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As you think about your career strategy, how do you see yourself?

Are you bigger than your job, or is your job bigger than you are?

job-bigger-than-you

I had not really considered this career strategy question until the end-of-season speculation about which NFL coaches would be fired immediately after the regular football season’s final weekend. The discussions seemed sad, as if NFL coaches at poor-performing teams could do nothing but sit around and wait to be ushered out the door. In those situations, it seemed clear these coaches’ jobs were bigger than they are.

Tom Coughlin was one striking contrast among departing NFL coaches.

In his final press conference as coach of the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin demonstrated what it looks like when someone is bigger than the job. Coughlin “resigned” after fifteen years with the New York Giants, twelve of them as head coach. He led the team to two Super Bowl wins, and was on the coaching staff for another one.

Rather than playing back what Tom Coughlin had to say, you can read the transcript of his remarks.

I would encourage you, however, to watch the press conference video.

You will get a sense of someone who, while obviously devoting himself to his job, his organization, and his players, definitely realizes his job is not bigger than he is. – Mike Brown

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Is it a good or bad career strategy if you do not have a job description?

And if you have to write one, what are good ideas for creating your own job description?

We tackled both questions recently in working with a nonprofit executive charged with crafting one for a newly expanded role.

Quite honestly, my initial career strategy advice was to avoid a formal job description for as long as possible. My preference was always to get a general understanding of what my boss wanted, but to avoid spelling out all the specifics. If I would have had strictly stated job descriptions, I am not sure I could have morphed my corporate job to be able to lay the groundwork for what became the Brainzooming methodology.

3 Career Strategy Questions for Creating Your Own Job Description

Since this executive was expected to devise a job description, we created a straightforward career strategy-oriented exercise to start. We suggested answering the following three questions:

  • What are ten things you WANT to accomplish in this new position?
  • What are ten things you NEED / HAVE TO accomplish in this new position?
  • What are ten VERBS you want to have associated with your impact in the organization?

Short of starting by developing a personal core purpose or branding statement, we suggested these three career straegy questions to balance aspirational activities and the “what has to get done” stuff that will not be as exciting. The verb question is to identify viable action words (other than “develop”) to incorporate into the job description.

After recording with these thirty ideas, we suggested picking the top three from each list to provide a starting point.

We will incorporate the input into a trial balloon job description that carves out a bigger role while stopping short of wrapping “world domination” into the job description.

We’re Throwing Orange Paint on the Wall

Throwing-Paint-Job-Description

As we often mention, this one is from the Brainzooming Strategic Thinking Lab. We will report the results as the job description comes together. – Mike Brown

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I have been having Facebook conversations with a friend for several weeks about God’s voice in providing strategic direction – whether personally or for a career. Amid those conversations and sharing a message I had received in prayer one morning that was for HER specifically, I happened upon an idea:

God reaches us through those that reach us.

The point is while we might be looking for flashes of lightning and thunder to accompany a divine message, God is going to try to reach us through the people around us that we interact with, share our challenges and hopes with, and listen to most earnestly. Because THOSE interactions can seem so common, however, it is easy to miss when a divine message appears wrapped in everyday conversation.

The other day, our Facebook conversation turned to a song that showed up a couple of times for her recently. One instance was related to a time of personal challenge where she has been seeking answers; the other was when she was acting on the divine message I had passed along to her. Within our conversation, these seemingly unconnected instances revealed a potentially profound relevance to one another. That part of the conversation led to scribbling out a few sentence on a notebook as I was hitting the road to go home for a pre-Christmas visit.

Prettied up and edited a bit, it is conveyed in the graphic here.

151216-God-Reaches-Us

This may surprise some of you, but as the years go by, I become increasingly devoted to trying to pray more and listen to divine messages offering strategic direction. Sometimes the messages are big; most times, however, they are simple, direct, nudges taking me in a different direction or confirming what I have been contemplating.

And if you are part of a Brainzooming workshop or presentation, you can be pretty assured I have prayed not only for your openness to new thinking, but that I can humbly serve you with any and all talents I to help you. If things are more challenging or difficult than expected during a workshop or presentation, you can bet I am praying for both of us during a break to mutually find the way to make progress.

As we enter the holiday season, I am going to try to blog less and focus more on looking ahead to the future of Brainzooming and what we need to do to grow and improve what we do for clients and readers. That will take prayer time to create more opportunities to listen and look for divine messages and strategic direction. It is also going to take some time away from the day-to-day stuff.

I want to take this opportunity then to say Happy Holidays to all of you, and thank you for reading what we have to share on a daily basis. Our motivation is to help you daily, and we will do everything we can to fulfill on the promise even better in 2016 than we did in 2015.

God bless!

Mike Brown

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I had a Twitter question from Charles Westscott about creativity and how to make money from your passion.

Money-Creativity

 

We haven’t tackled that topic previously, so the first creative thinking move was sketching out a matrix comparing the degree someone is able to express a personal creative version versus how much they are getting paid for it. From there, the creative thinking question involved the moves someone can make to move toward the upper right (using more of your creative passion for more pay).

5 Ideas for How to Make Money from Your Passion and Creativity

Here are five potential moves this creative thinking matrix suggests to get paid for your passion based on where you are starting out creatively.

Paid-For-Passion2

Move A – You’re using lots of your creative vision, but not getting paid much

This is the typical starving artist position, with someone pursuing a creative passion without significant economic returns. This strategy focuses on marketing and distribution. You have a creative product or service, but the market isn’t rewarding the work. Explore the typical marketing issues:

  • The product isn’t matching audience preferences and needs changing or more time to find an audience
  • There is low awareness requiring a push for attention
  • The pricing is out of whack compared to the perceived value in the market
  • The product is not reaching the right audience members when they are ready to buy

That covers the 4 Ps of marketing at a high level. They are a good place to start exploring.

Move B – Applying your creative passion in a different type of career

This move is for creative people rooted in pragmatism. You may not be able to get paid what you want from following your creative pursuit along. You apply your creative passion in another career that is more or less related to your creative aspirations. Think about the writer hoping to write a novel that takes a full-time writing and marketing job at a company. It’s not writing novels, but it’s getting paid to do something related to what you love. You may just love it more when you get to do it outside work hours.

Move C – Getting a paying job unrelated to your creative passion

This may feel like a sell-out move, but it’s a familiar strategy. Actors working in restaurants. Singers temping at office jobs because of the flexibility to go to auditions. Keeping your creative perspective is dependent on working two plans at once: the less creative plan that pays you now and the creative plan you hope grows into a more robust paying gig. This move can be coupled with move D.

Move D – Building a financial cushion and to take a run at pursuing your creative passion

If you’re getting paid but not getting fulfilled creatively, consider streamlining your living situation and stashing away as much cash as you can. Then take a bigger run at pursuing your creative passion, even if it’s going to take time to get paid what you want for doing it. My neighbor is an interesting example of this. She’s a nurse, but really loves gardening. She retired from nursing ten years ago to work in a garden center. After a few years, bills started piling up, and she did a reverse of Move D. After rebuilding her financial situation, she retired from nursing again to return to the garden center.

Move E – Making your creative passion a loss leader in a plan for greater success

Maybe you need to make a big play to put your creative product in front of the right people, even if it’s at a loss, to pave the way for getting paid later. This is the premise behind individuals doing content marketing. They share what they love doing for little or no dollars to build an audience. The related step is cashing-in on the newly built audience through finding a way to charge for the creativity you love expressing.

Beyond those five ideas for how to make money from your passion, what other ones have you tried?

Mike Brown

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Today’s Blogapalooza article from a student in Max Utsler’s Innovation in Management of Communications class at The University of Kansas comes via Allison Dollar. Allison is a Local Business Account Executive at The Kansas City Star Media Company. Her article for today on personal leadership lays out 10 keys to hustle . . . every day.

Personal Leadership – 10 Keys to Hustle . . . Every Day by Allison Dollar

Allison-DollarIn the words of Mos Def, “Focused. I’m a hustler. And my hustle is trying to figure out the best ways to do what I like without having to do much else.”

Well-said Mos Def. Well said.

A hustler is defined by Merriam Webster as, “An enterprising person determined to succeed; go getter.”

Are you a hustler?

You don’t have to be in sales to be one but you do have to commit to the following ten steps if you want to be successful. While I consider myself a hustler in constant training these are 10 keys to hustle, every day. You have to practice them daily, get better at them, and enjoy.

  1. Love your Hustle

Whatever it is, love it. And I mean with all of your heart. If you don’t enjoy what you spend most of your life doing then it’s a waste of time; time is the one thing we can’t get more of so…again I say, Love your hustle.

  1. Listen

Most people like to talk sometimes, no, most of the time, and they talk too much. Listen more, and speak less, I promise you will hear something that will lead to a business lead, idea or relevant knowledge. If you find yourself in a situation where listening is difficult, leave. It’s not worth your time. This brings me to my next point.

  1. If it’s dead, leave it on the ground and walk away

This could refer to anything, a client that will never be happy and who takes too much time, a peer who complains all the time about the same old things, or my favorite, a manager who has no idea what he/she is doing or saying the majority of the time. If you run into any of these situations leave them immediately and do not look back, it’s not worth it.

  1. Swagger

Confidence is a non-negotiable for any professional hustler, you better be able to own whatever it is you need to own. The presentation you just gave to high-level decision makers, the smart-ass comment you dealt to a high performance peer or the stare down you delivered in the boardroom full of talented professionals just like yourself trying to get ahead. Whatever you do, get and keep your swagger. Without it, you are just like every other professional “insert your title of choice here” working day in and day out. Your swagger is just that Your Swagger. It is as unique as you are, use it to your advantage.

  1. Learn Something

Learn something every day. It’s as easy as that. Each day approach it so you learn something new, no one can ever take your knowledge away from you. Believe in your abilities and reward yourself with the knowledge it takes to come out on top every day.

  1. Be the Expert

Ensure that whatever it is you know just as much if not more than the senior level manager/sales representative/vice president or whoever it is in the room. Be able to speak in a healthy fashion no matter what the topic. Set yourself apart by showing you have taken the time to educate yourself on the topic at hand.

  1. No Fear

Period. Fear paralyzes you and has no room in the mind of a true hustler. If you have it, do not show it. Get a plan together on how you can keep it to yourself then toss it away after your mind has processed the situation. Fear is a private thing that everyone experiences but a hustler never shows.

  1. Love yourself

No one can love you like you. Sounds weird but it’s true. No one knows you better than you. Give yourself the time to process demanding information; strategize your next move or whatever it is you need. Also take care of yourself, even a proper hustler needs to eat right, exercise, and get some sleep. Know when to shut it down and take care of you.

  1. Never ask Permission

A hustler just gets it done. Don’t ask permission, ask forgiveness. Like I said, a hustler gets it done, and anyone who knows a hustler realizes this from the moment they are introduced.

  1. Network

A hustler knows everyone. The new business owner around the corner, the new employee on the second floor and even the new CEO hired to work for the competition. You can’t be successful being a recluse. It just doesn’t happen. Know your people.

Think you got what it takes to hustle? Use your cane if you need to, but get your hustle on or at least get it started. – Allison Dollar

 

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In all likelihood, if you’ve found your way to this website over here in our little spot on the Internet, YOU have the experience, knowledge, and credentials to be an expert in SOMETHING.

That means there is a topic (or maybe there are multiple topics) where you can make a credible claim to be able to offer insights, ideas, and commentary where you are the source. In these cases, you don’t have to rely on someone else for credibility. You can step up and share what you know and think.

If that idea makes you squirm, run for cover, or get ready to explain why you’re not an expert, read this list. It should help you come to grips with your “expertise.”

8 Things to Understand about Being an Expert

Expertise

Here is what it means to be an expert:

  1. You don’t have to be an expert in everything.
  2. Your expertise could be in just one, fairly narrow topic.
  3. Even if you expertise is narrow, you can generalize it and apply it to analogous or comparable situations.
  4. You may have to do homework on yourself and your own background to flesh out the definition and range of your expertise.
  5. You don’t have to be smarter than other people in the field.
  6. You don’t have to be more experienced than other people in the field.
  7. You do have to be able to draw a line around and articulate what your expertise is and on what you are making the claim for expertise.
  8. Just because you’re an expert in something doesn’t mean you have to write a blog or start tweeting up a storm.

Does that help?

Claim your expertise, and start proving it – today, and every day after that! – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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AEIB-GraphicWe haven’t shared an “Inside the Executive Suite” piece from Armada Executive Intelligence in some time. We’re happy to have them back today with an article adapted from a newsletter they published on a leadership training program Walmart is rolling out in its US stores. The original Wall Street Journal story provided the basis for the folks at Armada to translate the Walmart situation to other organizations. (Note: If you want to learn more about the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief system and get in on this great publication for an incredibly low monthly rate, please visit the Armada website.)

 

Walmart and the Impact of Leadership Training

(via Armada Executive Intelligence)

Is your organization better off with employees that are better off because they work for your organization?

We would expect most C-suite leaders think this is true. Various factors, however, such as costs, regulations, perceived employee indifference, cultural barriers and other issues can stop leaders from acting as if they believe better off employees are better for their organization.

Walmart, a brand often immersed in debates about poor employee treatment, is piloting new training for both front-line employees and in-store managers. A Wall Street Journal story covered the Walmart “Pathways” initiative; in select stores currently, its roll out is planned across US Walmart stores by early 2016.

The Pathways training includes brief online modules supported by in-person reinforcement from department managers. Its curriculum includes job fundamentals for frontline employees plus strategic issues, such as the Walmart position in the economy. Department managers are receiving training, greater authority, and latitude to manage their department teams. There is also enhanced accountability for performance and results.

Long-term, Walmart hopes to create a retail industry certification as another leadership training benefit for employees. Achieving certification would demonstrate employee knowledge, competency, and employment potential both within Walmart and for other retailers seeking strong candidates.

Leadership Training Implications for Your Organization

While the average brand does not deal with issues at the scale Walmart does, the Pathways initiative suggests several leadership training possibilities at smaller organizations facing comparable issues.

Leadership-Training

There is a New Need Emerging for Frontline Employee Training

While the article mentions public relations benefits from this initiative, it does not mention training modules on customer interactions in the age of social media.

Previously, it could be a challenge to provide media relations training to executives interacting with the press. Now, with every smartphone-enabled customer having the potential to be an in-store reporter spreading unflattering messages about a brand, the importance of cursory media relations training for frontline employees is dramatic.

No matter an organization’s size, employees interacting with customers need to know how to manage potentially negative situations before they reach popular social networks and run the risk of spreading widely.

Consider Employee Lifetime Value

Customer Lifetime Value is an oft-mentioned concept, even if it is easier to reference than to calculate. The idea of customer lifetime value involves the benefits (relative to the costs) of a customer’s buying relationship with a brand. Understanding the lifetime value accurately helps brands make good decisions on when and how to invest in customer relationships.

Quantifying the impact of employee training relative to retention moves lifetime value into a different realm. An exercise to estimate employee lifetime value is beneficial for any brand. Beyond training and retention, however, a business could also evaluate how employees benefit the organization through their roles in customer retention, carrying out aligned brand behaviors, and reinforcing positive messaging among friends and members of the public.

Boosting the Value of Starting a Career with Your Organization

The Walmart retail certification warrants pondering how other businesses could follow suit.

With a shortage of skilled workers, there is greater benefit in being a preferred employer. This has motivated emergence of “employer branding” in recent years. While employer branding can be misconstrued as slick advertising promoting a business as an incredible place to work, it should actually focus on how a brand exchanges value with its employees. If the value exchange is more compelling with one organization than another, there is an advantage to employees. If the retail certification takes hold and becomes a gateway to more attractive future positions (whether inside Walmart or elsewhere), it makes Walmart a more attractive employer, as it would any company offering a recognized certification.

Within your own organization, are there opportunities to create a certification that directly benefits your employees, your brand, and makes it easier to attract the appropriately skilled people you need for success?

Strategically Smarter Employees See Improvement Opportunities

We advocate for considering all employees playing strategic roles. That does not mean everyone determines and forms strategy. However, it does suggest the value of all employees having enough of a big picture understanding of the organization, its customers, markets, and competitors to see what they do and the environment in which they do it in a strategic context.

By incorporating training in fundamentals, brand culture, and marketplace trends, Walmart is smart. This training accentuates the likelihood of an employee seeing his or her role as part of something bigger and important.

Frontline employees having a stronger sense of the organizational and industry big picture prepares them to better assess both positives and negatives in current processes. Instead of simply knowing something is working or not, strategic frontline employees can provide valuable feedback on early warning signs when strategy that appears fantastic in the boardroom is not working in the field.

Documenting the Knowledge of Tenured Workers

We have written previously on capturing knowledge of tenured workers before they leave – either through retirements or layoffs. With Walmart, its experienced department managers and senior employees had already been providing in-person training for employees. It was primarily oral tradition, however, with little emphasis on a formal process within or across stores.

If a brand involves its most experienced employees as primary resources for developing training, it benefits from a potentially more efficient way to document the tips, tricks, and heuristics its frontline management develops but rarely shares broadly or formally.

Are You Doing Enough with Frontline Leadership Training?

Your organization does not have to be as big as Walmart to see benefits from stronger frontline training. Even if you can do a better job on just a couple of these opportunities, you could be in a great position to document, with a high degree of certainty, that your brand IS better off with “better off” employees. – Armada Executive Intelligence

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

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This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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