Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Want to be happy? Mentally 'fire' your boss

By Ren Butler

If you want to be happy in life you must make a binding promise to yourself to never work FOR an organisation or boss ever again. Instead you must work with an organisation or partner. If you read that statement and start to think of all the reasons why you can’t do that anytime soon, this article is for you! I’m really glad you’re taking the time to think about your happiness and value within your chosen career path. It’s not that you aren’t able to build respect and meaning into your working life, it’s just that it takes a leap outside your present comfort zone. There’s no reason why anyone with access to community support, education and opportunities can’t have a rewarding, respectful and healthy work-life.
These days, work is at the centre of our time and financial priorities. So if we allow ourselves to feel controlled and replaceable in order to feed ourselves, we’re either nothing but meat robots working as cogs in a global financial widget machine or we’re mentally indentured servants. Last I checked, technology and global data systems were supposed to free up human capital to do what humans do best, communicate, connect and create. Arduous, bureaucratic employment engines seem to be very slow to recognise the true meaning and value of human resources. This means we as individuals must take the reigns in creating this change within our productivity landscape.
We’re frequently reminded to check-in with our biological and financial health at various points in life. Why don’t we make it a priority to regularly check in with our work-life health? Unfortunately, those two words are most commonly associated with the concept of ‘balance’. The problem with that is that perpetuates the underlying assumption that the two have to be at odds with each other. In the modern urban existence, the majority of us must work to live and live to work. (I don’t know too many legitimately cash-flow positive dead people.) So why would any sane person accept an unhealthy work-life existence? Time and resource balance should be prioritised the same across your personal and professional existence.

I challenge you to ask yourself these questions to check in with your personal work-life health:

If you received a call that one of your loved ones was in a serious accident and had to walk out the door ASAP, would your employer and co-workers be completely supportive?
Do you feel like you have to be another person at work in order to be accepted?
If you came into a huge pile of money that rendered it unnecessary to work ever again would you want to keep doing what you’re doing?
If you have issue with these questions or are not content with the answers you come up with…You’re likely not doing the right thing with the right team or community for the right reasons! Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step by admitting you have a problem. The important thing now is committing to the challenging path ahead to remedy this imbalance in your work-life health. Much like crash diets or overnight financial success plans don’t have a high statistical likelihood of sticking, a work-life overhaul needs to be incremental as well.
From the questions above, decide on one of the key things that would make your daily existence more enjoyable. Brain storm as many ways you could possibly start creating a more enjoyable daily work-life and give them a score from 1-3 (easy to hard). It could help to ask a close friend to help you with this if possible, a little outside perspective can be indispensable. Start with attempting some of the easiest changes you can come up with and work your way up to some of the harder ones. If possible, see if you can source a work-life mentor from your existing social circles and go to that person periodically for guidance and a check-in. They don’t have to have a perfect life, just be somebody with whom you hold a deep mutual respect.
These are all things I have personally questioned, challenged and changed over the past year of my life. I’ve gone from working menial casual jobs - daydreaming about how I could someday truly create value to society - to working my butt off 6-7 days a week as a self-employed freelancer delivering creative, mentally challenging deliverables to a myriad of individuals and organisations. And I can honestly say I would never consider going back to the old employee mentality no matter how seemingly good the money. Life’s just too short to waste human capital.
Of course there’s no magic formula. The more stories of success we share, the faster we can all achieve optimal work-life health. Have you had a personal experience checking-in with your own work-life health? How have you gone with addressing pain points in your daily grind?

Thank you to Ren Butler the Community Manager at BlueChilli Group for sharing this article - this article was first published on Linkedin here . You can chat to Ren @CognitoItineris

Sunday, 1 March 2015

How to unplug from corporate life – sanely

By Bridie Walsh via Feeling Purpose

Call me a slow learner, but when my fantasies about work appeared more like horror movies than a fairy tale I eventually learnt to recognise it was a sign to unplug from my job and re-evaluate. This, of course, is easier said than done.
The list of reasons to stay can appear to outweigh the options to go – especially when you take money, expectations and risk into account.
Fear not! You can do something about it. In fact, you should.
I’ve found that most of us have a healthy dependency on a good work life. Firstly, a job gives us a wage. A wage means paid rent, money for bills, savings, presents for family at Christmas and better yet, money for fun (espresso martinis with friends).

It ain’t about the money

You’ve heard about Abraham Maslow’s theory of needs, right? He’s the psychologist who, in 1954, wrote Motivation and Personality, charting a hierarchy of human needs that start with our physiological needs and then safety, love and belonging, esteem and finally self-actualisation.
Topping the list of absolute necessities is breathing, eating, copulating, sleeping, excreting and second is safety – yes safety. Sometimes feeling safe is having financial security. At the very least, it is having food on the table and your rent or mortgage and bills paid.
I’ve never seen myself as someone who chased a dollar their entire career. Work wasn’t about money for me, it was about meaning and purpose. Looking back, it was always the money concern that held me back. I wasn’t being entirely unreasonable in my caution (although I was a little bit of a scaredy cat).
Jumping ship from a job that is driving you crazy might make you feel good for about five seconds (ok, it could last a few weeks). Then, with the reality of everyday expenses accruing faster than the likes on a Miley Cyrus clip gone viral, that feeling of relief from escaping something you felt trapped in could turn into another prison of your own making.
Here are some tips that helped me plan my work transition:
  1. Put money aside
  2. Look at how you can reduce your expenses
  3. Create a budget, and follow it
  4. Have a plan (I mean a life plan that involves what makes your heart sing)

Accept only the best

Unplugging from corporate life or a job you’ve been dedicated to is risky – and speaking from experience, there will be a lot of emotions, fears, anxieties and hope. The obvious dilemma will be once you leap, what next?
It’s tempting to take the first job opportunity that comes your way, but it may not be the right one.
That’s why a plan is so important. This doesn’t mean having it all figured out before you leap, that’s just impossible. But it does mean thinking through who you are and where you want to be in life.
When I was unhappy, I asked myself – how did I get here? It’s a good question to ask.
I sought advice and was directed to write down the factors led me to take that role, and then what led me to stay. It taught me a lot about the inner beliefs or needs I had that contributed to my apparent competing desires – ‘should I stay or should I go’?
Clearly the choices I made led me to where I was today. It meant I could as easily direct myself to where I really wanted to be. I just needed some tools to help get me there.
In your plan, make sure you have listed your ideal work and life scenario as well. Take time to understand why this is attractive to you. Then work out the steps to get there.
Knowing what is really important to you, and the activities you need to be involved in to feel fully alive will help you resist taking on the first opportunity that comes by (for a sense of security) and continue to pursue the right opportunities (for a sense of purpose).

Be true to yourself

“Know thy self” – an ancient saying rooted in the philosophies of those big thinkers, the Greek philosophers, and inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi – is a maxim to live by.
If I’ve learnt anything in my effort to redirect my career, it’s discovering the need to know yourself. After all, the one person you can never escape is you.
It’s a curious thing that we don’t arrive into this world with a fully annotated manual about who we are, what drives us, what our life purpose is (or should be), and then how to go about living out our best life.
I share this maxim “know thyself” knowing it comes with a warning. To know thyself must be a conscious process.
Professor of psychology, philosophy and anthropology at the University of California Irvine, Dr Robert Walsh (no relation of mine), says if we are not conscious about who we are and what is important to us at a core values level we could fall out of step with our personal ethics.
I’m quite sure my horror show work fantasies are a prime example of being out of step with my personal ethics. My feelings were betraying that my ethics and my actions weren’t aligned.
Walsh indicates that when we are out of step with our ethics we suffer ‘cloudy’ mind, where things seem a little confusing and it is harder to differentiate what is true. He speaks about evidence that unconscious guilt can have physiological symptoms like stress and anxiety.
What can we learn from this wisdom? Take time out to focus on you. It’s important in finding a path that resonates with who you are, what is important to you and will ultimately bring you what you need.
The signs on your path might very well be screaming at you – unplug from your corporate life. I’m here to encourage you – plan well and go for it!
(We just gotta get the world right, forget about the price tag oh, yeah, kachang kachang, bubang bubang.)
This article was first published by Feeling Purpose, www.feelingpurpose.com.

Bridie Walsh is a writer and communications consultant who believes storytelling plays an important role in supporting people to live the lives they choose. Her photos and stories capture the heart and soul of people. Follow Bridie @BridieLee or visit her website.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Why your company needs a vision statement

By Bridie Walsh

Ideas are the ultimate commodity for any business. Especially a start-up. But even if you have a million ideas and yet no vision, it’s unlikely your business will last.

The fact is "if you are working on something you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you." - Steve Jobs

A vision statement articulates your vision and distils the single-minded purpose of why your business exists. 

A vision statement should:
·       Inspire
·       Be true
·       Be essential
·       Be clear
·       Have a global impact

Vision statements are not for small thoughts. Vision statements are big. To come close to realising your business statement will mean world-changing impact.

Your vision statement shouldn’t hold back. It’s there to inspire.

It also needs, at its essence, to be true. The purpose and importance of what your business is doing needs to be captured in your vision statement. It also needs to capture what it is you essentially do.

Most of all, a vision statement is clear. No nonsense, to the point, and if you can say it in less words – well done. Yet, perhaps your visions is simply too big and too far reaching to be said with few words, so say a lot and make it count.
At the end of the day, your vision statement captures who you are, why you do what you do and why you think it is important for the world around you.
So what’s your vision?

Take the time to think this through. Write it down. Then share it.

Once your vision is clear. It informs your mission – how you plan do make your vision a reality. And it informs your values – the way you do what you do and the culture your business creates for its employees and its customers.

Through the ups and downs of building your business from scratch into a growing and succeeding company, your vision statement will carry you and your staff through. 

When you have a vision, you have a destination you are leading your business to. It will help you stay the course.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

How to revamp your resume

By Bridie Walsh

Create a resume that gets you work or advising roles that you want.
Febuary is a great month for dusting off the cobwebs of your old resume and revamping it to get noticed for the job you want. But if you’re procrastinating, read Kerry Hannlon’s seven ways to help your resume stand out.

Hannlon, an AARP jobs expert, career transition expert and award-winning author of What next? Finding your passion and your dream job in your forties, fifties and beyond says:

1.     Use a simple format
2.     Cull your professional experience
3.     Mind the gaps (caregiving, career break to travel or study – explain it)
4.     Tell your story
5.     Add some spice (show a commitment to professional development)
6.     Be mindful of automated screening systems    

   Consider hiring a pro to help [Ed’s note: joining Two Square Pegs is a great start ;)]

  <<Read more via AARP>> to motivate you to get started on that resume.

LinkedIn will build your network and job prospects

Don’t stop there. At Two Square Pegs, we encourage everyone to create and use your LinkedIn profile. If you don't have an account, use your existing resume to help complete your profile online. 

If you already have an account, then make sure you are consistently updating connections with new or past networks, ask for recommendations and regularly follow up key contacts for opportunities. Go ahead, just get started visit www.linkedin.com.

Get noticed

Let people in your network now you are available for new opportunities. Also make sure you have signed up as an expert on Two Square Pegs and 
We will support you on your journey, whether that is:

  • providing advice to new businesses and start-ups, 
  • creating flexible work arrangements, 
  • contra deals or equity, 
  • or finding a role within a small business that is growing so you can help them succeed 

Happy resume writing!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Pitch your skills to solve hiring manager’s business pain

by Liz Ryan via Forbes

Are you applying for jobs with a “mewly, please-like-me” approach that just isn’t working? Forbes contributor Liz Ryan thinks so.

Ouch!! That hurts, doesn’t it? Instead of skulking away to lick your wounds, think about that pain. Then think of the pain the hiring business is going through, and why they need you.

“If there’s no pain, there’s no new hire,” says Ryan, CEO and founder of Human Workplace. She says we hurt ourselves during the job search, including opening ourselves up to age discrimination, when we make our job pitch about us.
Ryan’s advice is to “think like salespeople and zero in on the business pain likely to be keeping our hiring manager up at night”.

Sell yourself, instead of selling yourself short, and get that next job. <<Read more via Forbes>>

Sunday, 25 January 2015

How to find the right advisor for your business

By Bridie Walsh and Trang Du

There is a slew of advisors, coaches and mentors out there. But how do you find the right one for your business?

Whatever you do, consider this this crucial question carefully because who you choose as your advisor could make or break your business.

Good or bad advice will come down to the type of people you surround yourself with, so Two Square Pegs have compiled some tips to help you find the right advisor for your business.

Think through your needs

You will have certain business needs, but not necessarily the budget to hire. Not at the early stages at least. So this is another incentive to seek an advisor.
Evaluate what your business needs are and then search for advisors that have the skillsets, knowledge and networks that can meet them.

Evaluation involves looking at the traits and skillsets of your existing team, and mapping the gaps. You can even create a job description for your ideal advisor.
Review your business plan. Perhaps there are new markets you want to break into, but don’t have the knowledge in that area or industry. This will become another clue as to the type of person you will want to connect with.

Trusted counsellors

Of course, the saying, “you don’t know, what you don’t know” always applies.
Sometimes you simply need wiser counsel; someone who has industry or business experience and can take a helicopter view of your company – because they have blazed a trail before you. They will be able to point out the problems you have and why, and the solutions are probably not what you first thought.

Top advisors for start-ups have these three qualities

1.     An ability to be hands on when needed
a.     Let’s face it, starting up is tough. Bootstrapping your way to growth and positive cashflow in the beginning sometimes means that advisors need to be willing to roll up their sleeves and do some of the grunt work too.

2.     Willing to guide you through difficult problems and challenges
a.     The best advisors are natural problem solvers who will make you think about a problem in a new way. It can help you find a way out.
b.     In any challenge your business may face, one idea or solution is rarely the silver bullet that turns things around. It is usually a process – a series of solutions and creative approaches – that keeps your business humming. The best advisors support you through a process that will drive your business success.

3.     Strong networks
a.     Not least of all, advisors have strong networks connected to a range of business support, know-how, people and associations. No man, nor one business, is an island. We all thrive in a community of people. Who your advisor knows could be the next critical customer that launches a thousand, a new marketing opportunity, or potential collaborator.

Reaching out

Once you know what you need, or at least think you do, start networking.
Tell people in your circles that you are looking for an advisor. Describe your business needs and the skills in a person you are looking for and let your contacts do the talking.

Reach out to organisations like Two Square Pegs, who create channels to meet and match with the right advisors. Many local councils have small business programs and mentoring, such as Boroondara Council, that can be worthwhile connections.

Join meetup groups in your business area of interest. In Victoria, we recommend Startup Victoria and Silicon Beach for starting out. Search for meetups in your state.

Importantly, don’t be afraid to ask. Let people in your everyday networks know you are searching for the right advice and would be happy to meet for a coffee.
Invest and recruit advisors who can inform and grow your business, it could just be the best business decision you make this year.

Two Square Pegs is developing a white paper on “finding the right advisor” that will be released early in 2015.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Build your professional network: combine your online and offline presence

By Rachel Kurzyp

There’s no escape, we live in a highly connected digital world. There is an endless supply of online tools for communicating. But what about human connection?

Connecting online – through social media, websites and email –it can be easy to forget the importance of face-to-face relationships (How many times do you text, rather than call? How many times do you email, rather than drop by someone’s desk?).

Yet, to truly enhance your professional career you will need to network online and offline (yes, we mean meeting up with a real-life person) and do both, effectively.

So how do we use the digital world to network successfully? How do we turn our digital connections into valuable real-life relationships?

Here are three ways you can combine your online and offline presence to build the professional relationships you want:

1.     Use social media as an ice-breaker

Make social media work for you.

Platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter have features that are perfect for finding like-minded people, organisations and events quickly and easily.

You can ask your current contacts (called 1st degree contacts) on LinkedIn to introduce you to one of their contacts (known as a  2nd degree contact) -  ask your friend Bob to introduce you to his friend Sarah. This feature will help you connect with individuals working in organisations that are interesting to you.

Use industry hashtags (you can find them by searching for key words like #smallbusiness and #networking) on Twitter to reduce the amount of time spent searching for events and news. Hashtags can also help you participate in online conversations and meet well-connected individuals.

When networking via social media it’s good to let individuals know that you’d like to connect both online and offline. If they live or work nearby, offer to take them out for a coffee. There might be an opportunity to collaborate on a new project.

2.     Become an Influencer

You have experience and knowledge – so share it.
Social media and digital communications makes it easier than ever to spread your ideas. Take time to create a personal profile and highlight one or two areas that set you apart from your peers. Then focus on sharing content, ideas and advice in these areas.

Joining Google Hangouts, Twitter Q and A’s and being a part of already established communities via websites and blogs is the best way to get yourself known in an industry.
To make sure you are networking effectively online, follow the rule of thirds. It goes like this: one third of your content should be about you, one third should be about your industry, and one third should be dedicated to engaging with those who follow and like you.

Don’t be afraid to take your networking offline. Make a lasting impression by holding small networking events in your local area. This will give you the opportunity to continue your online discussions at a personal and deeper level whilst building personal relationships with people who care about the things you care about, not just faceless digital followers.

3.     Speak up and stand out

Forget about the number of followers, likes or favourites you get – online vanity metrics aren’t important. Instead, focus on making an impression face-to-face.

Seek speaking opportunities that are relevant to your work. Use your online connections to gain positions on boards and panels. Position yourself as an influencer and increase your networks by being seen highlighting your knowledge and experience.

It is not until an individual meets you in-person that they will form a complete picture of who you are and what you do. So much of our personal brand (what we put out into the public sphere) is made up of the way we speak and interact with others.

Consider opportunities to attend events outside of your industry. They can be great to connect with individuals and new ideas. You never know who you will meet and how they could become relevant to your career later. You’ll also be able to establish yourself as unique individual within that industry with a different skillset to offer them.

Encourage those that you meet at events, or on the street, to connect with you on online. Suggest they follow you on Twitter, friend you on Facebook or connect on LinkedIn to continue to network and stay connected professionally.

Those who balance developing their online and offline relationships successfully become effective networkers who create more work opportunities for themselves and others. In today’s digital world, you can’t afford to skip one – make sure you do both.

Rachel Kurzyp is a freelance writer and communications consultant. She specialises in digital strategy, content and training. Rachel has over seven years’ experience in marketing and digital communications across hospitality, retail, corporate, not-for-profit and social business, in Australia and overseas. Rachel enjoys helping people step into the digital space by sharing her philosophy – make your content work. Read more about Rachel’s work: http://www.rachelkurzyp.com and say hi on Twitter @RachelKurzyp.