We all hear about the accomplishments of executives and picture a rigorous, caffeinated, and meeting-filled day beginning the moment they rise until the second their heads hit the pillow. In a study performed by Vanderkam, 90% of executives claim to be awake before 6am on weekdays to get a head start on their day. However, individuals negotiating million-dollar deals and leading hundreds of employees don’t sprint to the office the moment the alarm buzzes. In fact, you might be surprised at the calm, laid-back pre-dawn approach leading successful people into high-yielding work days.

 

They Say No to Coffee

 At least until they have hydrated their bodies for the day ahead. During the night, your body loses nearly 1 liter of water. Because of this loss, we wake up dehydrated, which is only worsened by the immediate reach for a cup of coffee. Taking the time to drink 16-32oz of room temperature water puts you well on your way to rehydration, alertness, and a faster metabolism. Feel free to reach for your morning java…after a few swigs from the water glass.

 

They Are Selfish

 We’ve all heard the age old saying: you can’t pour from an empty glass. When a successful person begins their day in the wee hours before dawn, they focus on what they need to fill their cup. They set their sights on personal growth, self-reflection, meditation, faith-based study, or simply take a few moments to breathe. Begin a gratitude journal, or perhaps invest in a personal development book or two. By setting your daily mindset on bettering yourself, you are then prepared to pour into others and establish a day of accomplishment, focus, and productivity among employees.

 

They Set Their Intentions

 Try as we might, it is near impossible for humans to accomplish the entirety of the mile-long to-do list we set for ourselves. TimeManagement.com CEO Rob Rawson sets his top priorities first thing in the morning before the hubbub of email churn and meeting requests fills his time. Take 5 minutes to write down the 3 things that, regardless of anything else, must get accomplished today.

 

They Move

 Though a quick jog or a few sets of squats may not sound like the most mellow way to begin the day, research shows that a dedicated exercise routine before heading to work can improve mental clarity for 4 to 10 hours post-workout. Former CEO and chairman of PepsiCo, Steve Reinemund claims he has been running 4 miles at 5:00am for decades. This week incorporate 20 minutes of exercise into your morning and take note of how you feel by the end of the week. You know how the saying goes, “the only bad workout is the one you didn’t do”.

 

They Get Educated

In order to change the world, we must know what is going on in the world. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet has been known to begin his day reading the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New York Times, USA Today, the Omaha World-Herald, and the American Banker. Understanding the world around you not only provides a stronger educational foundation, but also gives insight into your industry, the economy, and global happenings.

 

They Stay Silent

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, surrounding noises can affect health by increasing stress levels, high blood pressure, risk of coronary disease, peptic ulcers and migraine headaches. Our mornings are often the only time of the day we aren’t surrounded by ringing phones, noisy conversations, loud television shows, and blaring music. In the morning hour, take the time to remain in complete silence as long as possible, leaving the hustle and bustle to the office.

 

Even adding a few of these habits will get your day moving in the right direction!

 

 

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About Debi

Debi is a coach to high performers, leaders and business owners wanting to achieve more and grow beyond what they believe is possible. Known for her clarifying insight and a pragmatic approach, Debi brings her clients to the next step by asking the right questions during strategy development and supporting them during strategy implementation. With experience in management, recruitment and employee development for various industries, she has a wide scope of expertise and will confidently guide you towards a successful future in your career.

 

Ready to take your career to the next level? 

Let’s chat. Schedule a complimentary call to discuss innovative solutions to your specific needs.

What week of social distancing is it? Week 7? 8? 25? When quarantine first began, it was frightening. Some people will not return to work for awhile. Others were asked to come back a couple of weeks ago. And then there are others that unfortunately lost their positions. As the weeks have gone on, anxiety has increased and staying motivated to work has become challenging for us all. I want to share with you my thoughts on how we can all maintain our personal morale in moments of adversity.

 

Give Yourself Grace

First and foremost, recognize that this is an unprecedented time for everyone. No one in the world has ever faced the massively-scaled COVID-19 before. We are all doing the best that we can with what we have, and that may look differently from your work prior to the pandemic. With added layers of uncertainty and anxiety, it is normal and okay that concentration and motivation are becoming harder and harder to come by while trying to work as usual. Give yourself grace. Recognize that you, along with your colleagues, are doing the best you can.

 

Do What You Can

Lastly, do what you can. There may be projects and tasks at work that have been put on hold for the time being. Colleagues may be facing furloughs or layoffs that have logistically or mentally affected your productivity. During this time, do not expect the same past results from these new challenges. If your company uses a goal tracking system, consider having a conversation with your supervisor to adjust those metrics.

 

Forget Work

At least for a while. Because we are unable to check in with our colleagues each day during coffee breaks and lunch time, conversations with work friends seem to be all work and no play. Plan a 30-minute virtual coffee break, or even a post-work happy hour with colleagues to catch up in an informal setting. Ask about one another’s families, find out what movie you should be watching next, talk about everyone’s favorite quarantine recipes. Just relax, and remember, no work topics.

 

Remember the Bigger Picture

Lastly, remember the bigger picture. Yes, I am a business coach, but I’m also a wife, mother, daughter, and friend. And as passionate as I am about my career, my family and friends are my absolute world. I want to encourage you to remember those individuals in your life. Remember that while business may be tough right now, you have people in your life, related or not, who love and care for you beyond how successful you may be at work.

 

____________

 

About Debi

Debi is a coach to high performers, leaders and business owners wanting to achieve more and grow beyond what they believe is possible. Known for her clarifying insight and a pragmatic approach, Debi brings her clients to the next step by asking the right questions during strategy development and supporting them during strategy implementation. With experience in management, recruitment and employee development for various industries, she has a wide scope of expertise and will confidently guide you towards a successful future in your career.

 

Ready to take your career to the next level? 

Let’s chat. Schedule a complimentary call to discuss innovative solutions to your specific needs.

You’ve accomplished the hardest step of the job application process: landing an interview. According to Forbes, only 20% of job applicants receive an offer to interview after they have applied.  The interview is the biggest opportunity a candidate has to stand out and show that they are the best choice for the position.

Here are some simple tips to ensure you are set up for a successful interview with any organization:

 

Research, Research, Research

When walking into an interview, you should be familiar with what the organization does, its largest competitors, prominent individuals in the company, and the basic responsibilities of the position. While these data points may seem obvious, it’s shocking how many candidates are rejected simply because they didn’t browse the company website or social media to get a base overview.

 

Dress to Impress

You only get to make a first impression once. When interviewing, your attire should always err on the formal side, but take a moment to check out the company’s social media to determine dress code and culture. Then, dress one level above the standard. If employees dress business casual day-to-day, you should be decked out in full formal business wear. If employees tend to show up in jeans and a t-shirt, polished business casual is appropriate.

 

Arrive Prepared

It is nearly impossible to over pack for an interview. At minimum, you should arrive with a copy of all materials that you submitted to the company during the application process, including your resume, cover letter, reference letters, and examples of your work if applicable. Bring a pen and notepad as well to keep track of questions, notes, company and contact information, or if nothing else, to simply show the interviewer that you thought ahead.

 

Slow and Steady

Let’s face it, interviews are one of life’s most anxiety-inducing events. The desire to impress and earn a position at your dream company can often lead individuals to rush through interview answers without taking pause to really think through what they are saying. You may have prepared these answers ahead of time, but this is the first time that the interviewer is hearing them. Take a deep breath and slow down to give the interviewer the chance to hear and take in your responses. Remember, they would not spend the time or resources interviewing you if they did not see you as a potential fit for the organization. Breathe, smile, and communicate with confidence.

 

Ask Questions

One of the worst mistakes a job candidate can make when asked, “Do you have any questions?” is saying no. Asking questions demonstrates that you did your research, paid attention during the conversation, and want to know more about the company and position. Prior to the interview, prepare a list of intelligent yet practical questions to ask the interviewer. These questions do not have to be in-depth inquiries. A simple, “What is the day-to-day culture of the company like?”, or “You mentioned that the previous individual in this role had been working on X project, could you share a bit more about that?” shows that you are interested and care.

 

Follow Up

As soon as you exit your interview, you should be thinking through what to write in your follow up message to the interviewer. While a thank you note may seem old-fashion, 57% of resume rejections are from a lack of follow up from the candidate. The message can be handwritten or digital, but must be personalized and show appreciation for the interviewer’s time.

 

There are times, however, that you can be perfectly prepared, excellently dressed, confidently inquisitive, and still will not receive an offer. Do not be discouraged, and instead take your experience as a learning opportunity and practice for the next interview invitation. If appropriate, contact the interviewer to ask for some pointers. Stay sharp, stay positive, and stay collected. The right opportunity will be heading your way in no time.

It’s no secret that unless you are in the toilet paper industry, business during the current climate is struggling. It seems like every day a friend or former colleague is sharing that they’ve had their salary cut, been furloughed, or even laid off from their job of 20 years. As leaders, it’s imperative that we look through a different lens during this time.

 

Weather the Storm with High Quality Tools

I want to encourage you to experiment with different working tools right now that you wouldn’t typically reach for during a normal day in the office. If you’re like most Americans, you’ve been working from home for the past month. Using tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to connect with your colleagues, even if not to discuss business matters but simply catch up personally, can offer a significant morale boost.

If you are not already using a project management tool such as Monday.com or Trello, consider implementing these. Project management software assists with task breakdown, can display status updates, and aligns the team on project progress. These tools will allow you to see the big picture as well as the smaller steps needed to reach the goal.

An additional option to consider when leading a team from home is using an instant messaging system. Sending an email for every simple question, or worse, not asking a question at all, can lead to miscommunication and unproductivity. Tools like Slack or Google Hangouts provide instant communication between individuals and teams, allowing users to check in with their team members at a moment’s notice.

 

Focus on True Leadership, Not Just Lip Service

We all know that our employees are not unaware of the state of the world right now. Therefore, do not attempt to diminish the severity of COVID-19 to your employees. As leaders, we should be treating our employees with upmost respect and honesty at all times, but especially during a crisis.

As you gain more and more information about the state of the world, your industry, and your business, make a significant effort to relay this information as soon as appropriate to employees. If sending a lengthy email or presentation filled with numbers and predictions isn’t your cup of tea, consider holding “open house” style virtual meetings where employees can receive answers in an informal setting. To ensure comfortability, create a survey prior to the call where employees can submit their questions anonymously. And when asked these questions, be as honest as possible. While certain information should always stay at a high-level, it’s important to pass along what you can to employees to ease their minds and ensure that they know they are well-informed.

A key indicator of a true leader is an individual who can accept and admit that they don’t have all the answers. Be honest with your employees in sharing that you too are uncertain of what the company’s next steps are, but are committed to creating and enforcing a plan. And then, follow through with your actions. We are all human and no one is expecting perfection from a leader suddenly thrust into crisis management. But what will be expected is your readiness to come alongside your employees and collaborate on a solutions plan. Let your employees in and be surprised at the value and dedication that they will offer in return.

 

Recognize that Business is Not Running as Usual

If your situation is anything like mine, you are home with stacks of work to be done, kids requiring your attention, and a refrigerator begging to be re-filled. Life is very different now, and you are simply trying to navigate 100 tasks at once. I recently came across a phrase that has been circulating social media:

“You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.”

When reading this, my ideology of the current situation completely shifted. We, along with our friends, employees, superiors, and families are trying to be teacher, stay-at-home parent, employee, leader, housekeeper, and entertainer all at once. Employees are trying to focus on their daily work while feeding a child, planning groceries, and checking in on elderly loved ones. Now more than ever it is vital that we show grace and understanding. Certain tasks may need to be put on the backburner or re-delegated. And that is okay. Life is different now, and as much as we want business to run as usual, this is not usual.

 

There are high levels of uncertainty in the world right now. I encourage you to spend a few moments reflecting on what you can and can’t control, and let the latter list go. As I mentioned earlier, leaders often place a pressure on themselves to always have the answers. While it’s important to give your team grace, please do not forget to be patient with yourself as well. Your workday may look different and that is okay. You too deserve the patience and understanding that you are offering to others.

 

The role of a manager is to create a positive, productive environment that serves and supports team members.  It doesn’t need extraordinary effort or expense.  The little extra time it takes makes the results worth it.

Here are some simple ways to make your employees feel valued at work:

 

SHOW GRATITUDE

People want to feel appreciated for what they do, especially by their manager because their praise feels relevant and lets employees know they’re on the right track. You can do this by clearly stating what your team member did well, how it relates to their strengths and how it helps the organization.  Also, saying it more often than you think helps.

Although verbal praise is easy and quick, a handwritten note goes a long way to drive the point home.  It demonstrates to the employee that they are worth your time.

 

PROVIDE LEARNING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES

The best bosses look for ways to enhance their team members’ growth with external professional development opportunities, such as attending industry conferences, joining a professional association, or gaining a certification.

Don’t forget: Plenty of professional growth and learning opportunities exist within your organization, too. You can take your direct report to coffee to talk about their career goals or introduce that employee to another senior leader in the organization for a mentoring chat.

When you personally participate in your employees’ learning and professional growth, you show you believe in them and want to help prepare them for their future success.

 

CARE ABOUT YOUR TEAM MEMBERS AS PEOPLE

Don’t fall prey to believing conversations about extracurricular activities interferes with your lengthy to-do list.

Simply asking them about their weekends, their families, and their hobbies—and sharing tidbits about my own— builds trusting relationships. When you better understand their experiences outside the office, it helps you work together more effectively in the office, too.

 

CELEBRATING

Recognize your team members’ work anniversaries or birthdays.  Maybe host a pizza party for the whole team when a sale closes or break out ice cream mid-afternoon for a surprise treat to bring everyone together.  Whatever the occasion, find reasons to celebrate and bring joy to work.

It’s important to mention that you should ask your employees how they like to be recognized and what makes them feel appreciated.  When they feel valued, their job satisfaction will increase.  Recognition and gratitude strengthen feelings of self-confidence and reinforces sense of purpose.

Being a an effective, inspiring and well-respected leader isn’t easy.  There are actionable ways you can be a better leader for your people and company.  While some of these tips may serve as important reminders, others you may never have considered before.  Keep an open mind and test out what works best for your style.

 

Lead by example

Leaders need to show, not just tell. If you want your employees to be punctual, make sure you are on time. If professionalism is a priority, treat everyone you interact with courtesy. Set the tone for your employees.

Humility can go a long way

A true leader shares the spotlight and is comfortable crediting others. While it might seem counterintuitive, being humble takes more confidence than basking in glory. Your employees will appreciate it and rise to the occasion.

Communicate Effectively

Great leaders make sure they are heard and understood, but they also know the importance of listening. Communication is a two-way street.

Keep meetings productive

Time is money, so limit the time wasters during meetings. Meet about necessary items and prepare an agenda ahead of time.

Find a good mentor.

The best leaders know when they need help and know where to turn to in order to get it. Nobody can know everything, so finding someone you trust for advice when things get tough can make all of the difference.

Be emotionally aware

Business is ultimately about relationships between people. To make these relationships last, you need to be emotionally intelligent. Use your head to do what’s best for the company, but don’t forget to have a heart.

Learn from the past

Think about what the people you admire do well and consider what went wrong for others that ended with unsuccessful careers.  Lessons can be found everywhere.

Never stop improving

Great leaders are constantly learning and trying to improve themselves. There’s always something that you can work on or a new skill to master. Be sure to keep your mind open to new ideas and possibilities.

Is the water in your glass half-full or half-empty?  It’s as full as you believe it to be.  Your perceptions impact the way you interact with the world around you and determine if you are an optimist or a pessimist.

Did you know you can cultivate optimism?  Even though it is a personality trait, it is a skill that can be learned.  The first step is wanting to be optimistic.  If you are not motivated to adjust any thoughts or behaviors, nothing will change.

 

Why Learning Optimism is Important

Numerous experiments and studies show that optimists do better in school and work.  Overall, they generally age well and evidence suggests that they can even live longer.  Additionally, pessimists often get caught up in the idea of perfection, worry and get stuck.

As you are cultivating optimism, keep your feet on the ground.  Being overly optimistic can be just as unhealthy as being pessimistic.  It can cause you to make decisions based on a false sense of reality.  The end goal is to become or remain optimistic while striving to maintain a balanced reality.

 

Ways to Cultivate Optimism Now

Focus on the present moment

It’s easy to zero in on the past or worry about the future.  Instead, develop mindfulness in all your activities.

Look inside

Too often, people think happiness needs to come from an external source.  Finding a better job, a new house, affording a nicer car, etc.  Instead, the state of happiness really comes from being, not having.

Develop gratitude

Take note of all the good going on in your life right now.  When you focus on this positive mindset, optimism will come naturally.

Be kind to others

You can think of optimism as having a boomerang effect.  When you donate to a cause or do a kind gesture for a neighbor, you also benefit by what’s called a “helper’s high”.

Change your words

Reworking your thoughts puts things in a new perspective.  When you notice a pessimistic thought, take a moment and stop.  Think about how you can somehow make that scenario a positive one.  Another example is paying close attention to your words.  For example, instead of saying, “failure”, change it to “learning experience”.

Create short, powerful statements that can be used to remind yourself to be positive and persevere.  What sparks optimistic thoughts for you?  Keep a reminder of that handy.

 

Using these simple ideas to cultivate optimism will take practice.  Before you know it, though, you will be an optimist.

No matter how much you love your job, you have probably experienced a version of the infamous Sunday Scaries.  The feeling that Sunday doesn’t really belong to you and you start your countdown to Monday.

According to a LinkedIn survey, 80 percent of working professionals have reported experiencing the Sunday Scaries. Of those who reported feeling the onset of the Scaries, 1 in 3 admitted they have them every week.  If you fit into one of these categories, here are some alternatives to sitting around and thinking about Monday lurking around the corner.

EXERCISE OVER THE WEEKEND

Do something that gets your heart rate going, makes you feel good, and leaves you feeling refreshed and accomplished.  Exercise is known to produce feel-good hormones. Exercise has been proven to create new hippocampal neurons involved with memory, emotion regulation, and learning.

GO TO A MUSEUM

Feed your brain and soul. Sundays are a great day for an early trip to the museum. According to Attention Restoration Theory, your brain needs to shift mental gears in order to refocus its attention. A great way to do that is to physically remove yourself from your everyday routine.

If that’s not available, consider browsing some of the world’s most amazing museums online. Museums like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art showcase much of their collection online.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

Learn something new—or at least start to learn.  If you are wallowing in Sunday Scaries, you probably have some time to devote to a new craft. Maybe learn how to sew or start learning an entirely new language.  Learning a new skill or a new language is a great way to give yourself purpose.

WAKE UP EARLY

Try getting up as early as you would on a Monday. Go out for a morning stroll, get a coffee, walk your dog, or go for a run.  Sleeping in until 12 p.m. on a Sunday is almost guaranteed to start you off on the wrong foot.  By waking earlier than others, you can take advantage of the quieter part of Sunday and still have a whole day to yourself.

TAKE A HIATUS FROM ALL SCREENS

Consider taking a break from all glowing screens this weekend.  Instead, try something on paper.  Try crossword puzzles or pick up a new book.

THINK ABOUT YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

It’s always good to take note of what you have accomplished.  What did you accomplish?  Even if it’s something small like making it into work on time every day, note it. If you think of your accomplishments and you’re still unimpressed, consider how you can improve in the coming week.

DO MID-WEEK THINGS

Skip a night of television in bed and go out. Catch a new movie with a friend or get dinner with your significant other. Don’t put so much pressure on the weekend being the only leisure time you have. Get it going on a Tuesday.

CATCH UP WITH SOMEONE

Use the weekend to catch up with an old friend. Take an afternoon to laugh about college, to share stories from your life as it stands, and maybe even to get some advice from an old friend.

 

These are other ways the Sunday Scaries can be defeated besides just looking for a new job.  It’s time to start to reclaim your weekend and to arrive Monday morning refreshed and ready to go.

An informational interview is not a job interview.  It is a way to get a clear visual of an industry, company, or position to determine if it’s right for you.  When you request an informational interview with someone, it means you are willing to hear their story without pressing your own.

Once you get someone to agree to meet you for an information interview, the next task is developing the right questions to ask.  Make sure to personalize the questions and do research on the person and their work in advance.  Here are some of our favorites.

Tell me a bit about your career path and what led you to the role you are in today?  An informational interview is about them, so this is the best place to start.

What were some of your earlier roles in the field?  Great follow up questions include what did you learn that helps you today? Or, what mistakes did you make along the way? These give you great insight into how linear, or not, someone’s career path was.

What does a work day look like for you?  This will help you determine if you would enjoy the everyday experience of this type of role.

What are some big projects you’re working on now or that you’ve finished up in the last few months?  Projects keep a job interesting, so you want to know what he or she has been working on.

What are you most excited about right now?  What this person enjoys about her work could be completely unexpected and it’s a great way to get the person to open up more.

Is there something that surprised you about the role when you first started?  You may have someone who is willing to be candid about the downsides of their job.  If not, this question is an easy shift to allow them to share something they were unprepared for.

What skills do you think are most important for someone interested in a job like yours?  Take careful note of these, especially the ones you don’t technically have to fill gaps in your skill set before applying for similar jobs.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face day-to-day?  As you listen, do these challenges excite you or do they sound horrible?

What about the biggest rewards?  This can range from the salary to an emotional reward.  Listen carefully to see if the answer resonates with you.

Do you have any recommendations for other people I should talk to or other resources I should explore?  Maybe they’ll introduce you to another contact, but it’s also great to just hear what sites you should be reading or newsletters you should subscribe to.

Are there any questions I’m not asking that I should be? Sometimes you’ve missed a big element of the work simply because you didn’t ask in quite the right way.

Would it be alright for us to stay in touch?  Whether that’s through LinkedIn or through an occasional email, it’s always nice to turn an informational interview into an ongoing networking connection or a potential mentor.

Make sure to wind down the information interview in a timely fashion.  Keep an eye on the time.  Generally speaking, they should be no longer than 20-25 minutes.  If you find you are going to run long, find a logical place to cut yourself off.  Thank them when you are through and following up with a thank you note is also a nice touch.  If you asked to stay in touch, be sure to follow through.  Set a calendar notification on your phone for one month or a couple months out from your meeting to make sure you remember.

When done correctly, informational interviews can help you make good decisions as well as expand your network.

Whether you want to try something new or developed a passion in a different area than your current career, you may be wondering to yourself, “How do others make this leap?” It’s easy to get frustrated after you receive several letters from companies informing you that another candidate was selected because they had more experience.

STOP APPLYING ONLINE
Putting in your general application is great if you already hold the same title or similar title to what you are applying for or want new challenges within a similar role. Online applications don’t work for transition into a new role or industry because you don’t get a chance to explain yourself.

BREAKING IN WITHOUT EXPERIENCE

Decide what you want to be known for. Find people who are considered thought leaders, influencers, or someone with the same position you are looking for. Discover what they do to really stand out and use that to assess and build your own person brand.

Use Social Media. Take a close look at what you are putting out in social media. Clean things up and then go back to deciding what you want to be known for. Start curating posts and content around your passion topics. Make what others say validate your true interests in securing a specific role with a company.

Network with future colleagues. Look around to find people who could be your potential future coworkers. Where do they hang out? Take a look at professional associations and upcoming events. When you do attend these, make meaningful connections.

Create an online portfolio. This not only allows you to stand out from the crowd, but it also gives a way to be found. Give tangible examples of your work and provide information on what you are passionate about.

Certification and online courses. Take your passion a step further, this shows you’re serious. You don’t necessarily need a new degree to make a transition unless it requires a specific level or type of education. Many employers are willing to train the right person, but they need to know you have the basic foundation and the willingness to learn. Learning the language of the new role helps you articulate how your background transfers to it.

Offer to help. While networking, find out how you can help others with your desired position. You can use your help and effort to gain knowledge about the area you want to tap into. The secret is to give more in order to receive more. Or maybe you can volunteer at a non-profit while you are learning your new skills. They will likely welcome the extra help!

Making a career transition is a process. It will not happen overnight, but as you build the foundation with these suggestions, you will be equipped to connect with the right people to lead you to the right opportunity.