kind enough to mentor me throughout my career. I also shared with him that when I find myself passing along advice to a friend or colleague I'll try capture my thoughts and post it on my blog. Here is the link to my first blog which explains why I was inspired to create this.

As I found myself reflecting on this conversation throughout the rest of my day, it dawned on me that I have not thanked those who have helped me along the way in my blog. The purpose of this post is to do just that. I am grateful for the patience and mentoring I received from the following former colleagues - some of whom have become friends of mine.

David Wagner

Kathy Norton

Jim Simon

Virginia Meyer

Mike Noblett

Patrick Walker

Mark Novotny

I believe my career has greatly benefited from knowing each of these individuals. And as Virginia would say, thank you for being you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Moving On

In Fortune magazine's February 2008 issue there is a "100 Best Companies To Work For" article. There is also a nice article titled "How to Get Hired by a 'Best' Company". This article reminds me of many I have read over the years regarding tips on how to better your chances of getting hired or even improving your resume. Although I generally find these articles helpful, they can be overwhelming to the person who has not gone through the process of leaving their employer and searching out a new employer. For those people I suggest breaking down the process into segments.

First, have you decided to leave your current employer or can you salvage your situation? A good blog on this topic can be found at Resigning.

Once you have decided to move on you should update your resume and have someone (career manager/mentor) who will give you honest feedback look it over and offer criticism. Ideally, partner with a recruiter to assist you with this.

Next, identify the top 20 companies you would like to work for and then ask your network if they know any hiring managers at those companies. Direct contact with a hiring manager is important to increase your odds of a face to face interview.

Now the real work begins. Start applying through your contacts and the old fashion way if you don't have contacts at your targeted companies. Many of the people I know apply through a company's website and then wait. I often hear that they applied months ago and never heard back. This does not surprise me. There are many reasons why this process is delayed and inefficient but that is another blog for another day. Take the time to go into the company (if it is local) and drop off a printed copy of your resume and cover letter in a nice binder. Be sure to ask who the human resources manager is so you can follow up later with a direct phone call. Also, inquire if there are any interviewing sessions scheduled in the upcoming weeks.

After you have applied to all the companies on your list, set a schedule to follow up with each one. I recommend calling or emailing your contacts every three days until you have set an interview or learned that the company is not hiring. As you manage your follow up communication continue to look for additional companies to apply to. Don't assume you will find a new job among the initial companies you listed. Try adding two new companies each week. Remember, if you feel like you are not making progress don't despair - ask your career manager/mentor to troubleshoot with you.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Earlier this week I received an invitation to join NotchUp. Regarding membership, it is similar to GrandCentral where in order to join you must be invited or sign up on a waiting list and wait for an invitation. I completed my profile which makes me eligible to be paid to interview with companies that use NotchUp. Even though their website states companies like Google, Yahoo, Piczo and others are using it, I am not convinced this will catch on. I am still a fan of partnering with a recruiter. It is an interesting concept and if you are interested in learning how it works, there is an FAQ on their website. If you want to join send me an email and I will invite you.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Toolbox

In business everyone has techniques and skills they use to accomplish what is expected of them. The situation you are in will determine the technique you choose from your internal toolbox of skills.

In my professional career my role has consistently been in a leadership capacity. As a result, I have been in many situations where I have had to defend my business reasoning against opposing views. I would often express myself with firmness and confidence. In fact, I would often become aggressive and raise my voice to make my point. Several years ago I was in a strategic meeting with a few co-workers of mine including my boss and a Senior Director who had flown in from the corporate office. The nature of the meeting was to present my analysis of an account I was managing, point out the challenges at that time and provide my recommendation. At the conclusion of my presentation the Senior Director dismissed my summary and began to intimate the challenges at hand were a result of my mishandling of the account and that he was in town to "fix it". This was not accurate and so I interrupted to set the record straight. I was very stern, raised my voice to show I was taking command of the situation and laid into him holding nothing back. At the conclusion of my point, the Senior Director had to excuse himself from the meeting.

About three months later I was in a different situation and was challenged by a manager on a decision I had made. In defending my decision, I used a technique similar to that of my face-off with the Senior Director. My boss called me and said he had heard how I had reacted and wanted to talk about it. He said to me, "To a man who's good with a hammer, everything looks like a nail." He continued to share with me that I was very good with my hammer but needed more tools in my toolbox. This statement made me realize I needed to focus on developing my communication skills.

Although I believe there is a time and place for using a "hammer", having a diverse toolbox makes you a stronger leader. Some additional tools I have focused on developing are:
1) Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
2) When I sense I am becoming defensive - take a short break.
3) Ask lots of questions - you will uncover important information and learn what motivates others.
4) Pay attention to how other people communicate.