Reward Yourself- 7 Ways

Practice self-love.

Rewards come in all shapes and sizes and don’t need to break the budget, but not doing it could break your back. We all need rewards, but we don’t need to wait for them to come externally. It’s not productive.


Know what makes you happy. Then do it. Sounds so easy. Often is not.

We all get busy. So much is expected of us. I recently learned that a friend’s 21 year old son uses 5 computer monitors simultaneously at his summer internship. FIVE monitors. How can one possibly practice balance or self-care when this is what we are doing to ourselves?

No one will love you more than you love yourself. Not your spouse. Not your doctor. No one. They might disguise themselves as a friend and tell you they love you, while they enable you to continue bad habits. OK, maybe not, but I believe no one will love you more than you love yourself, assuming good mental health

A friend of mine once taught me the difference between sympathy and support. Honestly, it was a lesson for me. Sympathy is given by wallowing alongside you, when you keep wallowing. Support is different – constructive, productive and progressive.

A friend might listen to you go on repeating the same things. They observe you repeat unhealthy patterns and yet they don’t point that out. They give their listening ear without limits. But a TRUE friend listens and then reflects back to you what YOU might be doing to bring the aggravation on yourself in a pattern, so that you might break the pattern.

I digress. Today is about rewarding oneself. Do it. Often and generously. Here are some suggestions that work for me:

  1. Bubble baths
  2. Martinis
  3. Ironing cloth dinner napkins- perfect commitment to ironing process…a napkin
  4. Blogging – I like to think everyone thinks I’m as brilliant as I think I am.
  5. Chatting online with friends. Not with strangers…
  6. TED talks, so easy, informative, entertaining and accessible
  7. Exercise in any form, even if just a walk around the block.

“Just because you’re not coming, doesn’t mean you’re not paying.”

MillennialsMy son said this when he was about 18 years old.

Much has been said about the attitudes, behaviors and work ethics of millennials.  I’d like to spend a moment thinking about the positives of the perspectives of our millennial generation.

I happen to know 2 in particular that have great work ethics.  They are my children. They have more energy than me, a far more elastic memory, greater exposure to young minds and activities.  Add all of that up and, when channeled properly, great results can happen.

5 Advantages of a Millennial Perspective

  1. Sky’s the limit. Someone who is at an earlier stage of their career and their life often has a cleaner slate than not.  They haven’t yet failed as much. They haven’t been told, “You can’t”, as much. Simply stated, they have less baggage.
  2. You don’t know what you don’t know. It can be humbling sometimes to have less knowledge. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But, unharnessed, it can sometimes be paralyzing. Those at an earlier stage can often be more likely to try something new – make a suggestion of change at work, leave an inspiring job, begin a new relationship.
  3. No tech fear. This generation grew up with technology. They know that pressing a button won’t make the sky fall. They were raised to click and touch in order to learn.
  4. Curiosity. While curiosity can be age agnostic, I’d wager it’s more prevalent among youth. The more things we’ve tried, the more pre-conceived notions we tend to own, generally speaking. Curiosity will drive more change, resourcefulness and innovation than not.
  5. Appropriate entitlement. This one deserves a lengthier explanation, because it tends to be the most common single word associated with the negatives of the millennial generation.

I recently read a post from someone who was interviewing for a job, made it to the second interview and the hiring manager was talking about the comp package in too rushed of a way for the applicant to digest. Therefore, she asked for a written explanation of the comp package. Upon doing so, she noticed the body language of the hiring manager was not positive.  It was the last she heard from him, as well. Her reaction was that she’d been disrespected for having spent 3+ hours of her time over the course of 2 interviews, plus the amount of time she’d spent filling out some application forms.

When is it appropriate to ask for a written explanation of the compensation package – before or after receiving an offer? It is not desirable to ask for the comp package for a job you haven’t been offered.  You have zero leverage until receiving an offer.

Would you ask to see someone’s financials before they propose? You could, but I’d not respond well to that.

By the way, 3 hours is a very small time investment to make toward an association that could last for decades. Especially if that association could mean the difference between being independent or not.

Small investment indeed.

How to Present Your Message – 7 Tips

Preso XBA month ago, I had the opportunity to speak before a large group at an internal sales conference.  I was nervous, as I knew less than half of those in the room and there was quite a bit riding on my ability to make a good impression before my boss, his boss, that guy’s boss and scores of other executives across business units. Last week, I finally received the video of the presentation and I’m pleased with how it actually transpired.

Here’s what I learned.

Take care of yourself first. I had about a month to prepare for my talk, but about a week prior, I was sent specific corporate guidelines detailing what the visual presentation needed to look like with sample templates in a 16 page document.  There were specifically suggested graphics to choose from, company sanctioned icons, none of which appeared to match my message nor my vision of how I intended to present. Since I missed the whole “tech” thing in college because it hadn’t been discovered yet, this pretty much threw me into a tailspin at a time that I should have been feeling great about the honor of being chosen to represent.

I was prepared. I had notes online and on notecards. I rehearsed plenty. But, by the time the presentation was approaching, I was exhausted and functioning on little sleep.  I checked out of conference programming for the afternoon and took a nap.  That was the timeout my mind and body both needed to come out on stage, before a ballroom full of colleagues, and appear fresh, rested and on point.

If you think you fit in, you fit in. I was chosen to sit on a panel with 4 other colleagues. The day before the talk, I discovered I was the only panelist over the age of 25.   I’m significantly over the age of 25. My daughter will see 25 before too long. At first, I was slightly mortified.  But, that quickly turned to pride, as I knew I was there because I belonged there. I had something of great value to share and that’s why I was chosen to present.

One of my fellow panelists said that her greatest takeaway from her success story is that you don’t need to have a big title to have a big win. The context was that, about a year ago, she was a college student, and now she’s presenting a case study of her successful sale before a large group of colleagues at all levels. When I heard her remarks, it occurred to me, in the context of my relative age on the panel, you don’t have to be considered young in order to do fresh things in fresh ways.

Smile and breathe. Always helps to build credibility. Nothing sells like confidence. Nothing comes close.

Control your body language. If you are sitting on a panel, sit up straight and don’t swivel if you’re in a swivel chair. Your message to the audience will be lost in that motion.  You also won’t like how it looks if you have the chance to view it again on video.

Water and lozenges within reach are useful. Plan ahead. Have them on hand.

Have a conversation. Don’t talk at the audience. Have a conversation with them. It’s a practiced thing, but no one likes being talked at, while most everyone enjoys a good conversation. Statements like, “I’m going to tell you guys something and it is SO simple” or “You know, we really saw dollar signs when we got to this part of the project” or “Just start somewhere and here’s what you are looking for” are some conversational ways to share your ideas.

Isolate only 1-2 points. There’s something magical about narrowing the focus to only 1 or 2 key takeaways. It helps the speaker focus; it helps the audience absorb and retain. Use this as a guide, when you can, for your prepared remarks.  And for Q&A afterward, minimize your response to an open ended question by choosing the 1-2 key things that come to mind as soon as you hear that question. A laundry list would send both speaker and audience into the black hole.


Be Kind Always – 10 Ways

kindnessPeople are watching you.

Every day, we are confronted with opportunities to interact with others.  Whether ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks, dropping off your dry cleaning, checking out your groceries, booking a hotel room, greeting a receptionist, presenting to a prospect, paying a bill, etc. How we choose to present ourselves is exactly that – a choice.

Here are 10 Ways to Practice Kindness Right Now

  1. Speak gently in public.
  2. Don’t use your cell phone in a restroom of any kind.
  3. Offer your extra snacks to a fellow passenger.
  4. If the creamer sits in front of you, pass it around when coffee is served.
  5. Use your inside voice on all cell calls.
  6. Never honk your horn unless safety is at risk.
  7. Give blood.
  8. Smile first.  Don’t wait for the other guy.
  9. Do not tailgate.
  10. Send written thank you notes – to family, to business contacts and to anyone who has helped you be who you are today.

Pain is Weakness Leaving The Body

Intellectual growth is a most humbling experience. In order to grow, you must push yourself beyond your comfort level.

It’s easy to repeat what you already know. It’s satisfying to be the expert. But, to be the rookie is humbling.

Careers are crumbling among my peers. What seemed a long term plan yesterday, is gone today. Things like reward for loyalty, insurance benefits and administrative support are no longer realities for a lot of people I know. Automation, cheaper and younger workforce and entrepreneurialism have replaced those perks.

If you’ve been doing the same thing for the past 10+ years, earning about the same, with a similar degree of stress, please hire me. I want what you have, but you are probably a figment.

More likely, you are working harder, earning less and pining for yesterday. If that sounds familiar, get over it. We all can relate.

Here are 5 ways to improve your job security starting today-

Tell your customers “I don’t know, but will ask ” more than “its not done that way”. Because, before you know it, someone else will do it “that way.”

Stretch yourself to perform beyond your former benchmark. That means set quantifiable goals and evaluate yourself at set intervals for accomplishing them. This doesn’t have to be directly tied to your work. It can be physical achievement, a challenging hobby, or any marketable skill. Take a tech skills class. Learn a new language.

Read the signs around you. If your job responsibilities have shrunk as others have taken on some of your former work after a restructure, don’t sit back and congratulate yourself on your good fortune. Karma is real.

Consider the job that no one else wants. I don’t mean the grunt job that’s unappealing because there’s little reward. I mean the job that’s too hard or too scary or too inconvenient, but, because of these reasons, the reward is available to be earned. There’s little that’s more secure than the job that no one else wants.

Finally, just work hard. You know when you are and when you’re not. The reward for a hard day’s work is tangible. If you don’t know exactly how to make yourself more useful, then ask. I promise you there’s someone looking at your gig and thinking, I could do that and I’d be willing to work harder, earn less, be more likeable, etc.

Get Out To Get In

The hidden job market, those millions of openings that never get formally posted,now accounts for up to 80% of hires, according to a recent article in
Jobs are only one kind of opportunity that can be uncovered by getting out more.

Last week I was asked by a customer for candidate referrals for an anticipated opening. The more I engaged the customer to tell me about his needs, the better idea I had of who I might know to suggest. Suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks. A contact that I’ve known for 25 years, who’s not even actively seeking full time employment and doesn’t even live in the same city, struck me as a perfect match. I called her that day and after our conversation, she’s very interested in the position and the hiring manager is interested to meet her.

Opportunity strikes those who seek it, make it possible and recognize it when it happens. If I’d not kept in touch with this person over the years, we haven’t worked together in over 15 years, I wouldn’t have thought of her. But I brought an opportunity to her and also to my customer in need.

Another example. Yesterday I rented a car while having some body work done. The young man behind the desk asked me a few conversational questions about what kind of work I do. He was simply breaking the monotony of his pretty automatable job. I was impressed by his curiosity and communication skills and also his easy manner. If I was a hiring manager seeking a seller, I’d probably encourage the guy to interview. In fact, I was so impressed by his demeanor, if he’d asked me for an introduction to a member of my network, I would’ve obliged. He was an opportunist, the good kind.

Discovery is an integral part of sales. You can’t discover if you don’t get out. That means, literally, get out. Step away from the computer. Meet with people face to face – customers, prospects, colleagues, former colleages, prospective colleages, industry peers, etc. People choose people, not titles. Make a human impression. For this there is no substitute.

Get out of your comfort zone too. If your job feels like you’re doing the same thing over and over again, maybe one day it will be automated. What unique value do you bring that isn’t so easily replaced? Stretch yourself until you can answer this. If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t trying that hard.

Learn new skills. The world is changing. Quickly. If you are not changing, you’re flying without a net. Today I signed up for a certification course that I’m not sure how I will use and I’m half sure I will struggle not to be bored while in the class. However, on a tip that this coursework is valued by my new employer, I asked my manager if he would make this investment in me. He said yes, so how could I possibly pass that up?

Challenge. Raise the bar, not only for yourself, but for your customers. How else can you get a customer to add your offering to an already stretched budget? The greatest enemy to selling isn’t hearing, “NO”. “No” easily leads to, “Why not?” It’s harder to respond to, “I’m not looking to make a change. We are happy.” Well, Mr. Customer, how do you know if you’re getting fair market value for your inventory if you can’t tell me your market penetration in finite quantitative terms?

Get out from the regular to get in to the game.

Life is Too Short to Listen to Bad Music – 8 Tactics & 1 Success

I miss Biggie Smalls and wonder what his music might sound like if he were still around. Chances are, with the aging of the population, he might have to make some adjustments to keep sales ideally paced. Similarly…

You can just about forget everything you’ve learned about the workplace, as it relates to getting a job, if not keeping a job. That might be a bit of an overstatement, but there is some truth to it. Especially about the getting a job part, particularly if you’ve been at the same job for 10+ years. Your cheese has been moved.

It’s possible that what you learned in Kindergarten is more useful than what you’ve learned in the workplace. Fundamentals like getting along with people, following the Golden Rule, working hard, trying your best – these fundamentals never lose value.

When you are at the same job for a long time, complacency can set in. And today’s world is far too competitive to be complacent. Some things I’ve learned about getting and keeping a job today:

Be Nimble – Things are changing at breakneck pace. Technology, competition, number of providers, business channels, communication media, consumer purchase habits, consumer media habits, choices and free resources all are changing constantly. The most viable employees and companies are those that read the signs around them and adjust to stay relevant to their audience(s).

Be Trustworthy – Business moves at the speed of trust. People do business with people, not titles, not companies, not even results. They won’t test you to learn your results if they don’t like you to begin a relationship. So be likable first, and a good step in that direction is to earn trust.

Be Humble – You are replaceable. Period. It’s not personal. Well, sometimes it is.

Work Hard – This never ceases to be necessary. For every “seasoned/experienced” employee, there’s a slew of younger, hungrier alternatives who will try harder and accept lower wages. Don’t kid yourself; this is fact. And reconsider your use of the words “seasoned” and “experienced” on your resume. To some, this means “old” and “set in their ways.”

Read – A lot and often. Work smart, don’t re-invent the wheel. Read and learn from the successes of those before you and clone what you can. The internet has been a great facilitator for this. Use it. People often ask me for help with their LinkedIn profiles or their resumes. I tell them to find someone who has their ideal job on LI, and clone that profile. Heck, I encourage them to clone mine if it fits. This is a compliment, not a threat. If you don’t understand this paradigm, you miss a large chunk of social networking for business, content sharing, and crowd sourcing.

Clone, But Don’t Lie – As I said above, plagiarizing is smart business. Lying is not. If you claim skills, be ready to demonstrate them. At some point, you’ll have to.

Give It Away – If you have expertise, share it. Seriously. Why do people blog and give away their hard earned experience for free? Because this is how marketing happens now. You want in the game? This is the game now.

Launch – If all else fails, if you do the right things and still don’t make it work and you have the resources, do your own thing. Below is the story of someone who did exactly this.

An example of turning an old system on its ear is 19th Amendment. 19th Amendment is an online fashion portfolio and platform where designers can create a profile on the site and sell their products directly to customers – the designers will then get feedback about their items, and most importantly, build up sales quota and experience. They’re able to figure out their target demographic, what items work best, and what seller is the right fit for them to approach, be it Nordstrom, Target, or a local boutique. The bottom line of 19th Amendment: to help designers find out if there’s a market for what they’re doing, before they start doing it (read: invest a ton of money into it)

Consumers can purchase at a wholesale rate. Buyers are able to gauge real time market demand and place orders with new designers. Emerging designers are given a free platform on which they can interact with customers on a personal level and sell their designs in a larger market. Genius. Hard work + smart thinking + original channel = Success.