Work Life Balance Simplified To One Word



The only way to separate your personal from professional life is to define your boundaries.

Boundaries are hard to identify until someone crosses them.

The reason work-life feels like a blur is because you allow it.

As an employee it’s a constant tug-of-war with management. You have to draw a line between what they want and what they can legally expect of you.

If you’re an entrepreneur, no paycheck is guaranteed so you have to hustle more, but at what expense? Ask most business owners why they started their own company and most would answer with reasons other than money. But as your own boss, if you don’t draw the line, your boundaries will be abused.

Start defining what’s inside and outside of your boundaries. Stand up for what matters and what’s right.

In the end you have no one else to blame for work-life balance: except you.

How To Deal With A Micromanager

The dreaded micromanager.

We’ve all been under one, but the question is:

How do you deal with it?

Here are 3 ways to counter:

1) Results-focused – Micromanagers care about one thing: getting s**t done. That means “bulldozing” people in order to achieve more. Typically naive to people’s emotions, if under their leadership don’t take things personal. Micromanagers don’t have enough EQ to see the trail of blood left in their path. The way you feel after an encounter with them is how most people will describe an interaction. Focus on surpassing their lofty expectations by doing work. Accomplish that and you’ve earned favor.

2) Mirror – In most cases what you can dish is what you can take. This doesn’t mean treat your boss the same way he/she treats you, but be aware of their preferred style. They model what they expect to see in you. Ultimately you don’t have to copy them as long as you get #1 right (see above). Micromanagers view people as obstacles in their way. Don’t expect praise. No feedback is good feedback in their book.

3) Counterbalance – The first two points explain the makeup of a micromanager, but what you really need to know is how to compliment them. What you do different can make you stand out. For example, if your soft skills are strong you might be asked to put out fires. Micromanagers won’t admit their weaknesses out loud, but they’re aware of them. Position yourself as an ally to their cause and you automatically level up. Strategy is key here.

Micromanagers won’t change so you have to adjust your ways. Control issues stem from a sense of insecurity which means you must be grounded to combat them. No one likes to be micromanaged, but if you learn how to deal with them work can become much more tolerable.

What Networking Is And What It Isn’t


When I started my business almost 10 years ago I thought networking was something I had to do…so I did.

After joining my local Chamber of Commerce, attending two events feeling exhausted and unproductive I quit.

If this was what networking was, I didn’t want any part of it.

It wasn’t until 5 years ago I decided to create my own network event and quickly I learned the following:

What Networking Isn’t

Attending Events: Most networking events are focused around bars, loud music and free food. Not only is it hard to carry on a conversation in that setting, but you’ll find most people in two places – in small cliques with whom they came and/or near the free stuff. Last time I checked those aren’t ideal conditions for conversing.

Elevator pitch: Be prepared to tell someone what you do in 30 seconds or less. Even if you accomplish that feat, do you really believe someone is going to buy what you’re selling or hire you because of your answer? There’s no harm in professional clarity, but the result won’t end in a transaction.

Passing Out/Collecting Business Cards: Networking isn’t a competition. The distributor/collector of the most business cards loses. Contact information only comes in handy when a prospect is already looking for something you’re offering BEFORE they talk to you. Most attendees at networking events are looking/offering similar things. If you leave with less of your business cards or a collection of new ones, you haven’t accomplished much.

What Networking Is

Following Up: Networking is 10% the initial contact and 90% what you do after. Meeting someone is a lead, but following up makes them a potential connection. Marketing 101 says it takes the same message seen 7 times to sink in. No matter how charismatic you are, building a relationship takes time. If you’re not in it for the long-haul, you won’t get the results you desire.

Selling Yourself: A caveat a friend of mine said to me concerning networking is “if I like the way someone thinks, chances are I’ll keep in contact with him/her.” During a conversation you should be focused on selling you, not your product or service. Relationships have more to do with liking a person than any technical knowledge. Be likable. Share what you’re passionate about. Live with the results.

Connecting: The term networking has a negative connotation. It sounds like an exclusive club reserved for extraverts. In reality connecting is open to all. In fact, I’d argue that if done right introverts have an advantage because of their listening skills. Like dating, connecting happens over several interactions. My advice? Connect with as many people as possible and your odds start increasing in the numbers game.

Why Support Gets Lost In Translation


Managers, friends, even spouses say they want to support you, but how come it goes horribly wrong?

Support is determined by the recipient, not the giver.

If the receiver doesn’t feel supported, it’s only a gesture.

Let me give you an example. Your manager tells you he/she is “hands off” in their management style, yet you feel micromanaged.

Translation: your manager wants things done a certain way and when it’s not, you’ll hear it. Hands off to them means “as long as you do things my way, I’ll be hands off.”

To someone who is self-motivated and innovative that’s a huge turn off.

In the workplace support it a term used loosely. The main problem is if the giver doesn’t know how the receiver defines support, it’s just talk.

Support gets miscommunicated as frequently as any generational difference.

If you truly want to support someone, ask them how they feel supported. It may be different than what you value, but if you truly care you’ll do it.

The #1 reason why employees leave their current job is because they feel undervalued, therefore support has an incredible ROI.

The root cause can be the difference between a leader and manager, but ultimately it starts with ego.

Support is meant to benefit the recipient so if the receiver doesn’t feel supported that falls on the giver.

It can be a tricky game to play, so first know the rules.

I feel supported when listened to. Answers aren’t necessary. Once I’m able to vent my frustration, I can enter problem solving mode. Offer me trust and I will give it back tenfold. That’s what helps me feel supported, how about you?

Why Work Life Balance Is A Unicorn


Work Life Balance is extinct.

Compartmentalization is so last year.

The concept used to be a Venn Diagram with the left circle representing your professional life, the right circle your personal life and the overlap the “balance.”

Now your life is just one big circle, a.k.a. Work Life Integration.

If you’re unhappy at work, you’re unhappy in life (and vice versa).

That doesn’t necessarily mean follow your passion (although nothing’s wrong with it). It means focus on your desired lifestyle and find a career to support it.

Job turnover isn’t just a Millennial thing. It’s reality moving forward.

Admit it. You’re most likely not going to work your current job for the rest of your lifetime (the benefits aren’t that great right?), so job-hopping becomes the norm.

Blame it on the following reasons: Boredom. Multi-Passionate. Uncertainty.

But the biggest reason: Life Stage.

If someone asks me how I feel about entrepreneurship now vs. when I started (almost 10 years ago) my response is: I’m married and have 2 kids.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love being my own boss anymore. It means my family is more important.

So using the lifestyle analogy, I’ll stick with being an entrepreneur as long as it supports me financially enough to control how much time I spend with my family.

Your career (and life too) goes through seasons of change.

Balance isn’t achieved by being proactive.

The tension between battling priorities in your life sharpens your choices.

Choose what’s most important to you based on the most valuable currency: time.

That’s no myth.

The Darkside Of Tech: Why You Should Be A Softie

soft skills

Technology has not only changed the way we live, but also marginalized our skill set.

If you’re older than a Millennial, you’ll remember taking speech in school.

Although a dreaded class, it teaches one of the most crucial skills to succeed in your career: communication.

Ironically in a tech-dominated economy, want to know what employers are looking for more of?

Soft skills.

In fact, this Wall Street Journal article¬†states¬†it’s what’s being searched for on LinkedIn Profiles everywhere.

Schools like General Assembly have wisely capitalized on teaching skills that are actually marketable.

The problem is unless you plan on working in a silo, you need to talk to people. Albeit a stereotype, most engineers can’t communicate better than the average rock. As brilliant as your tech skills may be, there still needs to be conversation taking place within the chain of command (even in a flat organization).

This is great news to people like me, who don’t have the patience or the desire to learn how to code. True, I’ll probably never make as much money as techies, but I can add value in other ways.

Like our economy, shifts in skills that are valued over time fluctuate. When the recession hit in 2008, services like training were stripped because they were deemed as a “luxury.” Guess what? Today, on-boarding, career development and soft skills workshops are rampant.

Why? Because when there is an over-saturation of a particular skill set, it’s what’s different and needed that becomes more valuable.

In an on-demand, instant gratification, push-button world, orators still rule. If you’re lacking in that area start networking, do more public speaking or join toastmasters.

Technology is wonderful. I couldn’t live without it.

But scarcity breeds value. Every tech star out there needs a partner to compliment him/her.

That’s why you should be a softie.

How To Deal With Uncertainty


As a planner I prefer to be in control.

When I’m not it’s scary.

But when you think about, how much of your life are you really in control of?

You have the power of choice, but you can’t control the outcome. In fact you can drive yourself insane second-guessing what you should have done in retrospect.

The best advice (but probably the most uncomfortable) is to trust the process.

Easier said than done, but if you’ve done your research, taken multiple factors into account, pull the trigger and don’t look back.

Take for instance sports: when you make a play sometimes it works out in your favor and sometimes it doesn’t. If you feel uncertain in the moment, most likely the result won’t be favorable. On the other hand committing to a plan of action and living with the outcome gives you a sense of peace.

As a recovering control-freak myself, I realize the more I try to control the less I actually am.

Pair that with the fact my wife is very spontaneous and carefree and it can drive me to anxiety if I don’t take a step back.

As a coach I tell my clients to focus on creating good habits that are repeatable. Goals are good, but creating routines that lead towards your desired lifestyle are better.

Funny thing is sometimes I need to listen to my own advice.

If you’re unsure about an aspect in your life such as your career or a relationship, look at how you spend your time. Examine your priorities. Understand the way you process.

Uncertainty can be looked at in two ways: negatively or positively.

You can choose to be anxious or excited. The former will drive you crazy while the latter comes with anticipation.

For your mind and body’s sake (and health), choose the high road.

Trust me.

It works.

How To Be A Storyteller During Your Next Interview


Applying for jobs sucks, but if you get to the interview process here’s a way to stand out:

Tell stories.

Since the beginning of time stories have always engaged us. During an interview, telling a story will calm your nerves while painting a memorable image in the mind of the interviewer.

In fact, if you can tell a story about a past experience accenting how you used personal strengths you’ve nailed it.

Past behavior questions tend to be the most accurate predictor of future prowess. It’s not 100%, but it’s proof you’ve done it before so you can do it again.

The easiest way to implement this strategy is planning ahead of time. Think of 3 stories that illustrate your strengths clearly and remember them. Most likely you’ll be asked a question like, “What are your strengths? or Why should we hire you?” Now it’s story time…

Interviews are perceived as intimidating, but similar to public speaking the only way to get better is through practice. You can easily simulate an interview by role playing. Anticipate the toughest questions ahead of time and you’ll be fine during the real thing.

Interviewing relies on self-awareness. Know your strengths and weaknesses and be able to communicate them clearly. For the question, “What is your biggest weakness?” always answer it in a positive way (otherwise you’ll shoot yourself in the foot). For example: “I’m impatient. I like to move at a fast pace. I care about efficiency because time is money. I like to push others to move with a sense of urgency.”

See what a did there? I took a potential weakness and flipped it into a strength.

Some interviewers play games, but most ask similar questions.

Do your research.


And most of all…tell stories.

It makes you memorable.

What McDonalds Can Teach You About Failed Branding


Have you seen the recent McDonald’s commercials featuring wholesome ingredients in family settings?

That’s a far cry from their previous campaign geared towards a “cool” hip-hop crowd…

Confusing. That’s what McDonald’s marketing is currently.

Apply that to your professional life. When you’re asked the question, “Why should we hire you?” in a job interview would you state what makes you unique or go with what’s trendy nowadays? (I hope you choose the former)

My point is when it comes to branding it’s important to know your identity.

Using McDonald’s as a bad example, they’ve flip-flopped on who they are trying to be and to whom they’re trying to be it to. Newsflash: people don’t buy McDonald’s products because of sustainable procedures, family values or the perception of being part of the “in-crowd.” It’s sole appeal is: it’s cheap, fast-food. I guarantee if they spent more money marketing their dollar menu, combo meals and sale items profits would rise quickly.

Trying to be the jack-of-all-trades results in being a master of none.

That’s why tools like the StrengthsFinder are helping in defining your identity (personal brand).

Your strengths determine your style which reveals your brand.

Don’t be afraid to niche yourself according to your speciality. People need to know who you are and what you do clearly.

If you communicate various descriptions it sounds confusing…and the problem is when someone is confused they will always say “no” to buying you.

Don’t be like McDonald’s. Be clear about you.