Put Your Career on the Fast Track

Put Your Career on the Fast Track

Are you clear about what you really want to do? Life is too short to spend most of your waking hours doing something that doesn’t really matter to you.

Article Author:
Gail R. Meneley, Partner, Shields Meneley

As an executive transition coach, I’m often asked how people should plan their career. It’s an interesting question since every case is different. For example, have you been in your job for three or more years and are ready for a change? Were you just been passed over for a promotion? Do you have a new boss who is giving you mixed signals? Did a search firm reach out and stir up your curiosity about what else might be out there? Did your company just merge creating competition for all existing roles? Are you clear about what you really want to do?

I believe the last question is the most important. If you have been in a role that no longer inspires you, and you don’t make a change, you have a long, boring career ahead of you. Life is too short to spend most of your waking hours doing something that doesn’t really matter to you.

5 Critical Steps

  1. Take time to complete executive assessments to learn more about yourself. Assessments can help you identify what you are good at, what challenges you, what work brings you the most satisfaction, and what culture aligns with your values. If your feedback report indicates a need for you to develop new skills or competencies, enroll in some courses so you become a more qualified and credible candidate. You will never make a better investment in yourself and in your career.
  2. Invest in a professional writer to add appropriate weight and sizzle to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Share your new resume with your boss and with HR so they better understand what new skills you have developed and results you have achieved for the company. They will see you in a new light and perhaps put your hat in the ring for roles you might be interested in. Additionally, you will have an up-to-date resume to share with others who inquire. Review it quarterly and add additional business results.
  3. Reach out to schedule a time to sit down with your boss to talk about your future. Make it clear that this is a career discussion, not a threat to leave the company. This will ensure the conversation is focused on what you are doing now and what you would like to do. Bring your new resume to the meeting so he or she will understand exactly what roles you would like to have and why you should be considered for certain positions.
  4. Remember that networking is important throughout your career. If you have a contact database, update the information and sort it into personal and professional contacts. Then indicate who you believe the real connectors are. Establish a regular contact schedule with them by sending a note as simple as: “Hello, ____ I hope you are well. It has been too long since we have connected and I miss seeing you. Can I buy you a cup of coffee or lunch to catch up in the next few weeks (of course, this is dependent on when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted)? I’m doing well as (role) at (company) and have enclosed my updated resume. I look forward to hearing from you.”
  5. Keep your eye on your professional goal. If you want to be the chief executive officer of a company, build a plan that connects the dots as you move up the ladder. (Remember that at every step you have to excel in the current role!) Here’s an example: If you are a marketing manager today, the likely next step will be in marketing, but it could go one of several ways. You might focus on a more technical marketing role such as digital marketing, from there to a director of marketing role and then chief marketing officer. Where do you go from there? Most companies have created a succession plan of sorts. The company might want to move you into a senior role in strategy or operations to round out your background and position you for a shot at being CEO.

So there you are: a primer on career planning that should serve you well. Now’s the time to make it happen!

Gail R. Meneley is a partner at Shields Meneley. Hundreds of high-profile executives in America have chosen her as their adviser and coach to advance their work and careers. They rely on her “straight talk” to help them think through their most important leadership and career decisions. As a result, their personal and organizational goals are reached sooner and with greater impact. Meneley’s clients include Allstate, Johnson & Johnson, Heller Financial, American Red Cross, McDonald’s, Baxter, Fort James, Bristol Meyers, Fleming, Galileo, Anthem Health, GE, Motorola, Quaker, CNA, R.R. Donnelley, Anheuser Busch, and Sears. As a leadership peer, Meneley has extensive P&L, strategy development, and management experience within professional services, financial services, and nonprofit sectors. She was president, CEO, and a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Institute of Financial Education, a national financial services training organization. She also has served on the boards of public and not-for-profit corporations, including the United States League Management Services, a subsidiary of the United States League of Savings Institutions in Washington, D.C.

Link(s) to Article:
https://trainingmag.com/put-your-career-fast-track

Your personal brand…a window into the future

Your personal brand…a window into the future

As an executive coach, I am often tasked with assisting clients wind their way through the ups and downs of their careers and lives. By the time I meet with these high-performing people, they are usually unsure of where they are headed and what their next and next, next steps should be. Up to that point, they had it all figured out, but something, either externally or internally, triggers the existential questions of “what am I doing and where am I going?” To help guide my clients, I ask them to define their personal brands.

Start off by asking yourself “Who am I?” and let it flow. Just putting down words to describe what he or she stands for, delivers, and values is a wonderful starting point from which to kick off the process of determining what to do next.

The next step is to reach out to around eight people from your network you trust. Consider them your virtual board of advisors. Show each person your list of words and phrases you think provide a full picture of who you are and your brand. Have a conversation with each person individually and ask what they think should be added, removed, and refined. You want to know what they think of what you wrote.

You will wind up with a page that has a bunch of words on it and then it is up to you to pick those that resonate strongest with you. Reshape these phrases and thoughts into succinct sentences that paint the right picture of who you are and what you are about. Do not write anything too extensive because we want these ideas to be digestible. I caution clients to write just enough to fit on a regular post-it note. It can also provide input into the very important couple of lines under your name in your LinkedIn profile. That small piece of very valuable real estate should depict who you are, not where you are at the moment. ‘Who you are’ is not a job title and company name!

One of the beautiful outcomes of figuring out your brand is this can work as a filter toward informing the direction toward which you would like to take your career and life. I can use my personal example where I’m helping others succeed. I’ve always enjoyed helping people with their career journey and while it might have been more obvious for me to take another corporate role, the fact is my personal brand led me to a position as a career coach. The other part of that was that as I figured out my personal brand I realized that I wanted to also be a business owner.

At first blush, I would never have thought that was what I wanted, but the more I refined my branding the more I revealed to myself that is exactly what I wanted to do. Today, in addition to being an equity partner at Shields Meneley Partners, I am a proud owner of The Sierra Institute, an invitation-only community of senior human resources leaders committed to the advancement of our profession. I could not be happier and more fulfilled in my career and personally doing both.

Figuring out your brand is not complicated at all; it just takes a bit of time. The key is to allow yourself the space to fully form your ideas. You will be glad you did when it is said and done.

Medicine and What Lies Ahead

by Gail R. Meneley, Co-Founder and Principal

I have worked with hundreds of C-Suite executives over the last 20 years. Before I agree to serve as their advisor, we talk about our relationship and how we will build it to last throughout their careers. (Without that mutual commitment grounded in trust and candor, having an advisor is a waste of time.)

If you are a follower of my occasional LinkedIn and blog posts, you know that I have the privilege of working with extraordinary people every single day. It is one of the many things that make my work so incredibly compelling.

I worked with Dr. James Madara when he was transitioning from CEO of the University of Chicago Medical Center to take a well-earned sabbatical and explore what he wanted to do next. After weighing offers from academic medical centers, private equity and venture capital firms, publishers, global consulting firms, among others – we concluded that his greatest contribution would be as CEO of the American Medical Association where he could participate in developing a strategy to begin to solve one of the country’s most critical political challenges: health care reform.

Jim is one of those people whose background makes you wonder why you bother to get out of bed in the morning. He is a genuinely nice guy, a noted academic pathologist, an authority on gastrointestinal diseases, an author of more than 200 original papers, Past President of the American Board of Pathology, an esteemed research scientist and an award-winning professor at Harvard Medical School. (Now you understand that why in my role, no one intimidates me.)

When I need intense brain stimulation, I have lunch with Jim. We catch up on family stuff and then I ask, “So…what’s going on?” and wait to hear vivid stories about the societal, academic, analytical, and political forces transforming the world of medicine. With that, let me give you a glimpse into just a couple of things that the world’s largest physician organization thinks about:

 

  • Focus must be shifted to prevention of chronic disease within communities at greatest risk.
  • Establishing metrics that tell us the real cost of healthcare is calculated based on a combination of year over year GDP growth, then the growth due to medical costs
  • Integrating data analytics from health care providers, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and others to enhance health care outcomes, drives down costs, and eliminates redundancies in the system.
  • Encouraging the aggregation of venture capital to fund university research centers where advances are being made in DNA and other genomic research that will lead to customized medicine
  • Optimizing products, services, and medical resources. Patients can visit their doctors without leaving their homes using technology like telemedicine and videoconferencing, to be replaced within our lifetimes by holograms.
  • At the core of the AMA’s work and mission is the physician-patient relationship, which becomes increasingly critical as our disease burden becomes less episodic and more chronic.
  • Recent AMA-RAND studies of physicians across multiple practice types, geographies, and specialties reveal that the primary incentive for physicians is face-to-face time with patients, and that excess administrative complexity and clumsy electronic health record platforms tie them to keyboards and keep them away from direct patient care.

 

Given the many needed “fixes” in the physician environment, the shift to focus on chronic disease, and other changes in the health system, the AMA launched an innovation ecosystem in January 2016 at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare meeting in San Francisco. Health 2047 is an independent, for-profit integrated innovation studio located in Silicon Valley that enables rapid prototyping design efforts to convert interesting ideas into investible concepts to improve the health of our nation. Health2047 integrates deep AMA expertise with many health micro-vertical domains with the creative technology-oriented Silicon Valley community.

So, rest easier knowing that we have some of the greatest minds in the country working on one of our most challenging issues.

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It: Meditate Your Way to a Job

Your past job may have been stressful, but you probably find that you are still stressed out as you search for a new job. Stress can cause a variety of health problems like high blood pressure, but it can also raise your cholesterol according to this article from the Wall Street Journal. Mindfulness, an intentional focus on the present, has been receiving increasing attention during the last few years as a way to escape the stresses of everyday life. Research is showing that daily meditative practice or just a few minutes a day of “no thinking” and observing your breathing can literally positively change brain structure. Like physical exercise, it is no quick fix to help calm you down when going through a job search, but it is a great time to begin the practice. You have more unstructured time than when you are in a demanding full-time job, so try to use this time to learn and incorporate this healthy behavior into your life. If you start now, you may have developed a habit before you are back in the workforce.

Your new company may encourage you to keep up the newly-formed habit. Many companies are beginning to incorporate meditation into their work spaces. Chicago advertising technology company Centro hosts twice-weekly meditation sessions for their employees. Steve Jobs, a longitme meditator, allowed his employees at Apple to take a 30-minute break daily to meditate at work in the office meditation room. Google, whose office complex has been the focus of news segments and articles, offers regular classes on meditation to their employees.

There are many approaches to mindfulness — for beginners I would recommend reading any of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s books on mindfulness. For example, Wherever You Go, There You Are is a good start. In addition, check out YouTube for the many videos that have been uploaded regarding his presentations or mindfulness sessions. This video from a Google presentation will help introduce you to his thinking.

I guarantee that spending time every day on mindfulness practice will be worth it. It will help you calm your nervousness before an interview or reduce the negative thinking that can occur when your job search is not going as fast you would like.

Using Mindfulness During a Job Search

Mindfulness, an intentional focus on the present, has been receiving increasing attention during the last few years. Research is showing that daily meditative practice or just a few minutes a day of “no thinking” and observing your breathing can literally positively change brain structure. Like physical exercise, it is no quick fix to help calm you down when going through a job search, but it is a great time to begin the practice. You have more unstructured time than when you are in a demanding full-time job, so try to use this time to learn and incorporate this healthy behavior into your life. If you start now, you may have developed a habit before you are back in the workforce.

There are many approaches to mindfulness — for beginners I would recommend reading any of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s books on mindfulness. For example, Wherever You Go, There You Are is a good start. In addition, check out You Tube for the many videos that have been uploaded regarding his presentations or mindfulness sessions. This video from a Google presentation will help introduce you to his thinking.

I guarantee that spending time every day on mindfulness practice will be worth it. It will help you calm your nervousness before an interview or reduce the negative thinking that can occur when your job search is not going as fast you would like.