Mindset For Success

By Dr. Farzanna HaffizullaDr Farzanna Haffizulla

It’s 2am on a Saturday morning. You awake in a panic. Your body is pulsing with electric jolts and your mind is racing uncontrollably! It is at this quiet, undisturbed hour of the early morning that it hits you: am I where I want to be in life? Did I meet my professional and personal goals? You close your eyes and the image of who you imaged yourself to be is vivid again. This image is so powerful that you awaken the next morning energized, ready to make this dream a reality!  How do you continue to achieve our life goals? What is needed to create a mindset for success?

As working professionals, juggling your family life, careers and community activities, you are faced with the looming question: are you happy with your status? Have you been successful, and do you see more success ahead? It is important to realize that everyone has their own set of priorities in life with different permutations of family, work, scholarship and leadership. While there is no “one size fits all” solution, there are common ideals that allow professionals to maintain a mindset for success. This allows you to ultimately achieve all of your life’s dreams and goals.

There are six steps to ensure personal happiness and professional success. These steps are the basic foundation of success in any endeavor, especially as a busy professional. It is vital to stay energized and focused on your goals always adapting to new variables that may be thrown your way.

1) Stay Positive: The first ingredient to success is maintaining and emanating strong positive energy from within, and surrounding yourself with positive people. Drawing from your own inner strength and not depending on external sources of confidence building ensures a continuous supply of “success fuel”: positive energy. Meditation, reconnecting with your spirituality, self –reflection and engaging in activities such as exercise, sports and a hobby of your choice are ways to cultivate your inner sanctum of positive energy. Though it may seem difficult to smile or stay happy during times of social or financial difficulty, remember that everything happens for a good reason. Live without regrets and allow life to teach you; learn from these lessons. A well-known adage is “A fool is one who makes the same mistake twice.” Visualize and state your goals out loud. This strengthens your inner visualization, making it a more concrete, definitive goal.

2) Maintain Academic Discipline: Develop self-discipline with regards to education.  Treat your academic life with utmost respect and continue to pursue higher learning. This gives you an edge over others and allows you to find an unexplored, untapped niche in your profession that can allow for tremendous success. Tailor your education to suit your goals and align yourself with mentors who can nudge you in the right direction and give you valuable experience.

3) Make a Plan: Plan out your goals and put them into action.  Create a work/life balance plan that factors in other aspects of your life that are important to you: family life, hobbies and other interests. Think about how your eventual goal will affect these other “spheres” of your life and decide where you are able to compromise. It is important to involve your significant other in these talks to avoid surprises and conflict. You must be pro-active in pursuit of your goals. If you continue to be consistent, responsible and show an edge and insight unsurpassed by your peers, you will shine and succeed.

4) Be Prepared: Prepare yourself for surprise scenarios that may interrupt your journey toward your goal.  This could be a company upheaval or financial “hiccup.” Take these changes in stride, never losing sight of your goal, but be open to modifying your approach. If problems arise, regroup to decide if you still want the same goals or if they need to be altered to suit your current situation. Your life is in your hands!

5) Be Humble: Never violate the cardinal rule of stepping on others to get to the top; this will eventually circle back around to you and has a negative snowball effect. Remain humble throughout your journey and accept criticism in stride. Winston Churchill once said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

6) Self-reflection and Re-evaluation: Frequent re-evaluation of your “happiness” thermometer is a good way to recognize if you are where you want to be in life. More angry or sad days than happy ones indicate that a change may be needed. Self-reflection, re-visiting your goals list and talking with your significant other is your next step in strategizing your move. Take a comprehensive worldly approach toward achieving your goals. Talk and interact with others who have already lived your goal and learn from their mistakes. Be willing to adapt to the new “climate” in your business life. As when the economy took a tumble years ago, instead of licking your wounds, remain open to new approaches within your area of expertise. This could be your golden opportunity to re-energize your career and professional goals.

There are many different ways to be a successful professional, even with the demands of other aspects of living. Choosing the best path depends on instinct, which must be honed over the years, and buttressed by the support you get from those closest to you. Open your heart and draw strength from within and envelop your life with positive thinking. You make your own mindset. The power has always been yours to use! You will learn through experimentation and good old-fashioned trial by error. Throughout your journey, keep this lesson at the forefront: With humility and drive you can yoke and harness your own inner strength as an adult and as a working professional, achieving all your life goals.

Dr. Farzanna Haffizulla is a speaker and expert in work/life balance. Her book, Harmony of the Spheres, offers methods to streamline workloads, solve interpersonal workplace issues and offers practical advice on integrating work and home life. In addition, she runs the website busymomMD.com, an informative site for modern, educated women juggling career and family.

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Hiring: Do It the Steve Jobs Way

By Patrick ValtinPatrick Valtin

Jim was the perfect candidate with many years of solid experience as a professional sales rep and had an obvious talent of persuasion and communication skills. But the hiring manager had some strong reservations during the interview. Jim’s strong focus on results ‘right now’ and a certain aggressiveness that could probably overwhelm or upset clients were some of the weaknesses he was concerned about.

In regards to Jim’s focus on the purposes of the company, its role in the community, the vital importance of innovation and unselfish dedication to excellence, he did the perfect job. He sold himself like never before and got hired.

Four months later, Jim was fired for lack of vision, lack of dedication and worst of all, for his lack of honesty in his intentions.

The manager knew he had to hire “the Steve Jobs way,” but had no real clue as to how to do it. He hired what he saw and what he heard “at the moment.” He was trapped into Jim’s salesmanship talent. And he was fooled by Jim’s hidden intentions: to get the job, “no matter what needs to be said…”

Steve Jobs’ Hiring Philosophy: Steve Jobs was an amazing and unconventional leader in many respects. His reputation as the best entrepreneur of our time can be summarized in a few words: he and his top execs never compromised with the talents and qualifications required of their employees. He personally interviewed over 5,000 applicants during his career. He and his executives considered very different qualities in people than most business owners do. When you thoroughly analyze Apple’s philosophy of hiring, you find out that there has always been fundamental, un-compromising attributes needed to get a job at Apple, Inc.

You too can apply these attributes when you look at attracting top players and ensure you avoid trouble makers.  To help you in the hiring process, here are the main “Apple selection attributes.”

Vision-minded. Everyone joining the company must have a clear picture of its management vision – and fully agree to fight for it, to defend it and to live with it every day. Applicants who do not seem to get it are systematically rejected. When you hire people who don’t seem to agree with, or care about your company vision, you are potentially employing future enemies.

Innovation-minded. Steve Jobs always emphasized the vital importance of hiring people who are innovative – willing to create something from nothing. Applicants are first chosen for their ability and willingness to constantly create, rather than for their technical competence.

Future-minded. Employees at Apple are driven by their leader’s vision of the future and they contribute everyday to creating the future, more than just beating the competition. Each of them owns the future of the market because they know they can contribute to creating it. The eagerness to create, not follow the future is a vital attribute observed in top players, no matter the industry.

Passion-minded. Steve Jobs’ first principle is: “Do what you love.” People are hired because they love the product, the company and its vision. Applicants who do not demonstrate a genuine passion and “love” for the company’s purposes and business philosophy will never make it.

Contribution-minded. A statement given by an Apple recruiter is clear enough: “We didn’t want someone who desired to retire with a gold watch. We wanted entrepreneurs, demonstrated winners, high-energy contributors who defined their previous role in terms of what they contributed and not what they titles were.”

Engagement-minded. Over two thirds of Americans are not engaged in their workplace. Apple management is strict on employees’ level of commitment. Committed individuals who are inspired by a grand purpose make the whole difference in the most competitive conditions.

Excellence-minded. Steve Jobs was known for his passion of perfection. The company always tries things out until they are perfectly done. The same attitude is expected of every collaborator. Applicants who do not share that passion for excellence do not have a chance.

Other Critical Attributes To Evaluate: You will notice that these 7 points enforced in the Apple’s personnel selection are all personality-related attributes, also called soft skills. They do not always guarantee performance. But the chance of selecting productive people is at least 200% higher when focusing on these vital soft skills. It is very well known that recruiters who focus on soft skills in their personnel selection process are, on average, 50% more effective in selecting top players.

So, in order to avoid falling in the momentary personality trap – as the hiring manager in the above example did, you should also focus on the following two basic soft skills:

Honesty. Did you know that one third of all business failures in the USA are due to employee theft? Also, 95% of all US companies are victims of theft and yet only 10% ever discover it. So this is definitely a crucial criterion to evaluate. Everybody recognizes the importance of honesty so it would make sense to evaluate it PRIOR to evaluating any other soft skill, wouldn’t it?

There are strong indicators which allow you to precisely evaluate honesty. Here are just a few:  gaps in the resume, contradictory data between the resume and your standard job application, negative reaction or embarrassment from the applicant to your challenging questions and lack of accuracy in applicant’s explanations of previous achievements.

Willingness. According to the US Department of Labor, more than 87% of employee failures are due to unwillingness to do the job. You can’t simply force someone to do something if they do not want to. Such persons will do what you want in order to keep their job or to avoid penalties. But they will not really put their heart into it.

Most applicants will tell you that they are willing, of course. The key to finding out if they are honest is to ask them to prove i.t Challenge them to demonstrate that they have been willing to work hard, learn something new, question their old habits, work under tough conditions, etc… The way you do this is simply by asking them to give you specific examples when they had to display such willingness.

So, hire the Steve Job’s way, by all means. But don’t forget these two basic attributes in the same process. inform applicants that your company values and management philosophy imply honesty and willingness/positive attitude as primary selection criteria, no matter the position – lack of either is enough to be considered unqualified!

Patrick Valtin is the author of the “No-Fail Hiring” book and an international public speaker. He has evaluated over 22,000 applicants for the account of 5,000 customers in more than 30 countries. His No-Fail Hiring System has been used by thousands of small businesses of all kinds of industries. Patrick has trained 85,000 business owners and executives in the field of people management, personnel selection, Sales, business strategies, leadership and organization. To find out more about his speaking and training, visit http://patrickvaltin.com or call 877-831 2299.

Gain the Ultimate Competitive Edge: Create a Business with Soul

By Pat HeydlauffPat Heydlauff

Walt Disney knew exactly what soul was in his organization. It was the feeling of happiness and the joy of the Disney magic whether created in movies, theme parks, customer service or products. Those feelings were at the core existence or soul of the organization. Everything Disney does is designed to provide joy in the hearts and souls of everyone who shares the Disney experience.

A soulless corporation was defined by Roland Marchand in his book, Creating the Corporate Soul, as “one driven by a cold economic logic that defined its every decision as a money equation.” He thought soullessness often implied a perceived lack of conscience on the part of the corporation as well as the coldness and aloofness of the organization.

For companies like Disney, the corporate soul directly connects to the end user through all levels of the organization and all products in a circular motion, ultimately resulting in a financial reward returning to the organization.

Soul Formula: Put people first and profits will follow. The equation is that simple. Putting people first means including the end user, as in the case of Disney’s customers, the employee as well as the shareholder. The 21st century workforce expects employers to have a people-centered vision and wants its workplace to be more caring, more communicative, empowering and creative.

Today, employees who do not find these qualities in their workplace rapidly dis-engage; their productivity drops and in turn profitability declines.  Some may even work toward the demise of the company. The consumer readily picks up on these, sometimes obvious other times subtle, nuances and reacts by moving their business elsewhere. Worst case scenario: consumers end up boycotting or badmouthing the company.

Finding Soul: As reported in Business Week, researchers in the late 1990s found that companies with a soul were 5.5 percent more profitable. Female employees and Generation X and Y employees expect a company to have soul. And, as boomers age, materialism is no longer is a motivating factor, leaving them searching for something more satisfying and meaningful in their careers.

Spend time soul searching. Determine why you exist. Like Walt Disney, determine who you are and what your core beliefs are. The inner workings and mindset of a company become the outer success. This process takes creative think sessions first on the part of leadership and then expanded sessions including all aspects and levels of your business. The input from someone who works in repairs and maintenance will astound you and enrich your soul searching sessions. These sessions should be brief, no longer than one hour each time, without rejection of any thoughts or suggestions and with a succinct outcome. You should be able to state your business’ soul in five words or less.

Action follows thought. If the thought or result of your soul searching is correct, your company can put into place and execute the right strategy, which will flow in a circular motion throughout your business while engaging your workforce, returning increased profits and shareholder value. This one step is priceless and guarantees sustainability and growth when properly applied.

Success is never for sale. The true test of whether you really have discovered your business’ soul is when things go wrong. You will discover how committed you really are to your 21st Century way of operation. Will you be willing to sacrifice the “new you,” your core beliefs of who you are to make a sale? Will you cheapen your product to stay competitive or to get a new client? Will you devalue a job skill, de-motivate the workforce or hire a new CEO with different core beliefs?

Soul matters because it shows internally and externally – client relations suffer, engaged employees disengage and public perception is tarnished. Engage everyone at all levels of the business to help resolve issues. Have conversations not dissertations. Everyone becomes part of searching for the solution not expanding the problem.

Create a Soul Roadmap. There’s a scene from Alice in Wonderland, which features the Cheshire Cat. When asked by Alice which way should she go, he responds by asking her, “Well that depends on where you want to get.” Alice says, “Oh it really doesn’t matter as long as…” To which the Cheshire Cat declares, “Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.”

To be successful you need a roadmap to reach your destination. When you find your business soul you have not only found your beginning point, but the reason for existing — which becomes that molten hot energy that ignites and inspires leadership, management, your workforce, your clients and comes full circle with increased productivity and increased bottom line profits. Your business soul becomes the basis for all decisions, which creates a clear and simple roadmap to sustainable success.

Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.

Keep Up at Work as You Age

By Jennifer FitzPatrickJennifer FitzPatrick

Do you ever marvel at how fast the new college graduates in your office seem to move?  Have you heard them chatting about watching late night television or having sipped martinis at the latest hip club into the wee hours of the morning?  Despite this lifestyle they still seem to have unlimited energy at work the next day.  Do you remember when you used to be like that?  It’s not your imagination; you probably are moving a bit slower.  As we get older, the body has less “bounce back” than it did when we were younger.

As we age, we feel tired more often at work.  Even older workaholics in love with their jobs may remember a time when they could work 18 hours every day and not feel the effects.  These same driven career-oriented professionals are often surprised by their fatigue which often can lead to burnout.  How do we keep up with younger colleagues, subordinates, customers and even managers with seemingly unlimited energy, fresh ideas and appear to require little sleep?

Most people don’t realize that some of the natural aging process begins around age 30.  The need for sufficient sleep, good nutrition, and exercise becomes more important every year once the aging process starts.  Unfortunately for many of us, our responsibilities multiply in our middle age and older years which increases stress, just during the time when we should be reducing it.  Taking care of children, assisting older parents, buying homes, and increased career obligation often pushes good self-care to the lowest priority.

So how do we maintain excellent work performance, meeting our career goals while feeling good and being healthy?  Consider these 10 tips for feeling younger and healthier at work:

1) Treat your body better every year: Would you skip routine maintenance for your older vehicle and expect it to continue running reliably?  It’s startling how many responsible older workers wouldn’t dream of missing an oil change appointment for their car but don’t take time to eat a healthy lunch.  Eating healthfully, exercising regularly, minimizing alcohol and caffeine consumption, drinking plenty of water and getting sufficient sleep is essential to keeping energy up.  Treat your body at least as well as you treat your car.

2) Travel smart: Travel often becomes more challenging on our bodies as we get older.  If you are a road warrior, have a suitcase and toiletry case prepared at all times with items you will need such as toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush and makeup.  Try to pad cross-country and cross-continental trips with an extra day or two to reduce the strain of jet lag.  Stop regularly to stretch muscles during long car trips.

3) If you are ill, take a sick day: Even if you just have a cold, your immune system will thank you if you coddle yourself a little bit.  Take a day to drink tea in bed while watching an old movie.  If you truly have unavoidable deadlines, at least work from home.  The older workforce tends to see calling in sick as a sign of weakness, wanting to persevere even while under the weather.  Taking a day or two off when you begin to feel sick often decreases the length of an illness because the rest allows your body to recover more quickly.

4) Manage chronic conditions: Chronic and acute conditions are a not “normal” part of the aging process but they do occur more frequently as we get older.  If you have diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea any other chronic conditions, be sure to discuss with your doctor and see the appropriate specialists.  With the onset of chronic and acute conditions, older workers are more likely to be prescribed prescription medications.  It is important to do a cost-benefit analysis with your doctor when considering taking a new drug. The decision to take medicine should always be weighed carefully because many drugs tend to have side effects that may impact our work performance and quality of life.  Take into consideration how side effects such as sleepiness, weight loss or gain, fatigue or memory issues may impact your job if it is necessary to take a drug that causes them.

5) Stop rushing: Rushing from appointment to appointment is another surefire way to increase stress which can exacerbate chronic conditions.  Budget plenty of time to get to where you need to go.

6) Prioritize preventive care appointments: Preventive care such as routine physical, dental, and eye exams should not be constantly rescheduled in favor of work obligations.  Make it a rule that you will not reschedule a medical appointment more than once.

7) Schedule opportunities for stress reduction: Obviously taking vacations and unplugging from work altogether is ideal.  But regular yoga, massage, acupuncture, and psychotherapy appointments can help manage stress when a vacation is not possible.  Figure out a way to incorporate some relaxation into every single work day, even if it is only a few minutes of meditation.

8) Be more efficient at work: Wouldn’t it be great if you could get your job done in less time?  If you have trouble delegating, take a course on how to work smarter.  Ask others who seem to have a better work-life balance for their secrets.

9) Downsize your life in order to have more balance: If you have a high-pressure job that is your priority, you may need to cut back on volunteer or even some personal obligations in order to have more energy at work.  Keep a tickler file of activities and worthy volunteer opportunities to refer to when you retire and have more time.

10) Set boundaries with managers and subordinates: If you have the type of position where you need to be on call, let others know the way you prefer to be contacted.  If you don’t wish to be contacted on weekends unless it’s a true emergency, make sure you let people know.  Often older employees feel they need to be plugged in at all times, especially if younger counterparts are.  But everyone is entitled to set boundaries at their comfort level, especially during non-work hours.

Older workers often provide some of the most effective leadership and valuable contributions to the workplace.  When good self-care and healthy boundaries are cultivated, older workers can expect their example, wisdom and experience to influence others even after they are retired.

Jennifer FitzPatrick, MSW, LCSW-C is an author, speaker and educator.  Founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., she has more than 20 years’ experience in healthcare.  Jennifer is a frequent speaker at national and regional conferences and was an Adjunct Instructor at Johns Hopkins University. Her new book, “Your 24/7 Older Parent” answers the prayers of those dealing with the care of an elderly parent.  For more information on Jennifer FitzPatrick’s speaking, please visit www.jenerationshealth.com.

Winning with Laughter

By Marti MacGibbonMarti MacGibbon

Jenny, a manager in a large manufacturing firm, is required to deliver several presentations per month. She feels confident about putting together the speaking points, which cover technical material, but feels that she is “inflicting” a boring lecture on her listeners, since the material is so dry. She worries that the important information will not be memorable. Jenny wishes she could add an element of humor to presentations, but all her life, she’s told herself that she’s not a funny person. She secretly dreads each presentation and wonders how to pep things up.

Jim’s office is right across the hall from Jenny’s, and as a manager, he is required to present frequently. Jenny marvels at his skill in engaging his audience, each and every time. Jim manages to inject humor into the most technical material, and he obviously has fun doing it. In addition to being a humorous presenter, Jim laughs easily and often, even under the stress of an approaching deadline. Jenny figures that Jim was born with his ability, but nothing could be further from the truth. Jim deliberately developed his skills, and he knows that anyone can do the same.

Laughter wins. Adding humor to your speech will make your intellectual content easier to remember and a whole lot more fun to deliver. Research has shown that laughter stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, accelerating learning. Your audience will retain more of what they hear because humor reduces stress. The lower the stress level, the more we learn.

You don’t have to be a professional comedian or even a class clown in order to infuse a presentation with humor. You don’t have to tell jokes. You can cultivate a unique sense of humor, develop funny material and acquire skills for delivering humor. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Fun is the bottom line: If you are having fun and feeling good, you are more likely to laugh and to create laughter. Confidence, enthusiasm and likeability flourish when you are enjoying life in the moment.Loosen up and practice the art of not taking yourself too seriously. Cultivate a sense of playfulness and focus on having fun, even in mundane things. Immerse yourself in the experience by hanging out with funny people and people who like to laugh.

Visit your local comedy club or watch standup comics on television, taking note of what makes you laugh. This will tell you a lot about your sense of humor. You’ll soon find you are funnier than you thought you were, and your unique sense of humor will manifest itself. After that, it’s just a matter of honing and polishing your wit.

When you’re having fun, your audience can sense it. The fun is contagious, and the audience will be pulling for you. Even if one of your lines doesn’t get a laugh, when you stay in the moment and have fun, it won’t make a difference. You’ve made friends with your audience, so a self-deprecating “saver” comment such as, “That was funny at my house…” or “My mom laughed…” can pull you out of the comic ditch.

Your attitude, perspective or point of view will help you develop your brand of humor: A lot of humor comes from looking at things from one specific vantage point. What’s your personal spin, your take on things in the news, in pop culture or on daily mundane situations? Are you skeptical, enthusiastic, optimistic, defeated or depressed? Any or all of these can be tipped into a comic perspective and will serve as a mother lode of humor.

Tap into what annoys you, but look at it with a humorous approach. Go on a rant – on paper. A sense of desperation, when you apply it in a funny way, can get a really big laugh. Try it and see what kind of funny stuff comes of it. This is a big stress reliever, because the next time someone annoys you, you win! Conversely, what are you excited about? What do you really love? Write it down. A pattern will emerge. Be yourself. Relax. Step back and find yourself looking at life from your new comic perspective.

Prepare your mind as you prepare your presentation: Preparation is essential in public speaking, and doubly so when using humor. Of course, you’ve prepared your material, what you are going to say. But often presenters get so wrapped up in the words they are going to say, they forget the spirit, energy and passion of their message.

Humor requires enthusiasm, commitment and emotional investment. In order to get better connected prior to presentation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I bringing to the relationship with my audience?
  • Do I want my audience to benefit from the humor, or am I preoccupied with my own ego and the fear of my humorous lines bombing?
  • Am I speaking from the heart?
  • What do I love about this message and this speaking opportunity?
  • What do I love about my audience?”

If you fill yourself with optimism and positive anticipation, it’s easy to savor the fun of creating laughter. When you let go of your ego, you relax and radiate confidence. Remember that confidence, likeability, and relaxation are key to this process.

Emphasize the “present” in your presentation: Stage presence, cadence, timing, and platform skills will develop with practice. An audience needs to like you in order to laugh. They need to pick up on your confidence. One way to radiate confidence, or at least an illusion of confidence, even when you’re not feeling it, is posture. Stand up straight. Throw your shoulders back. Stand with your feet planted, your weight distributed evenly – that is, don’t shift from one foot to the other. Always move toward the audience. Never appear to shrink back or retreat.

Smile and keep on smiling. Make eye contact. Remember the audience wants the same thing as you do: they want you to be funny and do well. When you deliver your laugh line, slow down and enunciate. When they laugh, stop and let all the laughter die down before continuing. That way you simply ooze confidence– or appear to! Comedy is always in the “now.” Stay in the present moment, and you will be aware of opportunities for extemporaneous humor.

Now that you’ve taken a look at how to win with humor, you are ready to begin your journey. Humor energizes, relieves stress, and improves learning and memory. Enjoy the process of sharing and enjoying laughter. And above all, remember to have fun!

Marti MacGibbon, CADC II, is a certified mental health professional, inspirational motivational speaker, veteran standup comic, author, and member of the National Speakers Association. Her memoir,  “Never Give in to Fear,” is available on Amazon.com and through her website, martimacgibbon.com. To find out more about her speaking, visit her site or call 310-210-4674.

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