Leave Pressure and Get in the Flow

I have taken time out this summer to reflect and refresh.

And, the most surprising thing is that I have been more productive, creative, and gotten more accomplished than if I had been working consistently to produce under pressure and within deadlines.

What have I done? I have written:
- blog posts
- articles
- new version of old book
- a manifesto
- new keynote speech

These pieces would have taken me forever, if I had to grind them out. 

Instead, I just followed "my flow." What is "flow?" It is following what your inner voice tells you to do. Flow is following what seems fun, inspiring and creative. It's listening to that voice within.

What is it about stepping back and allowing yourself to just get in the flow?

Without the pressure of "I have to get it done," my creativity spigot opened and ideas have just come gushing out.

Tuesday, for example: here is a picture of my dog Pasha on our forest walk. 

We walked through the woods, just the two of us, over bridges and next to waterfalls; - it was so beautiful. All of a sudden, I felt very inspired. I began to give a keynote speech out loud, one that I had been mapping out over a period of time. The ideas were flowing, I saw the talk so clearly - and when I came home, I wrote it down. Done! 

Of course, it's important to have strategy, tactics, goals and deadlines. But, sometimes giving yourself more space to stay in your "flow" will enable you to do more, to be more productive than if you pushed yourself to complete it. Especially under pressure.

Think for Yourself

It's a BIG day!

The Jobs Report is issued today, the first Friday of the month. And, like a gypsy who peers into her crystal ball for a glimpse of the future, we look at these numbers as indicators of the health of the economy.

What says the report?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 215,000 jobs were created in March, up from the 205,000 expected. 

So, I ask you: good news or bad news? Sounds good. Broke expectations.

It might be weird, but I can't wait for the jobs report to come out. Why? Because it's so much fun to dive into the numbers and to come up with different (and usually deeper) interpretations that you will find in the media.

Here's one of today's headlines: 

Huffington Post - America Just Turned In Another Stellar Jobs Report

"Jobs are growing in places where machines can't (yet!) do the work: America's growing industries are construction, health care and retail."

Me: America Just Turned in A (Less Than) Stellar Jobs Report

New retail jobs (47,700) and health care (44,000) make up about 50% of the new jobs created. And, they are some of the lowest paying jobs. So, 50% of the market growth is in low paying jobs. Professional white-collar jobs are still hard to get, while hourly work is on the rise. Is that REALLY good news?

You have to look below the numbers and ask questions.

Think for yourself.

When It's Time to Go

I just got an email from a client. She needed to vent.

Last week my client brought in one of the biggest potential clients her firm had ever seen. She was so excited! And, proud...

And, guess who wasn't invited to the first meeting with the company? My client.

She contacted her boss and requested she be present, thinking it must be an oversight. It wasn't.

Her boss told her the management team felt that four people would be too many and that she would have to "stay home." Even though she brought in the lead and had the connection to the company.

Pretty bad, right? Except it got worse...

After the meeting, she was asked to write a thank you note to the client. But, she wasn't there. What the heck did they expect her to say? 

As if there was any question before, now she knows..it's time for her to go. Her company doesn't appreciate her contributions or her talents. Does yours?

If your talents and contributions aren't being recognized, appreciated or compensated, it might be time to move on.

Winners are quitters

I saw this quote in a Fast Company article last week:

"Think high performers are the 'quitters never win' types? Wrong, says (Paul Rulkens." (He is the author of The Power of Preeminence.) And, he goes on to say:

 "Winners quit all the time - they're just more thoughtful about it.

Strategic quitting means ditching the things that you shouldn't or don't want to be doing because they aren't worth your time..."

So, I say to you...

Be a strategic quitter. It doesn't make you a loser or a failure. It make you a winner. Now, I'm not talking about throwing in the towel or giving up when things get tough. That would be capitulation based on weakness. Strategic quitting is different. Strategic quitting is based on strength. It is proactive.

Strategic quitting means you know when it is time to leave work you hate so that you can do work you enjoy.

Remember, winners are quitters. They know when it is time to cut bait and move on. Embrace it. It's the first step to creating work you love.


I just got back from a trip to Peru. We hiked up Machu Picchu and floated down the Amazon. It was amazing...

Traveling gives me a new perspective. On life. On my business. On this blog...

This blog was always intended to be a "work in progress." Not finished. Not perfect. Not set in stone. 

Back to Peru...a couple of things happened there...

I finally read Pamela Slim's book Escape Cubicle Nation. Even though she helps people similar to my peeps, I didn't want to read her book until now. Funny, but I didn't want her ideas to influence my thinking before I put together my process.

It's a great book. I'll write more about it in another post.

Here's what made an impression on me. In her book, Pamela recounts how she she explained her blog to her mom. She told her that a blog was basically like writing a letter. But, instead of writing to the letter to one person, she could share her letter with thousands.

I like the idea of having a blog that is like writing a letter to you.

While I was floating down the Amazon, looking for birds and monkeys, I would periodically get cell phone coverage. During one of these "connected to the grid moments," I saw a tweet from Alexis Grant, Twitterer extraordinare, who tweeted that blog posts were about "a-ha moments."

I also like the idea of sharing "a-ha moments" with you.

So, instead of sharing my expertise through "how to" articles, I'm going to write you little letters and share insights. So much fun. Think of them as love notes. I'm hoping you'll write notes back and share your insights with me. This is an invitation to you to talk to me. Talk soon, OK?

Find Work in Today’s Job Market: Two (More) Approaches

There are four ways of finding work in today’s economy. That’s right. Just four ways.

The other day, I shared two approaches with you: traditional and targeted.  Traditional is when you package yourself up in a resume and put yourself out there, hoping to be seen and hired. Targeted is when you determine exactly what position or role you would like to be hired for, and then package yourself (resume, LinkedIn profile, conversations) as the perfect person to fill that role or position.

You might notice that each of these ways is what I call “reactive” or “responsive.” What I mean by that is that you are reacting or responding to a position that has been created by someone else.

In this article, I will share two new approaches for finding work in today’s economy. They are “proactive” ways of creating work, based on who you are and what you have to offer the marketplace. Here they are:

Consultative: This approach requires that you know who you are and what you have of value to offer the marketplace. What do you do? What do you have to offer that is valuable to the marketplace? The key is to figure out who has a need that you can fill? Who has a problem that you can solve?

EXAMPLE: Early in my career, I coached a client in the marine insurance industry. There had just been a legislative change in Washington, DC and companies were scrambling to figure out what it meant for them. He had helped his company to navigate through these regulatory waters and so reached out to other companies – in a consultative way - to see if they needed help. This approach is so effective because you are essentially identifying a problem and offering a way to help.

You will need first to identify what you have to offer and then determine who needs what you have. Once you identify a potential client/employer, you need to have a consultative conversation where you articulate who you are, what you do, how you think you can help them, and share proof of where you have done this in the past. 

2. Make it Up and Charge For It: This option is my favorite. This is where you create something for sale to the marketplace. It can be a product or a service, such as, in my industry, a book, coaching program, online course. You create it and determine how and where to sell it. Leverage your intellectual property.

These proactive approaches to the marketplace are the most effective. If you can either use your talents to help a company solve a problem, or sell a service or a product to inform, your chances for finding paid work are great! Create your own way in today’s economy. That is the secret sauce to success!

And, if you need help with this, reach out and let’s set up a strategy session. Click here to apply.

Find Work in Today’s Job Market: Two Approaches

For those of you who don’t know…

There are four ways of finding work in today’s economy. That’s right. Just four ways.

Today, I will share the first two with you. Here they are, along with my recommendations:

1. Traditional: This is how most people look for work. They write up their resume as a history of everything they’ve done and put it out into the marketplace, hoping for a reply. A reply that never comes. And, they wonder why.

This method doesn’t work, for several reasons. First of all, if you are writing your resume as a history of everything you’ve done, you are expecting the prospective employer to take the time to translate what you’ve done into what they need. No one has the time to do that. Your resume will land in the trash. It’s not strategic.

Secondly, if you are not targeting what you have in your resume to the job specs, you will never get hired. The job market is way too competitive. Companies can afford to hire exactly what they are looking for. If they want to hire an owner of a three-earred hamster, they can. (I’m being facetious, but you know what I mean.)

Finally, if you are just putting yourself out there, applying everywhere, hoping that your resume will stick, I can tell you, it won’t. You have to be very strategic about where you are applying in order to be seen above the fray.

2. Targeted: This option is where you get very focused and targeted about how you present yourself. For example, if you are looking for a copywriting position in the advertising industry, you will know exactly what the companies are looking for at your level, and include examples in your resume of how you demonstrated the important skill sets.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the more focused your resume, the better chance you have of getting it read. This flies in the face of what most people want to do. Most people want to make themselves as broadly appealing as possible so as to be considered for the widest number of jobs. Sounds good, but in reality, this strategy produces the opposite result. The more broadly appealing you make yourself, the less chance you have for finding any job.

Be bold, take a stand for what you have to offer, figure out who needs what you have, and make your case of providing value to them.

And, if you need help with this, you might want to set up a strategy session with me. Click here to apply.

Millennials in the Workplace: What They Want

Millennials are different.

Or, at least that’s what we’ve been taught. It’s more that this generational group thinks differently about a lot of things, particularly work. Why are they so criticized and disparaged?

Recently, I read a Forbes magazine article about what millennials say they want in the workplace. Here are the statistics, along with my interpretations:

64% want to make the world a better place

Millennials aren’t like the idealists from the 1960’s, the kind of hippie-dippie, hand-holding, Woodstock Kumbaya image that some of you might have. Millennials know the world is changing at warp-speed. Traditional structures are breaking down and millennials know they can help shape what the future looks like, whether you’re talking cars, space exploration, the world of work, government or whatever.

They don’t want to waste their time trying to fit in – fit into a job box or a traditional view of what’s expected of them. They want to stand out, be different, contribute, make a difference. They want to find a way to use their talents to change the world. They think work can be fun. They want to be engaged. They don’t see the benefit of putting in their time in a job or linear career path, particularly when the pay-off for doing so isn’t guaranteed. They prefer to create their own path. And, it’s usually not linear or traditional.

72% would like to be their own boss

People tend to see this and think that Millennials are entrepreneurial and want to have their own business. I don’t agree. I think that Millennials just want to be the boss of themselves. They don’t want someone else telling them what to do, how to do it and when to do it. They would like to have more control over their work and the way it is done.

88% want a collaborative work environment

Millennials like to work together with like-minded individuals who share a common vision and are just as motivated to achieve the outcome as they are. They are not into competition. They refuse to “play the game.” They are not political. A lot of Millennials are used to working on teams, either on the sports field or in school.

74% want flexible work schedules

This is not a surprise. Growing up in the world of technology where you can work from anywhere, they just don’t see the point of having to be in a centralized location, working from 9 – 5. If they can get the work done from 9 pm – 3 am, why not? It’s all about the results and the quality of the work.

88% want “work-life integration”

According to the article, “work-life integration” isn’t the same as work-life balance, since “work and life now blend together inextricably.” Millennials do not compartmentalize. They do not have a sense of a separation between their work and personal life. To them, it is all their life, with work being one sphere or component part of the whole. They want the ability to flow into different spheres of their lives, and not live in separate worlds. They don’t show up differently in separate areas of their lives. It’s all one to them.

Why do we tend to disparage Millennials as “self-absorbed,” “self-centered” and unproductive? They are actually the “new workers” who are going to help us usher in the New World of Work. We can learn a lot from them.

And, if you are a Millennial who is struggling in today’s workplace, reach out to me at youarefree.com.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Today’s Job Market (but were afraid to ask) – Part 1

The first step towards creating work you love is – understanding the context.
What is happening in the job market, and how does it affect you? And your choices?

The Job Market

We tend to measure the health of the job market by looking at the monthly “Jobs Report” issued by the Labor Department. It comes out the first Friday of every month. You can read about last month’s numbers here.

Right now, the unemployment number is low, at 5.0%. The job creation number is up. That would seem to indicate that the job market is healthy.

And, yet why does it seem so hard to find a job? Why is it that our friends, family, neighbors, and sons and daughters seem to be struggling to find great work?

The jobs that are being created are not the same quality of the jobs that are being shed.

292,000 new jobs were created last month. (Good news? Bad news?) Sounds good to me.

Of those, 73,000 were in a category called “Business and Professional.”  Good news…except that half of them were in a subcategory called “temporary help.” Hmmmm…bad news.

That’s the biggest challenge with today’s job market. On the surface, everything looks great. But, when you dig below the surface, you’ll see that a lot is going on. Some good. Some bad. Some unusual.

You can pick a statistic and argue either side – good news or bad news. For example, watch what the two political parties are doing.

Leading Democrats say: Unemployment is 5.0%, half of what it was when we had the financial downturn in 2008-2009. Good news!

Leading Republicans say: The labor participation rate is at 62.5%, a rate we haven’t seen since the 1970’s. People who want to work, can’t. Bad news.

Both groups are correct. So, it’s difficult to get an overall picture of what’s really happening in the labor market.

Here’s what you need to know…traditional structures of the labor market are breaking down, and a new paradigm is emerging. We’ve got the “Gig Economy,” “the Interim Market,” and more fluid and flexible work arrangements. We have less stability and predictability than we had in the past, with full-time jobs, salaries, benefits and careers with a single company. On the other hand, there is more flexibility to create work you love, around who you are and what you can contribute, than any other time in history.

Good news? Bad news? You get to decide. The first step starts with understanding what’s going on…I’ll be writing more of these posts in the future so that you can piece together your own interpretation.