Tag: networking


How to Improve Your Career With Physical Fitness

We’re well into 2019 with the beginning of February on our heels. If you made any new year’s resolutions, it’s likely you’ve already slacked off on them. Good for you if you haven’t!

If you have, it’s not too late to use February 1st as your fresh start.

For some this may mean getting back into a workout or exercise routine. Even if your new years resolutions didn’t include anything fitness-related, they should. Not only because it’s important to your health, but also because it’s just as important to your career!

Why Physical Fitness is Important for Your Career

The BBC recently published a story on the importance of exercising during the work day and how to fit it into your work schedule. Studies have also shown how important it is to continue a regular workout routine when you’re out of work and conducting a job search. Including exercise as part of your job search or work day helps you:

  • perform better and with more energy in job interviews or on work projects.
  • stay positive when job opportunities or projects don’t work out as you’d hoped.
  • increase your confidence in your skills and abilities.
  • sharpen your mind.
  • grow your network.
  • relieve stress.

I’ve found this to be true in my own career. If I don’t stay active on a regular basis, it’s not just my body that suffers. My work also suffers. But when I carve out the time for fitness, I see amazing results.

The Career Benefits of Physical Fitness

For example, when I go stand up paddle boarding, all my stress melts away. I come back to work with a clear mind resulting in clarity on how to approach a difficult situation or my next project.

The jiu-jitsu classes I’m currently taking not only are making me physically stronger but they’re improving my mind’s reaction time and ability to problem solve.

Spending a day in the trees doing various ropes courses builds my confidence and improves my focus.

And my workouts designed by my personal trainer help me sleep better at night so I’m refreshed for the day’s work ahead of me.

In almost every one of these activities I’ve also grown my network. I’ve met potential clients, some of whom have turned into regular clients. I’ve met others who’ve referred their friends to me. And I’ve also made strategic alliances and business partnerships through the various activities I’m involved in.

An Invitation to Improve Your Career With Exercise

I believe so much in using the benefits of fitness to better coach my clients on their careers and to help them make more connections. I do this by often including my clients in some fun activities.

In the summer I frequently take clients paddle boarding to help them gain clarity over their current career situation. I’ve taken clients to do ropes courses. I’ve invited clients to be my guest in my jiu-jitsu class. And a few weeks ago I even had a client mixer that included a self-defense class and time to network with each other.

All activities are conducted with the client’s ability and fitness level in mind. They’re designed to get clients far enough out of their comfort zone that they don’t end up too far out of it. The goal is for it to be fun, healthy, and helpful. When the weather gets warm again (which I hope is very soon!), I plan to have another client mixer at the Adventure Park Nashville ropes course.

If you have a passion for fitness, want to step outside your comfort zone, and need help getting unstuck in your career, click here to complete the paNASH intake form.

And if fitness isn’t your thing, that’s okay. Clients are never required to participate in any physical activities. Maybe your resolution for 2019 is to simply focus on finding your own passion or making a career change. If so, let’s talk!

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The Most Popular paNASH Blog Posts of 2018

I’m so grateful to all you readers who loyally follow the paNASH blog from week to week. I love hearing your stories of how a particular blog post gave you the courage to pursue your passions. Your support and feedback means so much to me.

As a thank you, here’s a collection of the most popular paNASH blog posts of 2018.

Top Ten paNASH Blog Posts of 2018

  1. Should You Share Your Side Hustle on Your Resume?
  2. How to Make Your Sucky Job More Bearable (Until You Can Leave)
  3. What You Need to Know to Ensure a Successful Career
  4. Why “Can I Pick Your Brain?” Is the Wrong Approach
  5. How to Overcome Negative Self-Talk Like an Olympian
  6. “Follow Your Heart” is Bad Advice. REALLY Bad Advice! (Re-post)
  7. Quiz: Do You Really Need to Spend Money on a Career Coach?
  8. The Best Way to Write a Successful Elevator Speech
  9. Why “Keep It Simple, Stupid” is the Best Career Advice
  10. Never Say Never: How to Know When You Should Let a Bridge Burn

Please Share!

Please feel free to share any of the above posts or other paNASH blog posts on your social media platforms and with your friends so others can also benefit from them. Thank you!

Check out additional posts on Medium.com.

paNASH blog

How to Be Realistic About Networking (Re-Post)

Networking is a necessary part of the career development process. It helps you discover opportunities you never knew existed.

This could include a career that is just the thing that fits nicely with your passions and strengths.

Or it could include opportunities in a field you’re already passionate about.

But most importantly, it helps you build long-lasting professional relationships.


Since 80% of the workforce found their opportunities (whether working for someone else or for themselves) through networking, it makes sense to spend 80% of your career development and job search on networking.

But before you dive into networking, you need to check your expectations about networking, and make sure they’re realistic.


Unrealistic Networking Expectations

When I used to work as a college career adviser at a local university, I had several students wanting to go into the music industry. While most of those students understood the need to network, some would put it off until graduation.

This was a huge mistake!

Especially since going into the music industry where getting to know the insiders is more challenging than in other industries.


I know this from personal experience when I used to do image consulting for recording artists. It took me three times longer to develop my network with music industry professionals than it did in my previous industry. In fact, it took about three years before people started saying, “Oh, yeah, I know you!”

If one of my seniors getting ready to graduate had waited until graduation to begin his or her networking efforts, he or she was about three years behind the competition who started their networking efforts their sophomore year.

Those who had already been fostering professional relationships were more likely to land a job upon graduation.


Even if your own chosen industry takes less time to get to know the insiders, it’s true the sooner you start developing relationships with appropriate contacts, the sooner you’ll see the fruits of your labor.

In other words, expecting it to happen overnight is unrealistic.


Realistic Networking Expectations

That’s also not to say it can’t happen quickly. I have two examples of each scenario from my own career.

First, I met the vice president of a Nashville-based company while attending an event downtown at the Entrepreneur Center. After an exchange of business cards and one brief conversation, he hired me a month later to do some contract work for him.

And I’ve been working with him for several years now. I didn’t expect this to happen so quickly. It just did.


This same gentleman introduced me to a wonderful small group of local business owners at the same time he had introduced another woman to the same group.

For two and a half years I got to know these business owners in a very close-knit way, including the other woman introduced to the group. In that time we shared our celebrations and concerns on a weekly basis.

After getting to know each other for two and a half years on such a level, she also hired me to do some contract work for her business.

Again, I didn’t expect this to happen, but with time, it did.


The “Organic” Approach

In both situations, I never asked them if they had a job for me.

Instead, after taking the time to establish a rapport with them, they approached me with the opportunity to work with them.

I never entered either relationship with the expectation of getting something from them.

This is what I call the “organic approach” to networking.

Anything that’s forced feels creepy!

In fact, one time there was a guy who was starting his own business doing similar work to my own. He called me to introduce himself to me and actually said,

“I’m calling to network with you.”

Eeww! That was an immediate turn-off and I chose not to engage in his approach.


The best approach to realistic networking is an organic one. It looks like this:

  • Be genuinely curious about other people. Ask them about their own career path and passions (without using the phrase “Can I pick your brain?“).
  • Listen to what they say! Don’t be the one dominating the conversation.
  • Share with them things they’ll find helpful or interesting based on what they’ve told you about themselves.
  • Lower your expectations of what they can do for you and raise your standards of how you can benefit them.

Start now. And be realistic!


You Don’t Have To Be a Slave To a Paycheck

You may remember reading about my client Robert in my post entitled “How to Know If You’re In the Wrong Job”. Robert is the one who has talents and passions in both illustration and foreign languages.

But instead he had a job he dreaded going to every day.

When you first heard about Robert, he was just starting to turn his passion for illustration into a side hustle with the hopes of eventually leaving his job pursuing it full-time.

Over the weekend I received this update from Robert. It truly is inspiring, and can show how applying paNASH’s coaching techniques can be life-changing!


A Drastic Career Change

Hi Lori,

I hope things have been going well for you. I’ve finally had some drastic changes in my career take place recently I wanted to update you on.

A couple of years ago I found out there was an instructor at Lipscomb University who used to be one of the top tier animators for Disney feature films for 15 years. He animated moves like The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.

Once he left Disney, he moved here to the Nashville area. Then, Lipscomb University recruited him to teach and develop an animation program.

I had heard about him and for a long time I’d always wanted to get in touch with him. He’s a real celebrity in the animation world and has numerous connections in the industry.

I thought it would be so cool to connect with a guy like him and to learn from him. It had been bugging me for two years that a resource like him lived just 20 miles away and I’d done nothing to try to make that connection.

So, in March, I finally got up the nerve to reach out to him.

I sent him an email explaining my passion for character design and told him how I’m trying to transition into the industry. I asked him if he was open for a discussion and he agreed to meet with me.

It turns out he’s a very kind, generous person willing to help aspiring artists as best he can.

I asked him if it would be possible to audit just one of his classes at Lipscomb. He said yes and after coordinating it with Lipscomb’s admission’s office, I registered for his character design class that would begin in August.

The Inevitable Obstacle

I was so excited!

However, there was one huge problem.

The class was held mid-day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This of course conflicted with my work hours at my job in Hendersonville.

I would have to be away from the office a few hours three days a week, just to take a class that has nothing to do with my job. I knew my company would never approve such a request for that much time away from the office.

So, my wife and I started praying about what to do.

Having a mentor is absolutely essential for an artist to fully reach his potential. I’d already been praying for two years for such a mentor who could help me grow as an artist.

It looked like God was providing an answer and an opportunity for me to learn from the best of the best, but there was the obstacle of my job. Lots of prayer and discernment ensued.

A Fork in the Road

By July God was still putting it on my heart to not let this opportunity slip by.

At this point I decided to sit down with my boss and explain my situation to see if there was anything that could be worked out with my company.

My boss is a very understanding guy and he knows art is my passion, so I knew he would get how big of an opportunity this was for me.

I asked him about the possibility of working remotely on the days I had class. I’d read the book The 4-Hour Workweek you suggested to me when I was asking you about how to pitch working remotely to my company, so I was using what I learned because it was my only chance of keeping my job and taking the class.

When I pitched my idea to my boss, he was supportive, but HR was not.

This didn’t surprise me.

It seemed clear at this point I wouldn’t be able to keep my job and take the class. I was at a fork in the road. I was going to have to choose between my job and my dream.

And I was going to have to make a decision soon because the class was starting in a few weeks.

A Paycheck Isn’t Worth the Unhappiness

My wife and I continued to pray and we talked about it until we were blue in the face.

Through all this prayer and discernment, I realized the only thing keeping me at my job was money. Everything else about my job was not worth staying on for.

I realized it was a dead-end job because if I stayed, I’d be stuck doing the exact same thing ten years from now.

Literally I was showing up every day just for a paycheck.

The most interesting thing I realized though was the paycheck wasn’t as important as I originally thought.

Yes, everyone needs money. But being constantly unhappy was not worth the money.

My wife and I discussed our finances and figured out with her income and our combined savings, we’d be fine for at least a year. She gave me her blessing and support.

She’s the most loving and supportive woman I could’ve possibly found in this world. She told me if God was calling me to pursue my talent in art and we had enough money to make due, to go ahead and leave my job for my passion.

So I gave my boss two weeks notice.

My last day of work was August 17th and my first day of class was August 20th.

It’s a Faith Journey

Now, I’m free of my soul-sucking job and I’m finally getting to do what I’ve been dreaming of for years! (In fact, I’m writing this email from a computer on Lipscomb’s campus!)

My plan is to spend the semester taking the class and practice my skills to get them to a professional level while also building my relationship with the instructor.

Then, when the semester ends in December, I’ll assess my next steps.

The instructor is known for helping connect his students with other people in the industry. I’m hoping he’ll do the same for me even though I’m only auditing his class.

Since starting the class a few weeks ago, I’ve been making the experience my new full-time job.

I arrive on campus every morning at 7:00am, whether I have class that day or not, and I stay until 4:00pm. I spend my time honing my craft, taking the class, networking with other artists, and building a professional relationship with my instructor.

It’s been great but it’s also been a challenge spiritually and emotionally.

The devil is trying to break me down every day by telling me I’m wasting my time, I’m a selfish, irresponsible husband and it’s ridiculous for me to chase my passion while my wife works.

I expected this to happen because I knew the devil would do this.

And most days it’s hard not to let it get to me. But that’s what comes with the territory of a faith journey.

And this is definitely a faith journey.

No Longer a Slave to a Paycheck

Now that I’ve settled into my new schedule, I’m going to start advertising around campus my Spanish tutoring skills. I think it would be a confidence boost to earn at least a little money while also helping others.

I find I work best when I move between two different things rather than focusing on just one thing.

This will allow me to make my own schedule and charge what I’m worth instead of working part-time waiting tables.

I’m also going to start using the Passion Planner you gave me at paNASH’s client mixer to better structure my day and maximize my time.

For so long my job was holding me back and I was just a slave to a paycheck.

Now I’m finally doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m not doing it full-time YET, but I am still receiving commissions for my artwork as a side hustle which is helping fund my dream while I learn from the best.

Thank You!

I write all this to say your help is partly what enabled me to arrive at this major career decision to pursue my passion.

The skills you’ve taught me, the encouragement you’ve given me, and the resources you’ve connected me with have all played a huge role in getting me to this point.

And you don’t know this, but your blog posts have really been an inspiration to me as well.

Specifically, the one entitled “When Is the Right Time to Leave Your Job?” was published the exact same day I had to make my final decision about quitting my job, and it helped me know for sure I was doing the right thing.

And the one you wrote the following week about the ropes course also reassured me I’d done the right thing.

Those two posts were divinely orchestrated at just the right time for me.

I really wanted to thank you for the help you’ve given me and especially for being available on occasion even after our coaching sessions were over.

I wanted to share all this with you so you could see the fruit of your diligent work with me.

Thank you!

Robert

Robert’s Art

Reading Robert’s email made my whole week!

He’s such a talented and gifted artist, and I believe in him so much last fall I commissioned him to do a drawing of me as my childhood hero, Wonder Woman. (I’d always wanted to be Wonder Woman when I grew up!).

paycheck

Illustration by Robert Hughes

And he’s also taking commissions from anyone else who’d like something similar.

In fact, he’s currently taking pre-orders for personalized holiday cards in which he’ll do cartoon characterizations of your family members! (See samples below.)

To submit your own pre-order, email Robert at rchughes2@gmail.com.

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Illustrations by Robert Hughes

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Why “Can I Pick Your Brain?” Is the Wrong Approach

I was sitting at my desk in my office when the email showed up in my inbox. It was another request for an informational interview. (If you don’t know what an informational interview is, Google it.)

But this request was different from all the others. It wasn’t the usual lame offer to treat me to lunch or coffee.

As much as I really want to accommodate each request since I’m such a big believer in informational interviewing, I can’t say yes to every request. I don’t always have the time to take away from my clients to drive out in Nashville traffic for a meeting and drive back.

So what was different about the request that caught my eye?

This person offered to BRING ME my favorite hot beverage. It was evident she wasn’t just thinking about herself and what she wanted. Instead, she was taking my time into consideration (along with my hot beverage preference).

She showed up at my office with a hot green tea. I loved that she actually asked me what I like instead of assuming I’m a coffee drinker, because I’m not.

I also loved that she didn’t ask the question, “Can I pick your brain?” Why? Because when I worked in the music industry I quickly learned anytime someone asked me that question it was code for, “Can I have some free advice?”

“Can I pick your brain?” always puts me on guard.

I went on to have a great meeting with this bright and considerate young woman. A month later I hired her as my assistant.

This exchange occurred several years ago, but I tell this story all the time to my clients so they understand the importance of practicing proper etiquette when asking for an informational interview.

(Want to learn proper networking etiquette? Check out my on-demand program The Secret To Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively.)

A better approach

If you’ve inadvertently made the gaff of asking, “Can I pick your brain?” don’t worry. There are several ways to correct your approach.

And if you’re someone who gets the “Can I pick your brain?” question frequently, there are several ways you can respond appropriately, especially if you have to say, “no.”

It’s all listed below in an article written by Darrah Brustein, author, speaker, and consultant (originally published at www.forbes.com). Darrah was nice enough to allow me to re-publish her article here on the paNASH blog.

It’s a must-read for anyone who’s trying to expand their network (which should be everyone!). Enjoy!

14 Ways To Ask And Respond To The Question: Can I Pick Your Brain?

by Darrah Brustein

I’ll share with you here a number of ways you can respond, some which might even turn into a way to get paid for your knowledge.

These tips also translate if you’re hoping to get advice from someone with more expertise in a particular area.

We all have things to offer that are valuable to others and will help them on their path. Sometimes we charge for those; other times, we don’t. Undoubtedly, sharing knowledge is important.

But we get to choose to whom, what, where, when, and how we offer this advice and counsel.

It feels great to be the one who gives this help. It’s nice to share what we know. It’s even touching to reflect back on the times when we needed help and others offered.

But don’t use that against someone to force them into spending time with you. And don’t let that guilt you into having to say yes to everyone either.

Because we each have a finite amount of time and our own priorities, here are some important things to consider when you want to ask someone for help in this way:

1. Be considerate of someone’s time and intellectual property.

Sometimes that means being willing to offer payment or a value exchange. Would you go into a store, grab some merchandise, and walk out? Hopefully not, because that’s theft. So why do we expect people to offer their intellectual property so easily without expectation of payment or value exchange?

2. Consider the depth of your relationship to the ‘brain.’

It’s most likely that someone with whom you have a real relationship will want to help. But when can you consider a relationship to be established? If you’ve emailed several times or exchanged Facebook messages, does that count? What about when you’ve met once? When do you go from stranger to someone for whom I will make time? There isn’t a clear-cut answer as it’s subjective and personal. However, if you feel it’s a grey area, err on the side of caution, if simply for the sake of being polite. If you don’t have a pre-existing relationship, try to get introduced by a trusted mutual contact. The recipient will be much more likely to carve out time for you because of the carryover of trust they have from the connector.

3. Do your homework.

If it’s not possible to be introduced or to ask someone with whom you have an existing rapport, then it’s imperative that you demonstrate in your first contact that you did your homework. Why should that person take the time to help you if you didn’t take the time to extract as much learning as you can about the subject online beforehand, both in general and specifically from any content they already have shared.

Here’s a quick story of hope to insert at this point: one of my business idols is Julie Aigner-Clark, the creator and founder of Baby Einstein. When I published my book on financial literacy for kids, connecting with Julie to understand her journey in the space was of utmost importance to me. I knew no one in common with her, so I spent hours watching videos, reading interviews, and consuming everything I could learn that was already out on the internet about her. Then I wrote a thoughtful, complimentary and concise email via her contact form. I made it clear that I had done my homework, how much I respected her work, why I was reaching out and what my hopes were for spending some time on a call with her if she’d be open to it.

Much to my surprise, less than 24 hours later, I got an email from her welcoming a conversation. She was flattered by my depth of knowledge about her work, and that ingratiated me to her. Shortly after, we spoke for an hour, then several times after that. And I was careful to ask only questions of her whose answers I could not find online.

4. Don’t be insulting by presuming that coffee or lunch is a good exchange.

I didn’t ask her for time in person, and here’s why. When you add up the amount of time it would take for someone to commute to and from a given location and share their ideas and expertise with you, rarely will they consider your offer to pay for coffee or lunch a reasonable one. It can come off as insulting, and will quickly close a door to that interaction.

5. Intend to pay or offer value in some way.

If you’re not willing to pay for someone’s time, or offer value in some way before you want to take it, consider if there’s another way to obtain the information you’re seeking. If you can’t afford to pay, be upfront about your desire to give before you take, and suggest a way you could be helpful without paying.

6. Beware of sounding presumptuous.

Don’t craft your message as though their saying yes is a foregone conclusion. Saying something like, “When would be a good time for us to connect for coffee?” in your first correspondence is presumptuous and not respectful.

Now that we’re clear on how to ask someone for their time and advice properly, let’s consider how to reply to these types of requests.

7. It’s okay to say no.

Here’s a piece I wrote about saying no. It’s a helpful starting point for any time you want to decline an offer respectfully.

8. Make email templates.

Consider making email templates for these requests, using a tool like MixMax to auto-insert them into your emails. Ignoring them often leaves me feeling guilty, so this is a great way to reply respectfully without taking too much time.

9. Create a buffer and save time with a virtual assistant.

If you need to put a barrier between you and the asker, or if you get too many requests to handle by yourself, get an inexpensive virtual assistant to intercede. It can be a lot easier for this person to say no, to offer a resource you’ve already produced, or to share your consulting rate.

Or, before handing it off, you can reply by introducing the asker to your assistant. He or she can get a specific agenda or purpose out of them and offer 15 minutes to see if they might translate into a client.

10. Offer pro bono work.

You may want to offer some pro bono consulting. If so, determine what your own boundaries are for this.

For whom will you always make time? For whom not? Allow for some flexibility. Sometimes, you’ll surprise yourself with the ones to which you’ll say yes, because the asker was sincere, authentic and demonstrated that she did her homework, respected your time and was clear in her ask.

11. Refer the request to someone or something.

It’s always great to refer the requester to someone else who is a better fit, or to someone else’s relevant content.

Or, if you have content which you’ve already created on the subject, point them there.

If you get a lot of these requests asking the same thing, write a LinkedIn or Medium post to publish the common answer(s) and then direct people to that. It will also help to solidify your thought leadership in that area.

12. Get paid.

You can try to convert the asker into a client by saying, “I’m at capacity right now, so I’m not taking any meetings. As I’m sure you can appreciate, sometimes you have to put your head down and get work done 🙂 If you’re interested in becoming a client, I can send over info on that. If it’s simply a quick question you have, feel free to email it, and I can see about answering it by email.”

Or, “I’m happy to connect, and I charge $X/hour for consulting. Please let me know if you’d like to set up a time to do so.”

Or, “I’m not available for coffee, but you should really consider checking out my _____ (your product or service). I designed it to help people like you in this exact situation!”

You can also create an hourly or flat-rate consulting platform for these requests. Make the dollar amount worth your time, so if someone buys it, you’re happy to do it.

13. Implement office hours.

If it’s best for you, create ‘office hours,’ which is a specific slot of time that you use for these conversations. It will keep you sane, as well as weed out people who aren’t open to work around your schedule when they’re asking to glean from you.

I’ve found that most of these requests disappear when I offer one specific time frame that’s convenient for me, offer to do it for an exchange of payment, or ask for them to be more clear about their question(s) before we hop on a call.

14. Make it personal.

Sometimes someone reaches out it in a manner that is complimentary, but it sounds like a social call, and doesn’t specify that they want to ‘pick your brain’. However, you know that’s what they want. Reply by saying, “I’ve made a personal rule not to take any meetings when I haven’t made time to spend with my best friend recently (and she and I haven’t connected in ages due to my schedule). I so appreciate your kind words, and hope you understand why I need to pass.”

Ultimately, respect your time and put a value on it. Don’t be afraid to ask for payment, to say no, or to respect your own boundaries. And if you’re in the market to ‘pick someone’s brain,’ put yourself in her shoes to position yourself for success.

Thank you again to Darrah for allowing me to re-post this article!

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