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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Career Coach

be a candle

We’re digging into the darkest days of the year. This lack of sunshine can have a strange effect on people and can cause us to feel anxious or depressed. The holiday season may help some people stave off these negative feelings…or it may amplify them. It all depends on what people associate with the holidays. Some may feel joy, camaraderie, and relaxation…while others might feel lonely, stressed, or sad.

If you’re able, be a candle.

If you feel safe, secure, well-loved, or any number of positive feelings this season, share some of that positivity with others. Be the light that they need.

That doesn’t mean that things have to be perfect in order for you to shine some of your light on others. Things are never perfect. But if you notice someone else has been in a dark place lately, take the time to reach out. Share your abundance, your joy.

That’s the thing about candles: if you pass one flame to another, you don’t diminish the flame of the first candle. You only add to the light.

How can you light up others’ lives this holiday season?

  • Invite a neglected co-worker to lunch
  • Bring in holiday treats
  • Reach out to an old friend
  • Write thank you/appreciation cards to co-workers or acquaintances
  • Leave generous tips to those in the service industry
  • Smile more often
  • Volunteer

Your personal light will only grow more brilliant every time you share it with others. Be bold this holiday season and BE BRIGHT.


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overwhelming social mediaHappy social media month! If that phrase makes you roll your eyes or shudder, you’re reading the right blog post. Many small business owners cringe when they think about social media marketing. They don’t know where to begin; they’re not sure why it’s valuable; they don’t know which platforms to choose. I cover all of this in greater depth in my May newsletter, but for now, let me lay out a few basics for the reluctant social media user:

1. Choose the platforms that are right for you.

There are dozens of social media platforms in existence today–everything from Instagram to Tumblr, Facebook to Ello, Flickr to Pinterest. What’s right for you? If you truly don’t know where to begin, hire a social media strategist to help get you on the right track. Or, if you don’t mind doing your own research, hop online and look up companies that are similar to yours. Find out what social media networks they’re the most active in, what kind of things they post, and how often they post. Or, you could always ask your teenage son/daughter for some help!

2. Create a sustainable plan

Once you’ve determined which social media platforms you’d like to use, figure out a posting strategy. Typically, you’ll want to post something at least a couple times each week (more for Twitter or Pinterest), and a social media strategist (or online research) can help you determine the best course of action. HOWEVER, do not commit to a schedule that isn’t going to be sustainable for YOU. Even though it may be optimal to post to Twitter 8 times per day, do you really think you’ll be able to keep up that pace? Figure out what works for you. Maybe you’ll choose to post a relevant photograph twice a week; maybe you’ll post a business tip once a week. Create a schedule, stick with it, and adjust the schedule as needed down the road.

3. Foster community

Remember, social media is not about YOU (as counter-intuitive as that may sound). It’s about your network, your community. If you’d like to engage and energize your network, be sure to make them feel included. Ask them questions (i.e. if you sell apparel, ask your audience what their favorite travel outfit is. OR, if you sell flowers, post a few pictures of different floral arrangements and ask your audience to vote on their favorite). Also, give your audience bits of relevant, useful information they can use. I often post career tips and tricks, or links to my latest blog posts. Don’t forget to visit others’ profiles and “Like” or re-post their content. This demonstrates that you are active in the community and excited about what others are doing (and not just focused on yourself or your own business). Besides, there’s a lot of great information out there. It’s fun to see what others are sharing.

Good luck with fitting social media into your marketing strategy. It’s a valuable way to connect with your audience and reach a wide range of people at a low cost. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming or intimidating if you stick with the three main guidelines I laid out. Relax, have fun, and socialize!

If you’d like any additional guidance, please feel free to reach out and contact me.



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More and more workers are stepping out of the office permanently, according to an article I just read which talks about how working from home has risen from three years ago.

The benefit for the worker is pretty obvious, and workers have been in favor of this for a long time. More flexible hours, convenience, and independence, to name a few. But now business owners too are beginning to see the value of the mobile worker.

The reason for this, according to the article, is “the access they [business owners] now have to professionals without geography posing a barrier.” Thanks to technologies like Skype and cloud-based file sharing, businesses now have a much larger pool of talent to choose from without needing to keep their search limited to the city where their headquarters is based.

Having a mobile workforce also boosts productivity, as workers feel more ownership over their work and enjoy the freedom to work where and when they choose.

So the benefits are pretty compelling. Is this something you’ve considered for your business?

To get comfortable with a new approach to leading and managing people, you’ll need to:

-Familiarize yourself with the tools that ensure communication between you and the mobile worker. Skype, the internal social media site Yammer, and Dropbox (or something like it) are crucial.

-Trust your mobile workers know what to do without your constant supervision. Micro-management, which I’m opposed to in the first place, is impossible with this worker arrangement.

-Determine what jobs can be done outside the workplace.

-Make a point to have face-to-face meetings periodically. The power of real face-time always trumps mobile communication, so schedule consistent times where mobile workers can come in and feel a part of the team.


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better than yesterday

We show our true colors when things don’t go as planned. It’s easy to be kind, confident and happy when everything goes our way, but not so much when we encounter that unavoidable road block.

If you have a pulse, you’re going to hit road blocks. So how do you prepare yourself to deal with failures and letdowns with grace and character?

1.  Take a step back.

Think of all the times in your life when you thought it was the end of the world. How often did that turn out to be true? I’m guessing never, since the world is clearly still here. It’s easy to get trapped in doomsday thinking when you run into a real problem. The truth is, it’s almost never as bad as you think it is at that given moment. When you learn to reinforce this while you’re brain is in crisis mode, you’ll be able to take a step back and see the situation more clearly.

2. Don’t give up.

Your self-destructive voice in your head I like to call your saboteur will take every stumble as a chance to encourage you to throw in the towel. Don’t listen!

It takes thousands of hours of work to reach success and mastery, and nobody gets it the first time around. Be patient with yourself, and keep plugging away.

3. Reach out.

Letdowns, failures, and detours can be embarrassing. The last thing you may feel like doing is going to someone else for help and support. But just remember, there’s no shame in failure, only shame in not trying in the first place. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how happy your friends and family will be to get behind you. You need only be humble and honest about your situation.

4. Revise your plan of attack.

If you’re constantly failing at the same task or project, there’s a good chance you need to change your plan altogether. The definition of insanity, after all, is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Take hiccups as a chance to reassess your strategy. What’s not working? Why? How can you make it work? You may need to reign in your goals a bit, and this is okay. It’s better to make incremental steps forward than to have grand plans that you’re unable to reach.

Take comfort in the fact that setbacks are part of the process, and keep plugging away!

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By Margaret Smith, Speaker, Career Coach, and Certified Insights Discovery Practitioner

You may feel like you’re already a pretty great listener. Or perhaps you’re ready to admit that your listening skills could use a little improvement. Either way, everyone will benefit from a little refresher on the necessity of being a good listener, with a few helpful tips for staying focused on the person across from you, on the other end of the line, etc.

If your listening skills improve, you’ll also see improvements at work, at home, while socializing, and everywhere in between.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve lost sight of what a conversation was really about? Have you ever been “sucked in” to a toxic conversation or argument that’s become completely unproductive? Of course you have—we all have!

I’ve found that the best way to avoid conversational distractions that become argumentative is to remember this one simple fact: Listening is about gaining knowledge. In a conversation, it’s important that I remain a dedicated listener because otherwise, I may as well have a conversation with myself in the mirror.

By focusing on the messages of others at work, you not only improve productivity, you also strengthen your relationships with the people in your life because you avoid misunderstandings and make others feel heard and understood.

An awesome benefit of being a better listener is the positive impression you leave with those you listen to. Being a better listener actually makes you seem more respectful, composed, and interesting to other people. It may seem counter-intuitive, but displaying genuine interest in what someone else is saying actually makes you a more interesting person to them.

Your Challenge:

Improve your listening skills starting now. Think about your plans for the rest of the day and choose an interaction that you’ll practice improving your listening skills during. This interaction may be with your children when you or they walk in the door, with a supervisor this afternoon, or even with the next person with whom you share a phone conversation.

Share your story: Have you ever interacted with someone who was a really good listener? How did this make you feel? How did it affect your image of, and relationship with, this person?

Interested in learning more about listening or working one-on-one with a professional career coach to gain a competitive edge? Contact Margaret Today to learn about career coaching and UXL’s public workshops!

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