Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for April, 2012

This one’s for college students about to enter the workplace.

I recently sat on a panel at Rochester Institute of Technology for career-bound students who are near or upon graduation, most achieving their graduate degrees. It was a great experience with a bright, engaged, and ambitious audience who were interested in learning more about how to be successful in the working world. What struck me was how much they appreciated my sharing tidbits of business protocol that may not have been picked up in their studies.

I thought I’d share just three tidbits that seemed to hit home with our audience of up-and-coming professionals.

If you’re going to pick somebody’s brain, pick up the check. Requesting informational interviews or meetings with seasoned professionals or more experienced young professionals is both acceptable and recommended as you’re exploring your career path. Most people are quite willing to meet and offer what they can. All you need to do is ask. If you invite someone for coffee, breakfast, or lunch, be prepared to pay the bill. In fact, you should swiftly insist on it as a fair exchange for the gift of their time and expertise. If you’re short on funds, you can avoid invitations for a meal and meet for coffee somewhere reasonable.

When you first meet someone, look the person in the eye and offer a full and firm handshake. This simple and confident gesture will reflect your confidence and validate your intent to have an equally rich and collaborative exchange. This is also true when you’re in the workplace and being introduced to managers, co-workers, clients and/or colleagues for the first time. If you’re meeting by phone, give some thought to your greeting or opening sentence so that it best reflects your authenticity and confidence.

Although it’s important to respect and learn from the experience of seasoned colleagues, you should feel confident that now, more than ever before, young professionals have a great deal to offer their mentors, in return. Although many seasoned professionals are highly tech-savvy, your fresh eye joined with your likely comfort and experience utilizing current technology and social media can generate creativity and learning opportunities for many. As long as you remain respectful and sensitive to the contributions of others, this can be a great asset and may provide an immediate opportunity for you to contribute.

Every success to you, our career-bound generation! Questions, or more tidbits to offer? Feel free to ask or offer here. Would love to have you.

I love my job.

While sitting at my desk a few days ago, LinkedIn was up on my screen and I suddenly felt gratitude for my job. My first impulse was to post it as a status update, but as I was writing, ”I love my job…” here’s the self-talk that stopped me in my tracks: This isn’t Facebook! This isn’t the kind of thing you post on a professional networking site. If you post it, there’ll be some who are not as fortunate as you are to love their jobs and they might find it depressing or boastful. There may be others who think you posted it to market yourself, and others who may simply find it trivial.

I backspaced until my declaration vanished.

I’ve reflected on this interesting moment of self-doubt a few times since. I’m thinking that we’ve been raised in a culture where it’s way more acceptable to talk about challenges than it is to talk about our successes or good fortune. I’m thinking that professional formalities sometimes chip at a person’s ability to be real and in the moment.

So in the spirit of celebrating good fortune and “Getting Real”, let me share this with you: I love my job. I hope you do too. If you don’t love your job today or this week, but you do in general, hang in there, because this too shall pass. If you don’t love your job, ever, I hope you find another job—or two jobs if you have to—that you do love. And if that feels impossible at the moment, I hope you’ll begin dreaming about what you want, and exploring your options, because it’ll be a first step in the right direction.

Prolonged happiness or unhappiness at work affects our personal well-being. And our personal well-being affects everything that matters.