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Message to college grads – you have it all wrong! May 31, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, American Dreamers, anxiety, career success, coaches, Coaching, emotional decisions, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Gen Y's, life balance, new jobs, Personal Success, professional speakers, Satisfaction, succeeding during a recession, The 3 Key Life Aspects, The Plan, Veracity.
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Takeaway:  What’s the benefit of an education if you can’t find a job?  In this week’s blog, another perspective.


It’s that season again.  Across North America young adults are joining with fellow students to get their diplomas at the Grad Ceremony.  I hope this will be a wonderful day or weekend for them all.  They’ve invested a lot of time and money to get an education, and, certainly they deserve to celebrate their success.

Unfortunately, the grad ceremony may their last celebration for a long time.

Here’s why:

These young people graduate expecting to be able to put their education to use in a job that they care about; but unfortunately, real life’s not like that. You would hope after making such a major financial investment in their futures, the grads would be better prepared to move forward into the next phase of their life.

But they’re not.

Even after, for some, 4 years spent in college, new grads rarely have the tools they need to create a satisfying life. In fact, college focuses on all the wrong things. Anyone wanting a life that’s both successful and satisfying needs to know how to take a long term view and picture their lives 10 years from now. This doesn’t have to be difficult, there’s a method that’s been used by both individuals and organizations to do just that. But, without a clear idea of what you want, and how you’re going to get there, it’s unlikely that your college degree by itself is going to get you where you want to go.

Many colleges know that they’re not giving students the tools they need to enter into the real world successfully – a few years ago I was invited to speak on the subject to an organization called The International Academy of Business Disciplines.  One of the key purposes of this group of academics is to assess current trends in the real world to ensure that the schools they represent are preparing their students adequately to succeed.

Unfortunately, far too few colleges and course providers are doing that as proactively.

Consequently, in college, many students focus on the current term and not on what happens after graduation. Unfortunately, many carry that same approach into the real world. And that can lead to disaster and disappointment. The key is to know what you want, and how you’re going to get it.

We talk about that a lot in our new book, The Plan, which was co-written with Helen Latimer.  In it we outline essential techniques to realize true life-balance, career success and financial independence. We use an approach to creating a plan for their lives based on a method of planning used by successful businesses and organizations around the world.

The good news is that it’s not too late for grads to get on the right track. There are clear steps to achieving a full and satisfying life.  Hopefully, they recognize this themselves, or someone will point them to the benefits of making a clear plan.

Here’s to the future.



My Career Rule of Three’s June 30, 2010

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, anxiety, business and career coaching, business intelligence, business success, Career Wisdom, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Job advice, Tech Republic, The Four Windows Process, Veracity, women in management.
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In this tough economy many people have additional projects added to their jobs as a result of fewer people being replaced.  In this article, business life coach John M McKee provides advice to ensure that you survive through this period.


“I’ve been getting home at 3, even 5 in the morning.  That’s after starting the day in the office at 8 AM.  I’m going to break!”

The person speaking was a client of mine. It was very clear that her boss was really taking advantage, pushing her way too hard.

My client’s a dedicated lady.  She’s a vice president in the accounting department at one America’s largest movie studios.   She’s also a bit soft spoken.  People take advantage of her gentle nature which is one of the reasons she engaged me.

For the last few weeks her boss had been pushing her hard but now a new systems switch-over has been added to her load – so she’s been working into the night just to keep up with the projects throwing.

As we discussed how to deal with her situation, it became clear that she feels she’s trapped in a place she doesn’t want to be.  But she has no ideas about where or what she may prefer. 

I shared with her my career-planning Rule of Three’s.  Do they apply to you?

1. Recognize that the job you’re in may disappear at any time.  Anyone, even the best performers, may find themselves out of work in today’s environment. Accept that reality.

2. Consider how you’ll do if things don’t work out with your job.  How you would you handle it, psychologically, if your boss called you in one day for a conversation that starts with something like, “Alice, I’m sorry but….” Does your life revolve around work, with few close friends or family members?  If so, wake up.  Nobody’s bulletproof any longer.

3. Noodle on what you could do as a fallback job. It’s possible that you may not immediately get one at the same level or pay as you are currently earning.  Have a “worst case” plan that contemplates you doing things like taking a not-for-pay job, or a lowing paying job for a period of time.

It’s surprising and sad how much on one’s sense of identity may be tied to their job.  With these simple rules you are less likely to fall into a heap if the worst case happens.   As I noted in my blog at CNET, the economy isn’t recovering quickly at this stage.  So ensure that  your plan includes some financial back up to ensure you can survive for at least 3 months if you’re suddenly out of work.

Here’s to your future.


6 Good tips for job searching September 16, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, anxiety, business success, career planning, Coaching, Job advice, Personal action plans, succeeding during a recession, Tempur-Pedic, Veracity, Women.
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This week, executive and business coach John M McKee shares 6 solid ideas to consider when looking for a new job.


“Each day brings with it new opportunity and the chance to move forward.”
As nice as though words are, and as much as many readers would like to believe in them, I know from my clients and contacts that there are a lot of people who, simply, don’t.  For them and anyone else in the job search mode, I suggest you check out ExecuNet online.  They go beyond what many subscription services do and provide real and actionable ideas.

The group at ExecuNet are constantly offering a few tips which are not the typical, “here’s how to get a job” ideas that everyone is publishing all the time now.  I thought this week’s newsletter suggestions were very worth sharing – I’ve copied some of it here:

1. Focus on networking with people you don’t know as quickly as possible. During the first month of a search, contact a minimum of 50 “warm” contacts, those you know and with whom you are comfortable. After the first month, network to at least 100 new contacts every month.

2. Search for interim roles when you begin your search. Up to 40 percent of the time, interim roles lead to full-time positions. When you work on an interim/consulting basis, you and the company become so comfortable with each other that a full-time position is often created.

3. Target smaller companies. Research Dun & Bradstreet, Moody’s Million Dollar Directory, Standard and Poor’s, Hoover’s and other websites for valuable smaller company information. The reference section at public libraries provides access to these resources, sometimes for free.

4. Identify underperforming companies. A significant portion of competition for jobs comes from working executives. During a weak economy, they are less inclined to move to a struggling company which carries greater risk. Therefore, there is less competition for these jobs.

5. Spend less than 10 percent of the time contacting and working with recruiters. Executive job seekers are advised to limit their involvement to those recruiters they have retained in the past or are referred to them by close friends and colleagues. Even recruiters themselves acknowledge the limitations of obtaining an executive position by relying too heavily on search firms, because recruiters only account for about 10 percent of all executive hires.

6. Allocate no more than five percent of your search effort responding to published job leads and Internet postings. Responses should only be made to opportunities which closely match your skills and experience. Thousands of individuals see these opportunities, dramatically increasing competition and reducing the odds of securing the position. Be sure you are a “best fit” for a published/posted opening.

The advice above was adapted from Change Your Job Search Approach in a Recessionary Economy by Tucker Mays and Bob Sloane, which was originally available to ExecuNet members in November, 2008. If you are interested in the entire article, or other expert advice like it, consider an ExecuNet membership.


Stressing out? Try this. August 20, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, anxiety, business success, Business Success Coach, Canada, Career Wisdom, Coaching, Job advice, life balance, quality of life, Tempur-Pedic, Veracity, wellness, Women.
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tn_john-002.jpgToday, more than ever, people are feeling the effects of stress.  In this week’s VERACITY Blog, executive coach John M McKee discusses a free audio program which can help individuals get past their stress and move forward.


There are a lot of people stressed out – about a lot things – right now.

You’ve probably noticed.  May even be feeling the impact of stress yourself.

When we’re stressed, we function less effectively.  It’s harder to make decisions, and then we may second-guess ourselves.  It’s harder to fall asleep and stay asleep – this affects us during the day of course; often manifested by being more emotional than usual.  (“I never cry.  But I cried! What’s up with that?”)

There are a lot of reasons to feel stressed today and I’m not going to list them here.  You know what’s going on in your life.  But you may not be conscious of this fact: even if things are fine in your life, you may be impacted by stress simply be the news or hearing from others about increased difficulties they are experiencing.  This is particularly so for individuals who have a strong sense of empathy; which usually translates to women more than men.

If you’re feeling more stressed than usual, you should  check out this free audio program currently offered by Business Success Coach.net.  Recorded by a Canadian medical doctor whom I regard as one of the finest experts in this field, Dr. Alan Banack, it’s been used successfully by patients and individuals for over 20 years.

A similar audio tape of his helped me to quit smoking back in 1988. Quite simply – these work.

Each of us get stressed out at different times.  Usually we can manage it and it goes away on its own.  But sometimes it doesn’t.  It kind of grabs onto us and doesn’t let go.  Then we see our performance drop.  We may feel tired or lack energy.  We become less than we were on many fronts.  This audio will help you overcome it.

If you’re not sure that something you download for free can actually help you: then I urge you to test it out.

Dr Alan Banack, has been practicing for nearly 30 years.  He has patients throughout North America who have benefited from his psycho therapy and leading edge approach to reducing or eliminating the effects of stress.   You should try this free program.  Let me know how it worked for you.

It’s available our organization’s website at Business Success Coach.net.  Listen the my interview with Dr Banack beforehand too.

Here’s to your future!


Cranky? It could kill your job August 12, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", anxiety, business and career coaching, business strategy, business success, career success, Coaching, Job advice, life balance, quality of life, replenishment, small business coach, stress, Tempur-Pedic, The Secret, Veracity, well being, wellness, Women.
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abc1Sleep issues often cause poor performance on the job. In this article business and executive coach John M McKee discusses 5 tactics to make you more successful.


“I’m simply fed up!”

And, with that comment, a new client of mine started working with me last January.

He went on, saying that, “I’m already in a very pressureful business. I shouldn’t have to deal with more bureaucratic bulls*** that makes it even tougher to get my job done.  The HR department seems to feel that its job is to prevent me from hiring good people or firing the dead weight!”

He’s a temperamental senior executive, known to have a big temper.  But the organization – a midsized cable television network – puts up with his fits because he helps them to succeed.  They asked me to do some remedial coaching to try to help him act a little more “business like”: no screaming fits, no cursing, door slamming should stop. The objective was for him to at least try to act like a normal human being in meetings with his peers.

In our first meeting I could sense his frustration level.  I dealt with it head-on.  “What’s your problem?” I asked.

He started to list all the things in his life that are driving him crazy.  To be fair it was a list that would make even the most even-keeled person become unbalanced. (His wife had left him, his 401k is now a 201k after the events of last year, he was promised a big raise but then the company didn’t deliver the goods, he hurt his knee skiing and it aches all day, and he isn’t sleeping much.

That last one caught my attention.  In addition to being an executive and business coach, I am also a Wellness Adviser for Tempur-Pedic.   During my 30+ years in boardrooms and executive suites I have seen firsthand that a lack of sleep can have a major impact on one’s performance, attitude, and behavior.  It struck me that this client may be sleep deprived and that everyone may be seeing the result of that.

We discussed how long he sleeps each night, if he’s one to toss and turn, how fast he goes to sleep when his head hits the pillow, and how he feels when he gets up in the AM.

From his answers it was clear that he wasn’t getting enough quality sleep.

This makes him emotional and drives his actions and behavior.  My client didn’t need a coach to help him understand fundamentals of good management practice – he needed more sleep!

I gave him some suggestions, he put them into practice and – like magic – he’s become the “old executive” everyone knew and loved.

If you’re feeling emotional, irrational, cranky, foggy, or just plain run down; consider a few of these ideas to improve your sleep.  It may make you more effective, content, and successful:

1. Caffeine – if you have trouble sleeping, drink no more than 2 caffeinated beverages a day, none after lunch.  This includes tea by the way.  And many things we eat have caffeine – check the labels.

2. Booze – This is a trick one because it can make you sleepy and you go right to sleep without all that “noise”.  So it seems like it’s a sleep aid. But it’s not a good sleep.  Then you usually wake up still feeling tired.  Try not to drink within 4 hours of bedtime.

3.  Bed – Don’t try to save money on your bed. It’s probably one of the best investments in your personal success you can make.  If you are uncomfortable (bed is too hard, too soft, too hot, too cold, too small, too crowded, etc etc) you toss and turn, and that breaks up the important deep sleep that replenishes you.  If you need to save money on furniture buy a less expensive dining room suite.  They never get used as much as people expect anyway.

4. Environment – Your bedroom should be dark – any light can interrupt your sleep. It should be quiet – for obvious reasons. Ideally it’s a bit on the cool side – about 64 degrees.  If you have a tv in the bedroom, don’t watch it at bedtime and don’t read before you go to sleep either.  Both can stimulate your brain just when you want it quieter.  Finally, if you are prone to waking up and looking at the time, put the clock in a drawer so you can’t see it.

5. Exercise – Regular exercise helps us sleep better.  I know that it’s tough to find the time to exercise but cut back elsewhere and figure it out.  Do it in the AM or early PM, but not too close to bedtime.  Exercise will help you work out stress and clear your head too – each important for some good zzz’s.

I realize that this list may seem pretty short and that many readers will have seen similar lists.  But if your job performance is not what is needed, I strongly urge you to consider your sleep patterns. Adults need about 8 hours of sleep each night to perform a peak levels.  Anything less is going to hit you.

If you chose to ignore your sleep issues, you can always feel free to call us at our Coaching Practice here at Business Success Coach.net.  Our phone # is 720.226.9072 and we’ll be happy to work with you on other ways of improving your results.

But it’s probably going to cost you more…

Here’s to your success!


Vacations, Recharging, Improving July 15, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", American Dreamers, anxiety, business and career coaching, business strategy, Business Success Coach, Canada, Coaching, The 3 Key Life Aspects, The Secret, Veracity, well being.
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Many people are not taking a vacation this year.  They feel that the economy or their particular situation makes time off a bad idea.  In this blog, executive and business coach John M McKee talks about his recent vacation and why it’s more important then ever to use down-time to your advantage.


The surf wasn’t as good as hoped.  I was sitting on my surfboard with my daughter Jess about 10 yards away on hers and we were waiting for some ride-worthy waves to bear down on us.  Despite the lack of breakers at this moment, it struck me that life doesn’t get much better than this.

On vacation for a couple of weeks on Canada’s Vancouver Island, we were near a small village called Tofino.  It’s in a rainforest; known for its excellent beaches and waves.  My wife Susan, who is a great planner (and understands life’s needs better than most people), had rented us a great house near the beach for a month.  With relatives and friends staying with us over the period; it was just a great opportunity to decompress and recharge.

So I was surfing with my daughter this particular afternoon, with plans to go out for dinner as a group and then attend a concert arranged by Susan’s sister, Pam the head of the Tofino Art and Culture Festival on the Island.  The concert was a solo act by a bassoonist and turned out to be one of life’s great little surprises – we enjoyed him and the few hours we spent together.johncloseup-resized-for-veracity.jpg

Many individuals fail to recognize the genuine benefits that accrue when they take a serious vacation.  And, yes, I do realize that during this time, not everyone can afford to go out of the country for some time off.  If you’re in that situation, then take a stay-cation around the home.  The key point to remember is this – if you work hard, or are under stress from being out of work – you still need to give yourself some “time off”.  Otherwise you get stale, can become cranky, and risk depression.  Any of which are not going to do you – or anyone who’s near you – any benefit.

Recently, I was interviewed on the subject of how to take a vacation and get the most of it.  I provided some ideas and suggestions to help get away, enjoy the time off, and get back into the work mode quick when you return to the job. If you’re interested you can see it at this link:


During my time off, I also had the opportunity to go ocean kayaking with my brother-in-law, Tim Lewis, sister in-law Flo Skakum-Lewis, nephew Jeff and above mentioned daughter.  As daylight became nightfall, I was reminded that,  it’s hard to keep thinking about the job when you’re worried about dying….  But once we were back on land, we were invigorated and charged, not depleted.  That’s one of the great benefits of challenging yourself in new ways.  It sharpens the mind and the body.

If you are stalling about taking time off this year, I encourage you to move forward and do something.

Over the long haul, you’ll become a better and more successful individual because of vacations.  In the short-term it’s unlikely to hurt your career or job requirements.  More importantly, it will probably improve your performance.

Looking forward…