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Holiday Bookends July 2, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", American Dreamers, Canada, Coaching, life balance, Offtime, Personal action plans, Satisfaction, The 3 Key Life Aspects, The Plan, Veracity, well being.
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Canada Day on July 1 (Friday this year) and Independence Day on July 4th (Monday).

This got me noodling about both great countries.

Born in Canada, I am also a US Citizen.  I love both countries. It makes me smile every time I get into a discussion about each country’s pros / cons and the great stuff / crappy issues faced by them.  People on both sides of the border have some outdated opinions about those on the other side of the 49th Parallel.

So, for my Holiday Gift to readers of this blog – let me clear up some popular misconceptions I hear:

#1.  Americans don’t know anything about what goes on in Canada.  This really pisses off Canucks.  It’s true that Yanks don’t know as much about Canada as Canadians do about the US.

It has everything to do with the fact that Canadians consume about the same about of news and media from the States as do the Americans.  Unfortunately the Americans don’t have the same TV access to Canadian media so they aren’t faced with news or stories each day.

But it’s not that Americans only care about what’s going on here. I find that the people I come in contact with are aware of world events to an extent that is generally speaking greater than the average Canuck.

2. All Canadians are very nice.  (Yes. ALL of them.)  I’m amazed at how prevalent this feeling is in the US.  It’s wrong.

Let me assure US readers that I’ve known some really NOT nice Canadians over my life.  When I worked at the Hudson Bay Company, the Chairman (George Kosich) was known as George Carnage because of his attitude that anyone who got in his way was an “enemy” to be dispensed with quickly.

Are there more “nice” people proportionately n Canada then the US?  From my experience, it’s about the same ratio.

– But what I love about many Canadians is that they have waaaaay better listening skills than Americans.  They’re less likely to interrupt and more likely to ask questions than their southern cousins.  Great listeners learn more and are more likely to be regarded as nice.

– On the other hand, Americans lead the world – far and away – in terms of charity donations and philanthropic support.  That’s pretty nice.

3.  Americans are the least fit nation in the world.  Canadians are more fit because they spend more time on fitness and outdoors.

The first one is right – unfortunately.  Yanks inherited that mantle from Germans about 8 years ago.  I believe it has to do with the size of portions here and the accessibility of cheap fast food.

About the second one.  I don’t buy that argument.  Unfortunately, the last report I saw showed the Canucks are closing -in with regard to measurements like Body Mass Index (BMI).  Both countries are out of shape but it’s worse in the warmer country.

4. You can always spot a Canadian from an American by their “accents”.  Partially right – but not always.

I think that North America has kind of ‘local accents’ that are north / south in nature.  People in Fargo sound exactly like people just north of them in Winnipeg.  Edmonton residents could pass as locals in Alaska.  Vancouver-ites sound a lot like Seattle-eans. Toronto people have a real mix, some sound like Chicagoans, others like Wisconsin individuals.  Calgary seems like they were separated at birth from Denverites.  Newfoundlanders could pass easily as a local at a bar in New England.

Clearly French-Quebecers sound unique though, right? Not really – just spend some time in New Orleans French Quarter and you’ll hear many of the same sounds.

I do think Americans from what is called, “the south” have a wonderful and unique lilt – I’m sorry it’s being lost due to migration there from other states.  In the same way, I love the sound of many words used by a lot of Montrealers who still call English as their first language; kind of classy and romantic.

5. Finally, the big question: Which is right –

a) Canada is a better country to live in.

b) The United States is a better country to live in.

The answer is….drum roll please….

Yes.(!)

Wherever you are this weekend – and all year long – Love it. And accept those from the other side of the border as being about as close to you as any nation could possibly be.

Have a great long weekend!

John

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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

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

Schwarzenegger and Strauss-Kahn behaving badly means something’s missing – and not just a zipper May 20, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Business Success Coach, Coaching, life balance, Manswers, Satisfaction, The 3 Key Life Aspects, Veracity, wellness, Women.
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The news lately is full of stories of powerful men acting out in ways that are at the very least highly inappropriate and in one case, possibly illegal.

I think people have the right to ask, “Why can’t men translate their career success into their personal and family lives?”

It’s a question that seems entirely fair and worth consideration nowadays.  It comes up frequently – in one way or another – in my work with women clients.  Although they may be a bit more graphic in their terminology when we talk about “boys behaving badly”.

Over the last couple of years I looked more deeply into this with the co-author of our recent book, The Plan, Helen Latimer.  We concluded that – to a great extent – it’s because there’s a huge difference between being successful and being satisfied.

We hear stories all the time about people with wildly successful careers and personal lives that are worthy of a soap opera. They’ve confused being successful with being satisfied. Success is easily visible to the outside world, while satisfaction is harder for others to see. But it’s clear that if an individual is not feeling satisfied with his life, he could do some crazy things in a misguided attempt to feel better personally. “

Many people have success but aren’t satisfied.  This seems pretty clear in the cases of the former Governor and head of the IMF

  • People may have a fantastic career but an unhappy personal life.
  • They may live in a beautiful house but have problems sleeping because of very high debt.

There’s a gap between what they have and what they want.

One, or more of their three key life elements – career life, personal life or on the financial side – is throwing them off.

When we wrote The Plan , one of our goals was show people how to identify the gaps in their lives and then create a roadmap to a life that’s satisfying and full of richness.

There’s a straight forward way to create a life that will be much more rewarding on all levels. We’ve seen this approach work for people in virtually any situation. If these guys had taken the planning for their personal lives with the same seriousness as they did with their career planning, I think it’s likely that their stories would be remarkably different and with a whole lot less drama.

Here’s to your future!

John

Audience targeting to survive May 11, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot, Action Plans, business success, Business Success Coach, Coaching, DIRECTV, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Personal action plans, SWOT analysis, Tech Republic, Tempur-Pedic, The 3 Key Life Aspects, The Four Windows Process, The Plan, Veracity, women in management.
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In my coaching practice, the clients are mostly in either media (video, newspaper, movies) or technology (including gaming).  But what we talk about is far more universal.  Most of our time is about addressing perhaps 4 to 6 issues like

  • leadership and effectiveness
  • balance between career and personal “lives”
  • planning (and execution) of a solid plan
Of course we get into a lot of technical conversations related to their jobs because it can be the detail stuff (“how do I actually do that?”) that derails us even when we get the theory.
A lot of what we discuss and work on can be found in our new book, The Plan.  Additionally I’m impressed by a few new ideas we’ve discussed that I now see floating to the surface in these sectors. These will impact all of us in our daily lives.  Some of them:
1. Groupon – is moving into concert sales.  This can save a bad tour, help fill an otherwise unsuccessful venue, and democratize the event by making it less expensive for most people.
When that succeeds I think it will spread to movie theaters.  There are too many chairs empty in nearly every showing.  People will go if the show is less expensive.
2. Newspapers and magazines are moving into the digital world but aren’t sure how to monetize (eg: make money) now when they get there.
I’ve seen a few ideas that showcase the future and thought these 2 quick videos seem to be the most likely outcomes:
Any entrepreneur or small business faces the same needs to understand audience targeting.  I believe that algorhythims are going to lead us there.   Anyone know some great geek?  Grab ’em while they’re available.

– John

Her advice: Don’t bring it to bed! April 11, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot, Business Success Coach, coaches, Coaching, life balance, Personal action plans, Personal Success, Satisfaction, Tech Republic, Tempur-Pedic, Veracity, wellness, Women.
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Cate Hartenstein is one of those very unique people who seem to be in a continual state of learning.

Recently she joined me on my WomensRadio show Business Success Coaching to discuss her thoughts about The Plan, my new book co-authored with Helen Latimer.  You can listen to the 7 minute podcast by clicking  below. 

An artist and art educator, Cate uses visual art to assist individuals in overcoming the barriers and access to their creative potential.  Her process facilitates self insight using the information and metaphors available within the process and product of art making.

Currently working on her Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Marriage and Family Therapy at Notre Dame de Namur University, Cate sits on the board of Art Trek the Southern California based non-profit that provides art experiences to children, adolescents, adults, and teachers.

Married, she has 4 young adult children. Cate tells us that she’s dedicated helping her children to each develop a “plan” for their lives. (We loved that..)

And what about her advice, “don’t bring this to bed..”? Cate elaborated,”With my husband snoring beside me, and my Corgi at my feet, I simply couldn’t put the book down.  It’s that great!”

(I hope everyone feels the same way.)

For more information about Art Therapy visit their site.

This was a fun interview – listen here: The Plan: Not for Bed!