Totally Doable Tip of the Week: Let’s Find Your Passion!

angkor wat

exploring one of the passions in Ankgor Wat, 2014

You may have noticed this by now, but most of my writings are inspired by concerns, issues, pain points, opportunities and exciting stuff that my clients are experiencing at the moment. Either that, or things I am working through or experiencing at the moment. Either way, I’m grateful for them because it helps me more universally share those experiences and potential approaches and solutions with all of ya’ll. Win-Win!

So far, this week, it’s about this yearning to find a passion or two and figure out what the heck to do with it in the career realm. It’s also been about this fear of jumping in with two feet and exploring it. “What if I do all this work – that I’m not used to doing, mind you- and nothing comes from it?”

These are all universal feelings, thoughts and fears, and the title of this blog was purposely flippant- it’s not always THAT easy! But, my friends, I am working on something big to not only make it easier, but also FUN. Yes, you read that right- fun. (By the way, I’m in the developing phases of this Fun-fest, so If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments section or take this quick Survey Monkey.)

For now, before I unveil this FUN thing, we are left to waver in the breeze, a directionless compass.

Kidding. For this week’s Totally Doable Tip, I urge you to take ONE step to finding your passion, if you haven’t found it yet. Most of the time, we (read: me) get caught up in trying to figure out what we wanna do because we think we need to figure it out all at once and if we don’t sit down and just.do.it we are a failure. Lemme tell you something- that rarely, if ever, works, and leads to paralysis. Boy, do I know it.

So, here are a couple of practical questions I answered when I was trying to figure out what the frick I wanted to do. I’m asking you to try out 2-3 of them in earnest- no half-arsing it people! I’ll include portions of my actual answers from 2012 below these questions so you can get an idea and hopefully a jumpstart. (My answers were long and rambly in my journal- this cuts to the chase so you can more easily see what I’m getting at- but it’s ok and preferred to go the rambly route at first!)

  • When are the times you have felt most energetic and fully alive? Who were you with? What were you doing?
  • What section of the bookstore do you go to?
  • What articles online or in the paper or a magazine do you tend to dog-ear, save, bookmark, cut out, share, etc?
  • If you had an opportunity to go back to school for anything- don’t think about viability of the field or profession for a second-what field of study would you pursue?
  • If you could take any other profession out for a spin and try it for a month no strings attached, what would you pick?
  • If you were granted 30 minutes on stage at a TED Talk, what would you talk to the world about?

My answers:

  • Working with a mentee just getting started in her career, talking with friends and sister about career development and engagement at work, traveling and exploring new places and cuisines and cultures, being outside, being in NYC or Argentina, when I’m eating a mind blowing meal
  • Bookstore: history, social sciences, contemporary fiction, self help, new releases, wellness, cookbooks
  • Articles: self help, entrepreneurial, career advice, case studies on companies and successful people, travel articles, food articles/recipes, genealogy
  • Archaeology, organizational psychology, anthropology
  • Talent manager, Culture consultant, wellness professional, pilates instructor
  • doing what makes you happy, figuring out what makes and keeps you engaged, the importance of engaged employees, millennials/generations

You’ll notice some ideas not fleshed out (e.g. What did I expect to say, exactly, about ‘millennials’?), some seem random at first blush (archaeology?). But can you see how I could have come to the conclusion eventually to do what I’m doing now?

Clearly there are other factors to consider (how your experiences have colored what you wanna do and what skills you have that you love exhibiting, to name two), but this is a start for sure.

So, what are you waiting for? Use your morning commute if you don’t drive, pull out some paper while you’re waiting at dinner for a friend who’s running late, go into work an hour early and hang out somewhere that is not your desk and do some thinking. This doesn’t have to be drudgery and there shouldn’t be the “I don’t have time” excuse. Use time already given to you, like in the above examples.

Time to complete: 1 hour, or one daily commute, one lunch break at work, or one Sunday morning before you get your Sunday Funday going!

Totally Doable Job Tip of the Week: Meeting Management

Dude(ettes), how often do you look back on your day and notice that your meetings got out of control and that you got absolutely nothing done? And worse, the meeting was the talk about the meeting in advance of the other meeting?

Oh boy, I know. I know all too well that rising sense of panic as morning mooshes (an official term) into afternoon and then the light begins to fade in the evening and you’ve STILL.GOTTEN.NOTHING.DONE!!!

If you’re tired of falling further and further behind due to meetings, it’s time for you to have a meeting management plan, my friend.

Some ideas worth considering/implementing:

  • Sticking to a start and end time to every meeting. It may be hard to shut it down, especially if the team is onto something, but if you start managing the expectation that the meeting will end at the appointed time, then people will act accordingly to fit it all in the appointed time. The reason they’re sucking up more time is because you’re letting them.
  • Send a recap. After the meeting send the meeting notes with the to-dos and the ‘owner’ of each to-do, if applicable. Send the recap before the next meeting (24 hours+) so you don’t spend any of the meeting recapping the last one.
  • If people don’t read/prep: This one can be tough for people (read: me), but if you have people that come unprepared, refer them to the meeting notes and continue the meeting (or insert your personal way of handling that).
  • Put an aggressive lens on whether the meeting needs to happen and who needs to be involved. Can it be a driveby the ol’ cubicle impromptu chat? Can it be a quick phone call? How many key stakeholders are there, really? If someone is needed for one thing only, ask them for their input before the meeting happens.

What other meeting management tips have you used? What’s been the winner? Share in the comments below!

Time it takes to complete: Varied, but if you try to implement it for your next meeting, ~30 minutes of thought + the time of the meeting (which should never be over 1 hour).

Totally Doable Job Tip of the Week: Organize Yo’Self!

Seriously, it’s time to just do it. And I’m going to make it easy for you to do this in a very short amount of time by sharing my favorite productivity apps. (YES!)

Many of these came in pretty handy when I was in the throes of my hybrid career life. As I grew my practice, I supplemented my income with work as an events consultant. So although I’m pretty productive, switching between the two on an almost-daily basis for a couple of years was enough to make my head spin!

So, whether you’re job hunting, which is a part-time job in and of itself, or you’re just trying to keep your career on track, take a gander at my favorite productivity apps:

  1. Toggl.com. This app is also available on a desktop or laptop and allows you to set up various categories of work and track your time. If you do it for a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to see where inefficiencies lie and where you might not be getting bang for buck. Example? For me, I spend a lot of time on admin and marketing, so it’s time to hire someone! For you, you might realize you’re spending way too much time researching companies and not enough time actually applying- so you may be able to see where your job search strategy may be falling down.
  2.  Mailbox. Available on IOS and Android, this app will take your inbox down to zero. Seriously. For someone who gets on average 200+ emails a day, this is key for me. You can “snooze” emails for crying out loud! And then ask them to come back to the top of your inbox at specific times that you set! No more scrolling through dozens of emails and trying to keep track of what you responded to!
  3. Timeful. This app is a little A.I. freaky. It learns your habits and makes suggestions for better ways to do things based on YOUR habits (ie the time of day when you’re most productive). It’s a mish mash of a calendar app and to-do list, seamlessly melded together.
  4. Humin. Going to a bunch of networking events soon? Humin allows you to be in the moment and enjoy the experience of meeting someone without having to remember all the details. You can then search for them later through phrases like, “met last week” or “works in compliance”
  5. Evernote. This one’s been around for awhile, but I used to use it ALL the time in the day to day work for my work in event content production and management. There were so many disparate sources of information that Evernote let me record them and connect them. In this way, I was able to synthesize information rapidly and effectively. Could be great for researchers, journalists, content producers and anyone bringing together lots of data points- qualitative and quantitative. There are lots of apps out there- you can seriously go down a rabbit hole. What I’ve tried to do here is pick an example for different productivity needs- time management, mail management, contact management and content management.

What I urge you to do, if you’ve been feeling you need a little productivity boost these days, is to pinpoint which of these is most pertinent to you and download it! Don’t try all 5 even if you feel you need it- if you try all of them, you’ll likely stick with none of them.

Time to Complete: 30 minutes to 1 hour, or the amount of time to get a pedicure and manicure at the salon. Better yet- why don’t you check these out WHILE getting your spring pedicure?!?

Totally Doable Job Tip of the Week: References

Whether you’re in job search mode or not, it’s important to know who your go-to reference requests would be. This way, if an unexpected opportunity falls in your lap or you need to make a move unexpectedly, you’re not scrambling to name and ask for references.

Some general rules of thumb:

  • Think about people who worked with you on key projects and who are able to speak to your ability to work on mission critical items, projects or teams.
  • If you’re a manager, think about people who are direct reports, peers and managers of yours. In other words, which people paint a 360 degree picture of your value and skills at work.
  • Don’t ask people who you worked with over 2 years ago and haven’t had much substantive contact with since. They do not know how you’ve progressed in your career.
  • If you can’t think of three well-rounded reference ideas, now is the time to ensure you’re reaching out to your network and offering your help with something they may need, or just offering to catch up for a coffee or phone chat for a bit. When you do need references, the last thing you want is to be is a scrambling maniac!
  • If you are in the job hunt, you’ll likely be asking the above-chosen references to be a reference. If it makes sense, ask them to write you a recommendation on LinkedIn while you’re at it!

Time it takes to make this list: Approx. 30 minutes, or the amount of time it takes to watch an episode of Veep.

Totally Doable Job Tip Of the Week: Salary Negotiation

This week’s totally doable tip: negotiate your salary!

Just kidding.

I’m not trying to say that negotiating your salary is a breeze for everyone. But what I am saying is that waiting until the night before your annual review or waiting for the job offer is not the time to start thinking about it. Think about a time when you waited til the last minute to think about this critical component of accepting a new position at your current company or a new one. I bet you felt harried and rushed and discombobulated. It doesn’t have to be that way!

Instead, do your homework ahead of time. If your annual review is coming up in the next 2-3 months or you are beginning active job search mode, listen up: this week’s totally doable job tip of the week is:

Do one thing to clarify your salary expectations so afterward, you can begin to crystalize your ‘ask’.

This could be:

  • Research on LinkedIn or Salary.com or Glassdoor.com for average salaries in your metro for your job title in your industry.
  • Contacting a colleague/friend at another firm (not your own) to gauge where you’re at. (Note: At an Ellevate NYC event last month, Sallie Krawcheck talked about salary discussions being the last taboo topic in our culture, but that it’s perfectly ok to compare notes with trusted colleagues not at your firm to know where you stand)
  • Discussing where you’re at and where you think you deserve to be with your mentor.
  • Try not to get caught up in needing an answer NOW- this is why we’re working on the initial steps with enough time to revisit and tweak before a job offer is made or it’s annual review time.

Time to Complete: Less time than it takes to have a glass of wine (or two). 

**Bonus Workshop: Interested in learning more about how salary negotiation, knowing your value at work and discussing it can help you finance your dream life? A few early bird tickets are still available for the $mart Money workshop here. 

Finance Dream Life