Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bob Young

I had the opportunity to hear Bob Young speak this morning. Bob is the former CEO of Red Hat and the current CEO of LuLu. He did a great job of mixing in his successful business experiences with a sense of humility and humor.

Bob's advice to everyone was simply stated as A - B - C.

Alignment - pick one thing and be good at it. He used the metaphor from the movie City Slickers to elaborate his point. In the movie when Mitch asked Curly what the meaning of life was and Curly said its "one" thing. Curly died before he could tell Mitch what it was but later on Mitch realizes it does not matter what the "one" thing is as long as it is your "one" thing.
Better - Be a little better each day - the compound interest concept. Every day teach yourself a little more about your industry and as time passes you will become competent or intermediate and eventually expert.
Customer - All about the customer - make them successful. If your focus is to make your customer successful they will stick with you. Be careful because the customer is not always right. When they are wrong our job is to help them realize the difference between "Needs vs Wants". Help them achieve their "Needs" and you will have a business partnership for life. If you get caught up in focusing on their "Wants", you fail more than succeed and may eventually be viewed as ineffective.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


I learned of behavior based interviewing about 10 years ago. The goal of this type of interview is to learn how the candidate behaves in situations that they are likely to encounter in a professional environment. Most questions begin with "tell me about a situation you were in when..." The interviewer is not looking for a "best answer" but rather trying to understand what the interviewee learned from the situation - even if the experience was not positive/successful.

A successful strategy to structure your reply to these types of questions is using the S.T.A.R. approach. Your answer should be focused on the the Situation you were in, what your Task/s were, the course of Action you took and the Result. Again, even if the result was not ideal you can explain how you learned from it.

Practicing the S.T.A.R approach with someone before you go to an interview is extremely beneficial. Just like the interviewer is not looking for a specific answer, you should not be trying to come up with a specific response. The purpose of practicing is to help you to discover "your" answer so it flows naturally from you during the interview.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Connecting via LinkedIn

I have been using LinkedIn for a number of years as a tool to stay in touch with people. In the past few years I have been using it for business development. In my experience people do not always reply to an invitation to connect - I have found a way to change this. I recently started sending a thank you note to people I meet via a LinkedIn invitation. I write a personal note thanking them for meeting with me and at the end I include “If you use LinkedIn, I would like to connect with you”. I have seen my acceptance percentage increase as well as the time it takes someone to accept.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winning Managers

When an assistant coach or head coach resigns from a sports team to move elsewhere, it is viewed as a good move for the coach. Most of the commentary is how the move was strategic, i.e. the person moving will have greater control of the new organization they go to or the assistant will gain new experience that will ultimately move them closer to a head coach opportunity.

In my professional experience I have seen the same thing happen with Winning Managers. Think of Winning Managers as people who have succeeded within their role, i.e. reached their profitability goals, controlled team attrition, grew gross revenues with client accounts, etc.

I have noticed most Winning Managers want to be promoted to a Vice President role or Senior Executive - just as an assistant coach works toward a head coach position.

Like you, I have personally experienced career situations where I could not advance. The reasons vary for everyone and are typically one of the following: the position you are aiming for is held by someone who will not be leaving soon, your current boss is not capable or willing to help you grow to the next level, the opportunity is there but the company culture or their product/service is not what you are passionate about or the company you are with does not have a career path in place.

So what's my point? If you are a Winning Manager do not feel like you have to work with one company for the majority of your career in order to advance. Be careful of too many job changes on your resume but as long as you are taking on more responsibility, increasing your salary, and working for companies with recognized brands, you will get to where you want to be. So if you can not make it to the next level where you are at, it may be time to resign.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thank You Notes

I have a long-standing personal rule about sending hand-written thank you notes to any prospects that agree to meet with me. I recently expanded my thank you note rule to include the speakers of any business events I attend. When the event concludes I make my way to the speaker and introduce myself and engage in conversation. I will also ask for their business card before leaving. I generally send out my thank you cards within a week of meeting someone.

I believe it is simply good manners to thank someone. However, it also can help you if you intend on following up with that person to pursue a business partnership. Your thank you card may help you stand out in that person’s mind and thereby they’ll be inclined to meet you again.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Executive Summary by Whom?

If you are a job seeker and you work with a recruiter, odds are your resume will include an executive summary. The executive summary will either be in the body of an email, which is sent to the hiring authority, or it may be added to the top of the resume. The purpose of the executive summary is to capture attention and draw the reader into the resume with interest. Typically recruiters write the executive summary after speaking with the job seeker. My recommendation is to have the job seeker write it. The job seeker knows their own experience better than anyone. This will save the recruiter some time and it will likely yield a stronger executive summary since the job seekers know themselves better than anyone. I also recommend the recruiter review and make any necessary edits.