Want to get Noticed at Work? Here’s the Easy Way

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 12, 2014

Take care of the little things in the office that nobody ever notices. That extra initiative is going to get you recognized and promoted.

Change the batteries in the smoke detector; change the clocks during daylight savings; do the things no other employee figures is “worthy enough” to get a promotion.

You do this at home and at work, you’re going to get noticed.

Ignore Family Calls at Work Without Pissing Them Off

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 12, 2014

Your friends and family are getting in the way of your work day. They keep trying to contact you by text or phone and expect you to talk or come hang out with them at a drop of a hat.

There’s no rational reason or hidden agenda here—they aren’t purposefully disrespecting you. The truth is, they need you. You are someone on your path and they’re looking for stability to latch on to when they themselves are not as emotionally grounded .

Sometimes your friends don’t understand, especially if you have a job that’s not in a traditional 9-5 format.

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It’s time for you to take control back in your life, at work and at home. Here’s what we suggest:

Explain your day: tell them what your day entails, the amount of work that needs to be done.

Come from a place of love: explaining your day to your family is more difficult. Come at them with complete love—they’re not expecting it. If you’re being reactive and passive aggressive, it’s going to mirror back at you. If you’re being understand and empathetic, there’s a much higher chance they will be as well.

Set specific call times: call them before  work and give them specific times when you can talk freely.

Tell them you’re going to get fired: explain to them then when you’re on your phone at work, you get in trouble. You’re afraid of being fired—this is something anyone can understand.

In this age, everyone expects instant communication. Your friends and family might think you’ve been in a car crash (or are just being rude) if you don’t answer your phone a few times. But for the sake of your career you need to set boundaries, and it’s your job to make them to understand those boundaries.

Feeling “Right” In Your Work Attire is More Important than Being Fashionable

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We recently read a fascinating article by Anne Hollander, author of Sex and Suits.

She discussed common subjects such as what you’re supposed to wear if you are in fashion or marketing or whatever. This was not the interesting point.

What caught our eye was when she wrote that people are more at ease and comfortable when they are dressed for a specific context.

Depending on the milieu you’re in, the clothing you wear has to be appropriate in the context you’re in. Well, duhhhh you’re thinking, what’s so interesting about that; after all, if you’re a garbage man you wear a sanitation uniform, if you’re a broker you wear a suit.

But within that realm of appropriateness, you need to find the style you feel most comfortable in.

Let’s say you work at an investment bank. You figure, suit and tie. You still have to wear the appropriate dress code, but you don’t have to don an Italian suit like the other bankers. In fact, if you’re not comfortable with the trend, don’t follow it. Wear a Hugo Boss.

Don’t follow the crowd. You will get promoted and get more money if you are at ease and more comfortable at work. Just stay within the universe of what’s appropriate.

 

IS COLLEGE WORTH IT? GOOGLE’S BOCK SAYS NOT REALLY–WE SAY BS

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SHOW DATE: FEBRUARY 26, 2014

We were reading a Thomas L. Friedman opinion article yesterday in the New York Times regarding the shocking statistic Google’s Senior VP for People Operations Laszlo Bock threw out about their employee pool: Google has teams where 14% of the group doesn’t have a college degree.

Bock said that college degrees aren’t necessarily vital for getting a job. We say that’s bullshit.

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We get what Bock’s saying about putting technical skill over an official document.

At the end of the day, though, you have to understand the breadth of the world, the history of World War II, how to speak another language and what to make of Leaves of Grass to bring that creativity to the workplace.

No matter what happens in life, you’ll have an easier time transitioning from job to job with a college degree.

We can’t tell you how many people have written Auntie Evan about Bock’s comments. What most of us have come to believe is that having a college degree is a $200,000 expense that doesn’t serve anybody.

It’s a big commitment, we get it. There’s a multitude of ways to tackle the money problem from a financial aid standpoint, but that’s another article entirely.

Thing is, Auntie Evan can spot a person without a college degree a mile away. Do you need to have a degree to be in sales? Of course not. But when you’re sitting across from a marketing major and they’re talking about Sophocles or they’re reading the paper about a problem with the whip (a political party’s assistant leader), and you’ve never taken a class on ancient playwrights or political science, it shows in your presentation.

How is a political science degree going to help you sell a house? If you can’t be dynamic, on your feet and ready to adapt to any subject or conversation on a sales job in order to better connect with your potential customer, you’re going to fall behind as a salesman. Or as anyone else, for that matter.

This is not true for everybody, of course. We’re just saying having a college degree is going to bump you up in any job you’re going to take on.

On the Flip Side…

You may not need to have a degree. Are we contradicting ourselves? No. We want to look at the flip side and assess for whom a college degree is unnecessary.

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College made Uncle David’s entire life. Yet, he understands that college, for many people, is a drain on their finances, their resources and their life.

What got Uncle David excited about the Bock interview was that Google doesn’t look at GPAs and standardized test score exclusively anymore; they look at leadership, humility, flexibility—they’d rather have somebody on their job who’s a flexible thinker and who can adapt to changing circumstances than somebody with a high GPA.

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Now, granted that some positions don’t exclusively look at your diploma, let’s get back to a real world example: Tom, one of our star essay coaches at Forster-Thomas, got a degree in theater and later in film and went on to be in the television. He didn’t necessarily need his degree, but when he was out of a job he came to Forster-Thomas and excelled—he was able to think laterally on his feet and came to us with a stack of innovative ideas and potential products for the company.

We say it’s his liberal arts degree that helped him bring so many new ideas to the table. It’s the same story with our office manager, Roberto. He knows how to speak to people, how to sell, how to present in front of a room full of clients—and it’s thanks to his theater degree.

Our conclusion? Don’t go for the dropout life. Take the high road and become a better employee in the process.

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If you decide to go the path of college-less digital vagabond-ism, here is more info about Enstitute, where entrepreneurs (most of whom didn’t get a college degree) are apprenticed by mentors as they work together to get their startups in full gear.

 

 

NOBODY EVER HEARS YOU OUT? IT’S BECAUSE YOU DON’T LISTEN

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SHOW DATE: FEBRUARY 5, 2014

If you want to be heard, you have to listen.

As one of the interviewees in fasctcompany.com’s article on what advice eight successful entrepreneurs would give their younger selves, IDEO Chief Creative Officer Paul Bennett said something that really hit home with us:

For most of my twenties I assumed that the world was more interested in me than I was in it, so I spent most of my time talking, usually in a quite uninformed way, about whatever I thought, rushing to be clever, thinking about what I was going to say to someone rather than listening to what they were saying to me.”

We all do this: being so distracted by our own thoughts that you don’t listen to the other person.

You’re plotting out your response and you don’t actually hear what the other person is saying; you’re not being open.

Nobody is going to listen to you and you’re not going to get promoted if you just sit there and have clever answers and retorts for everything. You’ll just come off as defensive, and, worse yet, a megalomaniac.

DON’T LOSE YOUR SUPERPOWER: RETAIN WHAT GOT YOU PROMOTED

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SHOW DATE: FEBRUARY 5, 2014

We’re giving a shout out to Peyton Manning today—who was absolutely pounced by the press the Monday after the Superbowl.

On Tuesday, everything turned around. Manning is known for being a big picture guy, a steady rock of leadership that provides the team’s stability and security.

As we watched him on Tuesday getting piled on by the media, Manning stayed true to himself and said he was not embarrassed by the defeat.

“We played a great team, we needed to play really well in order to win, and we didn’t come anywhere close to that.”

Our point today is, stay true to yourself and find your real source of empowerment. Your superpower, if you will. Manning didn’t lose himself by wallowing about a “destroyed” legacy because he stayed true to his level-headedness.

If you get promoted because of your exceptional micro-managing skills, don’t feel that you have to all of a sudden give that up for being a visionary who only thinks long-term.

That superpower that makes you what you really are—you have to use it or you’re going to lose it. You don’t have to become someone else entirely when you get promoted.

Utilize your superpower.

But how do you get yourself back on track if you’ve suddenly become derailed by ditching what made you rise in the first place? Here’s our three simple tips to avoid stagnation and get you back on your path:

1) The first step is just being open to yourself. If you’re deviating from your strengths, admit it and stop resisting the fact that you need to realign yourself.

2) Understand what superpowers are around you. If you’re misaligned yourself, you might take it out on your co-workers. Recognize their strengths and make sure you don’t look past their superpowers as well—otherwise you’re limiting the entire office.

3) When you get promoted because of your superpower, you need to learn to adapt it to this new position of authority. If you’re a relationship builder and you get shoved into a higher-paid position with your own office, don’t hole yourself up in thr room; continue doing what got you there in the first place.

DON’T BE THE LONE WOLF AT WORK

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SHOW DATE: JANUARY 22, 2014

You’re glued to your monitor, typing and clicking away furiously at some intense work project you have to finish by tonight.

That doesn’t mean you can’t visit and say hi to your co-workers. You’re not aiming to look like the lone wolf who does all the heavy lifting at the office—you want to be the office leader, the one who works his ass off while having open communication with everyone around him.

And that doesn’t mean just emailing your boss and co-workers. Drop by their office. Amidst the huge load of work, it will make you look like the guy or gal in charge.

DON’T TAKE YOUR NEW JOB FREEDOM FOR GRANTED

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SHOW DATE: JANUARY 15, 2014

Freedom and independence lead to more job satisfaction.

A new study by the Pew Research Center has found that bosses are more satisfied than employees. It’s not just because they have a greater salary and better job security, but because they have more freedom and independence.

That means you can get the same satisfaction too. There are various ways to work this out, whether it’s more flexible check-in times or working from home. The problem is when employees do achieve this level, they tend to screw it up.

There’s two thing that can happen: you either abuse your freedom and start procrastinating without the “adult” supervision, or you tend to fall off the boss’s radar.

There’s two simple methods you can employ to avoid this: stay in communication and send at least one email a day to your boss letting him know what’s up. Also, make sure you show that you deserve the newfound freedom by doing more, not less. We guarantee that this will lead to promotions, satisfaction and eventually becoming the boss yourself.

THE ALWAYS ON WORK ENVIRONMENT

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SHOW DATE: JANUARY 8, 2014

According to a USNews.com article written by Robin Madell, one of the biggest trends of 2014 is the “always on” work environment. An example of always on is when your boss calls you at 10pm on a Friday night to ask you to do something over the weekend.

With smart phones, Twitter, Facebook etc., you’re always connected. There is no excuse not to be connected. Most likely your phone has email on it and your tablet can access wifi pretty much anywhere. If your boss sends you an email at 10pm, answer it. Don’t hold yourself to the “it’s not work hours” mantra.

Three points we want to make clear, however:

1) You can negotiate with your boss if this is starting to be a problem. Create a rule like, “after 10pm, it’s not going to happen.”

2) Don’t start breaking the rules you make: if you set them, keep them…

3) … unless something really urgent does comes up, say after 10pm. If you don’t break the rules here, you’re breaking your promotion.

NEARLY 90% OF AMERICANS COME TO WORK SICK

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SHOW DATE: JANUARY 8, 2014

We were shocked when we read this statistic: nearly 90% of Americans come to work when they’re sick.

Why do so many Americans do this? They’ve used up all their sick days.

That’s not a punchline, that’s a veritable reason. And it’s not because they’re sick all the time: 75% of Americans have admitted to taking a sick day off in order to do something personal. For example, the brand new Xbox1 game you’ve been fervently waiting for is released on Wednesday at midnight and you take Thursday off to play all day. Or Bloomingdale’s is having a last call sale. Or Whatever.

Sick days are not personal days. When you call in sick for some extraneous event, you’re putting that event over your job. If you need to take a personal day, be honest with your boss about it and ask for one.