Let’s face it – we’re obsessed with risk. It permeates everyday life in any number of ways; we employ “Risk Managers”, we look to minimize risks in our investments, apply risk management techniques to the projects we run, and even try and avoid making seemingly risky career moves. The “riskier” the choice, the greater we’re supposed to discount it.
When we’re evaluating a choice, risk has a very well-established place in this process. We use it to avoid making mistakes others have made, to heed the warnings of friends, family and colleagues, and to make ourselves feel better about the choice we ultimately end up making.
However, somewhere along the line risk has taken on a far more prominent place in our everyday decision making than it deserves. That isn’t to say you should ignore risk, but when we’re so focused on mitigating them, we can lose sight of and undervalue the importance of opportunity. This has a lot of implications for your career and the decisions you make.
If you are employed by a non-profit organization, you are working to benefit charity on a daily basis. Whether you are out front raising funds, making sure those funds are spent wisely, or answering and distributing calls, you are certainly contributing each and every day that you are on the job. But did you know that even if you work for a for-profit company, there are still many ways that you can leverage your job to benefit charity?
Here are 5 ways you can do just that:
1. Do Pro Bono Work
Whether you are a lawyer, an accountant, a professional marketer, or pretty much any other type of professional, there is probably a way that you can provide your services for free to benefit charity. For example, a lawyer could take on a certain amount of cases per year for no fee in order to support the poor, or even provide free in-house counseling for a charitable organization itself. Same could be true for a marketer, who might volunteer their services to help a charity figure out how to more efficiently raise funds.
Fall’s here, and with it, a new job hunting season. It can be a nerve wracking experience for many, especially when you don’t really know how to approach it, and even for those who are confident, there may be little things you’re doing (or not doing) that are hindering you more than you realize.
We’ve written (and read) our fair share of articles on interviewing, so we thought we’d put together this handy guide of great articles we’ve come across to help you really nail the next interview you land.
1. Group Interview Tips – 5 helpful tips to get you through the dreaded group/panel interview.
There seems to be an everlasting debate about leadership and whether it can be taught or if it’s some inherent trait you’re born with – think how often you’ve heard someone say “they’re a born leader”.
It’s also become big business. Business schools have made leadership a huge focus of their curriculum and market themselves as builders of the next generation of leaders.
Yet, when you strip away all the terminology as well as the psychological definitions and descriptions of a leader you’re left with a very simple concept: leaders have followers.
You can be forgiven for thinking that to succeed in your career, all you need is hard work and great performance reviews from your manager. We focus so much on the static aspects of learning, such as books and completing repetitive tasks (to ensure we get better at them) that there’s often little attention paid to potentially one of the most important influences (or not) on your career - a mentor.
A mentor is a teacher above all else. We all remember our favourite teachers from school and how they helped shape and encourage our interests in science, education, or math. This is exactly what a mentor provides for you in your career and you need it.
There’s not always an obvious choice of mentor - it could be your direct manager, a manager in a different group, or a senior leader in the organization. The key is to find someone who can help you navigate the inevitable twists and turns of your career and inspire you all at the same time. Ideally, they should be someone who you think does a superb job at what they do and you’re confident you can learn from.
This is great advice - albeit a slightly contrarian view - from Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. The expectation is that we should have a good idea of what our “passion” is very early - but it’s simply not realistic. The odds are much of your time has been spent in school and you haven’t really been exposed to a world outside of that environment. Even if you’ve found something you enjoy, chances are you’ll come across something even more fulfilling once you’ve left school.
In that sense, the onus should be less on you to “find” your passion, but rather to put yourself in a situation where your passion finds you. In order to do so, Jason Fried, author of Rework and founder of 37Signals, has some superb tips on how to do so.
“I discover things as I go and don’t think you can predict your passions. You don’t necessarily know what you’re going to be super interested in in 5 to 10 years. You just have to be open to being introduced to those things and that’s what I’ve been working on—keeping an open mind about things and not limiting myself.”
We underestimate the importance of expectations. Whether you’re buying a car, a pair of sunglasses, or a cup of coffee you’re not so much buying a product, but investing in an expectation.
You don’t buy a Toyota because you believe it’s the fastest car in production, you buy it because you expect that it will still be running 15 years from now. You expect your morning coffee from Starbucks to be fresh, hot, and made to order. That’s why you go there. Think how you would feel if your Toyota broke down after 3 years or if your coffee was lukewarm?
We’re often amazed when companies or careers stumble when they seemed destined for continued success. For instance, of the 500 companies that appeared on Fortune’s initial list in 1955 only 71 still remain. Some of the most well-known names (at the time) on that list have long since disappeared from it, such as Scott Paper, Zenith, and Warner Lambert.
The study of how companies can go from the pinnacle of their industry to the bottom in such a short time has become a furious topic of study, particularly in management circles. Of all the theories discussed, the idea that success itself is at the root cause is one of the more interesting.
In his article, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown suggests that companies and careers can suffer what he calls the “clarity paradox” that consists of four phases:
According to The Economist, almost 300m 15- to 24-year-olds are not working - almost a quarter of the world’s youth. The late Margaret Thatcher famously quipped “Young people ought not to be idle. It is very bad for them.” She was right.
Societies that leave their young workers idle in their formative years is problematic: young workers are more likely to struggle later in their careers, with lower wages and less job security as a result. It’s also a stark omen for the future of any economy, given an aging population will eventually be reliant on the goods and services that generation produces.
It’s tempting to only look at this from the perspective of less developed countries. However, it’s a big problem here in North America as well as other so-called developed countries. According to the OECD, there are 26m young people in ‘rich countries’ they count as “NEETS”: not in employment, education, or training.
Recently, a Forbes article discussed “The Six Enemies of Greatness (and Happiness)” and labelled them as the principal factors that can erode even the grandest and most well-meaning of plans. They’re intended as a warning to those who only dream big, rather than do.
Conversely, and perhaps more interestingly, it also implicitly helps to identify the key steps on the path to success. For instance, what factors influence greatness and happiness? What elements consistently place you in a position to succeed?
Rather than focus on what we shouldn’t, the following compares the original list of “enemies” (found in brackets), with their polar opposites in order to generate a useful guide to achieving success and happiness.
Salary negotiation is one part dance, one part game, and all parts stressful. Remember, you are trying to maximize your return on your “perceived” value in the marketplace, and your potential employer is trying to maximize productivity for the least cost. The worst part of salary negotiation is feeling that your potential employer holds all the cards. Here are some quick tips that will tip the balance in your favour and give you some sense of control over your future:
1. Never bring up money first—virtually all employers have done their homework and have a pretty good idea of how competitive their salaries are in the marketplace. They also Twitter and use Facebook to find out how much your friends are getting, so typically you should not be surprised by the number. If they press YOU for a number, you need to ask yourself if they are bargaining in good faith. Say: “I am sure you have a range in mind that is commensurate with the role and responsibilities.” If they persist, you need to ask yourself if they are bargaining in good faith (or what else are they hiding.)
I guarantee you that if you can have ballsy conversations at work, you’ll not only be more successful at work but you’ll be happier in life altogether. The ability to have direct and honest conversations will get you a raise, get you the love of your life, get you to where you need to go. End of story!
Open Up a Diamond
Conversations are shaped like a diamond. They start with a sharp focus - a goal and intended outcome - and then open up to two-way dialogue. Seek to understand where the other person is coming from by asking her to self-reflect on why she believes what she does. Ask open-ended questions. Be sure not
to challenge the other person’s beliefs, but rather seek to understand with clarifying questions. Once you and the other person are ready to move into action, close down the diamond with solutions and commitments.
The Apprentice is just one big (and well televised) group interview. I’ve done my fair share of group interviews, each time advancing to the next round. I have to say, it’s a very interesting dynamic, being in a room of very capable and qualified people knowing that chances are it’s a zero-sum game; that if someone else gets it you will not.
That said, in my experience, group interviews don’t have to be the daunting exercise that some make it out to be. Below I will talk a bit about the kind of mindset and attitude that you want to have when in this situation. Bear in mind, that while this has worked for me in the past it may not suit your own personal interview style. At the end of the day, you want to do what makes you most comfortable so that you’re best able to exude confidence and shine.
I like to assume that people are generally polite and nice. Of course that shouldn’t change just because you’re in a group interview situation. However, perhaps because they’re too polite or perhaps because they don’t’ know an answer; I’ve noticed that often people will very easily defer to others. Remember that you’re there to land a job! So don’t be afraid to be the first one to speak when there’s the awkward moment after the interviewer lobs a question to the group.
We spend a great deal of time trying to figure out what it is we should be doing. Whether trying to define a specific career path early on or looking to make a switch in emphasis part-way through, it’s a consideration that never seems far from our mind. All the more reason then to make sure we’re getting exactly what we need from our work, aside from simple monetary considerations.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Bill Barnett entitled “Make Your Job More Meaningful” pointed to three distinct attitudes about work – jobs, careers, and callings. According to the article, identifying your own perspective can help you better define what it is you want from your own professional life.
Those that see their work as a “job” are working more for the money and derive less satisfaction and meaning from it.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but there’s more to serendipity than simple (and seemingly random) chance. In his brilliant book “Where Good Ideas Come From”, Steven Johnson explains that the term “serendipity” was first used by the English novelist Horace Walpole in 1754, where it had been inspired by a Persian fairy tale titled “The Three Princes of Serendip”. These quixotic princes were “always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”
Yet, as Johnson points out, discoveries are really only serendipitous if they’re meaningful to you in the first place. As such there must be some basis or connection that’s made with an event in the past that makes it serendipitous, otherwise you’re likely to let your discovery pass by without a second look.
He suggests a number of elements within our control that can create the right environment in which to foster and create serendipitous connections, whether in our professional or personal lives. They may sound obvious, perhaps even mundane, but their impact and influence is well documented.
Vestiigo connects the career-savvy professional with the latest job opportunities at Canada’s best and brightest companies.
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