Get Ahead by Making Mistakes and Asking for Help.

If there is one thing which I have witnessed for years and which has seriously driven me crazy, it is seeing people; you know who you are, working on something for hours and not asking for help to accelerate the process of accomplishing the task. Yes, I know some people only learn if they “try” to do it themselves, fill in the blank for what that might be, but let’s face it, numerous hours are wasted because people are afraid to ask for help. What they do not realize is how much more they could learn if they asked for help instead of struggling through the task they do not know how to do.

The perception of making mistakes having a negative connotation is also a subject which drives me nuts. If there is one major tip I can share with you about life and business, it is that the best way to “learn” and to advance in your career is to make mistakes. If you are not making mistakes, you are not trying hard enough, and are playing it way to safe. Stop playing the “safe game”, make mistakes, and ask for help. Yes, it’s that simple, and you will not be fired for making a mistake, or asking for help. How do I know? I know this first hand because when I have made mistakes, or asked for help, I have always benefitted tremendously from doing so. It was intimidating asking for help, and incredibly scary and humbling admitting I made a mistake, but the net result far outweighed playing the “safe game”. I have also never fired anyone for making mistakes, or asking for help. Actually, I promoted most of the people who did both of these things.

Another “secret” I am going to share with you is that your boss or colleagues really do want to help you. Most people in general have a big heart, and sincerely want to help you. Scientifically there have been studies done to prove that people derive far more satisfaction from helping someone versus not doing so. Think about the last time you helped someone. Didn’t you feel better afterwards? You can thank the natural body chemical called dopamine for this, and it does not cost you anything, but it can be a naturally addictive side effect. Arguably not a bad one considering the negative chemically addictive alternatives. Let’s not go there, as we all know the opioid epidemic is out of control and too many good people and families have been impacted by this negative addiction.

Living in the Northeast part of the United States, there are towns in our region which are especially plagued by the dark side of opioids. Fortunately, there are programs being replicated that originated out of the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department to help address this issue. Thank you to the Gloucester Police Department for spearheading and doing something about and addressing the opioid drug epidemic.

Sorry about digressing from the original topic of why you should make mistakes, and ask for help, but both of these instances could apply to the opioid epidemic too. However, I am sure your situation is not nearly as dire as this example, but illustrates my point of why you should consider my advice. Since we all only have 24 hours each day to make the most of our days, and if you care about making the most of your time and being productive, consider the expression I have heard numerous times of “fail fast”. It is a simple yet impactful phrase, and there is a great deal of merit behind it. When we make mistakes, we typically learn more from making them than we do by sticking to the “status quo” of our routines.

I am still considering whether it is a blessing or a curse, but unless I am trying new things, making mistakes and feeling like I am constantly challenging myself, I feel like I am wasting my time, and quickly become bored. Perhaps this has to do with the fact I am entrepreneurially wired, but I can share with you I have had a far richer professional experience as a result of being this way.

In my first blog article, I shared with you that I am dyslexic. I did not find this out officially until I was 21 years old, but I always knew I learned and thought differently than everyone around me. The good news was as a result of having a learning disability, I knew I needed to ask for help to keep up, or to better understand what I was supposed to be doing – again fill in the blanks on this one. Becoming comfortable with asking for help was an essential survival method for me in both life and business. I quickly realized I did not have to know everything, and also became aware of the fact I should rely upon others who were far better at doing certain things than I was. Appreciating the fact others had strengths I did not have was something I also learned by asking for help, usually as a result of making a mistake. If someone could not help me, they generally knew who could.

In summary, if you want to get ahead in both life and business, please start becoming comfortable with making mistakes and asking for help. It is far easier to do than you might imagine, and I promise you, this is something I wish someone had given me as advice early on or at some point in my career.

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.

 

 

 

Start Trusting Your Instincts and See What Happens

I was reading a book called Thinking Fast and Slow by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics laureate Daniel Kahneman, and came across a reference to how our brain works from an instinct perspective. He referenced to how when we are driving on the highway we can detect if someone in the car next to us might be dangerous, and how we will instinctively maneuver away from them. This same concept can apply in many scenarios, and it happens frequently to each of us every day without thinking about it. The point is we all have a natural ability to apply our instincts to help keep us safe and to detect and make decisions based on our internal feelings “compass”.

My last blog article called “Who’s Real, and Who’s Faking it?”  talked about using your instincts to detect whether someone is authentically representing themselves and how you can utilize your internal “bullshit” meter to detect if they are “real”. People who come across as overly confident are often “bullshit” artists, but sometimes they are so smooth in the delivery of their information, you may be mesmerized by what they are telling you and accept the information and them as being legitimate. My reference to the “bullshit meter” is similar to how you can engage your ability to tap into your instincts too, but you need to practice doing so to become comfortable with this powerful tool.

Since there are limited if not zero courses to help people with developing their instincts to help them, particularly in the business world, the next best way to hone your instincts is to practice relying upon them. I can guarantee you will be intimidated by relying on your instincts 100%, but “test driving” your instincts in many different instances is really the only way to become proficient at leveraging how powerful this innate tool is. I remember the first time someone called me out for not trusting my instincts. I was surprised by how they knew I did not trust my instincts and instead made a different decision. In this particular case, I did not trust my instincts about hiring a person, and hired them even though my instincts were telling me not to do so.

Fast forward to about 2-4 weeks from the first day the person was hired on my team, and I could clearly see I made my first hiring mistake. There were others on the team who really wanted this person to join the team, but I had many reservations which were mainly driven by my instincts, and I chose to ignore them. Big mistake, as the person turned out to be a theft, have a well-hidden police record buried deep in a Google search, and caused mayhem within the organization for several months until they were arrested by the police. Can you say “drama”? It was more than I had bargained for, and it is clear now I should have listened to my instincts and not have hired this individual.

Justin Fox wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review called “Instinct Can Beat Analytical Thinking” . I love this title, but the article itself gets pretty deep into what are referred to as heuristics, and really geeks-out about this particular theory based concept on instincts. I’ll spare you the gory details, and provide you with the quick summary on what this means. Essentially the concept of heuristics is about “rules of thumb”, or gut instincts which do not rely upon math or statistics to come to an answer. The theory suggests other decision making shortcuts which leverage a person’s experience can lead to making better decisions than relying upon scientific modeling. Sorry, but this is the least “geeky” version I can come up with on a Friday afternoon.

Essentially what I am suggesting from my years of experience of making business and life decisions is to start with having your decisions based on relying upon your own gut instincts. Before you take off the proverbial “training wheels” and rely 100% on your intuition, I can recommend you make your future gut decisions with a small dose of advice sprinkled in from another person you trust and know has a solid history of making sound decisions. Let me know how well your instincts are working for you, as I always enjoy hearing from my followers.

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.

 

Who’s Real, and Who’s Faking It?

Have you ever been speaking with someone who is in a perceived authority position and thought to yourself, does this person really know what they are doing or talking about? Earlier in my career I would have rarely questioned someone’s authority or professional knowledge. I also presumed those who held a higher-ranking position knew what they were talking about and or doing, and earned their way into this role. News flash! I was wrong, and boy was I naïve as I thought everyone earned their way into their position and had the battle scars to prove it. Unfortunately, my early career reasoning about authenticity was so far from the truth, and I realized through experience there are many people in the proverbial business world and other professional industries who are faking it every day.

Over the years, I have learned and honed my “bullshit” (BS) meter to properly detect who is the “real deal” and who is wildly “faking it”. How did I learn to do this? One of the ways is by asking multiple questions and not accepting all information shared by the presumed authority as being the truth or credible. By asking multi-faceted questions about the information they are sharing, you will either intrigue them by your curiosity, or annoy them because they were not expecting you to question them. If the person gets annoyed with your questioning, there is a strong chance they are “faking” or misrepresenting the information they are telling you. They may also get defensive, try to change the subject or tell you they have to do something else immediately to avoid being caught by your “BS” meter.

There are a number of other ways to detect if a person is the “real deal”, and recently a friend of mine told me about a Netflix show called “Lie to Me” which has some fascinating ways in each episode to see first-hand how you can detect if someone is a “faker”. The show is about a guy and his colleagues who have mastered the art and profession of detecting if someone is telling the truth. Several ways they do this is by reading the person’s facial expressions and body language which includes where they look (e.g., looking down or away from the person you are speaking with often indicates they are misrepresenting the truth). Excessive swallowing, clinching their hands, speaking rapidly, fidgeting nervously and potentially sweating or having a difficult time expressing themselves verbally are also signs your BS meter should be going off.

Relying upon your intuition and emotional intelligence skills should not be overlooked as additional strategies to spot “fakers”. Another simple questioning technique you can leverage is to ask the person “Why did you say that?”, or to ask them for proof about where the source of their information is from. If you detect they are continuing to spin their web of deceit during your conversation, they probably are.

Naturally there are people who are professional BS artists, and we have all encountered them. There are also people who have sociopathic tendencies and are simply perpetually always misrepresenting the truth. Realistically this is a small portion of our population, and if you come across such people, you will likely be fooled by them, as they have mastered the art of deception. However, sometimes they do get caught, but not often. More often, people who are “faking it” are doing so to preserve their professional reputation or to avoid embarrassment for not knowing what they should know.

Over the course of time in anyone’s career they will inevitably come across a person or multiple people who are “faking it”, but the next time it happens, you will now have some methods to establish whether the person is credible, or if you have come across a “faker”. I hope you are able to benefit from these simple, yet effective methods of preventing you from being misled by false information which could be harmful or put you in a compromised position professionally. Good luck with refining your BS meter, and don’t be afraid to put it to the test.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Develop Your Professional Network.

By Kathleen E. Murphy

There’s a saying you have all heard it’s “who you know, not what you know”. When I first heard this expression, it annoyed me, especially since it was a common expression I heard numerous times after I graduated from college. For many years, I did not want to believe this statement had much merit, but as my career developed, I realized it might have more strength as a concept than I gave it credit.

When you think about your network and the people you regularly engage with, have you considered whether you have consciously developed your network, or has it been purely developed organically from the people you have met? I read a book a few years ago called “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. The concept of the book was that you should always be in the process of developing your network and taking every opportunity to network with people, especially during dining opportunities. He explained that whether you realize it or not, your network will afford you other opportunities for career advancement or moves into industries you may not have foundational experience in.

As an executive coach and professional sports and performance advisor, I routinely talk to clients about the importance of expanding their network, and getting out of their comfort zone by meeting new people. For those clients who dread the thought of meeting new people, I advise them to seek out meeting new connections via their present network. It is far less intimidating to approach meeting new connections this way, and you already have something in common with the new person you are meeting. Developing your network does not always have to be accomplished in person, but when possible, this would be my recommendation. The second-best way to meet new connections is by scheduling a brief 10-15-minute call with them. You should develop an agenda of what you want to talk to the person about prior to the call, share it with them, and then adhere to the agenda to respect the new connections time. If the conversation is going well, you can always schedule additional time with them, or agree to meet in person if this is possible.

If you have the opportunity to travel, I highly recommend scheduling brief in person meetings with people from your current network, and with 1-2 other people who are connections from your network. It is critical to make sure you are always cultivating your current network, as the more time you spend investing in the relationship with your current connections will pay off immensely when you least expect it to. Another factor to remember about networking is to always ask the person you are networking with what you can do for them, and to sincerely offer to help them in some way. It might not be an immediate action you can do for them, but you should let them know you would like to reciprocate any action they are doing to help you. It could be offering to talk to either someone they know who would like advice from you about your expertise, or perhaps extending them an opportunity to be connected to someone in your network.

My parents have served as tremendous examples for me about the importance of cultivating my network, or what I refer to as my professional friends. For those who know me, meeting new people is one of the most exciting things I routinely look forward to doing. I am one of those people who look at strangers as simply people I have not had the opportunity to meet and get to know yet. Having this attitude has served me extremely well in terms of allowing me to build my network over the years. I do not overtly work on developing my network, but instead look for informal opportunities to do so, in places I am going to, or when I will be in social settings when I do not know everyone at the event. By not placing too much emphasis on whether I am growing my network, it more organically tends to be developed, and which I think is a good model for others to follow.

The most important thing to remember about networking is to have fun with the process. Too many people stress themselves out by thinking they constantly need to be networking. They do not, and I do not recommend doing so. Instead, approach developing your network like you would if you were working on planting a garden. Prep your soil, plant your seeds, water them and cultivate the results of your efforts in a more relaxed timeframe. Before you know it, the work you put into growing your garden will produce wonderful abundance.

In honor of Father’s Day, this blog article is dedicated to my Father, Daniel Murphy. Happy Father’s Day Dad, and to all of the Father’s out there, or to the people who play the “unofficial” role of a Father to others in their lives.

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.

 

 

 

Why are people terrible at following-up with what they promised to do?

By Kathleen E. Murphy

I could have chosen a number of different words to express my sentiments about most people’s ability to follow-up on just about anything, but in my experience most people fail miserably at this skill, and yes, I will say the word….simply suck at it. Why is it that something which is so simple to do seemingly not done by the majority of people in the business community, and in many social interaction scenarios? Is it because they were not taught this skill, or lack manners or discipline? Is it because they forget what they promised to follow-up on, or did they not ever intend to follow-up and simply gave “lip service” and told the person what they think they wanted to hear?

When I come across someone who has strong follow-up skills, I am always impressed with this skill. The people who consistently do this well are not always in sales, customer service or marketing and which are business disciplines which require you to have excellent follow through skills. However, the common thread which people have who possess excellent follow-up skills are often highly self-disciplined, driven to succeed, value the reputation of their verbal commitments and have genuine respect for the person they were speaking to and the time they spent conversing with them.

Take a moment to think about how you felt when someone followed-up with you. Were you surprised or did you expect this to happen? Was the impact of their follow through seemingly a large effort, or did it potentially take less than a couple of moments to accomplish? Let’s think about follow-up from a different angle. When someone does not follow through with a commitment they made, does it change your opinion of them, or do you not think twice about it? Have you ever considered how you are perceived when you failed to follow through with one of your commitments?  Do you think there was an impact on your lack of follow-up via the person or group you assured you would deliver on providing them with whatever you promised?

When I was researching this topic, I thought about when do people learn the skill of following through? This is not a skill taught in academic settings, and unless you learn this from your family or friends, you might not be fully equipped to master this skill until you are put into scenarios which require you to master this skill. Yes, I will agree in most academic situations an early form of practicing this skill is to complete and turn in your homework, and there is an incentive to do so. However, let’s go beyond the academic setting and place ourselves into the “working world”. Since in my opinion being able to follow-up is a relatively easy skill to master and yet only requires more discipline, everyone should have the ability to master this skill. Perhaps a change in your attitude to care about the importance of this skill is partially required to gain success in this area? Regardless of the reason or your level of ability to follow-up,  here is a link to an article to help you. It is titled “7 Ways to Improve Your Results With Follow Up” .

Since we are at the beginning of the week, here’s a challenge I want you to consider trying for one week. See what happens after you commit to following through on everything you told someone you would do. You are going to need to keep track of this information, and if you do and look back on the results a few weeks from now, think about the impact doing so has had on you and the recipients. If after one week of practicing your follow-up skills, let’s see if you agree it is not as difficult or time consuming as you might imagine it to be. The added benefit of practicing your follow-up skills will be how people perceive you in a much more positive light, and your personal reputation will gain what I refer to as “karma points” which everyone can use more of. So, what is the first thing you are going to follow-up on?

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.