Communicating Effectively w/ Hannah Kulik

hannah-kulik

Hannah and I first connected as writers for Lake Show Life, a sports blog and have stayed in touch since. She’s a talented young writer who now contributes to Lakers Nation. It’s rare for someone her age to be a strong communicator, so I wanted her to share her journey with you. Hope you enjoy it!

When did you realize you had a love/passion for writing?

It is not so much that I have a passion for writing, it is more that I have a passion for the Lakers and basketball in general. However, I first realized I was a pretty good writer as a freshman in high school, when my English teacher would have me help him grade other students’ papers and work with them individually. My dad always stressed the importance of being a writer who is clear and concise, so that is definitely something that has stayed with me throughout my writing career.

What is your definition of communication and how do you improve yours?

To me, communication is the ability to express one’s thoughts and opinions in a clear and concise manner. In this age of expanding social media, I feel that the art of conversation is being lost and in particular the ability to talk to others face-­to-­face. There are times in life when communicating in writing is ineffective and you have to be able to speak to someone directly in order to get your point across. Whatever you do in life, and regardless of your job, in order to be successful you have to be an effective communicator and that takes practice.

What experiences so far have shaped your voice as a journalist?

For two seasons, I was a staff writer at Lake Show Life and wrote over 100 articles that were published. Some of my articles were also picked up by other outlets such as Bleacher Report and Chatsports. My writing improved dramatically during that time by virtue of the effort I put in to my articles and the careful way that I reviewed them before they were submitted. In the early stages, two of the editors, Jacob Rude and Valerie Morales took an interest in me and gave me helpful guidance to improve my writing. Recently, I started writing for Lakers Nation and have also been accepted to write for Dodger Blue. Working with different editors has been very valuable as it has enabled me to learn different styles and develop my own voice as a writer.

As a college student what skills do you expect to learn while in school vs. experience through a job/internship?

What I have learned from school so far is that every audience is different, and you need to be flexible in order to determine the most effective way to communicate with each person individually. Something I feel I am learning and expect to continue to keep learning both in school and through a job/internship is how to put myself in positions to meet and communicate with as many different people as possible. In my opinion, taking yourself out of your comfort zone and actively engaging in the large and diverse world that is “media” and “social media” will expose you to different styles and help mold what eventually will become your own way of communicating.

What advice do you have for people pursuing a career in communications?

My biggest piece of advice for anyone pursuing a career in communications is to develop relationships with as many diverse people as possible in environments that interest you. You never know who you may unexpectedly encounter, a person with influence who may take an interest in you and help shape your development. Also, always remember to stand tall, shake hands firmly, look people in the eye, and speak in a confident voice. It sounds simple but takes practice and experience until it becomes second nature.

When you are not writing, what are some activities that you like to do in your free time?

When I am not writing, I am either working out, listening to music (anything from hip hop to country), hosting makeup tutorials on YouTube, spending time with my family, reading, or cooking!

Why Settling Is Worse Than Failure

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A slow death…that’s what it feels like.

Settling is accepting lower standards for yourself. If you’ve stayed at a job years past when you said you’d quit, you’re settling.

At least with failure it means you tried something and the result didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. The key differentiator here is: you tried.

The most successful people in this world fail more than you do. You only hear about their success stories because failure isn’t inspiring. Truth is in order to succeed, you have to risk failing. That means trying is better than settling.

Settling is waving the white flag. It says, “I give up.” It’s the belief that you’re a victim and you deserve less in life. The mind is a powerful thing and when you allow it to dwell in past regrets it freezes over.

If you’re feeling stuck in any part of your life right now, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather risk failure and try or live with regret for the rest of my life?

No risk, no reward. If you don’t try, there’s a zero percent chance you can succeed. Settling is essentially telling yourself, “I can’t.” Once you believe that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Never settle.

Chief People Officer: Going Beyond HR

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If you haven’t seen this title before, get used to it.

The days of HR handling everything people-related are over. This isn’t throwing shade at what HR does, instead it reveals a needed addition to organizations.

People are the most important asset to your company. In the book, Human Sigma, the customer-employee encounter determines your bottom line. Translation: take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your customers.

That’s where the Chief People Office originated. A while back companies like Google and Zappos realized culture affects performance most so they put in resources such as: life coaches, free meals and gym memberships to decrease stress/distraction while increasing efficiency.

No matter what industry your company is in, the right people systems must be in place. Most organizations spend money on recruiting, interviewing and on-boarding, but neglect workers once they complete their probationary period.

News flash: that’s about as archaic as scratching records as a DJ or backwards-thinking as looking in your rear view mirror while driving. The recession is over. Training is not a luxury anymore.

Richard Branson said “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.

If you don’t take care of your people, they’ll leave. There’s always better options available.

Having a Chief People Officer in your company shows people are valued. No organization is perfect, but the better you are treated, the more tolerant you become towards mistakes.

Look up Chief People Officer positions and tell me what you think. It’s a sign companies are moving in the right direction.

The #1 Reason You’ll Leave Your Job

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The #1 reason why you’ll leave your (current) job is: lack of career development a.k.a. growth opportunities.

From first glance there’s an assumption that includes a promotion, but not necessarily. The need for career advice is on the rise because most people don’t know what they want to do and/or they change their mind often. Blame social media or a plethora of options, but regardless its reality. Let’s start from the company’s perspective:

Why should we invest professional growth resources into employees who might end up leaving?

First response: efficiency. Back in 2008-09 when the recession started, the first thing to go was “luxury” items such as training. Jobs were being cut drastically and our economy went in the tank. The only job that was safe was: sales (gotta make money to stay in business). If you want people to perform better, they have to be trained. Some companies take the shortcut by hiring “experienced” workers then throw them in the fire. That’s one approach, but even if they know the skill set to accomplish the work, the culture is still a mystery. The reason most leaders micromanage is because they never train people under them properly. Part of career development is training on the job (feedback included) and figuring out if the role is a good fit. If it’s not, here’s the perfect segue into the next point.

Second response: saves time/money. If you’re concerned about pouring into an employee, then having them leave, don’t. If you had someone working for you and they didn’t want to be there wouldn’t you want to know earlier than later? Hopefully this gets caught during the interview process, but if it doesn’t training only reveals it. If you’re working for a company who invests in your professional growth, wouldn’t you be more motivated to work harder for them? This may sound too altruistic, but most people’s performance starts to decline (outside of personal issues) when they feel undervalued/under-appreciated. Practically speaking, helping people navigate their career path will provide clarity for the individual as well as the company.

In simplistic terms, here’s the equation: if my company takes care of me, I will take care of their customers.

Great customer service = brand loyalty = higher profits.

The most direct way to take care of people is invest in their career growth.

This is not a futuristic concept. This is current.

Retention is tied directly to career development, or lack thereof.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be An Entrepreneur

dark-side

Follow your dreams. Live your passions. Be your own boss.

You’ve heard it all, but for every entrepreneurial success story you hear, there’s at least 99 that failed. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but choosing to own a business means working more hours for less money at the start.

Just like learned leadership skills don’t make you a good leader, entrepreneurship is open to all, but few thrive. The influx of new businesses is a result of a couple of things: more options to choose from, a failing education system and an emphasis on lifestyle over work.

Consider these 3 areas of concern before making the jump to entrepreneurship:

Lack of a steady paycheck – Freedom is great, but flexibility without knowing when the next time you get paid is downright scary. If you get to call the shots, it means you also have to figure out how to become the company’s best salesperson. It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are if no one is paying you for them. Spend time making a business plan, building a solid culture and researching your target market, but most of all…sell. There’s no shortage of business opportunities to get involved with, but the question you should be asking yourself is: “How can I monetize this?

Lack of organizational structure – Escaping an 8-5 job sounds exhilarating, but without someone telling you when to come in and go home can be a challenge to balance. If you set your schedule, there’s no one holding you accountable to hold to it. If you work from home, distractions are multiplied compared to working in an office. Being organized becomes a necessity, not a skill set. The biggest challenge is creating boundaries throughout the day, so you can quantify your time spent. My observation is creatives have the hardest transition with this because artists want to focus on doing their work, not setting it up.

Lack of face-to-face interaction – Entrepreneurship is lonely. It’s like being isolated on an island equipped with wi-fi and a mobile phone. The conversations you took for granted at your last corporate job are now treasured. One of the reasons why entrepreneurs flock to networking events isn’t because they’re extreme extroverts, it’s because they’re looking for warm bodies to be around. Technology has given us the ability to connect globally, but it can’t replicate grabbing coffee at a meeting. If you consider yourself collaborative or a team player, think twice about this one. Tom Hanks in Cast Away may be a bit extreme, but too much alone time can drive you crazy.

The difference between a business and a hobby is money made. Owning a business is similar to the concept of branding. Your opinion doesn’t validate a successful business, your customers do.

This post isn’t meant to discourage you from taking your idea to reality. It’s just a reminder that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you don’t believe me, go outside and turn a patch of grass over.

Why I Hate The Grind

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You may like to hustle, but few enjoy the grind.

Hustling is about chasing exciting things and doing whatever it takes to get there.

Grinding is about doing the same thing over and over because results don’t happen overnight.

Hustling is about passion. Grinding is about effort.

Call me lazy, but I hate the grind.

Detailed, precise and repetitive usually wins the race, but the monotony can kill your vibe.

Back in the industrial age it was all about the grind, but now with massive amounts of information, technology and DIY You Tube videos it’s hard to stay focused in an A.D.D. world.

Take for instance coaching. One reason I love it is because every client is different. From a startup’s perspective that makes it hard to scale, but I pride myself on thinking on the fly. Showing up with an agenda doesn’t work. Being ready for the extremes does.

Talk with anyone successful in sales and they’ll tell you it’s a numbers game. If your closing rate is 5%, then for every 20 people you talk to you should gain 1 new customer on average. Most engineers stick to a formula that can be repeated over time. Eventually they know the results will come. Those jobs require someone who can grind hard. Problem is, everyone isn’t cut out for it.

So once you determine the lifestyle you’re after, identify if you’re a hustler or a grinder. The two are as different as an introvert and extrovert. Know which one gives you energy and which one sucks the life out of you.

Don’t Hate the Process, Hate the Game

job-search

Looking for a new job sucks.

There are no shortcuts, but instead of running the rat race, embrace the game…but play by new rules.

Just like a healthy lifestyle requires exercise and nutrition, there’s no magic potion to improving your career.

The way job boards are created, it’s as if your odds winning the lottery might actually be better. Unfortunately applying online is part of the process, but one of the most passive tactics you can participate in.

Most digital applications have built-in filters that sift out specific keywords, lack of experience or required skill sets. It’s kind of like talking to a robot on customer support instead of an actual human. Very frustrating.

But since applying for jobs isn’t something that’s going away soon, what can you do to combat it? Here’s 3 proactive ways to increase your chances of getting hired:

1) Network. Use the internet and social media to find contacts, but once you do reach out to schedule a phone call or better yet, a meeting over coffee. Technology has widened the playing field, so you need to stand out by leaving an impression. The #1 reason people get hired is because of relationship. Know someone and now all of a sudden you’re on their radar.

2) Contact Recruiters via LinkedIn. One of the worst parts of applying to jobs is not knowing if your resume ever makes it to the destination. On LinkedIn, not only do companies have to pay to post a job, but they also have to list whom posted it. My advice is: apply to the job, then connect with the recruiter. Chances are they will accept your invitation to connect, then send them a note you applied and why you’re unique.

3) Be Creative. Record a video. Reach out on Twitter. Ask for an informational interview. This may sound too general, but since this is a “game” who says you have to play by the rules? Everyone applies for jobs online. Everyone attaches their resume. Everyone sends a cover letter. Don’t be like everyone else (unless you like where you are now). You may not be after a sales position, but landing a new job is all about selling yourself. A good question to ask is: “Would you hire yourself?

Most companies are built like a fortress. If you try to enter through the front gate you’ll be denied. Instead the “back door” strategies mentioned above are much more effective.

So create a new process…while you still hate the game.

Why Culture Is King & Position Is Queen

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When’s the last time you thought about applying for a new job?

Truth is, much like the cliche “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” it may not be your job that’s actually frustrating you.

The reason culture is king and position is queen is because the former rules over the latter.

Let’s say you land your dream job, but the culture is so toxic you end up quitting?

On the other hand, step into a company culture where you feel valued and working your way up doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

As a career coach, here are the implications: don’t just apply for positions, apply to companies you want to work for. If you get into the right cultural fit, it’s fairly easy to move up as an internal candidate.

That means as a job seeker (passive or active) you should be targeting companies you want to work for as much as positions you qualify for. The corporate world is evolving and what forward-thinking companies realize is: if you take care of your employees, they will in-turn take care of your customers.

In this day and age you and I have a plethora of choices.

A.D.D. isn’t a disorder, it’s the norm.

That means as workers, you have options.

Purpose and passion have been replaced by lifestyle as the driver…and culture supports that.

The Evolution Of Your Dream Job

dream-jobs

Everybody has dreams…but dreams change.

What you consider today as your dream job will most likely change in the next few years. It will happen for a number of reasons: experiences, life stages, interests, etc. I’ll discuss the real reason later.

Clients ask me, “What if the perfect job is out there, but I don’t know it exists?

Good question. My response: you don’t know, that’s why you need to keep looking and applying.

Maybe not the answer you want to hear, but if your dream job doesn’t exist yet, create it.

Think about it. Interviewing for a job is essentially selling yourself. Creating a job is selling your idea (basically entrepreneurship).

Easier said than done, but the average tenure at your current job is less than 2 years. That’s not too far off from the average tenure of your dream career either.

We change jobs like we flip through the channels on TV. I tell my clients, “I can help you find the one career that best suits you, but expect this process to start over a few years from now.”

My job as a career coach isn’t really to help you figure out what to do next, it’s to help you figure out yourself (so you can do the process over in the future).

To loyalists this might sound depressing, but it’s just a sign of the times. Just like you and I will have to maintain a side hustle just to survive, your lifestyle will dictate your decisions, not your dreams.

For example, when you’re in your early 20’s you’re willing to be a slave to your career. Fast forward to your mid 30’s with a family and kids and you start saying “no” more than “yes” when it comes to work. During that time span what you considered as your dream job changes at least twice!

When it comes to your dream job the better question to ask is: why?

Why do I want this dream job? What does it represent? What can it provide?

I used to think I wanted to be an entrepreneur (and I still do), but what I really wanted: flexibility and control.

That can be found as a business owner, but it can also be found working for a company. My priorities shifted when I got married, then again when I had kids. That’s why your dream job will evolve too.

It is said that we are afraid of change, yet we do it all the time. We change our clothes, we change our interests and we change our jobs.

Your dream job will change over time…because you will change first.

When Career Coaching Became The Norm

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Career development is no longer seen as a “perk” by Millennial employees anymore…in fact, now it’s expected.

Listen up employers, the average tenure of a worker is less than 2 years and company loyalty is fleety as the next trend.

It may seem counterintuitive to offer career advice to employees, then have them leave for greener pastures, but if they’re going to quit wouldn’t you rather know?

Inspired by J.T. O’Donnell’s Post, career coaching is necessary. Millennials dominate the workforce and that number is only going to grow over the next 20 years. Similar to NBA Rookies making their debut, workers come into the corporate world even less prepared now than they once were. Assuming traits like professionalism, communication skills and initiative are taught/modeled to college graduates will leave you stymied. Formal education not only fails to teach transferable real world skills, but young workers are coming into the workplace more raw than ever. So how to you combat this dilemma?

Coaching. Today’s leader is part-guidance counselor, part-accountability partner.  As a manager if you’re not ready or equipped to “show” your employees how to do the job, you’re in for a rude awakening. Career development is just part of the solution, but since most Millennials don’t know what they want to do career-wise, it’s needed.

Imagine if each company had a “staff coach” to motivate, challenge and guide workers to their natural career path. The right “fits” would stay and the “misfits” would leave. All the money that’s spent on recruiting and interviewing should be divvied up between HR and coaching. Offering career coaching as part of your company culture may be the most proactive thing a company can do for retention.

The companies that rank as the best places to work all invest in their employee’s wellbeing. That’s what separates them from the rest. Since money isn’t as big of a motivator to younger employees, a coach can help them figure out a career path while pushing them to utilize their strengths on a daily basis (a.k.a. money well spent).

Knowing the problem and doing something about it are two different things. As a company, be a part of the future, not the the past by offering career coaching to your employees as part of the culture. The ROI will speak for itself.