Category Archives: Uncategorized

If MMA Fighters Can Stop a Robbery, So Can You!

Penelope Trunk’s column today describes me to a “T”.

Her overarching argument about careers has always been that we often have talents and skills (though they may need cultivating) that we don’t recognize or use appropriately. You may be  a great writer, but not tech savvy, so you’d argue you’re not meant for blogging. This, in my guess, would frustrate Trunk.

First, always one for putting up rather than shutting up, the readaholic websurfer would argue you can master the tech, maximize the writing.

That’s what we’re after here, too. We all have many skills, but we’ve often become trapped in job descriptions and titles such that “that’s not in my pay grade” becomes more than a snappy comeback in a politically-infused environment where most of us believe we’re underpaid, but rather it becomes a sad attitude we perpetually manifest.

Sure, some people have strengths in areas the rest of us don’t, but recognizing how to tap your own strengths in ANY area is something most of us miss because we’re looking in the wrong ways. The truthful idiom “to do something the same way over and over expecting different results is the definition of stupidity” is the way many of us approach our skills, our resume and our work life. I’ve met many who are trained as, say, a public relations assistant. As a result, they only apply to jobs that have “public relations assistant” in their title.

Yet, in their day to day work, they do project management, make design decisions, process work orders and lead. They’re ready to move beyond assistant. Their skills are more than PR.

Long ago we talked about creative resumes as framing “housewife” instead as “domestic engineer” and that’s not just creative writing.

Envisioning each skill you have needs to happen separate from the space in which you use it.

This weekend, a story about two mixed martial arts fighters subduing a bank robber is a perfect example. Each of these men may say they’ve got a great rear naked choke hold in the ring.

Neither of them may have predicted that such a hold works not only to elevate yourself to the championship round, but also works to retain a bank robber while the cops come to arrest him.

WHAT you do, not WHERE you do it or WHO you do it for, is what you should be selling about yourself.

We can help you to identify skills versus job descriptions and show you how you can creatively position yourself as always viable, always able to work or find satisfying work, as Penelope Trunk advocates.

We can’ t show you a rear naked choke hold…yet.




Go Beyond “Interesting”

I’m addicted to Project Runway on television. I like that each week designers are presented with a set of materials and a conceptual challenge.

It’s like playing with big balls of clay and I love predicting what *I’d* do with the clay, then realizing it’s nothing like what the designers have chosen to do.

It’s an amazing reminder of how many ideas there are out there, how many ways to approach a problem.

We all need that reminder more often because we become trapped in thinking our answer is the best and only conceivable approach.

Having the mind and the confidence to think lycra and silk become part of the same outfit or that a neoprene wetsuit could be formal means you can open up to other people’s ideas and from that space, you can see better, more comprehensive solutions.

Management books teach us all this, often. But it’s rarely done because it…well, because it’s hard to listen, for one.

But there’s also this illusion that listening to these ideas that aren’t yours takes time.

That’s another reason to love the show. Sure, it’s heavily edited to fit neatly in a one-hour time slot, but the designers are given the challenge and a drop dead deadline of one day to complete it.

They still manage to fully (most of the time) dress a person in their creative vision and send them into the lights of the runway. AND THEY HAD TO SEW! 

In a business, you, too, can fully dress a creative idea in the expanse of options a great team can provide.

It doesn’t take tons of process, it just takes listening.

And a tougher vocabulary.

One other thing I noticed about the finale of Project Runway 9 was the over use of the word “interesting.”

All the judges talked about clothing, people, ideas and approaches as “interesting.”

“It’s very interesting, what you’re doing there.”

“It’s an interesting look.”

“What an interesting fabric.”

“What an interesting concept.”

All I thought about was how much growth we all could have shared together with a more descriptive vocabulary.

What if instead of interesting, what the person was doing was “well-executed?”

What if the look was “reminiscent of a Victorian image?”

What if the fabric was “plush?”

What if the concept was “revolutionary?”

Those are all such different spaces in our brain than “interesting”, yet we rely so heavily on “interesting.”

It’s a catch-all; as a descriptor, it’s lazy.

It’s hard for people to learn to listen. Help them out by providing something for them to learn while they listen.

There’s little growth available in a critique or answer that’s “interesting.”

Learn a descriptive and exacting vocabulary and find that team members want to listen more.

It’s a great pit stop on the way to building the confidence to listen back and hear what they’re doing with their [insert great descriptor here] ball of clay.