Category Archives: Career

The importance of a mentor and networking for helping you in your career

Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out
I’ve been reading a lot lately about the importance of having a mentor or a life coach, as well as a good network to help you get on a good career path. It’s something I’ve never though of before, because I thought I could just work really hard and be independent to get ahead. I’m quickly learning that it’s not so easy, and that the viewpoints and help from others can really help launch us into the right direction.

I bought this book Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out a while back because the story sounded really impressive! The author claims that he was a millionaire before he turned 14, and he has a long list of major companies and networks that recommend his books and commend his achievements. Wow! Now that is someone I can learn from, right? After doing some internet searches, I’m learning that his background story might be a little shaky, so I’m reading the book with a critical eye; however, even if the stories are exaggerated, there are some good tips that I have heard from other recognized professionals and career coaches. Judging by his Facebook followers and book sales, he’s doing something right!

One of the book’s chapters is specifically about building a mentoring team, and a later  chapter is about networking, which is another career idea I’m reading a lot about lately. One of my favorite career advice sites Classy Career Girl promotes the same ideas and that writer’s background is really impressive as well, (and verified.) I hope to take one of her coaching courses one day, because she really knows what she is doing. She emphasizes the power of networking, and Gray in particular writes about his mentor who helped him get started and pointed him in the wrong direction. When Gray was a kid, he used to call his mentor for help and advice–and that advice helped make him rich without taking anything other than time from a mentor who was happy to help him. So between these two writers, as well as other sources, I’m really starting to see how important mentors and networking are–far more helpful than just throwing out resumes and trying to do everything alone.

Some ideas I’m learning that never crossed my shy, independent mind before:

It’s okay to reach out and ask for advice or help.

It’s good to reach out and find others who can work with you towards inter-working goals.

It’s smart to watch what your career idols do and learn from them.

It doesn’t hurt to ask.

So much of moving ahead in your career and your life is about learning from others, working with others, and helping others. But, it’s important to get out there and learn from the right people who are connected where you want to be connected. If I want to be a movie star, then networking with UPS drivers, or seeking advice from a math teacher might not help so much.

So, I’ve been trying this with others who are working in areas to where I want to work. I started reaching out to people that I admire, and sincerely letting them know how helpful they were, and what I appreciated about their work. I let one person know that I enjoyed her insight, and asked a couple others to help share the word about the home business I’m trying to get off the ground. It worked! I saw a HUGE difference in my business views and revenue. And it was all sincere. I didn’t go looking for someone to help me. I reached out to others whose ideas I was already a fan of. I basically opened my mouth to express my positive thoughts instead of keeping them to myself. What a learning experience! Plus, I feel good, as though I’m part of a community.

Since I’m naturally shy and introverted, asking for help and turning to others is foreign to me, but I’m really seeing and believing how important it is. There are paths to success out there, and it’s so important to be open-mined to learning from others who went before us or are going the same way now.

Success in business or relationships isn’t just about hard work or skills

365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)

I’ve blogged before about learning to promote myself to get better jobs, because working really hard but being invisible was not helping me succeed. It’s an important lesson to learn! And it’s reality…often the best workers are not the ones who move up the corporate ladder because our charisma, self-promotion and connections matter more than just working quietly.

I keep this book by my bed and read a few pages every once in a while. There’s a lot of good information, so I try not to overwhelm myself by reading it all at once. I want to really think about the ideas and focus on the ones that speak to me. The book basically has 365 short paragraphs with tips on how to improve your chances of getting rich in business–and a lot of them are more about your personal qualities.

Tip number 233 stood out to me today. It says:

In a personal service business, our fees will usually rise in accordance with your self-esteem and not necessarily in accordance with your level of skill or results.

I know this is true, because I’ve lived it! We have to sell ourselves in business or careers to get people to believe in us. How can they have faith in our abilities if we don’t have faith in them ourselves? And how can they notice us if we don’t show off a little? I wrote in that previous blog about how I tried that, and got noticed by my department’s director. It worked and it was surprisingly easy!

But I also want to think about this in terms of relationships–not just with bosses or clients, but with others. For those of us looking to date, do men really want a woman who puts herself down and minimizes her good points? Or do they want a woman who isn’t afraid to shine? I’m not talking about bragging, but about being confident. How many of us single ladies have wonderful, loving qualities to share, but keep missing out on good relationships because no one knows what we have to offer? Or how about friendships? If we hide our strengths and put ourselves down, are we going to find good, healthy friends? Or within our families…do our relatives respect us less than they do our cousins because we don’t love ourselves? This book may relate to the business world, but I consistently find that the tips relate to living a fuller, happier life in general.

All of the parts of our lives work together to create a whole person–a person who is fulfilled and confident…but always learning how to improve. That’s what Life as You Make It is about–reaching our potential and our best lives!

Recognizing that you are an introvert and making the most of it

“I restore myself when I’m alone.” Marilyn MonroeI’ve been thinking a lot lately about introversion, and how normal careers and life can be difficult for people who get overstimulated and need a lot of “me time” to recharge and replenish their emotional energy reserves. I used to say at my last few jobs that I felt emotionally drained and exhausted at the end of the day. The jobs were not physically challenging, but they demanded a lot of interaction and included frequent conflict. I would come home at the end of the day feeling like I’d been giving everything I had all day and I needed time to be alone. I am an introvert.

People who are introverted aren’t necessarily shy or anti-social. But we are people who “recharge” and gain our personal energy by being alone instead of being part of a group. I often enjoy socializing, but after a while, I need some quiet time to think and relax. There’s nothing wrong with that, but introversion is often considered a bit of a handicap when it comes to making friends,  climbing a career ladder, and networking.

Since I have become self-employed, I am spending my days home with my young children instead of in an office with adults, but I still recognize that need to have some quiet time alone at the end of the day. My doctor even encouraged me to take a part of a day every week to do something for myself because parents need to recuperate too. So today, I am doing that and reading some about introversion, because I want to learn to use it to my advantage.

I’ve come across some good links that are worth sharing:
10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World

I can relate to so many points in this article! For example, the writer points out that introverts can feel overwhelmed in a crowd, but might feel energized by a one-on-one conversation. Or, we are very good at giving public speeches, but we stumble when it’s time to converse with strangers. We are more likely to screen and/or avoid taking phone calls–partly because it pulls us away from other things we are doing. I think it is noteworthy that each of these comparisons has a strong point for introverts. We are different from extroverts, but our differences can work for good. The introvert can have long, stimulating conversations, can really focus on putting together a public speech and can stay on task with a current project. I think if we can focus on the positive aspects of introversion, we can thrive even in a primarily extroverted environment. It’s important to pay attention to your feelings and needs so you can nurture them.

And here’s another good article:
Introverts’ secrets of success

This writer discusses the reality that Western culture rewards extroversion, and that the large majority of managers and bosses are extroverts. So where does that leave us introverts?! Fortunately, the article gives some ideas! I really like this quote from a reporter/news correspondent named Tazeen Ahmad: “”The secret to any success I’ve had has been embracing my introversion….” That is an excellent point! One quality of introverts is that we are more likely to observe and think about things, so we can use that to our advantage by fostering good intrapersonal skills. As I mentioned before, if you get to know yourself, what energizes and relaxes you and how you react, you can learn to use your personal qualities to your advantage. There are more practical career tips for introverts in this article.

And here is another great article:
The Best Job for Introverts Is No Job (In Particular)

When you first see this title, you might think you are going to read a list of jobs that are best for introverts, but when you read on, it’s really about making the most of being an introvert no matter what job you are in. I think I like that idea better–thrive with your differences and use them instead of trying to hide them. The article also recommends a book that sounds pretty helpful. I just ordered it, so I’ll have to report back!

Wasting time keeps you from reaching your dreams!

Don't waste time on the wrong things. It will only keep you from getting to the right things.  Don't be afraid to let go of things that aren't right for you!I’ve been thinking today about wasting time. Not wasting time as in procrastinating, or being lazy, but wasting time as in staying in situations that are pointless. How many of us have stayed in a bad relationship, or an unsatisfying job, or continued doing things we didn’t really want to do just because we were used to doing them and didn’t know how to change…or worse, were afraid to face changes? I know I have!

I spent nearly all of my twenties dating someone who was perfectly nice–someone that I got along with really well…but I had no romantic feelings for him. I knew I wanted to get married and have kids one day, and I knew it would not be with him, but I just kept staying even though I knew I wanted more. We were extremely compatible and had all of the same hobbies, so I feared moving on and losing what I did have. I thought it was easier to keep dating that person and continue having a built-in partner for social occasions than it would be to become single and look for someone I did have romantic feelings for. In many ways, it was. In fact, I still haven’t found someone that was such a great match for sharing all my interests. But on the other hand, I haven’t found someone that was a good partner either. Sometimes I wonder, did spending so much time in a dead-end platonic relationship seriously hurt my chances to meet the right person for me? While I was wasting time, were all the smarter women marrying the men I would have liked better? I have a sneaking suspicion that I wasted many good years that would have been better spent single and meeting a better match for me. Not that life is over and I’m ready for the retirement home or anything, but did I miss out? I definitely didn’t make much progress towards my real goal!

I feel the same way about many areas of my life. Did I waste time switching my college major a few times? Did I waste time at jobs I didn’t like? Did I waste time staying at home instead of working on a career when I was married? While I did have many good experiences, I knew I was unfulfilled, and I just stayed that way instead of taking steps to get what I really wanted. I think the journey through life is very important, but…you have to be ON that journey instead of sitting in the rest area while your goals are still waiting down the road!

I want to live a life of movement towards my dreams instead of being stagnant. Every moment we are feeling unhappy and not doing anything about it is a moment wasted…a moment that isn’t being spent doing the things we want to do with the people we want to be with. It is time to make changes and reach for what we want instead of just waiting!

Are you really “behind” your peers? Or just on a different track?

laymileaf1Some of us take longer than others to get on the right track in life. We don’t know what we want to do when we grow up, we are hampered by rough beginnings, we make dumb choices…and we end up far behind out peers when it comes to our careers, education, families and other areas of our lives. We see people our own ages who are doing so much better and we see younger people who are surpassing us as well. Not going to lie…it’s depressing!

I have had that problem. And I think, even though I now know my life purpose, I’m a good 15 or 20 years behind. My much younger sister makes more money than I do with hardly any work experience! I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time and I’m going to have to work hard to get back on track. But can I catch up when I’m this far “behind?”

And does it really matter? Am I truly behind? Or just different? Many of my former classmates have good paying careers, nice homes and established marriages. I’m not too far from where I started when I was leaving high school. And at the same time, since I’m not a fresh college graduate, I am watching much younger people get promoted ahead of me because I was not on the right track to begin with.

Sometimes I worry about this. But, then I start thinking and remembering that I have had some really unusual life experiences and have learned some lessons that most people will never have the opportunity to experience or learn. For one, I was once on an album cover. Who out of my peers can say that?! But on the other hand, I am twice-divorced–both times from abusive men with the second being an actual sociopath. Oh yeah, I learned something there! Let me say, I did NOT like that lesson. But, I have learned the power of introspection as I’ve uncovered why I attracted and was attracted to narcissistic men. And I am no longer naive to false charm; I know to look at actions instead of just hearing words. Plus, I learned how to help my children avoid ending up in the same position. I married abusers because I was raised in an abusive home, but it has made me alert to understanding how children and personalities develop…as well as what we all need to feel secure and not fall prey to pretty charmers. There are a whole slew of life lessons and there is a whole book’s worth of wisdom in my head. As a bonus, I’m aware that I need to learn more and I am open to doing so.

Does that really leave me “behind” my peers? Maybe in some areas, but perhaps not in the life areas that truly matter.

I think my life’s trials have given me a lot of understanding and critical thinking skills I might never have learned without having endured bad things. They helped me find some of my life goals, and they have prepared me to fulfill my plans. Most importantly, they have given me fire and inspiration to succeed!

And it’s okay to play “catch up.” There are plenty of admirable people who didn’t find their way until later in life. Did you know that the renowned wedding dress designer Vera Wang didn’t begin her design career until she was 40? Now she’s a HUGE name in her industry! Or how about comic book creator Stan Lee? He was almost 39 when he found success. Now his creations are legendary. Famous actor Samuel Jackson didn’t hit it big until he was 43 and comedian Rodney Dangerfield was 46. Charles Darwin didn’t write “Origin of the Species” until he was 50–the same age Julia Child was when she wrote her first cookbook. Now both of them are known as visionaries in their fields. And one of my heroes–Laura Ingalls Wilder–didn’t publish her first “Little House” book until she was 65.

I finally have a life goal and a plan that has been growing for the past few years. I’m closing in on 40 and I’m not doing as well as my peers, but that’s okay. I am in good company….

For more stories and information about people who found their success later in life….

20 People Who Became Highly Successful After Age 40

Helpful site for women seeking a career change

I wanted to recommend a helpful site for women who are hoping to start a career, change a career, accelerate a career or start a business.

It’s called Classy Career Girl.

I started following the site owner, (Anna Runyan,) on Facebook last year, and she has some really good ideas that have inspired me to think about new tactics for my own career. She posts some thoughtful blogs with all kinds of career advice and she also frequently hosts free webinars. I participated in one webinar and got some great tips! Her blogs cover topics such as what to wear to work, paying off debt, networking, resumes and many more good subjects for ambitious working women. She does career coaching and sells packages as well, (I haven’t tried those options, but they sound very helpful as well.)

On her website, you can find a bunch of blogs, free tips and worksheets, and more information about her career courses and coaching. I try to keep up with all the new posts 🙂

I’m adding this website to the Helpful Links page.

Reputations and learning from people with good, (or bad,) reputations

So I’m reading this book again:
Click here to purchase 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)

I am still not a millionaire! But, I keep the book by my bed and I read through a little bit every few nights. Last night, I found a tip that really resonated with me. Number 102 says “If you want to see how powerful a reputation is, write down the reputations of several people you know personally. It will become clear why people either are attracted to them or avoid them.”

This is part of the chapter about building and protecting your reputation because it is the most important part of your career or business. I thought I’d like to take this one step further. I want to make a list of what is good and bad about those people’s or companies’ reputations, and learn lessons from them. Why is one person well-liked and another despised? Why is one person successful while the other one is stuck in a dead-end job. I know from experience that working hard is not necessarily the key to being promoted. There is more to it and I want to do what the successful people are doing and learn from them!

Make sure your actions match your words and thoughts

365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One) by Brian Koslow
Click here to purchase 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)
I have this book by my bed and I read a little of it some nights before I go to sleep. It’s not a get rich quick scheme or anything like that. It just offers key qualities that you need to develop to become successful. Even if you don’t want or expect to become a millionaire, they are good characteristics to have. There are 365 short paragraphs with key ideas, so it’s a really good book for reading just a little at a time. I was flipping through the book tonight and just skipping around and realized I really like this quote: “Integrity requires consistency between your public statements and your private thoughts.” (From day 2.)

I like this quote and I’ve seen similar quotes before. But it’s true! Yes, we have to adapt to different situations–I wouldn’t talk to my boss like I’d talk to my best friend, but we should always be the same person through and through. If our thoughts don’t match our public behavior, something is wrong. Do we not really hold the values we think we do? If so, maybe we need to re-evaluate and realize what we really believe. Or perhaps we aren’t living up to the values we do hold. In that case, we need to work on being more true to ourselves.

We can’t shine and become our best selves if we aren’t being true to ourselves!


Building your confidence to sell to yourself and others as well

Click here to purchase Napoleon Hill’s A Year of Growing Rich: 52 Steps to Achieving Life’s Rewards

I have been slowly re-reading Napoleon Hill’s “A Year of Growing Rich.” I try to read a chapter each night before bed to inspire myself to be more successful. Each chapter is short, (and there are 52 chapters that are meant to be read and practiced one per week.) Napoleon Hill is considered a classic author for helping people inspire themselves. His better known book is “Think and Grow Rich.” I have read so many people swear that the book helped them get rich and I know that positive thinking can change one’s life, so I am reading it and telling myself that I WILL grow more successful in life–be it in my career, my relationships or any other area. This book is all about personal power, motivation and finding success!

Tonight’s chapter gave me a good idea and it reminds me of at least one other article I’ve read. It is Week 26–Sell to Yourself.

In this chapter, Hill has two main points. One, if you appear to be successful already, clients will be more likely to trust you and two, if you do something to boost your ego and feel more important, you will project that feeling to people around you. Now, he specifically warns that this idea isn’t about being fake or manipulative, but to quote him, it is to help people “deceive their own egos in order to relieve them of the fear and poverty complexes by which so many people are bound.” (I underlined that section in my book!)

In Hill’s example, one very successful salesman keeps a top-quality set of golf clubs in his car so that his clients see it and think he must really being doing well in life…and must really be good at his job, thus trustworthy. In another example, a salesman wears a very expensive diamond ring that helps him feel more powerful and to project that image. As Hill points out, not everyone will need the same “boost.” Some men might feel silly with a giant diamond ring, but the point is, the illusion of success gives them the ego boost to feel more successful and BE more successful. I guess it’s no different from a woman getting a nice manicure or putting on her sexiest shoes. When we feel good, we project that to the world around us.

Here’s that article I mentioned earlier, (the one that this book chapter made me think of:) “Why Do Poor People ‘Waste’ Money on Luxury Goods?”

I don’t want to open a huge debate about that entire article, but there is one important thing that I really took away from it. I’ll quote the line “there was a price we had to pay to signal to gatekeepers that we were worthy of engaging. It meant dressing well and speaking well.”

I admit, I’m very frugal and usually buy cheaper clothes and shoes, but this article made me think about the image I’m projecting. I’m neat and clean, but do I look like a success? Not really. We might think it’s unfair that this matters, and it is. Why should we have to look richer than we are to be considered for a job? Uggh. But the reality is, even if it’s not reasonable or fair, it does matter. It might be worth the investment to get one really good suit and one designer purse. After reading this article, I went to a thrift store and found a suit jacket from an expensive boutique…with the tags still on it! So you don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money, but do be a smart shopper and dress above “your level” to boost your own ego and to show your potential clients or bosses that you are a star!

The Napoleon Hill book is a great way to end the day 🙂

Getting noticed at work–working better and not harder

A few years ago, I noticed a frustrating phenomenon in my jobs. I was consistently the hardest worker, I won achievement and performance awards, and I got great reviews…but people with less experience and smaller results were promoted to management positions ahead of me. Why was that? Isn’t doing the best work the way to get to the top? Sadly, it isn’t. In fact, I think sometimes that being the best is a sure way to get stuck in one place! I got to talking with a girl who was a bit younger than me, who went to the same university and had a less challenging degree with less experience, and yet made far more money. I told her about my problem and asked her if she had any tips. She did! She encouraged me to promote myself more and make sure my bosses saw my achievements. At first, I thought this was weird. Why would I show them the obvious? But, I am open to learning from others, so I tried promoting myself a bit. I was in the habit of alerting managers and supervisors when things went wrong at work or if I noticed things that needed improvement, but that wasn’t getting me anywhere. So one day, I sent an e-mail to the director instead. She was excited by what I had to say! Within a few weeks, she had invited me to go on a business trip to a sister-company to share my views and experiences. Soon, I was invited to go out to lunch with the vice-president of the company thanks to my performance…and the fact that the director had noticed me. But, she had noticed me because I put myself out there. It was quite a lesson learned!

I was re-reading Napoleon Hill’s “A Year of Growing Rich” recently and one of the chapters reminded me of that lesson I’d learned. In Hill’s book, chapter 14 emphasizes showmanship and getting noticed. He uses an example of an employee who works hard and gives much of his own time, but watches less devoted employees get promoted ahead of him. (Hmmm…sounds familiar!) Hill recommends exactly what my peer had recommended. He says that we need to recognize others and let them see us, but in a sincere manner rather than just showing off. I know from first-hand experience that it works!

Click here to purchase Napoleon Hill’s a Year of Growing Rich: 52 Steps to Achieving Life’s Rewards

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