Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More on Being a Hammer

From Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist comes another post on being better at self-promotion. She also dives into why it is important to be an expert in whatever it is that you do. Differentiate yourself. Own a niche.

Back in November, she had a great post about taking the risk of specializing. She talked about being a typecast Hollywood actor. Are you the guy in the PG movie that everyone is rooting for to get the girl? Or are you the guy in the rated R movie that no one is quite sure about yet? (Sorry, reminded me of one of my favorite movies.)

I've been debating this subject with myself since October 2005. My friend Harry Joiner from Marketing Headhunter gave me the save advice. Be a hammer. Specialize. I've been slow to adopt. For the longest time I have held on to the idea that I LIKE being a jack of all trades. I LIKE being good (just "good") at a variety of things.

I am starting to see where being the utility infielder is not such a good thing. It is hard to find a roster spot for the utility player. Especially towards the end of the season. If you are going into the playoffs, you will know what your weaknesses are and will trade to bolster them.

I'm in this jack of all trades role now. I don't have a job description. The position on the piece of paper they handed me during the interview process quickly dissolved as the goals of the business rapidly changed. The business had new needs. My manager had different goals and needs. I could fill those. Start up a new call center? You bet. Been there. Done it. I'm your man. Then the business needs shifted again. Need someone that can teach themselves how to run a next-generation switch from Aspect? I'm in. Send me to a training class for a week, give me the manuals and let me at it. Then...manage a telemarketing vendor? Hey! I WAS a telemarketing vendor. I said, I am beginning to understand Harry and Penelope. Be a hammer. Specialize. Make sure people know the ONE THING you are good at - too many options CONFUSE people. They get to a place where they don't know exactly how to fit you - the round peg - into their square box. I'm learning.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I Finally Write a Review for Meg's Book - "Confessions of an Introvert"

First off, I have to apologize to Meg. I had promised her MONTHS ago that I would write a review for her book: Confessions of an Introvert: The Shy Girl's Guide to Career, Networking and Getting the Most Out of Life. The funny thing is that I don't know why I didn't write the review. I took NOTES! I had several index cards full of thoughts and referencing quotes.

She asked me last week (oh the shame!) if I could post something to Amazon. I had one of those moments where I just KNEW I had already done it. I looked through the posts here and found a couple of references to Meg and her book. But no actual review.

So click the link above and check it out.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Eight Tips for Perpetual Career Management

Another post from This also come via e-newsletter. The link doesn't capture the piece from the newsletter. Follow the link above and it will take you to the authors' website. In the meantime, they offer some solid advice on managing your personal brand (Thanks Mr. Peters!) Brand management is a full-time gig. It is not something you do when you need to start looking for a new job.

1. Document your accomplishments. You should be doing this ALL OF THE TIME. I tell my direct reports that they need to do this because I am NOT going to remember all of it. And while I do a pretty good job of noting when the kick butt on something, I am human. I don't catch everything. If you want a raise or a new job, show me this document. And use the C-A-R approach. (See my last post.)

2. Google yourself. Figure out what you need to do to boost your profile. It's not easy. (Yes, yes. I should be posting more. I know. But I am also competing with an actor/poet with the same name.)

3. When you are updating your accomplishment document, update your resume and your linkedin profile.

4. (I skipped one) - Work the social networking sites. You need to be on linkedin. If you're not. You're doomed. Unless you are amazingly connected. Talk to people. Don't reach out after you just got booted out the door. Figure out ways to help people in your network. We all need good karma.

5. Join professional associations. Take on leadership roles. See number 4 above.

6. Always be refining. See steps 1 through 5 above.

I know the article listed 8 tips. I pulled the best 6.

Show Me Your C-A-R!

I subscribe to the e-newsletter from The This week they had two stories which i have passed on to friends and thought I should share.

Do You Have a Good CAR?
by Abby Locke provides useful advice on how to present your accomplishments on your resume or LinkedIn profile. She recommends using the C-A-R format. Challenge. Action Steps. Result. Don't just list the result. In order for a hiring manager to take notice you have to help them.

You have to provide context. Growing revenue 15% last year doesn't mean anything. What if the year before revenue was up 60%. That would mean you are a slacker. Go with something like:

Generated 3% revenue increase on a stalled $15mm lead generation program in 2006. Trending to a 19% increase in 2007. Defined processes, improved marketing collateral, and implemented technology improvements to the lead management system.

I am sure the author would have me tighten that up a bit, but it accomplishes what she recommends. It provides context. The lead gen program was stalled in 2005. I achieved a modest bump in 2006 and have really turned on the gas in 2007. (Cross your fingers that the trend holds - which it should.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Focus on the Customer

I know it has been a ridiculous amount of time since I last posted. I will try to do better. I lost focus. I am trying to correct that.

"Focusing on the Customer..." is the latest interview from the McKinsey Quarterly. You need to register to view the article. The piece focuses on Merrill Lynch (where I landed my first job that didn't involve delivering newspapers or replenishing gallon jugs of milk) and their efforts to drive quality of service by combining IT and customer operations.

I like this approach. I like it a lot. I am not a technology zealot. I do not think that technology is the answer to all problems. If anything, I am on the opposite side of that fence. I am not a Luddite, don't get me wrong. But technology can do more harm than good. Especially when the stakeholders put all of their bets on it.

Merrill has combined these two business units under one leader, Diane Schueneman. She seems to have her eyes on the prize...she understands that the customer does not care about whatever product the suits put together. The customer cares about quality of service and the overall customer experience.

So the whole reason to combine technology and operations rests on the customer's needs. And to deliver against those needs requires the best operational processes and the best technology. But you can't start with one and graft on the other.
I've seen this happen many times in my career. The technology investment was so overwhelmingly great at one point that fear of change sets in - no one has the courage to stand up and admit that the best course of action is to stop what we're doing and start over. Instead, we patch. We duct tape. We MacGuyver. We make it work. But is that the best thing for the customer?

Schueneman goes on to identify what her team found:

...if you really want to satisfy customers, let's make sure that human beings aren't touching processes and slowing them down.
I love it. Technology should help. Not be a hindrance. Ponder that for a minute. Maybe a couple of minutes.