Top Five career tips for young professionals

Top Five Career Tips I am no longer a young professional. Once upon a time I was, but no longer. This past fall I signed up to be a mentor at my alma mater, Bethel University, and am in the process of mentoring a bright student who no doubt will do well in her career.  She is only a sophomore but is already doing informational interviews at top companies in the area.  I told her that not many people her age are doing that and she is already gaining an edge in finding a job after college.  All of this made me think of some tips for young professionals who are just starting out in their careers.  Some of these may even apply to all of us, regardless of where we are at in our careers. 1)  Know what strengths you bring to any environment you are apart of Before you ever get to a job interview, whether it be formal or not, know what you are good at.  Better yet, know what are you are great at.  If you have not already take the Clifton StrengthsFinder test and find out your areas of talent.  Then, work with a coach or mentor to refine how you use these talents and turn them into strengths.  If you can go into a job interview and be able to answer the question, 'What are your strengths,' you will already be ahead of many people who cannot provide good answers to this standard question. You should be able to talk about your strengths without mentioning what the strength name is.  There is no way of knowing whether or not the person interviewing you knows about the Clifton StrengthsFinder, but that should not preclude you from talking about your talents and how you use them. 2)  Have a mentor who helps you navigate your life and career When I started out in my career I worked for nine months as a temporary worker at Prudential insurance.  There was probably no environment that more resembled the movie "Office Space."  Looking back it is amazing that any work got done at all.  There was low supervision, lots of young professionals in tight quarters, and a general lack of direction from top management. I did not have a mentor who was helping me navigate this environment, either inside or outside of the organization.  There was no one challenging...
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Break through vs. Break you moments – what to do?

path I am on an email newsletter that comes out somewhat infrequently, but when it does, rarely does it not grab my attention. My friend, Ben, is a dreamer and innovator who I am glad my life has crossed paths with. It is an opt-in newsletter and I have no idea how many people receive it. Ben helps people follow their dream and turn it into what they do for their life. He recently wrote a book called "Dream Year" and is having a great impact on many people. So, back to this newsletter. Ben talked through an interesting situation for one of his projects and how he was close to shutting it down. There were many factors, but he was not seeing a way through to continue this project. Then, he received a text message from a friend and everything changed. There was a way forward, maybe even better than before.  He experienced a 'break you' moment before he had a 'break through moment." Ben is always encouraging people to follow their dream. Not unlike how I try and encourage people to use their strengths in a passion area for their life. Ben does this in spades. He is his own boss. He writes his own ticket. But, Ben works his tail off to make things happen. Even in his own area of strength and passion, he works hard. There is no shortcut to his success. As some of you know, I left a successful career in higher education to pursue what had been a smaller platform in my life - doing strengths based organizational consulting.  Helping people understand their StrengthsFinder results and how they fit in their organizations, etc. Our aim at Leadership Vision Consulting is help empower strong people in strong teams to become strong cultures. Cultures based on what is right about them and not focused on their weaknesses. I love doing this work. It has been completely gratifying to make this leap and start on a new journey. Has every moment of leaving the perceived 'safe' job at a big organization been rosy? No. Have the positives completely outweighed the negatives? Yes. Last week I had one of those 'break you' moments. We had a client say no to a proposal and I started to focus on when people have said no over the past 10 months. I started...
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Tempus Fugit: Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

time-flies I think I first heard the saying 'time flies when you are having fun' early on in life.  I do not think I gave it much thought at the time. It was something we all said, but did we really even think much about it? The origin of this phrase comes from the Latin, Tempus Fugit. Wikipedia says this about it:  Tempus fugit is a Latin phrase, usually translated into English as "time flies". The expression comes from line 284 of book 3 of Virgil'sGeorgics,[1] where it appears as fvgit inreparabile tempvs: "it escapes, irretrievable time". The phrase is used in both its Latin and English forms as a proverb that "time's a-wasting". Tempus fugit, however, is typically employed as an admonition against sloth and procrastination (cf. carpe diem) rather than a motto in favor of licentiousness (cf. "gather ye rosebuds while ye may"); the English form is often merely descriptive: "time flies like the wind", "time flies when you're having fun". So, for a long time people have thought about this concept. Which means a few things to me. 1) Find something you love doing and do it. It is more fun than the opposite. 2) When you are doing an activity that is not in your passion area it will not be much fun at all and time will not fly by. Often I meet with people who are considering a career or job change one of the things I often ask them to do is to think about when time flies by vs. when time goes slow. If a majority of their day time is going slow, it is a sign they are probably not in their sweet spot. Recently I read a widely circulated blog by Mike Rowe who was chastising people not to pursue their passion but just to get a job and work hard. While I did not disagree with the fact there are times when you just need to work and get a job, I think people should aim for using their passions and talents in their role, If they do this, time will usually fly by. Tempus fugit! Time has flown by for me the past three months. During the past few months I serve as an assistant volleyball coach at Bethel University and during the season I work my normal job at Leadership Vision Consulting during the day and then at...
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Monday Rundown – 5 Things I Am Learning Lately

Tetons at Dusk During the past few years I have done a lot of self-examination to continue to push into the question of how can I most effectively use my gifts and talents in every area of my life. This is not an easy or fast question to answer and has taken years to get at. Am I there 100% with an answer to this question? No Am I closer? Yes. Everyone is busy. We all need to be picky about where and how we spend our time. During the past year I left one work context and expanded another. Outside of time with family and friends, this is how I spend my time on a regular basis: 1)  Senior Consultant at Leadership Vision Consulting (LVC) In this context I consult around the Clifton StrengthsFinder personality test and help organizations become strengths based. I also help develop business for our company and help with internal processes to help our business sustain the growth we are experiencing. 2)  Assistant Volleyball Coach at Bethel University This is my 11th season of coaching women’s college volleyball. This year is my second year back at Bethel University and it has been an exciting start to the season. In this context I help the head coach in any way that I can, work with our serve receive and team defense. I also took our team through an introductory experience around the Clifton StrengthsFinder during preseason. 3)  Lead Content Curator and Webmaster at www.josephdworak.com and www.mspbiking.com Both my personal website and new project, MSP Biking, push me to understand how the social media world works, and doesn’t work. In this new economy you need to know how to present yourself in a professional and credible way, and navigate social media, blogs, etc. This part of my life is where I am constantly learning new things. All of these contexts combine my talents and passions for a majority of the time I am engaged in those activities. Today is a perfect example, I will spend most of my day here at LVC working on things for the business, and eventually will go home, have dinner and then be off to practice at Bethel University for volleyball. What am I learning lately?   1)  It takes work to make sure you are living and breathing in contexts where your talents and passions align for the majority of your day. This almost...
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Your greatest chance for success is where you already are

A wise person once told me that my greatest chance of success was where I already was. This perplexed me some, because I was so focused on moving up. The statement and challenge is one I have come back to over and over again since I heard it. The question and challenge forced me to ask myself if I was truly maximizing my current platforms to the very best of my abilities. During the few years I lived in Washington, DC I lived in a culture of, 'if you don't move up in six months you are falling behind.' Whether I realized it or not, this had a shaping influence on how I thought about work and career. If I was not moving up in six months I was falling behind. I was fortunate to work for a Senator in DC and had two stints in that office. Between my times in the office I worked for a litigation communication firm, a company that did public relations for lawyers. My role was as an administrative assistant and it was not very challenging. I had to answer the phone and it rarely rang. I had to do research for the Vice Presidents and they rarely gave me projects. I had to write a manual so people could operate the fax machine if I was not there.  (I kid you not)  Diet Coke needed to be ordered, yep, I had that. Most of my time was spent asking for or trying to find things to do.  It was terribly boring. Regardless, looking back, there was more I could have done to maximize that platform. Did I ask all the talented people who I worked with to go out to lunch and try and learn from them? No. Did I continue to seek out extra projects to improve my own skill set and be seen as a more valuable asset to the company? Not enough. Did I find ways that the company could be more effective and efficient and more productive? No. The list could go on. I was not maximizing where I already was. Where have I had the most success in my career? By being faithful where I was at the time. By doing more than people expect. By speaking things that other people knew but would not say. By doing what I said I was going to do. By apologizing when I blew it. By helping...
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