(7) Tips – To prevent your job title from defining who you are, and your potential.

Are you guilty of letting your job title define who you are and what your potential is? Too many people focus and get hung up on where they are presently in their career journey and do not spend enough time or attention on planning where they should be heading. I’m sharing tips with you to consider, so you do not fall into this trap.

Regardless of where you are on your career journey, how much time do you set aside to think about and plot out if you are heading in the direction you want to be going? Your current job title is something you have earned based on a number of factors such as the experience you had attained to be in the role, how well you meshed with the team you are on or leading, your level of potential to grow in the role you have, and perhaps because you have had success in a similar, yet junior role.

Due to the fact we spend the majority of our time each week working, doesn’t it make sense to carve out a minimal amount of time to plot a course to make sure we are on the right career path? Granted not everyone enjoys the planning process, but it is necessary. As a matter of fact, Benjamin Franklin is credited with the quote “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” I know people do not intentionally plan on failing, and sometimes failing is actually the best experience you can have. It’s how you leverage learning from your failures which help you to build upon your experience, and since no one is perfect, failing at something is a healthy part of the learning process, and something I highly recommend you embrace. If you are not experiencing periodic moments of failure in your career, you are playing it too safe, and potentially not learning as much as you could if you were instead taking what I will call more calculated risks.

When people experience what they would classify as moments of failure, this is often the time they start to think about whether they are in the right role, have the proper support from their boss or team, are at the right company who fully embraces their talent, or whether they have the proper experience to be successful in the role. Here are some questions and tips to consider when you are at a low point or discouraged by either the title you have, or the career path you are on:

  1. Is the role you are in one you would have expected to be in when you were planning out your career path at any point in time?
  2. Are you in a role which you accepted because it seemed like the role and title which was desirable from a society perspective, but not satisfying personally to you?
  3. Are you energized from the role you have, or does it drain the life out of you?
  4. Do you ever feel you are not fully applying your natural talents to the role you have?
  5. Is there a clear path forward in the role you have?
  6. Have you considered making a lateral role move to obtain more experience which could put you on a more satisfying career path?
  7. If money were no object, what would you enjoy doing as a career?

Sure, thinking about winning the lottery is one approach to not having to concern yourself with your career journey, but ultimately this is not a realistic concept to be considered. It is well documented that people who are applying their talents in their roles on a daily or regular basis are significantly more engaged in their roles. People who feel this way will likely tell you they do not mind going to work. Can you imagine feeling this way?

Although there is no 100% guarantee you will always be satisfied with the work you are doing, the title you have, or the career you have chosen to pursue, it is important to consider pausing and taking the time to significantly consider what level of career satisfaction you are willing to live with. You also need to factor into consideration whether you are in the right career and whether your title means more to you than you think it does.

More importantly, have you thought about whether you are sacrificing your physical and mental health because you think society or people you know are putting pressure on you to be in a career or role which looks good on paper, yet makes you feel unauthentic and miserable? If your answer is yes, or maybe, now is the perfect time now for you to stop defining yourself and who you are by your career and title. When you fall into this trap, you subconsciously limit your future career options, and wouldn’t you rather be heading in a direction of having a better and more satisfying career path? Take the path of being your authentic self in the career and roles you choose for the right reasons. You will be much happier when you do this, and don’t procrastinate. Start today.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. We also work with individuals from students to executives and business and sports teams to coach them to learn how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Announcement: I will be publishing my first business book this month. If you would like more details about my book, please send me an email at kathymurphy@me.com . Thank you. – Kathy

 

 

 

Reputation – Do you have one?

Building your professional reputation is literally something you have been doing one day at a time since you joined the workforce. You have also built your reputation one company at a time, one team at a time, and perhaps one project at a time, too. In other words, every company, every person with whom you work, and the projects to which you have contributed are all part of what combines to define your professional reputation.

How you handle yourself in each and every encounter is also a contributing factor that either adds to or subtracts from the value of your reputation. So, what happens if you have built a solid and positive reputation and you do or say something that has a negative impact? Is it possible to recover?

The answer is yes and no, and time, in many cases can work in your favor. Why?  Because most people are more focused on themselves than you, and not everyone will remember all of the details of the incident in question.

It’s probably easy to name several people who have fallen prey to being victims either by self-sabotage or because of another person or group who negatively impacted the perceptions of others.

This is one reason people or companies hire public relations or crisis management firms to help mitigate the damage done to a brand due to a negative incident. Tylenol, Perrier, Exxon and other companies all had major incidents which severely tarnished the brand.

Both time and redrafting their messaging helped restore the brand back to either neutral, or took them out of the harsh spotlight of scrutiny.

Now think about people who have seen their reputation tarnished. It is painful to watch, and even more traumatic to experience.  People find out who their true friends and supporters are in these instances.

The folks who faired best when their reputation took a turn downwards were the ones who had high degrees of emotional intelligence, but more importantly, surrounded themselves with a support network to help to rebuild their personal brand.

Of course, we are all responsible of our own reputations, but having a strong professional support group, can work miracles.

This is possible because the supporter essentially acts as a reputation buffer when the crash occurs. Having these human ‘airbags’ takes serious and quality time to build, but once they are in place, unless the incident was completely egregious, or ethically challenging, most people will be able to play a support role in restoring someone else’s professional reputation.

On the flip side of one’s reputation being damaged is what most people work to achieve. To have a stellar reputation.

As we all know, good reputations are earned, over time.

Since social media can build or break a career, reputations need to be simultaneously guarded, but also nurtured. The speed at which this communication channel moves makes it both positive and negative in terms of having an impact on the professional perception others have of you.

There are safeguards to control some of the negative aspects of social media, but more importantly, the positive attributes should be optimized.  It’s okay to toot your own horn once in a while – perhaps you won an award, earned a certification, or made a significant contribution to a business project, maybe you volunteered time to a worthy cause . . . take a bow, and build your reputation.

Although no one wants to have an incident impact their professional reputation, it can happen. Although the immediate aftermath feels devastating you can recover.  Do not to let it define who you are.

Most people are good by nature, and there are more who will forget what you did than remember what happened, or when. Keep your chin up, do the right thing when faced with tough choices, and most importantly, do what you can to preserve your reputation when you have an opportunity.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. We also work with individuals and sports teams to coach them to learn how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Announcement: I will be publishing my first business book next month. Information about how to pre-order my book will be posted on my WordPress site in the next few days. If you would like more details about my book, please send me an email at kathymurphy@me.com . Thank you. – Kathy

Women of Isenberg Conference: The organizers of this conference at the University of Massachusetts flagship campus in Amherst, MA, have invited me back for a second time to talk about my career in Marketing. If you are in Amherst, MA on Saturday, please let me know, as I would happy to say hello to you. This conference is ‘sold out’, so put this as a must attend conference on your calendar in February 2019.

 

Life at the Top – is the view worth the effort?

 

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

Climbing the proverbial career ladder is not something in which everyone is interested. Although if you have even a one competitive bone in your body, the thought has certainly crossed your mind.

Plotting and planning how to escalate the ladder is not always a straight-forward process. Arguably, it is one of the most difficult paths to navigate. In many business disciplines or certain industries, there are not any particular methods that guarantee how to get there.

I am not a fan of politics, but realize there is a fair amount of politics with which one has to contend in order to scale the rungs. Essentially, politics is a popularity contest. You need to figure out how to either become acquainted with, or deal with the people who are in influential roles.  It’s likely they will have a say in whether you will be able to ascend.

Having political ‘supporters’ is critical to successfully navigate in a corporation heavily laden with politics. Unfortunately, a company does not need to be large to have politics influence its culture, and how its employees rise or become stagnant.

When I ask CEOs and other top-level executives if their journey was worth it, a large percentage tell me the sacrifices they made personally were not. Not all executives had to sacrifice so much personally to get to where they are, but the percentage is over half.

However, there are certainly advantages at the top, but as we all know, money cannot buy happiness. Some executives told me they would trade their position or do things differently if they could get back to a simpler life and be, or feel, happy again.

And while we are on the subject . . . happiness is not something you can simply just want to have. You have to work at being happy. The first step is to determine what makes you happy. Prepare a mental list, and you just might realize that you already have everything you need to be happy. In fact, when I talk to CEOs what makes them happy, they often realize there are a few things they could alter to get back to feeling happy again.

Climbing the professional ladder can take years. Most people will need new skills. Many will likely switch departments or employers’ two or more times.  Why?  Because typically, when someone moves into a different role, they will acquire new skills and valuable experiences not always available when they remain at a specific position for more than a few years.

People will automatically see things differently in a new environment, be exposed to new people and new approaches to how to do any number of different things.

Change is not something with which everyone feels comfortable, but those who embrace and become comfortable with change are typically the ones who climb the career ladder over their peers who do not.

Slow and steady is a great concept for the majority of people in an organization, and thankfully, many people are satisfied with this style of how to operate. If everyone wanted to rise to the top there would be serious management issues to address.

Luckily, this typically is not the case. There are layers of management built into the organization at larger companies, in part to control or even prevent this from happening.

The next time you think about whether you are ready to climb the corporate ladder, decide how high you’d like to go. Then plot out how you will get there. You can do this by talking to others who are in roles above you, especially at your own company, but also at other firms, as there are generally more ways than one to get to where you want to be.

Talking to people can mean actually having a conversation with them in person, via an email or Skype, if distance is a challenge. Ask if they had help planning how they got to where they are, or if the process happened in an organic way.  That is often the case if a company routinely promotes employees based on having a well-defined process.

Unfortunately, most companies do not have a systematic, fair, and non-political promotion plan. If your company does not, take comfort knowing that you are in the majority of people who have to figure out how to climb to the top, if this is really what you want to do, and if the top, or even the next rung, is worth the effort.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

 

 

When People Get Quiet

 

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

Call it one of the senses, and I’m not sure which one, but there is definitely a sense you get when something is not quite right. This same sense can be applied where you work and I have unfortunately been 100% accurate in predicting something is going on in the office, and usually it is related to either a promotion, a firing or the company being acquired. Some might call this ability having a mild sense of psychic power, but whatever you might call it, my general sense is everyone has this same ability, but might not know how to tap into it. Having this ability can be both helpful and stressful, as it serves almost as a barometer of the pressure being felt in the office. 

There is a saying “the calm before the storm”, and I have seen and felt this more times than I care to admit. Most of the time something good is about to happen, but people are not allowed to talk about what will be happening, so they tend to get quiet, or act more reserved than they normally are. Conversely, when something ominous is about to happen, this same sense of quiet tends to permeate throughout the office almost like a fog. Generally a few people in the office are setting this tone, and the ones who are may not be aware they are doing so. However, there are signs you can pick up on to determine if something different is about to happen, and here are a few of them. 

  • The people who have knowledge about something going to happen whether it is positive or negative will generally start to have less eye contact with you prior to the “event” happening. 
  • People “in-the-know” will have a slightly different demeanor than they typically do (e.g., if they are normally very talkative, they will become less so). 
  • When asked questions which might either be on target or are close to what might be going on, the person who knows what is happening will potentially get fidgety and exhibit signs of being nervous (e.g., their neck turns red, they may start to sweat slightly on their forehead), or they quickly change the subject.
  • The response to your questions which would normally be longer, will be short and almost abrupt. 

If you encounter any of these behaviors occurring with the people who “know something”, try not to pressure them into telling you anything, as they generally are not in a position to do so. However, depending on how well you know them, and what type of relationship you have developed with them in the office, they may give you slight hints about what is going on, and whether it is a positive or negative scenario. People who are in management roles, and who may not have years of experience yet with change management occurring, will be much more transparent and easy to read than those with years of management experience. Of course this is a generalization, but more often than not, newer managers will have a more difficult time not wearing their emotions outwardly. This is not a bad thing, and it is part of what you learn how to deal with and do a better job of not revealing from an emotional or body language perspective. 

Being able to read what is going on and tapping into your intuitive senses allows you to  prepare you for what is inevitably going to happen. I’m not talking about a self fulfilling prophesy, but instead thinking through what your options might be when you have a sense something is happening which might impact you in a good or negative way. It is always far better to be aware than caught off guard when something in the office happens, as being too emotional in most office settings is not generally considered a good thing. Having the ability to control your emotions, and I am not talking about acting like a robot, but instead being composed on the outside even though you might me a hot mess on the inside. Most managers and upper level executives become quite good at masking their inward emotions, but being able to read the emotional cues they are giving off will serve you well in future situations when you will need to be composed and thinking clearly in any situation. 

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Own your confidence – (10) ways to do so

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

Possessing confidence can be one of the most satisfying feelings, especially when your confidence is derived from something you are proud of or enjoy doing. Demonstrating confidence to others comes in a variety of delivery methods such as how you present yourself physically, how you speak, walk and treat others. People who are confident tend to have a certain allure about them which you know they have, but which is sometimes difficult to describe. You just know they have it. The funny thing about confidence is that it is a fluid type of feeling, as it can come and go. However, when you are able to sustain your confidence, you are in a position of owning it, and it becomes more difficult to lose.

Too often I have seen people with confidence let others chip away at their confidence, and this is generally when the person is in the process of building up their confidence. If I were to think of an analogy for confidence, I would compare it to a foundation. Like a foundation, confidence can be built up and be a really strong foundation, or it can be a weakly built one and easily eroded. So, how do you know whether you have built a strong confidence foundation, or one made of a weak substance such as dust? This depends, as when we are in the process of building up our foundation of confidence, sometimes it is built using strong substances like boulders, and sometimes it is not. Why does this happen? It happens as we are testing our ability to own something, and when we are in the process of experimenting with our confidence building strategies.

Speaking of strategies, do you have strategies to own building up your confidence? You may not have taken time to ponder this, but it is essential to have some go to strategies to work towards building up and maintaining your confidence. Here are (10) ideas to consider to help you build up your confidence foundation.

  1. Write down 1-3 three things you are proud of having accomplished. These do not have to be monumental accomplishments, and they can be divided into both professional as well as personal accomplishments.
  2. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest, how would your rate your accomplishments?
  3. Is it possible to continue to build upon the accomplishments you have achieved? If so, think about how you can do this, and by committing to putting it in writing, it is more likely to happen.
  4. Now, write down 3-5 things you want to accomplish professionally or personally in the next year, or sooner.
  5. Plot out in a few sentences how you are going to be able to accomplish the things you want to do in a few sentences. This does not have to be an exercise in crafting a novel, and only you need to see this information.
  6. Ask 5-10 of your colleagues or friends to write down 5 or more words which describe who you are. Tell them you will reciprocate doing this for them.
  7. Once you have your list of words from your friends, use this information to gain potentially new insight into how others view you. Part of this exercise is to demonstrate to you that other people may see you in a much stronger position professionally than you do, given their choice of words to describe you.
  8. Commit to doing 1-2 random acts of kindness for other people every day. These small gestures will indirectly help to build up your confidence as you will feel more satisfied by doing something nice for others, and the feeling will be cumulative and help to further strengthen the confidence foundation you are building.
  9. Make sure every day you have an opportunity to work on doing the things that make you feel confident. Each time you do this, it is equivalent to further building up the strength of your confidence foundation, which you absolutely want to fully own.
  10. I know you have heard the expression “fake it until you make it”. There is something interesting about this expression, and part of it has to do with acting confident, even when you may not feel this way in whatever situation you need to be more confident in (e.g., giving a presentation, going after your dream job, planning an event, doing research work). If you have not already tried applying this concept, give it a try. It becomes easy to master with practice, and before you know it, you will not feel like you are faking it anymore.

Not all of the suggestions above might be applicable to you, but there should be a few of them which can help to put you on a trajectory towards owning it, and I can’t wait for you to get there, but make sure you take time to enjoy the journey along the way.

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.