Archive for the ‘Self-Marketing’ Category

  • The Power of Knowing How to Ask the Right Questions

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    Author and teacher, Angela Maiers, is a passionate advocate of life-long learning, and this lesson she shared with a group of first graders is just as valuable for us with 50+ more years down the road. Angela and the first graders talked about power of curiosity, and more specifically the power we hold as learners when we know how to ask the right question.

    She says, “Being in charge of the questions we ask matters. Successful thinking and learning require questions to be framed in a wide variety of ways. The ‘framing’ of our questions dramatically influences what we can and are able to understand. Just teaching students to question is not enough. It is critical to explore where different questions take us as learners.”

    We have become skilled at answering questions. Think about the experience you have in test prep. Think about all your interview prep sessions. How many sites do you Google for sample questions before an interview, to minimize any surprise questions? That’s a great way for the interviewer to learn about you, but what have you learned in the process?

    I remember telling my own children, when they were stressing over the questions a college admissions’ officer would ask them, that it was even more important for them to ask questions about the college – courses, professors, culture etc.  Gradually, they understood that they were signing up for four years of living and learning – at an, even then, pretty steep cost – and it would behoove them to ask a few questions. They had a moment of enlightenment as they realized they, too, had something special to offer, and their questions about the institution where they wanted to invest their hearts, minds, time, and money also let the interviewer see and understand the assets they were bringing to the table.

    The same experience applies to you, whether you are interviewing for a job or for a loan to start your own business. Let your interviewer know the assets you bring and ask the questions that will prompt them to sell that job or loan to you.

    Maiers says, “It is important for us to know how the types of questions we ask impact and influence the answers we are capable of getting.”

    Different kinds of questions she describes are:

    ·  Clarifying Questions

    ·  Sorting and Sifting Out Questions

    ·  Strategic Questions

    ·  Planning Questions

    ·  Elaboration Questions

    ·  Comparing Questions

     

    Blogger Jesse Stanchak offers more insights as he writes, “Questions are easily the best tools you have at your disposal for priming the pump of creativity.”

    Specific cues he offers to stimulate questions are:

    • Take a cue from the Jewish Seder. A traditional Passover Seder involves the ritual asking of questions, the most famous of which is, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” That question is at the heart of all story telling…
    • Take a cue from Reddit… Two of their best-loved boards are Ask Me Anything and Explain Like I’m Five
    • Take a cue from the reporter of your dreams… Sit down and interview yourself. Ask yourself all the questions you wish real reporters would take the time to consider…
    • Take a cue from your readers. What are your fans always asking you?…

     

    Once you have some answers, test them by taking a few steps forward. You may have to back-up and try again, but first, ask yourself why these initial steps did or did not work? The answers will put you in an even stronger position to take those next steps.

    Just Start Asking!

  • Your Professional Emoticon

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    Happy Birthday Emoticons!  A picture is worth a thousand words and you’ve been telling stories for 30+ years.

    The father of Emoticons — or emotional icons — was Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In 1982, he proposed that the following character sequence be used as a joke marker:   : – )

    These characters were quickly added to the lexicon.

    The emotional characters spread like wildfire, capturing every conceivable expression with a keystroke or 2 or 3…

    Simple as they are, these pictures convey a lot (maybe not a 1000 words but a lot) about what you’re trying to say in your communiques.  In the same way, your photo on a site like LinkedIn is your professional emoticon, and it behooves you to think with care about what the photo you post conveys.

    First and foremost, “professional” is the key word here. Whether you’re looking for a job or connecting with professional colleagues, you can be sure that your photo will be seen. The question is “how” will it be seen.

    Save the cute puppies, your precocious toddlers, wild dancing, and fashion bling shots for the family album – hopefully tucked safely away in some trunk in the attic. Remember, there is no such thing as privacy online. Your photo is part of your brand, and unfortunately, a goofy picture may turn the people you hope to reach off before they ever get to the brilliant words with which you have crafted your professional acumen.

    For some valuable, practical advice, check out this article, 11 Tips for Choosing Your LinkedIn Photo, by Norine Dagliano at CareerRealism.com.

    1. Don’t use an old photo. There are few things worse than meeting someone for the first time and not recognizing them because the profile photo is from 10 years ago (or longer)!
    2. Use a photo of YOU in your profile — not an object.
    3. Smile! Your face should radiate warmth and approachability.
    4. Photos should be professionally done, if possible (but not glamour shots).
    5. Wear your most complementary color. Bright colors can attract attention, but avoid patterns.
    6. Don’t have other people in your photos (and don’t crop other people out of your shot — there should not be any errant body parts in your online photo!).
    7. Make sure the background in the photo isn’t distracting.
    8. Relax. Look directly at the camera.
    9. Take multiple shots and ask people for their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.”
    10. Tips for Men: Wear a dark blue or black dress shirt. No t-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, or busy/crazy patterns.
    11. Tips for Women: Wear something you feel comfortable in. No t-shirts or big/busy patterns. Soft, dark v-necks look great. Black always works; avoid white.

     

    You don’t need to hire a professional photographer. Find a friend who’s good with a camera, with whom you can relax and smile with confidence. You want to be accessible and engaging so those finding you online will be eager to hear what you have to say.

    Emote yourself!

  • If Only Employers Could Think Like These Casting Directors

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    This Fast Company article, 6 Tips For Hiring Star Talent From A Top Hollywood Casting Director, by Mina Hochberg describes how the particular genius of casting directors is showcased in “Casting By,” a documentary which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Wisdom from that film and from top casting director Ellen Chenoweth,” Hochberg says, “shows you what Hollywood casting can teach you about finding, interviewing, and hiring your next star.”

    When Hochberg writes, “A film’s success depends on perfect casting just as much as a company’s success depends on hiring the right talent,” I thought these six tips should be posted in every HR office.

    1. Don’t wait for candidates to come to you.
    2. Don’t always go with the most obvious candidate.
    3. Don’t dismiss a promising candidate based on a bad interview.
    4. Fight for your first choice.
    5. If possible, take your time.
    6. Look for strengths that the candidate might not even be aware of.

    See the film if you can, but, until you can get to a screening, read this article, try to put yourself in the casting/hiring director’s shoes and imagine what he or she is looking for in a star and make it happen!

  • How to Master the “Twittersphere” Tweet by Tweet

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    It’s time to put that old saw that older entrepreneurs are at a competitive disadvantage in a world of social media and digital communication to bed. It’s time to create your strategic position in the social media marketplace. You don’t need to tackle every platform at once. You can Tweet your way in by testing your social media mettle with those pithy 140 character manifestos.

    Twitter offers a unique opportunity to:

    1.  Promote your brand and your expertise in bite-sized nuggets.

    2.  Listen to your customers.

    3.  Identify trends and position your business accordingly.

    4.  Become an area issue expert – a thought leader – and connect with a highly targeted group that is directly relevant to your interests.

    The beauty of Twitter is that you’re not just telling the world you are an expert. By tweeting information in an authentic and transparent manner, people will take note and begin to follow you. Twitter is good about alerting you as to who is on your trail.  Even more, Twitter lets you review your “follower’s” profile. Then you can decide if you want to be followed by that individual. If not, you can block them or, if you think you’re being spammed, alert Twitter and the powers behind the Tweets will investigate.

    And don’t forget to re-tweet. What you choose to re-tweet indicates what you find interesting or provocative and becomes part of your brand. Plus, it signifies that you are aware that you do not know everything and are open to learning more. Other Tweeters like to be recognized for their expertise, and the more you share the more people will be willing to share with you.

    Now that you’ve tested your Tweets, check out this array of free online tutorials – 101 Basics for other social media channels.  Another nugget is Social Media in Plain English from Common Craft. They pack a lot of easy-to-understand information in this two-minute segment.

    These online resources present a great opportunity to learn at your own pace and test one platform – Blogs, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube – at a time. You may like one or you may like them all. If you use more than one, be sure to link them to one another (ie. connect your Blog to your Twitter account) to enhance your brand and maximize your visibility.

    Five key steps to your social media marketing success:

    1.  Identify your audience.

    2.  Know what you want to say and, of course, have something to say that will be of interest or value to your audience.

    3.  Determine how you want to convey your message (humor, info, facts, data, personal experience, aggregated wisdom) and then assess which platform (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc) will work most effectively for you. Don’t jump in with both feet. Dip a toe in to test the water and make sure you can wriggle all ten comfortably before you dive in to another platform.

    4.  Always remember that, like a traditional on-the-ground network, your virtual network needs nurturing and on-going maintenance. Keep it fresh and up-to-date. If you limit your postings to once a year or even once a month, it connotes a certain lack of interest and commitment or, even worse, that you really don’t know what you are doing!

    5.  Be prepared to let go. Once you post what you consider a wise or erudite tidbit, be open to feedback – both positive and negative. That interchange or exchange of information and insights is the real value added – the way we learn.

     

     

  • Take Back the Glory of “Senior”

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    Every time I use the word “senior” to describe our generation, people flinch or cringe. “How did this happen?” I asked a colleague last week.  When we were seniors in high school we felt like kings and queens of the mountain. A senior in college was even better. We were the class imbued with all the wisdom those hallowed halls could offer before stepping into the “real aka business world.” Once installed in the business world, we could not wait to achieve senior status: be it Senior Editor, Senior Manager, Senior Partner – Senior whatever. Senior was the epitome of excellence and achievement. Then, when we hit age 50, to be called a senior was a kiss of death. You were now over-the-hill, redundant or worst of all invisible.

    Seniors tried to counter the negative stereotype with adjectives such as “Older Adult.” Talk about redundant; it’s like saying a child is a little toddler. Then, people seized on the word Boomer as a less vapid alternative to Older Adult. Talk about pathetic. Boomer sounds more like a slightly deranged character in the 1994 American epic movie, Forrest Gump, than a revered and respected senior citizen.

    I remember being struck by a comment the late Betty Freidan made to an audience of hundreds at an NBA (National Booksellers Association) meeting. She said, “All of the prejudice I have encountered in Feminism pales – absolutely pales – in comparison to what I have experienced in Ageism.” That was back in the early 1990’s, and we certainly have not made much progress in the ensuing 20+ years.

    Let’s look at a little aging reality here. Superman’s first appearance was in Action Comics #1, in 1938. Wonder Woman was introduced  in All Star Comics #8 in 1941.  No spring chickens, these two are still super acting 74 and 71 respective years later.

    I know these riveting details, because I read the recent Wall Street Journal article,  A Haven for Aged Super Heroes. The article was about Metropolis Collectibles Inc., a firm in New York City, which buys and sells vintage comics. Especially noteworthy, is the fact that Metropolis recently sold the aforementioned 1938 Action Comics #1, which debuted Superman, for $2.2 million. Talk about the value of an “Aging Superhero!”

    A month after reading the “Aging Super Heroes” WSJ piece, the New York Times published History Hits the Campaign Trail. Their article describes how, in this miasma (my word) of political campaigning, Obama and Romney continue to “invoke the opinions of long-dead white males in powdered wigs.” The article notes, “While it’s been a long time since any of the founding fathers made a personal appearance on the campaign trail, they continue speaking from beyond the grave through the mouths of present-day candidates, weighing in on matters as disparate — and perhaps unimaginable to them in life — as health care reform, gay marriage and abortion rights.” It seems highly ironic in these times of rampant ageism, that politicians fighting for their political lives need the wisdom of these aged statesmen to validate their positions.

    Last but far from least on the ludicrousness of ageism, I call your attention to a dazzling matter of “Advanced (as in age) Style.” We highlighted this book a few weeks ago, but I’ve just learned of a video – in which you can hear each of these fabulous fashionistas, Grande Dames [in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 100’s] describe how they feel the secret of life has nothing to do with age. It is, rather, all about the art of being oneself forever!

    I’m off to buy a new hat…

  • How to Frame Your Career So Your Resume Does Not Read Like an Obituary

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    Your resume is your story. To bring it to life you must maximize your focus, relevancy, particularity – and, as always, your authenticity. Keep in mind Ernest Hemingway’s wisdom: “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”

    I’ve recently read three unique pieces with key insights for this task.

    The first is NY Times‘ columnist, David Brooks’, The Power of the Particular.” Brooks describes a Bruce Springtseen concert he attended in Spain,

    “The oddest moment came mid-concert when I looked across the football stadium and saw 56,000 enraptured Spaniards, pumping their fists in the air in fervent unison and bellowing at the top of their lungs, ‘I was born in the U.S.A.! I was born in the U.S.A.!'”

    “My best theory,” Brooks says, “is this: When we are children, we invent these detailed imaginary worlds that the child psychologists call ‘paracosms.’ These landscapes, sometimes complete with imaginary beasts, heroes and laws, help us orient ourselves in reality. They are structured mental communities that help us understand the wider world.”

    “We carry this need for paracosms into adulthood. It’s a paradox that the artists who have the widest global purchase are also the ones who have created the most local and distinctive story landscapes. Millions of people around the world are ferociously attached to Tupac Shakur’s version of Compton or J.K. Rowling’s version of a British boarding school or Downton Abbey’s or Brideshead Revisited’s version of an Edwardian estate… Millions of people know the contours of these remote landscapes, their typical characters, story lines, corruptions and challenges. If you build a passionate and highly localized moral landscape, people will come.”

    “It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.”

    ***************************************************************

    “Shall I compare thee to a newscast spot?”

    This workshop on how to create one minute radio spots by Phyllis Fletcher and Robert Smith from New Public Radio helps us fine tune other aspects of our storytelling to achieve high impact particularity. You can tell a lot about yourself over a great deal of time, but if you need to capture someone’s attention quickly, you need to capture what counts in a minute.

    Their tips to achieve compelling brevity are:

    • Focus on one subject [in this case it’s you].
    • Use vivid language and concrete examples.
    • And if you can get away with it, make sure there’s a turn in the piece. (Poets call it the volta, a little shift in tone. A question is answered. A problem is solved. Perfect for news [of what you can do as demonstrated by what you have done].

    Now we know that particularity and brevity are important, but they are meaningless without authenticity and relevance.

    ***************************************************************

    Martin Zwilling writes in Forbes about John B. Montgomery’s new book, “Great From the Start,” which highlights Mark Zawacki’s  five rules of relevancy.  Zawacki’s rules, while focused on business startups are equally apt for the startup of your new life:

    1. A startup needs to be relevant and stay relevant.
    2. A startup needs to find a voice relevant to its ecosystem.
    3. A startup must gain traction.
    4. A startup must form partnerships and alliances within its ecosystem. 
    5. A startup must maintain a laser focus.

     

    You’re not ready for a tombstone yet, so chuck that old resume and create a dynamic and vital new blueprint for the next stage of your life.

     

     

  • Advanced Style: A Sight for Sore Eyes

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    More than a sight, Ari Seth Cohen’s new book, Advanced Style, is a testament to the art of being oneself – forever!

    In his introduction, Cohen writes, “I have never considered ‘old’ a bad word. To be old is to be experienced, wise and advanced. The ladies [in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 100’s] I photograph challenge stereotypical views on age and aging. They are youthful in mind and spirit and express themselves through personal style and individual creativity. The soul of Advanced Style is not bound to age or even style, but rather to the celebration of life.”

    Ari Seth Cohen and Mimi Weddell

    In this blog we have often addressed originality and the important ways in which that originality or style is our unique brand and our selling point as we seek to remain active in the work force or re-invent ourselves. Most recently, we noted in our ode to Edith Piaf, No Regrets: Have the Courage to Live a Life True to Yourself.

    Creativity can and should be pro-active for, as George Eliot said,  “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

    The Grande Dames photographed by Cohen share their own nuggets of wisdom:

    “Elegance is refined with age.”

    “Style is above all, the right attitude.”

    “Fashion says ‘me too,’ while style says ‘only me.'”

    “If you try to imitate too much, you will look like nothing. Never compare, you are you!”

    “We must dress every day for the theatre of our lives.”

    In her forward to Advanced Style, Maira Kalman, a fashionista in her own right , as well as an illustrator, author, artist, and designer, says, “Ari Cohen has done something very important. He has looked at our grand population and singled out the people that, in a way, are most invisible and have the most to offer.”

    “We are lucky,” Kalman continues, “when any older person crosses our path. Our lives are enriched just by proximity. The wisdom. The spirit. The saying exactly what they think. The dispensing of advice. The courage. The humor. The crankiness. The kindness. Or the iconoclasm. All of these come from people who have lived a long life.”

    i have enough

    Ahhhh…. that “buy a hat” is also key for Mimi Weddell, one of Cohen’s many elegant ladies (pictured in the photo with Cohen, above), who said of her life, “I can’t imagine going without a hat. The only romantic thing left in life is a hat.”

    My grandmother always wore a hat and I adored her. My great Aunt Dell wore her hat at a saucy angle as she fearlessly maneuvered her ambulance across the battlefields of France in WW I. Here’s to all the Grand Dames in our lives!

     

     

  • How to Avoid the “Over-Qualified” Rejection Blues!

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    Courtesy, Artfulrabbit.com

    You spend your life trying to get experience – then suddenly have too much!

    Employers don’t care about past experience. CEOs care about business outcomes and profitability; they want to know what you can do for them now.

    You need to translate or reframe your experience to demonstrate how you can solve today’s business problems. And be passionate – it is key to your being hired over someone who has the skills or experience but could not care less.

    These are just a few of the points David DeLong discusses in this outstanding video produced by an equally outstanding project called Over50AndOutofWork. David DeLong is a research fellow at the MIT AgeLab, founder of David DeLong & Associates, author of Lost Knowledge:  Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce and co-author of the study Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?. DeLong provides very specific recommendations and strategies for older jobseekers to maximize the success of their job search – and the good news is that he is optimistic about the future for older workers.

    This is a 30-minute video – don’t miss a minute of DeLong’s valuable tips!

    YouTube Preview Image

     

  • The Power of “Power Posing”

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    Nicole Wallace writing for the Chronicle of Philanthropy described a rather unique presentation at the Pop Tech conference last fall.

    Wallace writes: “With strains of the ‘Wonder Woman’ theme song opening her talk, Amy J.C. Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, discussed her research on body language and how it can change the way people feel about their status—something that could come in handy for the people nonprofits train to get jobs, and many other purposes. She and a colleague found that holding ‘power poses’ —open, expansive body postures that convey confidence and power (imagine a corporate titan with his feet propped on a desk or an Olympic runner raising her arms in victory)—for as little as two minutes changes people’s levels of testosterone and cortisol (hormones associated with leadership), increases their appetite for risk and helps them cope with stressful situations.”

    Watch the video of Professor Cuddy’s conference presentation: The Power of “Power Posing”

    Do you need a power pose to ask the right questions and nail your next job interview? Or, imagine how a power pose might impact your presentation to a bank, micro-finance institution or venture capitalist to secure funding for launching your own business.

    The applications are unlimited. I remember, for example. when my son’s traditionally reticent, somewhat elderly, first grade teacher dressed as Wonder Woman and assumed that icon’s power pose on an float in our small town’s Independence Day parade. Parents lining the parade route were stunned and children were awestruck.  And I can say with confidence that woman never had a discipline problem in her classroom again.

    “Power Posing” could that be just another way of saying –  take charge of your life???

  • You and the Queen Have a Lot in Common!

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    Out on the road yesterday, with my car radio dial set as always to NPR, I happened to catch Diane Rehm interviewing Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen: The Life a Modern Monarch.

    I’m not much of a “Royals” devotée, but when I heard Diane Rehm announce, “Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will observe her diamond jubilee next month. It’s been sixty years since her father, George the Sixth, died. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary became head of the Commonwealth at age twenty-five. During her reign – the longest since Queen Victoria’s – she’s ushered the British monarchy into the modern age,” I was hooked and turned up the volume.

    I was particularly struck when they spoke of the value, as related to her 60 years of insights and information, of the Queen’s role today. “She is,” the author said, “a nonpolitical head of state who exists to unify the country. She’s had to handle crises within her family, her country, and the world. She’s very perceptive and knows every world leader – their strengths as well as their foibles. The Queen has traveled throughout the United Kingdom and based on her conversations with both ordinary and powerful people she has a great understanding of the human condition.”

    Sixty years of insights and information about the world and the human condition – isn’t that woven into the fabric of all of us 60-year-old’s? We may not have the same bling as the Queen but we do have the same time-tested experience to bring to the table. What a gift!

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