How I got a job I Was Unqualified For

working at coffee shop

You see a job description online that jazzes you up. You read through the job ad, and you think, “I’d love to apply for that,” but you’re hesitant, because you can’t check all the boxes they’re asking for. Maybe you have an opportunity to interview for a job that you don’t feel qualified for, and you’re careful not to get your hopes up, because you know that likely every other candidate is more qualified than you, so what chance do you have anyway?

Do you know the feeling I’m talking about? I’ve been there.

Early in my career, I was working at a cafe in a large industrial park, where I’d see the same customer faces each day as they came in for their morning coffee. I’d remember their orders each morning. I wouldn’t always remember their names, but I’d know that was the guy with the “grande double decaf americano with extra room.”

My plan was to work at the cafe until I finished college, where I was getting my diploma in Business Administration. While I was at college, I stayed late one night helping a fellow classmate with economics homework. Because I had been helpful to him and “saved his butt,” he asked if I wanted to apply for a job where he worked. He said he would gladly refer me.

I was excited! My first question: Where do you work?

“Abebooks,” he said (Which unbeknownst to me was about to be acquired by Amazon).

“Sure!” I said without giving it anymore thought, “That sounds amazing! Send me the job description.”

When I got home, I excitedly checked my email. I saw this description, and I almost fell out of my chair. I realized immediately that I was not even the slightest bit qualified for this job. The only thing it had in common with me was that people would be in that office, and I talk to people at the cafe.

I wondered how my classmate even thought that I’d stand a chance here. Then I figured he was probably just being nice, even though nothing would likely come of it.

Some of the responsibilities as I read down the page included things that I didn’t even understand, like:

“Support seller acquisition campaigns and account management”

“Knowledge of SQL and/or HTML”

“Experience in Sales and Account Management”

“Associate or Bachelor Degree in Business or related field preferred”

These were just a few of the bullet points that made me think to myself, “Should I even bother with this? The other candidates surely all have more experience than I do.”

As I actively tried not to get my hopes up, I started thinking about a process to prepare for this interview that would make me different. I’d already said yes. Even if no job came of it, I knew I had to at least try. I had to pinch myself because this job paid more than I had ever been paid before. The company was prestigious and had won many awards. Looking at my background, it looked completely out of my league.

How did I do this? Decoding the process now, I attribute 3 key things to why they chose me out of what later I found out was a pool of 7 shortlisted other qualified candidates.

1. A Referral Goes a Long Way

I know now that a lot of companies give quite a high preference to referred candidates, even if the candidate doesn’t check all the boxes right away. If they’re a referral they’re more likely to get invited in for an interview. I had some courses from school that made me sound smart, and I would highlight my people skills and cross my fingers.

Before I handed in my resume, I figured if there was ever a time to invest in getting it to be as close to perfect as possible, it was now. I had a professional resume writer help me with it (actually I had three). You might not always have time for this, but it gave me the confidence and reassurance I needed to finally hit “Send.”

One of the resume writers said to me, “What makes you think you’re going to get an interview for this job?” Long story short, the resume (along with my classmate’s good word) was compelling enough to have them interview me.

2. Likeability is Underrated

I learned later that being likeable is actually more important than skills, education, or experience. At the time, I think it was a highly contributing factor. It may have been the one thing that got me the job. It’s hard to tell but I have a feeling it was big. I can’t explain getting hired any other way.

It may sound unfair or even unprofessional to hire someone that you like over someone who is more skilled or experienced, but sometimes human nature trumps logic. This was confirmed when I came across a study in the Harvard business review. It proved that people might say that they’d choose the more skilled person over the more likeable candidate; however, in practice, when it comes right down to it, they don’t.

Quoted from the HBR review:

“Generally speaking, a little extra likability goes a longer way than a little extra competence in making someone desirable to work with.”

3. The Questions YOU Ask Are Everything

At the very beginning (before they had a chance to go “stream of consciousness” with their questions), I asked them what the top priorities would be for someone entering the role in the first three months on the job. This was a strategic move. I wanted to find out in their words what exactly they wanted from their new hire. I was looking for anything other than the gibberish on the job description. My thought was that once I knew this, I could position myself as a better candidate as I answered questions throughout.

The truth is the answer wasn’t super helpful, but it was good enough. They said, “The successful candidate will spend the first three months training, learning our systems, tools, and procedures.”

This information helped me enough that I talked about my love for learning new things. It gave me a focus that I knew was desirable to them. I made a point to talk about examples and stories of learning new software programs and new concepts, and how I loved putting time and effort into learning, because it always paid off in the end. I talked about techniques I used for learning, and I captivated them with some things I’d learned that were interesting. People also like people that are interesting and can share interesting, entertaining and new info.

Another thing that I think contributed was that at the time Abebooks didn’t have a way for customers to provide feedback on their site for whether or not books were received on time and in good condition. I said, “I notice that you don’t have a way for customers to provide feedback on your site at the moment. For such a large site with so many customers, I would think something like that would be beneficial.”

I brought up this gap in their business, and I noticed the interview panel glance over at each other and smile. The gentleman on the end, who was one of the Department Managers, looked over at the Director (who was seated in the middle) and said, “Do you want to take this one?” She laughed as she started telling me how they’re excited to launch their feedback feature. After long and hard hours of working on it, the release date was less than six months away! She talked excitedly about how it worked on a star rating system, which is what you see if you go to their site today.

Sometimes it’s not about what they have in place; it’s about what they don’t have in place yet (and who notices).

The takeaways from my story include:

  • Being qualified isn’t everything
  • People will more likely hire who they like vs. who is the most skilled or the smartest
  • If you can get referred, that’s even better
  • Be strategic with when and what you ask

Try out these ideas at your next interview, and keep the doors open. Unlikely things do happen, even if they seem impossible. When that opportunity came up, I had no idea how I was going to approach it. All I knew was that there was something inside of me that was nagging me (perhaps it was my dad’s voice). “Just say yes,” he would say, “and then figure out how to do it later.”

I may have hated this advice when I was younger, but I will admit that it was not the worst advice my dad ever gave me.

Natalie Fisher is an enthusiastic HR Generalist who loves her job! She’s been on over 50 interviews and received 48 job offers. Download her Free Guide: How to Nail an Interview You’re Unqualified For.

How to Keep Employees Happy and Motivated

jumping with joy

Six months after I started my first job out of college as a software engineer, I was “invited” to my first ever performance review. My boss told me it was an opportunity to get 360 feedback from him and a few colleagues about my strengths and the areas of my performance I could improve. As I sat down in the meeting room with members of my team, I was nervous to say the least.

Verbatim, here is what they said: I was “a positive person that brightened their days,” “diligent and hardworking,” and a “valued member of the team.” I was given a 4 out of 5 for performance. One colleague said that I sometimes “talked too loud on the phone in the open office,” and my boss said I needed to “review the code I wrote more carefully before submitting because I left out two semicolons in the last draft.” (Oh my!)

If my son–who is now only two years old–gets a review like this at his first job, I’ll be a proud mom taking him out to dinner to celebrate! Unfortunately, for myself, my brain had the all-too-common response. I ignored the positive and focused squarely on the negative, feeling discouraged. Why did I only get a 4??

Now as a positive psychology researcher, I better understand the brain response that lead to this reaction. Our brain’s negativity bias is so strong that negative thoughts significantly outweigh the positive. A number of studies have found that negative thoughts are three times more powerful than positive ones. So, if you find yourself ruminating on something negative someone said or did, know that you’re very normal. But this brain response harms performance.

Common wisdom seems to suggest that the best path to success is to identify all that is broken and fix it. We are now seeing there is a significantly stronger path that is better at fueling performance and business outcomes. Identify what’s working and leverage those strengths and skills to create greater success. The reason is that when we consciously focus on successes and solutions, we prime the brain to be in a positive state. Studies show when our brain is optimistic, it fuels business outcomes including increasing sales by 37%, productive energy by 31%, and chances of promotion by 40%. At no point do I advocate ignoring the negative, but a concerted effort to reorient the brain to the good often pays dividends in business and beyond.

This research has implications far beyond the performance review. My research colleague (and husband) Shawn Achor and I have now worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as schools and other organizations building positive organizations. In our research, the teams that experience high levels of success are also those that consistently focus on strengths, successes and solutions, big and small.

And the impact is measurable: A manager began focusing his team on all that they were doing right by praising one new person each day in a small way, and this practice increased the entire team’s productivity by 31% in three weeks. Celebrating success breeds success.

Whether you’re a manager or in an entry level position, focusing other people’s attention on the meaning embedded in the work, the things you’re grateful for, and the ways people have been good to you does good for those around you.

The Positive Ripple Effect

Research shows positive information spreads further and faster. In an outstanding research study, Jonah Berger, professor of marketing at Wharton School of Business, and Katherine Milkman from the University of Pennsylvania used a computer program that scanned 7,000 articles from The New York Times over a three-month period to distill what characteristics led to certain articles being included in the “most-emailed” list on the newspaper’s website.

The researchers controlled the study for variables including article placement, author gender and popularity, and the length and complexity of pieces, and found that the articles that evoked emotion were shared more often than those that evoked none—but even more importantly, the arousing, activating positive pieces were more viral than anything else.

They found that the ones that were most shared were stories that made you feel high levels of positivity, including emotions such as happiness, joy, elation, and awe.

What that means is that if we start talking about the positive, in a way that makes others feel good, that can tip the culture at work from negative to positive in a meaningful and lasting way.

Get Others Involved in the Practice

One of the best examples I know is the story of a judge from Nebraska, who said
her colleagues were disconnected and grumpy. They were always complaining about the work and each other. She secretly posted a gratitude board at the office and provided markers and Post-it notes.

Later, she told me she watched as colleagues stood in front of the board, sipped their
coffees, and talked about the gratitudes that had been posted. She secretly snapped some pictures of people bonding in front of the wall and posted them on the board the next day with a note that simply said, “The bonding I see all around me today is my gratitude.”

The story of the gratitude board spread to other government buildings, and three additional departments made them too.

Beyond a gratitude board, there are lots of ways to operationalize gratitude to create an active cycle of positive behavior and reinforcement. Here are some examples:

  1. Ask people to post their gratitudes on the board.
  2. Have them snap pictures of themselves holding index cards with their gratitudes written on them.
  3. Encourage them to post the photos on social media.
  4. Have a different employee each day share his or her gratitude with the team during the morning meeting.
  5. Showcase some of the “praise” gratitudes during team meetings.
  6. Have a volunteer from the design team create an infographic, with the organization’s logo, that focuses on the scientific value of practicing gratitude to share with the company.
  7. Tweet out one gratitude from the wall each day to the wider network.
  8. Make a video to share the story of the creation of the gratitude wall and its impact to present at an organization-wide gathering.
  9. Ask a few marketing associates to record reactions on camera from people after seeing their names and contributions mentioned on the gratitude board. Put together a short video to share.
  10. Feature the story of the gratitude board in the company newsletter.
  11. Start each month with a fresh board and a new theme, such as “my coworkers” or “the difference we make together.”

By taking even just a handful of steps like these, you have the power to shift the culture at your office to more optimistic, empowered territory. You could change the board’s theme from time to time. For instance, next month it could feature “how your colleagues have made your workday easier recently” for people to share those stories.

As for performance reviews, based on the research, a number of our clients, including Facebook, got rid of these annual traditions, and instead focused on creating a more steady stream of feedback–anchored in positive, meaningful information. This helps fuel employee performance, instead of leaving them stuck at “4” (whatever that means!), and lessens the detrimental impact of inevitable negative information. It’s the kind of work environment I hope for my son, when he is old enough (and off the family payroll!)

For more research and ideas to start your day off on a positive note, Shawn and I invite you to join us for our Wake Up & Inspire Happiness Video Workshop, based on our new PBS program INSPIRE HAPPINESS airing nationwide.

About the Author

Michelle Gielan, national CBS News anchor turned positive psychology researcher, is the best-selling author of Broadcasting Happiness. She is the Founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research and is partnered with Arianna Huffington to study how transformative stories fuel success. She holds a Master of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and is an Executive Producer of “The Happiness Advantage” Special on PBS and a featured professor in Oprah’s Happiness course.

Why Curiosity is so Important in Your Career

peeking-in-box-595

The legend has it that when humans discovered the potato plant, many died because of it. They have eaten the fruits and leafs of the plant which turned out to be poisonous. Sad and angry, they gather all the potato plants (fruits, leaves, roots) they could find and set them on fire to wreck this malefic organism. When the roots started to cook on the fire, the smell made everyone wonder what could that astonishing aroma can be.

Most people put more hay on the fire to make sure the plant will die, but a few curious ones took the roots out of the fire and tasted the wonderful smelling oval shaped object. They didn’t die, and now, all of us can enjoy the potato.

Did you know that latest medical research has found that eating carrots can help smokers improve lung health, but taking beta-carotene supplements increases their risk of lung cancer?

Did you know that there is a city in this world that is illegal not to smile at all times except funerals and visits to the hospital?

Curiosity can cost you, sometimes a bit more than you can chew. However, being curious about the right things is opening many, many doors for you.

Why should you be curious and how to use your curiosity?

1. Seek Personal Growth

Being curious makes you listen. Not just hearing what people have to say, but actually, listen. Listen to learn something new, opposite to hearing only to confirm what you already know.

Developing your listening skills is not only enriching your knowledge but also increases others desire to have you around, and it is improving your relationships of all kind.

You are entering a conversation with an open mind because no matter how knowledgeable you are, you have always something more to learn, you can benefit from any and every human interaction.

Curiosity also is spicing things up in your life because it is a pleasant feeling and the rewards are instant.

When you approach a person or situation with curiosity, your mind gets free of judgment towards that person or situation. Therefore, you are more likely to find solutions and ways to move forward. In a sense, curiosity is a great tool to get unstuck, right?

We are searching for ways to keep our brain young and sane, and curiosity is one of those ways because curiosity is giving a job to many neurons that otherwise would die for lack of activity.

When you find yourself in a difficult situation, your curiosity could be just the needed medicine to overcome that situation instead of lingering in despair.

  • How did others past that situation?
  • What was missing to do better? What can you do better?
  • What others way can you try to solve the situation?
  • Who are the people that can help?
  • What else is there to know about [the situation]?

Get curious about who you are, what you stand for, you present and future. Being curious about all these things are giving you the best chance to keep your self-esteem on positive levels.

Being curious is promoting your motivation and drive feelings. Plus, it helps you to keep your focus on your purpose.

When you are curious about how well you can do something, your curiosity is overpowering any self-doubt or low confidence feelings you might have.

2. Present what you want without sounding too pushy

Did you notice how children are asking indirectly for what they want? “What is that? What do you have there? Is that [naming what you have with enthusiasm]?” Can you help yourself not to offer some of [that]?!

We are not children anymore, and we have many other ways to ask for what we want. However, formulating your request as a curiosity about what you want sounds so innocent. Doesn’t it? And with some people is the only way you will get what you want.

3. Find Connections

Behind everything and everyone there is a story. You may not care too much about something until you hear its story. And every story is captivating and entertaining. Your neurons, otherwise engaged, are euphoric to follow a story, a curiosity.

Do you know who Mark Rothko is? If you don’t, do you care? What if I tell you that one of his paintings (“Rockefeller Rothko”) was sold by $14,160.000(approx)? Still nothing? The painting is not an extraordinary piece of art in the eye of an ordinary person, but the story behind it is. It’s not the virtues of the painting that made it so expensive but the fact that it was housed in the Rockefeller building for many, many years.

Allowing your curiosity to fly, will take you to beautiful and amazing stories, to new discoveries about yourself and others.

4. Make others feel important and valued

Is there a better way to demonstrate you care about somebody other than showing yourself curious about their well-being, interests, achievements, and skills?

People love to feel important. When you make them feel that, you become important to them; you become valuable.

People don’t judge you by how smart, beautiful or wealthy you are; people are judging you by the way they feel about themselves because of you.

Curiosity is a fertile ground for collaboration.

Have fun, explore what you like, show off what you know, improve what you can do, build long-lasting relationships using your curiosity.

Carmen Jacob believes that us, people are good by nature and giving the knowledge, the chance and the opportunity, they will prove to themselves and to others how extraordinary and capable every person can be.

Always Leveling Up

I got an opportunity to work for one of the best companies in the world. It’s an opportunity that I can’t pass up.

Challenging myself is a big part of my work happiness.

So when a headhunter emailed me in LinkedIn and asked if I was interested in working at USAA. I said YES!

The position is to help with with User Experience on their website. They found me because I’ve worked hard to build up my resume over at Domino Connection.

It’s my other business that pays the bills.

Always Have Fun

Work Happy Now is fun, but I haven’t earned much money from trying to help people become better leaders at work. I think I’ve earned about $200 in the last 6 months from this site.

I thought when I started Work Happy Now that once I build a reputation in the industry that all kinds of business owners would contact me to help them create a great place to work.

Happy employees equates to higher retention of employees, higher earnings, and better results.

I do get contacted every 6 months or so, but most of the time these companies just inquire and don’t hire me to help them.

So about 5 years ago I stared helping companies improve their websites with a separate business. I use a lot of the techniques I’ve learned at Work Happy Now to help them improve their company, so all my research and writing has paid off.

Passion Project

I’ve come to appreciate that Work Happy Now is just a passion project. I hope to continue to keep delivering great content, but I can’t promise how much I’ll be able to research and write.

I’m going to try my best, but I could use your help.

Everything happened so fast that I haven’t had much time to process everything. From the time I found out that there was a job opening I was offered and job and given a start date, it only took 3 weeks.

We moved up the family vacation, so we could see my family in Pennsylvania and my wife’s family in Missouri.

Help the Cause

Now I have to make my new job a top priority, but I refuse to let Work Happy Now just fade away.

If you are interested in helping me keep Work Happy Now going over the next year please contact me. I’m in need of an editor and two writers.

Would you be willing to help me continue to help people work happier.

I would also be interested in bringing in a partner if I can find the right fit. I would be willing to split a portion of the revenue if you can help me continue to grow this passion project. So if you have a similar passion for work happiness please contact me, so we can talk about your ideas of growing.

How to Help Your Employees Feel Happier at Work

Office Conversation

Leading someone to do what you want them to do and getting them to actually enjoy doing it isn’t easy. I’ve always been a hard person to lead. I like to do things my way. A lot of people like to do things their way or at least feel like it.

Are you difficult to lead as well?

Most people are.

This is the key to leading your people.

Happiness

Happiness is based on perception. Some employees love complete autonomy while others prefer a more structured day. You need to help them create the type of workday that makes them happy, productive and delivering great results.

It’s how they perceive their ability to make choices that truly matter to them. If they have control over the kind of projects that they like to work on for a large portion of their day they will be happy. They need have the freedom to execute their ideas. It’s giving them the space to grow and expand.

When people own their choices they feel responsible to deliver on their promises. As a leader in your organization, think about who you enjoy delivering great work to, it could be a co-worker, boss, or customer. Why do you think you work harder to deliver these results for them? You’ll understand the importance of emotions in your workday as well as your people’s emotions.

My Mistakes

A few years ago I was assigned to lead to an event that my company was hosting. I had to bring in speakers (inside and outside the organization), set up the conference room in a hotel, create a program, gather materials, promote conference and the list went on.

I was blindly assigning people to jobs without asking for their input. After terrible results in the first few weeks I stopped to take a breather. I gathered everyone for a meeting and I listened to feedback. Their feedback shocked me. I had a lot of improvement to make as a leader.

True Leadership

So you want an atmosphere that encourages great work? Don’t we all. Most bosses and managers talk a good game, but they don’t create a plan to make it happen.

Almost every CEO I worked for always talked about the importance of their people, but their actions did not coincide with their words. They were always more worried about their own issues.

I know how important it is to make money, improve profit margins, keep stock holders happy, but if the employees aren’t happy then the bottom line will suffer.

Ownership

Let people create their own plan, improving their ability to understand the choices they do have (perceived freedom) and execute on their ideas then encourage them to improve their mistakes. The problem lies in helping them execute so they have the best chance at success.

As a leader of people you need to remove obstacles and encourage happiness in every facet of your business. I’ve created 10 techniques that will help your company be happy and successful.

  1. Be happy yourself.
  2. Know your people.
  3. Make time for your people.
  4. Create more autonomy.
  5. Help them find meaning in their work.
  6. Stop letting jerks dictate the company culture.
  7. Encourage friendships.
  8. Recognize hard work.
  9. Let people know that they have options.
  10. Find out why people leave.

These are concepts that are easy to understand, but may be hard to apply to your company’s culture. Let’s start with little baby steps.

Once you’ve been able to bring a little more happiness into your own life and career, which isn’t easy, but should be daily exercise. You can move on to making your employees happy.

The best way to do this is the 4-step employee happiness process:

  1. Ask them, on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being you would rather lose a foot than continue working here and 10 being happier than a baby giggling) how happy are you?
  2. Ask them, how can I make you happier? (What projects are you struggling with and what projects would you like to do more of? Let’s say they say on the scale of happiness they are a 4 then I like you to say how can I help you get to a 5 or 6. Make it feel attainable and meet their expectations.)
  3. Listen to their responses and be honest about where you could probably help them and where it might not be possible at this time.
  4. Ask them if they can create a plan with 2 projects that they would like to work on (no more than 500 words) that would help them feel happier as well as help the company improve. Give them a date of when you would like the plan buy. Make sure they give you a step-by-step of how they would implement the projects (timeframe, resources, and breakdown of tasks) and what they think the results would be after the project is complete.

That’s it.

You will have to review the plan, pick the best project (give them guidelines to create a better project for them and the company), but if they did their due diligence your job is just to review plan, make mutual adjustments, and have them implement their idea.

The best part is it’s a win-win. You have happier employees and you get better results.

What is one great idea you’ve seen from your boss that helped you feel happier at work?

How to Resolve Emotionally Charged Conflicts

Negotiating-the-nonnegotiable

Last month I was talking with a client and we weren’t seeing eye to eye.

I wanted them to try some new ideas because I wanted to see if we could improve our results. They were resistant.

I don’t want to give too much detail away, but we hit an impasse.

Of course we stayed put with our current plan, but I knew we needed to make some improvements.

I felt like I lost the battle, but there was no winner.

We kept getting the same results. We have another meeting set-up next week and I’m hoping we can start to make some small changes.

I’m sharing this with you because I interviewed Daniel Shapiro who is the Founder and Director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program. He wrote a book called Negotiating the Nonnegotiable.

He explains why this happens.

In his book and our interview he explains that it comes down to communication.

Too often we don’t consult with the people in our lives and they feel left out. The something goes for employees and co-workers. They want to be involved. They want to know that we care about their input.

As you listen to the interview think about how you can use these ideas to help you improve your relationships at work and how to get people to listen to your ideas.

If you liked this podcast subscribe via iTunes. (If you like the podcast please go and rate us on iTunes. Thanks.)

In this interview you’ll learn:

1. The different tools we have during a conflict.

2. How to consult with others so they feel listened to.

3. How do you turn an adversary into a partner.

4. How to ask questions that open people up to your ideas.

5. Reframe the language that you use to get a better response.

You can also check out Daniel Shapiro’s website here. He is a Harvard expert on the psychology of conflict resolution. You can check out his book Negotiating the Nonnegotiable on Amazon here.

What was your favorite takeaway? (Just let us know in the comment section.)

Do you want to learn how to improve your employees performance? My leadership coaching can help you implement the ideas in this interview. Let me know if you are interested in improving your leadership skills so you can improve your team’s results.

Should You Document Your Company’s Stories

lego-red-house-final-2-595

Why do you think Legos are such a popular toy?

I bet you can guess from the title of this blog post.

Legos are popular because you can see your hard work come to life. Every Lego brick you stack the more your progress improves. You can see how the story unfolded.

Many of your employees don’t get to see the physical results of their hard work. They don’t see a customer’s reaction or what happens after they hand it off to another department.

That’s why it’s important to focus on the outcome of your employees’ hard work.

That means asking the right questions that helps them see their progress at work.

Do you want to be a better leader at work? Then we should talk about you can improve employee engagement and happiness. Click here to see how more happiness can help your organization.

A great question to ask your employees is…

What is the thing that you’ll remember the most from this past week?

The answer will help add to your company story. Every story is a lego brick that shows your progress.

Can you keep a company journal that helps keep track of milestones and stories that occur at work. I suggest that you keep it positive, but nothing wrong with being able to document and laugh at mistakes so you can learn from them.

People need to believe that the work they do is worth doing. Otherwise they see no point in putting in extra effort.

A great way to help your employees find meaning is to tell stories that they can connect with. A good story can show a perspective that the employee hadn’t yet seen. The hard part is remembering these stories and making them easy to share.

My Father

My father is an electrician and has owned Staib Electrical for 40 years. I worked with him through high school and college. I was always baffled by his need to form the wires so perfectly. My dad made sure his electrical panels were like little pieces of engineering art work. One day, after he fixed my work, I asked him why it was so important to him to make the wires look perfect.

He explained how he recently received two phone calls from potential clients. They had both heard from a previous customer about the great work he did. He asked them who referred him, and they both named a neighbor of theirs, Mr. Flankel. My father told me about Mr. Flankel’s delighted expression when he showed him his work. Mr. Flankel then bragged to his neighbors, and they too wanted an electrician that cared as much as my father does.

His story helped me understand why the presentation was so important. If he didn’t apply a bit of art to his craft, everyone would think he was just like every other electrician. It separated him from the crowd and as a result people became a fan of his work and promoted him to people they knew.

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.

From that point on, when I worked with my father, I applied a little extra effort to every wire I formed.

Why Stories Work

We share these stories all the time at work, but many of them get lost and forgotten when someone who had this skill leaves the position.

Stories help show your employees how to bring a little extra creativity to their work. If they are willing to go the extra mile they will be more engaged and get much better results. This all starts by sharing stories of what worked in the past. It also helps them see their progress at work. It’s a win-win that can help for years and years.

It’s up to you, but helping your employees appreciate their progress at work is one of the quickest ways to bring happiness into your team. The best part in documenting your company’s progress will show them how far you’ve come as a team.

Yes

My belief is that every company should document their stories. It’s a great way to pass on information within an organization. It’s also a great way to help improve the marketing. If a company goes through a struggle and comes out the other side more successful that’s something customers and investors can get behind.

Your Turn

Do you notice how your company shares its stories? Company meetings, around at lunch, on your social media accounts etc. Even the mistakes can show how much you care as a company.

How Difficult Challenges Define Your Career

hiking-trail-challenge-595

When you wake up in the morning what is usually your first thought?

I need more sleep.
I can’t wait to get today started.
I wish I didn’t have to go to work today.

The first thought is important, but the next thought is more important.

What do you do with that first thought?

If your first thought is that you don’t want to go to work then…

Your next thought can continue down that negative path or you can catch that thought, shake it off and bring yourself back into a more positive mindset.

So instead of thinking how awful work is you could think about how you are going to do something great at work.

This of course doesn’t always happen, but when you try to do great work it’s much more likely to happen.

Positive Mindset

I’ve been practicing this quite a bit.

I try

every

single

day

to work on my mindset.

It’s that vital to my success.

It starts with me trying to expand outside my comfort zone and do something that challenges me.

I didn’t use to think this way. Challenges were my kryptonite.

If something went wrong I thought why the world wanted me to fail. I searched for the negative.

Through researching work happiness since 2008. Reading a ton of books and articles. “Mindset” by Carol S. Dweck was a game changer. And I mean a ton of books and articles.

I watched all kind of TED talks like the importance of playing games.

I found that my mindset leaned toward the negative. I wanted things to be easier.

When a project failed I would fall into a depressed state.

I stopped trying at work and I coasted. I hurt my career.

Have Fun

That’s when I started meditating more and being a watcher of my thoughts. I created the 30 Day No Complaining Challenge and I got more clarity on what I needed. I needed to have more fun. I stopped taking each thought so seriously and began to be more playful with how I thought about my life.

Having fun at work meant I was doing work that mattered. I cared about the outcome and was willing to work hard to make it happen.

Now I’m more willing to take risks because the risks I take define who I am. If I play it too safe I see this in my yearly review.

I feel more alive when I’m doing something that frustrates me, but instead of letting my anger take over. I notice it, smile at it, and take a break. I know I’ll figure out an answer even if it means giving up on a project that just isn’t working.

It’s the risks you take that define a career.

Passion Projects

I teamed up with a partner to get the Core Values Method out into the world. It’s a project that’s fun and near to my heart. I continue to work here at Work Happy Now, helping companies improve their company culture, so employees can live with more passion at work. I’m working on software to help companies collect better feedback from their employees.

It’s a lot of work, but it stretches me to grow personally and professionally.

I believe leaders need to put the focus on having more ways to have fun at work. Fun that encourages better results. They need to have more fun managing employees performance. They need to find ways to get people sharing ideas.

Coaching Skills

That’s why I’m expanding my coaching services. I want to coach leaders in the workplace. I know I can make an impact that will change the course of many lives.

Last week I was in a meeting and a CEO of an accounting firm was there and he was asking me about what I did. I told him how I help my clients get feedback from their employees and customers. Then we use that to improve the employee and customer experience.

He was intrigued.

Then I explained how more companies should use feedback loops in their company with their employees.

He frowned for a split second.

I was losing his interest.

Then I explained that a passionate employee will bring in 10x the amount of referrals and revenue than a passionate customer.

I explained how one employee can affect the experience of thousands of customers depending on their role. If each customer matters then it starts with having happy and engaged employees.

Now I had his attention back.

I told him if he didn’t work on his company culture then his company would just not grow as fast as it should.

Now he was hooked.

We have a conference call scheduled for next week.

Making an Impact

I’m sharing this with you because this is one of the main reasons I want to expand my coaching services is that I want to also help leaders and business owners. If they only understood how to track and improve employee experiences they could then see how it affects revenue. 95% of the time they are closely tied together.

A company with a vision, purpose, core values, good products, and high employee engagement usually means they are wildly successful.

You keep a close eye on your profit margins then why wouldn’t you keep a close eye on your employee engagement?

So that’s what I want to help leaders do in the workplace. Help them improve their team and company culture, so employees are engaged and happy.

That means managing their performance, so you can measure their success and help them improve.

I’m using the same tools and system:

1. Create a Core Values document.
2. Develop feedback loop.
3. Work on coaching skills.
4. Develop a system to measure and improve your employees performance and happiness.

So if you have a passion for improving your leadership and business skills then you should fill out the application.

I have two applications:

Leadership coaching (Leaders in the workplace who want a more engaged team that gets great results)

and

Business Coaching (Business owner looking to improve how their company listens and communicates)

Why You Should Take The Time to Appreciate Your Progress at Work

progress-sign-white

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Benjamin Franklin

It makes sense.

You chip away at progress.

It isn’t just a sprinkle of magic that leads to a finished project.

It can feel like a little luck had something to do with it, but it’s always due to hard work that added up to achieve your goal.

It’s this progress that you see that helps you define your hard work. You can point to all the hours that you put in and understand why you did it.

Feeling productive is a human trait that is in 99% of us. We want to feel like we aren’t stuck in a loop doing the same crap every single day. We want progress.

Something from Nothing

So that means working on projects that are just an idea and seeing them come to life. Passion projects that light us up inside.

I remember when I worked on a project for six months to help us reach more young customers. Management kept stalling. We would meet and go back to the drawing board.

It wasn’t going to be a cheap campaign, but it done right we could really see a lot of growth over the next 2 – 4 years.

Most of the senior leaders wanted results in 6 – 9 months. We didn’t want to promise these results because it was our first time marketing to such a young group.

They eventually pulled the plug on the project and we kept on doing the same marketing we did the year before and the year before that.

I felt like I wasted 6 months of my life.

The Process

There was a lot of personal growth in that situation, but I didn’t see it for years after.

I stopped working as hard and coasted along.

I felt much more lethargic because I felt my progress at work had stalled.

I wished I worked somewhere else.

Some of the happiest people in the world are janitors. They are happy because their goal is clear. They walk into a dirty room, clean it and walk out happy.

Simple.

Right?

Not as simple as you might believe.

There are a lot of janitors that are unhappy because they might feel like they want to do different kind of work. If they don’t believe that their time is well spent they will probably hate their work.

The janitors that are happy find it easier to be happy if they take the time to notice the progress that they make at work.

Focus on Outcomes

Many of you who work at large organizations don’t get to see the end results of your hard work. You hand it off to another department and you get to work on the next project. Sometimes you get an update, but it’s hard when you are busy with the next project.

That’s why it’s important to focus on the outcome of your hard work.

Great questions to ask yourself are:

  1. How has my work made a difference in other people’s lives? (Your company, the customers, other employees, etc.)
  2. How has my work contributed to my success?
  3. What could I have done better to improve on my next project?

Keeping track of your hard work and the outcomes will help you appreciate your progress as well as find things you could do to improve. It always comes back to finding ways to be a little more grateful to help improve your mindset. Click here to get the 5 Tools Top Professionals Use now to help grow your career.

I like to keep a journal to help me review what I’ve done over the day, week, month and year. The end of year review is my favorite because it’s my bird eye view to my progress.

Your Turn

Look at how you can keep track of your progress. Do you follow up with other departments asking for updates on the project you handed off? Do you keep a journal? Do you ask your boss for feedback on your work?

It’s up to you, but appreciating your progress is one of the quickest way to bring happiness into your career. The best part in tracking your progress is that you can put the project on your resume.

An Open Letter to All Bosses Who Don’t Listen

Open Letter to Your Boss

This article was inspired by an email I received from a reader last week:

Dear Karl,

I truly want to work happier, but I feel stuck. I received your email last week about being a great leader. I’m sad to say that my boss is a true jerk. I’ve tried to talk to him, but he is always too busy or when I try to speak up he just cuts me off. There is no way he would ever ask for my feedback. I feel lost. I have a young child and I really don’t want to look for another job. I like my work, but I don’t know how much longer I can stand working for my boss.

Thanks for whatever advice you can give,

Struggling at Work

Here is a nice supplement to this article – 7 Proven Ways to Encourage Employee Happiness and Engagement

Here is my reply (An open reply to all the bosses who fail to listen to their employees problems and ideas).

Dear Struggling at Work,

I’ve been in your position before.

My first boss out of college who wouldn’t listen to me and also kept putting me down. After researching a company shirt for him he wanted an update, so I went into his office.

After one minute of explaining the different local print shops we could use, he held up his hand for me to stop talking.

He asked me if the sizes come in Double XL. I wasn’t sure. I told him I could go and find out.

He shook his head, looked down into his lap, then at me and said I could have a monkey do a better job on this project.

He killed my confidence with that one sentence.

I share this with you because I’m a proud man, but as a young man I was afraid to stick up for myself. No one deserves to be treated that way and I didn’t have the confidence to be strong.

Every time I would try to present an idea he would brush me off. He didn’t even try to pretend like he listened to me. He just ignored most of my ideas.

I wish I could share with you that eventually I stuck up for myself and my boss respected me. This never happened.

I worked there for two years and hated working for him the whole time I was there.

I was lucky to have a great manager, in another department, that helped guide me. He hated to see me leave the company, but he supported me.

That was over fifteen years ago.

Now I’m much more confident and willing to speak up. It’s taken a lot of practice, but so worth my energy.

My hope is that you have or can find someone who can help guide you a work, someone in a different department, HR, a mentor, or a coach.

I realize that many bosses aren’t very good listeners, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make improvements in the working world. Bosses and managers should seek training to improve their listening skills and be better coaches to their employees.

They need people like you to lead the way.  They need someone to say you aren’t very good at this right now, but I know you have the talent to be a great leader.

I know it’s hard to step up and say something difficult and maybe feels impossible, but it’s not. Boss by boss and manager by manager we can encourage them to be better listeners so they create a happier work culture. When they understand that with improving their listening and communication skills they will help build a stronger team.

Real improvements in the workplace cultures through America and other top down managed cultures need a wake up call. They must know that these bad habits can’t continue.

REMEMBER:

You don’t need to do this one your own. You have a lot of power if you are willing to ask for help.

For example you could ask for help within your company. You could seek help and advice from someone outside the company as well, to see if they’ve been through something similar and how they improved their situation.

Guess what?

They probably have.

When we are willing to go find help and be a little vulnerable that’s when we can work on improving ourselves and our career.

Your turn…

How do you find the strength to ask for help when you need it the most?

Would you like to improve your leadership skills? Then take a look at how I help people with my leadership coaching program. I’m taking applications for next month.