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You should know the Rule of 3 June 28, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", business intelligence, career planning, career success, coaches, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Personal Success, The Plan, Veracity.
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Today, more than ever, it’s important to face up to the idea that your employment or professional success may be impacted by factors beyond your control.  In this blog executive coach John M McKee discusses how to apply a planning approach that’s used successfully by organizations to your own career.

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Headhunters are receiving a lot of resumes these days. 

One I spoke with yesterday told me that her office is being flooded with them while there’s still no dramatic increase in hiring.

2011 is, and will remain, a difficult year.  Depending on which stats you believe, it’s likely that we’ll close the year in the US with about 8.9% reported unemployment, growth for the economy will be about 2.2% in real terms.  For most businesses, the prospects are no more positive.  Clients are developing an attitude of playing it safe and spending – in many cases – the minimum possible.

More than ever before, I’m hearing requests for information and guidance. To boil them down, they are, more or less in one of these areas:

  • How can I guard against ending up as another one of the statistics we’re seeing on the news every day?
  • Are there tools or approaches that one can use to help ensure that (s)he is proactively managing his/her career more assertively?

Here’s one I’ve found to be very successful.  It’s called The Rule of 3. It’s predicated on the premise that nobody should be managing-by-crossed-fingers.

 The Rule of 3 is the opposite of hoping.  You know:  Hoping to not get fired, or Hoping that one’s clients will start buying more, and then Hoping they’ll pay their bills more promptly.  Crossed fingers as a strategy isn’t going to do it.  Much better to buy some lotto tickets.

The Rule works for an individual who’s employed, self-employed, or contracting.  It works for small business and large organizations.

It assumes that none of us is smart enough to ever see everything ahead.

It’s about keeping options open, being thoughtful, and rolling with the natural shifts in cycles.  I suggest you give it some consideration, and noodle about how to apply it to your situation.

So, my advice is – starting today – determine 3 options for your professional life. I’ll use an example of someone who works for an organization to show where these options could be:

1. I have a job and will do whatever it takes to keep it.  For most people, this means stepping-up.  Doing, and being seen and recognized for doing, things beyond which others in similar roles would ever do.  Showing – more than ever – that you’re the one who the company simply must keep even if others have to be laid off.  It could involve more work, more hours, helping out in different areas beyond your role, taking courses to show that you are capable of doing other projects or activities.  You want everyone to know that you, more than anyone else, are a keeper.

2. Accept the reality that you still may lose your job. Despite your best efforts personally, other factors can come into play. The company may go down, or the offices where you work may be shuttered, or your department could be outsourced.

With that as a possibility, now is the time to start planning what the ideal alternative would be.  What I mean is:

  • “If I became victim of this environment, what would my preferred outcome be?
  • If I could choose my next job, what would it be and where would it be?”

Get clear on this and start investigating, while you’re still in your current role, what it would take to get that other job.  It could be internal or with another company or another industry.

Now you’ve got the beginnings of a back-up plan that you could use in the event of the worst case in the current job.  With some groundwork now, you would be in a strong place to move from a sacking to a job you could be happy with.  Start taking actions that will help ensure you will not be immobilized by actions taken by the current employer

3. Recognize that your preferred outcome may not materialize as expected and hoped.  So, you lost your current job and then went after the preferred alternative but your plan didn’t come together as intended.  Now what?  Here’s where the Rule of 3 is even more important because, as ugly as it is, you’ve already contemplated this scenario.  You’ve noodled about other jobs, or sources of income, that you could do and that would keep some cash flowing into your life.  Not necessarily the kind of activity you’d prefer; but it can keep the rent paid and buy you some meatloaf.  Creating this fallback plan while you’re still employed is important because you’re doing it more dispassionately.  Your ego is intact, your common sense more in play.  I once had a company executive tell me his #3 was working at a call center providing service to others.(!)

Hopefully, neither he or you  will never have to use your #3; but creating a plan now that is more likely to help you through the possible worst case scenario will reduce the chances of having to find out.  You are becoming more active in managing your future and increasing the chances of effectively dealing with any problems that may arise.

For more ideas about creating a plan. Check out my new book The Plan.  Right now it’s available as a download at no charge.

Here’s to your future.

John

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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.

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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.

John

Why get a degree? April 4, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, American Dreamers, career planning, career success, Career Wisdom, CBS Interactive, Coaching, DIRECTV, Gen Y's, Job advice, new jobs, Personal action plans, The Secret, Veracity.
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For most people, getting a degree today has become a bad investment.

I believe that most of these individuals would be better off simply getting into the workplace sooner.  It’s not that I’m against education – I’m actually a strong advocate of lifelong learning.  It’s just that – for most college kids – the job market is no longer likely to provide any kind of ROI.

Consider these stats which I picked up in Forbes Magazine:

During the past 30 years, overall inflation in the US was 106%

Health care costs went up 251%

College tuitions and fees?  Up 439%!

Translation: the cost of tuition / room / board are increasing at a rate 6 times faster than the average earnings of a college grad.  Combine that with the fact that there are fewer hi pay jobs today as a result of global hiring, and the math simply no longer is right.

Many very successful people are college dropouts.  They include Steve Jobs (Apple) , Bill Gates (Microsoft), Clare Danes (actor), Richard Branson (Virgin), Dave Thomas (Wendys), Albert Enstein.  I’m in the same boat (– although clearly not in the same league..)

I discussed this trend more deeply in my 2nd book Career Wisdom.   At this point I now use a ‘rule of thumb’ when giving students ideas to noodle about their career:  Don’t go into any type of work that can be done faster or cheaper:

– by a computer (eg: accountants hate Turbo Tax)

– by someone overseas ( this now includes doctors by the way)

– online (eg: lawyers hate sites that do divorces or estate plans for 1/4 their cost)

We are truly moving into an era of the creative class where people are valued for their new ideas and approaches.  And we’re also moving into an era of  hands-on work, where a job cannot be automated or done elsewhere – these include mechanics which pay pretty well and flipping hamburgers.

Just don’t get stuck with an education bill for a hundred thousand dollars with a false expectation that you will be able to pay it off and then find out that the “job” you’d expected is now done in a different way and you’re too expensive to hire.

Here’s to your future!

John

More insight here.

New book,The Plan, launches tomorrow! February 14, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot, Action Plans, business and career coaching, career success, Career Wisdom, Coaching, life balance, quality of life, Veracity.
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“Is this it?  Is this as good as it gets?”

Ever ask yourself questions like that?  If so, you’re certainly not alone.

As a business life coach, over the period of many years, I’ve asked many hundreds of people to rate how they’re doing.  My questions were usually like these:

  • How successful are you?
  • Has life turned out like you expected when you were in school?
  • Are you satisfied with your personal (or financial, or career) life?

What I found was that most people are not happy or satisfied with how things are going.  Only a very-small percentage rate themselves well, while most rated themselves not-very-good at all.

So, in my coaching practice, I started digging into the lives of those in that small group who had rated themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied”.  I wanted to see if there was anything that they all shared.  Was there some thing, or certain actions they all did that helped them have a great life, one they enjoyed – while the bulk of the people lived lifes that they weren’t happy with?

And – as I uncovered – there was.

I started testing these ideas with my clients.  Together we found that they could turn their lives around.  And it didn’t take a long time to change how things were going for them.  My clients repeatedly told me that they’d moved forward – into new successes, and were enjoying life more fully.

Breakthrough!

After seeing how effective this approach was, I got together with a trusted colleague, the Canadian consultant and mentor Helen Latimer,  to co-author a new book.

Our goal for this book was singular: To help as many people as possible to have a better life.

In it, we’d share insights from real people.  We detail the experiences of clients and others who’d found out how to live satisfying and successful lives.  We wanted to provide solid information and tools that anybody could easily use in her or his life.  It worked.

Our new book is called The Plan.

In The Plan, we share everything you might need to dramatically change your life.  We provide insight, tools, and worksheets that are easy to use.

We know this book will make a massive change to your life because we’ve seen the results first hand.  Check it out.  I know you’ll be glad you did.

John

“Everything’s excellent”. Really? January 28, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, business and career coaching, business intelligence, Business Success Coach, career success, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Veracity.
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“John, You impress me. You’ve got great experience in the real world, unlike most coaches.  And your reputation is excellent.  I want to tell you that when we need a leadership coach in this organization; your office is the first one we’ll contact.  But right now – I can’t think of anyone who could use a coach.”

I was talking to the CEO & Chairman of a very large media company.

A smart guy, I like him a lot.  But he’s clearly out of touch with what’s really going on.

In effect, here’s what he was saying:

1. All of my managers are performing at, or above, expectations.

2. I don’t have anyone who is roadblocked; they’re all moving forward successfully.

3. Everybody here is fully aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.

4. Business is great, profits are great, the outlook is great.

5. Nobody on my team is a flight risk (meaning, none of the really good performers will ever leave here – they love their jobs and this company).

Can any thoughtful boss – in any organization – say all of these things?

I recognize it’s very possible that this CEO was really just trying to avoid the conversation with me.  Perhaps he doesn’t feel he has the “expense money” to engage me.

But no boss or organization, can “Save their way to success.” Especially in a dynamic industry.

  • Any good business opportunity comes with an investment cost.  But there’s a key  difference between prudent business people and the rest of the pack:  the smart  ones look for assurance that they’ll see a solid Return on that Investment (ROI).
  • I learned this myself years ago when I was asked to turn around a failing business. Only after discussing ROI was I prepared to make any decision about spending the little money we had.  I’d expect nothing less from our clients.

But the CEO above, with his hasty response, may never know that he could have engaged us with no risk. Consequently, he missed an solid opportunity to improve his organization’s results.

All in the name of “expense savings”.

At Business Success Coach.net, I believe in the importance of a Guarantee. And, because I’ve led $B organizations myself, I fully recognize that there is a critical need for achieving a ROI. In my practice, we provide both.

Like any astute business person, the CEO above should have asked before responding.  But he didn’t.  And that’s just unfortunate.  For everyone there.

John

Here’s to Your Future!

Survey: Workers remain nervous about employment August 31, 2010

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, career planning, career success, Career Wisdom, coaches, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, new jobs, unemployment action, Veracity, Women.
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I got a call for an interview from Associated Press Business Writer Tali Arbel. She wanted my thoughts about how to handle the “first day on the job”.  Thought I’d share her article from today’s Yahoo Business Section. Hope they are valuable for you or someone you know.
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STILL NERVOUS: Americans remain nervous about their job security and the strength of the economy, according to a survey by jobs website SnagAJob.com.

Worries about jobs are pervasive: 35 percent of those polled this summer said they felt their jobs were less secure than in 2009. That’s an improvement from how respondents felt a year ago, though, when 52 percent said job instability was worse than in 2008.

Part of the reason for worry may have been the experience of being laid off. The survey showed that 34 percent of people who said they had changed jobs in the past year did so after losing their previous position, up from 25 percent who said they had changed jobs because of a layoff in summer 2009.

The number of people polled whose top fear for the future is losing their job has tripled since the 2007 survey to 9 percent, this summer’s survey showed. Saving for retirement and college education remained the biggest worry throughout the four years that the survey has been conducted.

SnagAJob.com, an online jobs board, randomly polled 1,000 U.S. adult workers by telephone from July 8-26. The margin of error for the poll was 3.1 percentage points.

BACK TO WORK: The first day on a new job can be overwhelming. The new hire has to interact with hordes of unknown co-workers, customers or clients, figure out the responsibilities that go with the new job, and learn the layout of a new work space.

Career coaches offer tips on how to have a first-class first day:

• BE OPEN AND FRIENDLY: Present yourself well to co-workers in an effort to form bonds. Walk around and introduce yourself to everyone. Keep conversations brief, polite and listen more than you talk: Ask questions about workplace operations and culture.

Follow “the rules that they teach us in kindergarten. Play nice, share, be cooperative,” said Paul Bernard, an executive coach with his own consultancy in New York.

• CONNECT AND LEARN: By being cordial and curious, you begin to form relationships that may help you later on. Your goal is to turn new co-workers into allies or mentors within the organization, said career and business coach John M McKee, who has run a business strategy and coaching firm, Business Success Coach.net since 2001.

Being friendly and asking questions also helps new hires figure out how the office works and what their role should be.

“There are informal power brokers in all organizations,” McKee said. Learning the unofficial structure of the workplace can help you achieve your goals.

• DRESS THE PART: During the interview process, keep on eye on attire. Overdressing on the first day can appear arrogant, McKee said. Underdressing, on the other hand, is just as bad: It looks sloppy and disrespectful.

Still, slightly conservative is more appropriate than too casual, said career strategist Daisy Swan, the owner of Daisy Swan & Associates in Los Angeles. “Don’t go overboard with anything: jewelry, perfume cologne.”

• ADAPT AND STAY POSITIVE: Often the reality of a new job will include more responsibilities than were presented during the interview process, especially since companies cut costs during the recession. If that’s the case, the new hire needs to be ready to grin and bear it, Bernard said. It is “dangerous to complain … people mess themselves up by being negative,” he said.

There’s also no need to refer to an old employer. “The way you did things at a previous job may not apply to where you are now,” Swan said.