Category Archives: Career Advice

Why You Aren’t Building Social Capital

Very few will argue that creating a quality personal network is the key to a long and prosperous career.   These networks are formed by the quantity of connections, quality of the connections and the resources available between the connections.  The value you get from these connections is called Social Capital.  Our friends at Harvard University suggest that “Social capital refers to the collective value of all “social networks” [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [“norms of reciprocity”].”  The major benefits in these types of social interactions are information flows, reciprocity, collective action and a broader sense of solidarity.  These benefits lead us to new opportunities, which, in turn, provide us a sense of growth in our lives.  The idea of social capital is quite old (first published in 1916) but the methods for engaging in social interaction on a global scale are fairly new.  LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and numerous other social networking tools have popped up over the years to provide individuals with a method for creating more value in their lives (and their connections).  Unfortunately, many of us still haven’t mastered the art of building social capital.  Here are a few things we get wrong in building our social capital.

Too few quality connections.  Our personal network is the source of our opportunity.  Our connections have resources that are beneficial to future progress in our career and life.  What resources do they have that are helpful?  That’s a question you should be asking to your current and potential connections.  As you might suspect, the more quality connections you have, the more potential you have to create social capital.  You just need to make sure these new connections are ready, willing and able to be an active participant in the relationship and that they have resources that are beneficial (e.g. connections, knowledge, skills).  You need to constantly assess the value of each of your connections.  If you’ve been connected for years and never shared a word with your connections, obviously they aren’t doing you any good.  And collecting a lot more of these connections won’t help either.

Too passive.  Creating a profile on social networking sites isn’t sufficient for building a network.  To reach the benefits of social capital, you have to first build trust and then a reputation with your connections.  Both of these factors require interactions and effort.  If you are just sitting and waiting for opportunity to come to you, you should plan to be waiting for a long time.  Your strategy should be to give your efforts and resources to others to build their trust in you and to build your reputation as a solid supporter of such relationships.  Then, you’ll invoke the sense of reciprocity in your connections.  Very few people are willing to give their time if they don’t see something in it for them.  By giving first, you put that question to rest for good.

Your network isn’t diverse.  One of my favorite motivational speakers, Les Brown, once said that you make within $6000 of those you hang around with.  In other words, we have a tendency to associate with others who are very similar to us in occupation, lifestyle, financial status and personality.  I think it makes us feel safe.  But this sense of safety comes at a price.  People who are in the same situation we are in most likely have the same resources we do (e.g. network, knowledge, skills) and, as such, can’t provide any considerable fuel to our progress.  Branching out of your safe zone to others outside of you occupation, financial status and knowledge base will give you insights that will certainly fuel your growth.  Remember the book Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, MD?  It’s about mice in a maze and an experimental movement of the cheese.  Some mice stay where the cheese was put every day, even after it doesn’t show up anymore.  If you don’t have a diverse network, you might be asking the guy beside you, who is also staring at the missing cheese, “hey, where’s the cheese?”  You should be finding the guy who found the cheese.  Aim for diversity.  You won’t be sorry you did.

Lack of brand power.  As we look to our connections for resources to help build our future, others will do the same with us.  Building a profile that enhances trust and respect is a quick way to invite others to connect with you.  Building a better brand requires three things: defining what you have to offer, providing evidence that your offering is real and tangible, and communicating your value clearly so that others understand what you offer.  If I can’t discern what you’re good at by looking at your profile or from a short conversation with you, I probably won’t push to make a real connection with you.  For example, a writer will clearly identify his genre in his profile (e.g. non-fiction).  Then, he would list or provide links to his published books so that you can validate his claim to authorship.  Once it’s validated, the relationship can move to the next level; that is, reputation.  How well have the books sold?  This is evaluated at many levels, meaning that it will not discourage people from working with you, but it will likely ensure that those who engage will have less experience in writing than you do.  If you want to connect with those with more experience, you’ll likely have to seek them out yourself.

The development of social capital requires the ability to network efficiently and effectively.  It requires a lot of work.  There is sufficient research to show that you can build a better network through mentors.  If you don’t know how, take time to get help with it.  If all else fails, give.  Offer others your time and energy.  There’s no better way to invoke reciprocity than giving people something without asking.  After a few iterations, you build trust.  After a few more iterations, you build a reputation.  Then, people will want to be connected to you.  Their skills and resources become yours.  They deposit their value in your bank.  Then you have plenty of capital to achieve the goals you want to achieve.

A One-Day Career Building Plan

Everyone struggles with finding enough time to work on their career, especially when they already have a job.  But that doesn’t stop us from doing a few activities when we can.   Just walk around the office and watch people.  You’ll see some looking for jobs while others may be building their networks on LinkedIn or Facebook.   We just can’t seem to stop thinking about our situation and how desperately we need to improve it.  So, each day, we make small attempts to create new opportunities for ourselves.

The problem is that this process takes a long time, and after a while, the daily miniscule progress will begin to weigh heavily on our motivation and reduce our job satisfaction.  The good news is that there is a way to break this monotony.  The answer is….a single career day.  Have you ever taken one day out of your busy schedule to dedicate to promoting your career goals? I’ve done this for years and it’s a great way to recharge your enthusiasm for your career.  You just simply take a day away from work and focus on activities that further your goals.  One day of intense focus on your career goals can do more than 3 months of those miniscule activities you do during the normal work day.

Here are some of the things you can do during your CAREER DAY.

Training/Seminars.  This should be done in-person, as it also provides the benefit of networking and interacting with new people.  This training doesn’t have to be on the skills you use at work.  It can be something totally foreign to you, but it does need to be something that you have a passion for.  Ideally, the training is something that gets you engaged in an activity.  Most professionals will target activities like interview training, personal branding classes, leadership development, etc.  However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to these normal activities.  I had a client who always wanted to be a singer.  So I suggested she take a voice lesson to see how good she really was, or at least get an opinion from a voice coach.  You see, most of us have dreams that are different than what we do in our day job, yet we never really evaluate the alternative path we really want to take.  That’s madness.  Determine your passion and find a way to spend a day evaluating that potential path.  It could save you a lot of time or it might just give you that nudge you need to pursue that dream full time.

Networking events.  Sure this one sounds a little lame but I really enjoy events.  If you’ve ever wanted to hone your skills in introducing yourself, selling yourself or showing off your expertise, events are chock full of people you can practice on.  You can walk into the event with the mindset that it really doesn’t matter if your techniques don’t work perfectly.  You’re experimenting to learn how to influence people.  In fact, I usually take a notebook and capture notes on how people respond to my methods.   The fun part is that it’s an event for learning so there’s no pressure to perform at any particular level.

Mentors.  Some professionals use mentors.  The more successful ones use many mentors and take time to visit them.  Taking a day to connect with people who can give you advice on how to proceed with your career is extremely helpful.   Mentors don’t have to be in your organization.  It’s often useful to have mentors who are familiar with your company but not in it.  They can provide a unique perspective on the workings of the organization.  One of my clients would establish mentorships with high level professionals from outside companies  that had influence on his company.  These included vendors, customers and partner companies.

Planning.   Some years ago, we developed a team-based approach to career development.  It is a very detailed method for building your own career support team that helps each other identify and achieve their own goals.  It’s called the Blitz Approach and was published in 2008 in our book, Blitz The Ladder.  The Blitz team members get together ever so often to discuss their plans and figure out how to implement them.  These meetings are very motivational as you realize that you have a team of people dedicated to helping you become a success and….you identify some actions for you to work on.  Your career needs constant nurturing in a society that seems to revel in change.  You have to put a lot of intentional effort and energy into your dreams.

Most professionals feel they have talent; that is, special skills that warrant a higher level of success than they have obtained.  The problem is that they think someone will see their amazing abilities and give them that opportunity they’ve been waiting for.  Strangely enough, people will sit in the same job or company for years waiting.  A successful career isn’t for the weak hearted.  Those who wait get a job for the rest of their life.  For those who want a successful, exciting and rewarding career, well, that path requires some serious effort over a long period of time.  And, long periods of time require lots of motivation.  Of course, you have to take all of this one day at a time.  So, make sure you take a day to really focus on your dream.  Do something that totally encompasses that dream.  Enjoy it.  Revel in it.  It will make you want to take more career days for yourself.

I’m More Than What I Do

I really hate the fact that everyone judges me by only what I do in my job.  It’s like I don’t have any other skills than the ones that are needed for it.  When I look at management, I see backgrounds and experiences that seem to be all over the place. Some have more credentials but most have less.  Yet, my experience is obviously too limited to consider me for any other opportunities (or so others think).  I’ve seen this happen inside my current company and even on the outside by recruiters and HR personnel.  Recruiters will say “well, this is all you’ve ever done.”  Well, I thought, doesn’t just about every manager that has taken such a role enter it with little to no experience?  I thought, how is the risk any different with me?  Isn’t management one of those positions that have very little requirements for entry (not like an engineer, doctor or lawyer)?  Someone had to take a chance on them.  Why not me?

Have you struggled to figure out why opportunities don’t come your way?  You have lots of skills and you put in enormous efforts to keep them current and even upgrade them.  Yet, all of this goes unnoticed.  Opportunities are not as abundant in the workplace as society would have us believe and most of these aren’t handed out fairly.  Despite that, we keep hope and devote energy to our dreams.  Too often the dream starts with a job in our chosen profession.  We slave away at it for years trying to prove to ourselves that we are really good at it. Once we are comfortable with our performance, we seek to impress others.  But if our efforts go unnoticed for too long, we lose motivation and begin questioning our perception of our own abilities. It affects us. Some lose motivation.  Yet, others are launched into their own personal reformation.

When I began, it was all about my dream.  I would have done anything to achieve the greatness I sought.  I just didn’t know how to go about achieving it.  So, I did what I heard others say.  That didn’t lead anywhere.  Why?  It wasn’t where I wanted to go.

Listen to your dream.  I wanted to be successful.  That was all the definition I had.  I understood the capital I was willing to invest in it.  I was going to learn all I could, work as long as it took and devote whatever energy was required.  I kept moving forward and accomplishing things.  Yet, it didn’t seem to produce the success I sought.  Perhaps I wasn’t defining the right direction for what I pursued.  Did I ever sit down to truly define what my big success looked like?  No.  I was simply using a trial and error method.  I’d have a little success.  Then, I would wait to see what happened.  If nothing happened, I would work hard, achieve something and try it all over again. The success didn’t come.  I couldn’t figure out what was happening.

I was driving through my career with a GPS on the dash but I didn’t have a destination plugged in.  I based my happiness on how the journey felt.  But at times I would pull over and realize I wasn’t happy where I was.  But where should I be?  I didn’t really define where I wanted to go or a path for getting there.  This is what many of us do.  No real plan.  No real direction.

Then, one day I was driving down the road listening to the radio.  You know, all that career noise out there that tells us how to really create the success we want in our lives.  Most of these stories are told by people who are situated to benefit from our adoption of their advice.  Let’s consider the MBA degree.  So many of us chase this credential thinking it will launch a highly successful career.  Why?  Because academia tells us that it will put us on a meteoric rise to fame and fortune.  Who benefits if we engage on this advice?  Immediately, they do.  The risk is all yours.  You risk not only money but the most valuable resource you have, your time, with no guarantee of a return.

My point is that we listen to the noise that surrounds us to get an idea of what success is and how to obtain it.  We only end up unknowingly contributing to someone else’s.  Turn off the noise.  Listen to your own dreams and align your efforts with the things you really want.   How? Here’s a cool process from Dr. Judith Orloff.

Four Steps To Remember Your Dreams 

  • Keep a journal and pen by your bed.
  • Write a question on a piece of paper before you go to sleep. Formalize your request. Place it on a table beside your bed or under your pillow.
  • In the morning do not wake up too fast. Stay under the covers for at least a few minutes remembering your dream. Luxuriate in a peaceful feeling between sleep and waking, what scientists call the hypnagogic state. Those initial moments provide a doorway.
  • Open your eyes. Write down your dream immediately; otherwise it will evaporate. You may recall a face, object, color, or scenario, feel an emotion. It doesn’t matter if it makes perfect sense-or if you retrieve a single image or many. Record everything you remember.

When you’re finished, refocus on the question you asked the previous night. See how your dream applies. One, two, or more impressions about the who/what/where of your solution may have surfaced. Get in the habit of recording your dreams regularly. If your answer doesn’t come the first night, try again. More details will emerge, rounding out the picture. Then look to your daily life for evidence of what your dream tells you.

Sharing your dream.  Working in a corporate environment is really strange.  It’s often a building with a lot of people working on the same goal but secretly working on their own goals.   Career ambitions fit in the same category as salary.  It’s passé to talk about them.  Perhaps organizations are afraid that too many employees will develop desires for the corner office, for which most will certainly be disappointed and eventually grow frustrated. There’s only room for a few at the top so it seems crazy to allow so many people to create ideas that will never come to fruition.  So maybe it is a good practice that we don’t allow people to discuss such things at work, as it might help avoid the creation of unhealthy expectations.  Here’s the thing, we create expectations anyhow.

Theodore Hesburgh said “The very essence of leadership is [that] you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”   Most of us are afraid to share our vision, so we don’t blow a horn at all.  After years of sitting in a job that we’ve worked hard at and earned an advanced degree that no one seemed to notice, we still hold on to some  weird, unfounded sense of hope.  We sit and wait for an opportunity. In other words, we are part of someone else’s vision.

If you don’t share your dream with others, your success becomes a victim of circumstances that you don’t control.    Robert Fritz put it eloquently when he said “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”  You comprise your dream with what others are willing to give you.  Are you in company that hasn’t given you an opportunity in years?  Have they discussed anything with you?  It’s time to abandon such a passive approach and it all starts with sharing your dream for who you want to be.  Sure, disappointments will come. You won’t be successful in every company.  No one is.  But at least you will develop a strategy for finding the right environment for achieving your dreams.  Telling others about your dream helps you define what is possible or reasonable.  Letting others know what you want to achieve gives them the vision too.  Those who can help you will.  If no one helps you, you may be in the wrong place.  Then, you’re faced with a compromise:  do I stay or do I go?”  But that’s getting ahead of things.  The first thing is to engage in painting your dream throughout the organization and assessing it’s response.

Draw correlations to value.  Just like you, most young, energetic professionals looking to make a name for themselves heavily invest in new skills to create value.  I’ve been in many executive training courses, only to discover that the highest echelon doesn’t attend such training.  After one class, I asked the trainer why they constantly taught us about issues that executives face, when he could just discuss this with class members.  He responded that they didn’t attend these classes.  For many reasons, this doesn’t surprise and it does provide some logic as to why they don’t understand the value that certain skill sets offer to the company.  Let’s consider the MBA degree for a moment.  I look at it this way.  If your job didn’t need the MBA before, it probably doesn’t need it now.  Just possessing the MBA, or any advanced degree, doesn’t provide the company value, so you won’t be rewarded for it.  I know too many professionals that have a MBA in a job that doesn’t need one.  They only thing they have to show for their accomplishment was a $90,000 bill from the university.

Ideally, management needs skills that can make them money.  This can be growing revenue and profit or reducing cost of operations.  Can you articulate your new skills in light of their monetary benefits?  As with the MBA, if your management doesn’t have an advanced degree, they don’t know what you can do now or how it can help the company.  You have to help them understand the value.  They just see you as the same person who’s been in the same job for some time.  Once they say that, they don’t really look at you again, unless you give them a reason to.

How do you correlate your skills to value?  If your job doesn’t offer opportunities to demonstrate your new abilities, you have to create them.  Your skills must be demonstrated.  They must be put on display for others to see.  It’s the same situation as in professional sports.  You have to build your skills and then step out on the court or field and show them what you can do.  You must impress those who feel they are already at that level.  You can’t just talk about it.  They want tangible proof if they are to believe you possess extraordinary talents and skills.  If you step out on the court and show them you can play once, they’ll say you have potential.  If you continue to demonstrate your skills over and over, then you’ll belong at the next level.  Remember, just possessing new skills isn’t enough.  Potential value doesn’t help anyone.  Put your new skills into action and create value.

Take some time to see where you can create value.  Solving company problems is always a good place to start.  Talk with managers to determine what issues you can work on.  Companies have issues so there will be things for you to do.  Other ways to show your skills include learning, influencing, motivating, negotiating, trust building, team building, decision-making and developing others.  Just make sure that whatever you choose to engage in, your path stays aligned with your dreams.

Market and sell your skills.  I know what you might be thinking here.  I’ve demonstrated my abilities.  Isn’t that enough?  The answer is definitely NO.  It depends on your organization’s leadership.  As you move it, the challenges grow harder and harder.  I have a friend that plays professional basketball.  He’s 6’8” and a great shooter.  He’s played in international leagues for years and was recently invited to tryout with the LA Lakers.  You know he’s good now, right?  Anyhow, they offered him a spot with pay at the league minimum, which was lower than what he was earning already.  He didn’t take the offer. Why?  He realized that even though he has great talent, it wasn’t valued to the level he felt it should be.  Sound familiar?  This is what you’ll find in many companies.  But my friend has pursued his dreams differently.  He stepped up and tried out for the team.  He took his talents and spread them all out to be judged.  He understands that to reach his dream, he has to continuously put his skills on display in hopes of finding someone who values his talents as much as he does.  Have you done that yet?  Or do you sit back and rely on your credentials to communicate your value.  Consider the previous MBA example.  So many professionals earn the degree thinking that this is all they need to achieve their dreams of great success.  My friend is already one of the best in basketball but he still has to prove himself every time he steps on the court.

High performing professionals realize that the interview is never over. 

Interviews are never over.  Sure, you get passed the first round to gain employment in the company but that only gets you through the door.  To gain access to new doors of opportunity, you have to continue to market and sell your abilities.  Remember, the initial interview is only looking for a specific set of skills, not every skill you have.   Companies are only trying to meet an immediate need.   There always trying to meet an immediate need.  How can you help them?  You can’t just try to do your best in your job.  Otherwise, you will stay there.  You have to push yourself beyond what they are just asking you to do.  You don’t think they asked my friend to just score 18 points per game?  No. They want him to do whatever it takes to help the team win.  Sometimes that means he has to take the lead and sometimes he focuses on helping others be successful, no matter which team he is on.  Are you ready to do that?

Here are a few steps you can take to develop a continual focus on marketing and selling yourself.  Practice them and they’ll become a habit.

  1. Develop the attitude that you always have to be improving your game. Never settle for average performance.
  2. Look at each situation as an opportunity to demonstrate any of your abilities, not just the ones your job calls for on a daily basis.
  3. Always perform at your best, no matter how simple the task. You are judged on everything you do.  Remember, executives worry about how they dress, speak, etc.  Everything matters.
  4. Seek new audiences. Don’t just focus on supporting your team.  Engage other managers in other departments to seek problems to solve.

Life is waiting.  What are you waiting for?  Living your dream all starts with knowing what it is.  Without a clear definition of what you want to achieve, your career will simply be a meandering across time collecting experiences and credentials that don’t really get you where you want to go.  Push the limits of your environment to see if it aligns with your dream.  Remember, your dream won’t be realized in every environment you’re in.  You have to find the right place with the right people who value what you offer.  If you’re not there, keep on chasing your dream.  In the words of one of my favorite speakers, Les Brown, “If you take responsibility for yourself, you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.”  Don’t allow the world to define who you are.  Let your dreams define you and your actions the proof.

Maintaining Motivation in 2015


Most individuals don’t reach the success they desire for many reasons.  Some never really create goals or a path to achieving them.  Some procrastinate, while others can’t overcome the fear of the unknown.  Still some succumb to distraction and deviate their actions before completing their tasks. These forces push us off track so that we never achieve our goals, which may lead to underachievement, stagnant career mobility,  decreased job satisfaction and more.   Here are a few steps that will help you maintain your motivation in the new year and begin developing a process for achieving your goals.

Know your barriers.  When it comes to your goals, why don’t you achieve them?  You must first understand why you don’t reach them to develop a process for maintaining momentum. My biggest challenge is that I see too many opportunities to create new products or services. I’m approached by people all the time to create something new.  I only have so much energy to devote to my activities and if I spread myself too thin, all activities will suffer.  Luckily, I’m aware of this challenge and force myself to focus on the most important activities at the time.  I write all ideas and opportunities so I don’t lose them or if my plans change and I free up some time which I can devote to something new.  So what are your barriers?  Is it courage, knowledge, skills, or network?

Create workarounds.  Once you understand your barriers, you’ll need to develop a process for getting around them.  Here are a few workarounds for some common barriers.

  • Courage – Every successful person battles this. No one knows all the answers to problems you’ll face but having the courage to push through each issue is the key to reaching success.  You know people who have done some great things.  Contact them and ask for support.  They’ll happily share their story with you.  Surround yourself with people who don’t let your barrier get in the way of their success.  They’ll show you how to deal with it.
  • Network – This is cited as the most challenging barrier for most people I work with. It is also the easiest to overcome.  You just need a simple process for contacting influential people every day.  It will require discipline, creativity and persistence.  The goal here is to find people who can influence your path and continue to contact them until they respond.  You may run into their gatekeepers first but keep pushing to get to your desired audience.
  • Knowledge – This is very common too. People often say they don’t know what to do.  Well, I can assure you that doing nothing won’t get you there either.  Too often I run into issues I know nothing about.  It’s not really a barrier.  It’s an opportunity to learn something new.  Finding resources for learning are everywhere.  You can search online, libraries, subject matter experts, friends, or colleagues.

I talk about motivation a lot.  Why?  According to the research of Dr. Anders Ericsson, motivation is the most significant predictor of success. In simple terms, Dr. Ericsson found that experts in many walks of life, whether sport, music, chess, dance, or business, had put in the most hours at their craft.  You might be aware of the concept he coined; that is, the rule of 10,000 hours.  This is really important for those who remain in their field for a large portion of their career.  In such cases, ability becomes less important and motivation grows to be the most important factors.  It enables you to able to pursue change in the face of obstacles, boredom, fatigue, stress, and the desire to do other things.

However, for today’s young professionals, change seems to be the flavor of the day.  Most of these professionals don’t experience 35 years in the same company or even the same field.  There are two forces that are influencing the fluidity of today’s careers: the company and the individual.  Both entities feel the internal and external forces for change and respond to them.  With so much change occurring, professionals must have sufficient motivation to be able to grow sufficient positive motivation and minimize the negative motivation in their quest for their own success.  Both types of motivation can be a barrier, such as too little positive internal motivation and too much external negative motivation.   Look at the matrix below and create your own matrix to help you remember the factors that maintain your proper level of motivation.

motivation matrix

The external factors are outside of your direct influence but do affect your performance.  High performers value respect and if it isn’t present in their environment, they will be heavily de-motivated.  Similarly, if organizations are led by arrogant or micromanaging leaders, it will bestow feelings of insecurity upon its best performers and will result in lower performance.    It’s critical that you understand that there are many factors that impact your motivation, not just one or two things.  We are always looking for the ideal environment.  In a sense, we overlook the good things that are present and seek out the things that are absent.  For example, you might work in a company that provides great perquisites like travel, employee events, etc. but don’t provide bonuses, pay raises or promotions.  Eventually, the things that are missing will drive growth in dissatisfaction.  You must take time to analyze your environment to understand what you don’t have and then find ways to provide them.

The chart below shows you the ways I deal with motivation issues.  I use internal sources to fight thoughts of inadequacy, inferiority and so on by establishing goals and creating tangible proof that I’ve achieved them (e.g. books, articles, developing college classes).  Such tangibles provide me sufficient validation that I’m achieving my success. Then, feedback from my external sources keeps me focused on the quality and value of these tangibles.  It’s a simple “checks and balances” system for me.

motivation matrix 2

If you fail to assess these factors, your motivation will fluctuate and be driven by your environment or you can take steps to assess what you need and put these resources in place to ensure you’re always highly motivated to reach your goals.

The only question now is “who will you be?”

5 Reasons Bad Managers Become Your Boss

Everywhere you look on the web, you can find articles about leadership.  Why?  I think that we are fascinated with it because we have so little of it in our lives and the lack of it has a considerable impact on our job satisfaction and happiness in general.  I’ve recently read some blog posts that describe the personal flaws of the managers.  However, I don’t really see that as being the biggest issue.  I would like to see corporate leadership focus on the situations that put the wrong people in management positions.  Here is a list of situations that I’ve seen over the years.

FUMU Principle.  This principle basically states that we promote those who screw up (i.e. screw up, move up).  For example, I remember working with a quality engineer who guided his company to create 40,000 test products for a new customer but built them to the wrong specification.  When they asked him why he built the products to a bad specification, he reply was “they didn’t tell me what they wanted.”  The new customer ran away and never came back.  To punish him and ensure he wouldn’t make another mistake like that, they promoted him to quality manager.

They fit in.  Executives are usually outward facing, meaning that they spent much of their time with people outside the company, such as customers.  Their skill set will be different from those managers who focus their efforts internally.  Henry Mintzberg, McGill University professor of management, identified the ten roles of managerial work, by studying CEOs (1973).  Later on, Pavett and Lau (1982) repeated his study on lower level managers.  They found that the managers that emulated the executives were promoted far more than those who really focused internally.  In short, the executives promoted managers who seemed to operate the way they did.  While this may not be the best for the company (i.e. who is doing the internal managing), it seems to be the way promotions work.  Fitting in with the big guys is very important to your career.

Don’t know how to hire an A-level player.  HR has a tough job.  They often have to hire someone in a profession they know nothing about.  Studies show that even the most reliable assessment techniques of structured interviews and assessment centers have a predictive validity of around 60 percent.  Of course, there’s also the shortage for such talent that you read all over the web.  But if you don’t know what they look like, then you’ll likely experience a shortage.  This dilemma leaves companies with the only choice of allowing their existing managers to hire the next manager.

B-level players hire C-level players.  A-level managers are the kind I like to work with.  You know, people who are not afraid of competition or challenge.  They want to be in the company of the best, if only to compare their abilities against the others.  Great players hire great players.  However, B-level managers aren’t like that.  They actually initiate the decline of the company by hiring C-level managers underneath them.  The real problem is that B and C level players don’t know they aren’t A-level players.  If you want to see how to sort out the difference during hiring, Inc. has some ideas.

Once you get B and C-level managers in place, there hiring mistakes will grow in number.  You’ll begin to see managers hire their friends, the ‘Yes’ man/woman, people who won’t challenge them, and many more excuses.  The reality is that organizations get the performance they hire.  Can you see your company running a NBA Basketball team?  Would they hire the best players? Would the team be competitive?

Before I end this post, I’d like to bring up one other point; that is, Accountability.  For example, one company I worked with had a Research and Development (R&D) Director that led a team who hadn’t developed a new product in five years.  Now, the R&D team should be developing new products for your business, whether to enter new markets or grow existing ones.  How could the executives fail to recognize that no new products were being developed?  Accountability is one of the major reasons bad managers exist.  If you watch college football, you’ll note that colleges have recognized that coaches can help them make lots of money by creating a great team.  Each year you’ll see coaching changes because of lackluster performance.  Why don’t companies do that?

Lastly, if you’re one of those professionals seeking to move up quickly, realize that the game you’ll have to play is not performance-based.  Too much research shows this isn’t the case.  Granted we try to tell ourselves that the game is fair and things like hard work, great credentials and a consistent trail of successes will lead you to great success, when you work for someone else, you have to play by a different set of rules.  Bad managers exist everywhere and college doesn’t prepare you for this.  When you find a good manager, latch on to them and learn as much as you can.  Sometimes you can maneuver your way through the maze, sometimes you have to move on.  Either way, keep thinking positive and moving forward towards your dream.  Don’t ever let them steal your dream!


Over the years, I’ve done quite a few resume reviews and updates. Typically, professionals are just asking to update their resume for the things they’ve recently accomplished. Often, this is a job title or company change. But how often do you add new things to the resume that give your product (i.e. YOU) more functionality? Sure, employers are interested in what you’ve done but they really want to know what you can do for them. There is a simple strategy for turning your resume into a powerful marketing paper for your career. If you’re not updating your marketing materials (e.g. resume) every year, you’re working on becoming obsolete.

At the end of each year, I like to engage in a little marketing strategy planning. I take a look at my resume and compare myself to many profiles I see online, like LinkedIn. I compare my education, skills, products and network with others who have similar backgrounds. Then, I ask myself one simple question, “Do I stand out?” If not, then I try to determine where I need to build my resume.

Education is an easy one. If I want to move up and everyone like me has a master’s degree and I don’t, then I might consider earning one. I like to see what types of degrees other professionals have in my position. Maybe my degree doesn’t provide all of the knowledge I need and another type of degree might make me a little more equipped to compete for the next level. While it’s easy to determine what I need, planning in my busy life is another story. So, I review this every year but may not engage in a degree right away. I may simply search for free classes online (MOOCs) to learn the things my peers already know.

Skills are always in need. What new skills do you need to develop each year? It’s no longer possible to develop a specific set of skills (as through your collegiate program) that will last your whole career. The needs of business change rapidly and companies seek many skills to meet those needs. Years ago I began paying closer attention to changes companies where experiencing and responded by building skills that would make me capable of helping them meet those needs. At one point, I saw the need for writing skills, so I began writing books. At another time, I saw the need for entrepreneurial skills, so I started my own company. By engaging directly in an activity, you can learn a great deal of the skill required to be good at it. It doesn’t mean you’ll be the best at it but you will understand it in greater detail. While it’s difficult to reinvent yourself completely after you’ve invested a lot of time in your primary skills, it is possible to enhance your offering by adding new functionality every year.

Contacts are the lifeblood of your career. While your references might not appear on your resume, they play a huge role in your access to opportunity. When I look at those LinkedIn professionals I’d like to emulate, I focus on their contacts. What titles do they have? What size companies do they work for? What alumni associations do they have? Naturally, we have a tendency to connect with people who are just like us, so we can relate to them more easily. Is it possible that this could be limiting our success? It’s certainly something to consider.

While the holidays are great times to consider the things we want to do next year, you should take some time to reflect on who you are and find a few areas that you can improve. No, I’m not talking about losing weight or whitening your teeth, although appearance is important too. I mean that about some developing some knowledge, skills or abilities that would make your more interesting to your employer or future employers.   Then, after you’ve begun building the newer you, update your profile and resume to reflect your changes.

Your resume (and social profiles) are a reflection of who you are. Let the world know that you are a vibrant, active, growing professional who is bent on continuous improvement. At the very least, you may just find something that will become a lifelong hobby, bringing you joy and happiness that your current job doesn’t offer. That will certainly bring you more balance in life.

Your Credentials Don’t Matter

We help a lot of young go-getters build strategies to move into executive positions. Here’s an experience you’ll need to be on the lookout for as we’ve seen this scenario increase over the last few years. It’s a situation where your credentials don’t matter to anyone in the management ranks.

Venture capitalists (VCs) buy companies. They do this in order to resell it later for a profit. Most of us think they only invest in startups but this isn’t the only financial support they provide. They also buy failing companies where they have an expertise and feel they can turn it around for a profit. Often the life cycle between buy and sell is around 5 years or so. The VCs will take an active role in the company, often being the board, and by putting certain high level executives in place to run the company. With small companies, this usually means they will only put one or two people at the top.

Here’s where the excitement comes in. Once the new leader is in place, he’ll have to figure out how to fill the remaining positions in his leadership team. Sometimes this leader will bring in some friends to establish a circle of trust. Other times, the remaining leadership positions are filled with previous leaders from the company (before it was sold). But before we talk about the process for filling these positions, it’s important to understand the value of these positions. Remember, a VC owns the company and it’s likely the company will be sold again in several years. High level management positions are contract positions and are usually well compensated when the company is purchased. Some managers will stay and continue with the new owners, while others will have their contract “bought out” by the new owners. Money is the driver in this situation.

Before the new leader assigns his new team, those individuals who want to lead will begin to push themselves into higher positions. If these individuals were managers in the old company, they’ll “assume” a higher role. I say assume because they aren’t necessarily appointed yet but they will act in this role in the hopes that once assignments are made, they’ll own that position officially. We’ve watched quite a few companies over the years go through this scenario. The dominant personalities usually win out, especially if the new leader isn’t a strong leader. Some companies have allowed individuals to assume management roles with no experience or credentials for such a position. For example, a high tech company had put an English major into a product development management position. The key to earning these positions is to exert your influence. You have to be pushy. Most individuals miss out on this type of opportunity because they wait to be identified as worthy of such a position. In this situation, waiting to be recognized might only keep you in your existing position.

It’s important to note that this type of transition in a company is highly political. Building alliances with other managers is difficult as the environment becomes one of “survival of the fittest.” It’s unlikely that other managers will help you move into a higher position. Why? Because they want a higher position and they aren’t interested in giving away opportunities to someone else, regardless of how qualified you are.   Yes, I know this goes against the advice that you usually hear, but we’ve seen this in numerous situations.

Now, if you happen to be one of those managers who gets pushed out, you’ll have options too. One of the most obvious and most likely to work is to seek employment with your competition. Of course, you’ll have to ensure a non-complete clause doesn’t get in the way. To make this type of move, you need to find a competitor who looked at your company as a real threat to their business. They’ll hire you to understand how your company operated their business. It’s often an inexpensive way for companies to capture competitive intelligence.

I understand that this type of transformation in companies isn’t pretty and isn’t what we would expect it to be. Common sense might suggest that companies would seek out the best people to put in the leadership roles, but this isn’t what we see happening. Those with less impressive qualifications are aware of their shortcomings, which drives them to push themselves into these positions. Why? It’s the only option they have and….it works.

This scenario is more common during economic downturns where organizations experience more volatility. While organizational change is painful, it is also the land of opportunity for those who seek to gain from the transformation. Organization change is NOT a time for you to sit back and wait for your name to be called out in the draft as the next member of the management team. It’s a time where you push yourself into a position that will propel you into the ranks of an Executive. Why? From what we’ve seen, the payouts are worth it. Sure, it’s a side of business that colleges don’t tell you about, nor will your company. It isn’t pretty and isn’t always the best path for the long term viability of the company, but it can make you into an executive and provide a big bump in your salary. Yes….it’s a short term mentality but that’s usually what happens in tough economies.

Success: An Unborn Dream

The past few decades have ushered in new challenges for younger (and even older) generations in creating success in their lives. Now, we can point to a sluggish economy for providing fewer opportunities; that is, less promotions, pay raises and job openings from companies who are tightening their belts. Perhaps we can blame the rising cost of tuition as a way to limit the success to only those who can afford it. Maybe you can blame companies for eliminating training, canceling their management development programs and even foregoing their tuition reimbursement programs. Well, we can’t forget the reduction in the number of startups, as those represent a decrease in opportunities as well. What about people working longer rather than retiring? On and on we can go.  Are there real challenges for creating success today? Of course there are and there always have been.  But these aren’t the barriers that are really slowing us down. The ones that have the most impact on our career mobility are self-generated.

Clarity. Most of us want more success. Yet, when it comes to defining it, we struggle to put even a simple description to it. Now, this still doesn’t deter us from working hard to gain recognition and reward. In fact, we will overlook the fact that we don’t really have a destination we are seeking for many years. Naturally, a lack of a definition of what we want to achieve and maybe even when we want to achieve it forces us into a journey where our only reward for our effort becomes stress and disappointment when we don’t get something in return for our efforts. How long does it take for you to get frustrated? It really depends on your tolerance level. I’ve seen many MBA graduates sit in their same jobs for many years after graduation waiting on their rewards. If you can’t define what you want, it’s almost impossible to identify the tasks you need to take to get it. It’s also quite challenging to identify what others can do to help you.  “See” what I’m saying?

Passion. You’ve surely heard all the advice about following a career path you have a passion for. If you follow your passion, success will follow. That advice has always irritated me.   But, that’s because for many years I hadn’t been following my passion. Within 3 to 6 months of working in a new job, the novelty would be gone. At this point, I’d begin looking to create a little excitement in my work, maybe it was a new project or traveling to a new place. I had to have something to break the monotony. In just three years or less, I’d be stressed to the point where I had to make a change. It wasn’t my passion. While I didn’t clearly define my destination to my consciousness, my subconscious was looking out for certain accolades in my environment and when I didn’t get them, my satisfaction decreased to the point where something had to give. What’s your passion? What signs do you see when you aren’t living out your dreams?

Boundaries. So many of us build boundaries around ourselves but still hold expectations that assume our possibilities are without bounds. I understand my boundaries. I’m not a single kid who can go anywhere and do anything.  I’m married with three children. My kids are entering high school now and I want them to have a stable surrounding. I wouldn’t entertain a job in another state. So, I’ve limited my own opportunities. We all do this to ourselves to some degree. Some limit themselves geographically. Some do it by job title or salary (minimum salary, of course). You might also limit yourself by remaining in the same industry. The problem with these limitations is that we tend to forget they exist and that we’ve chosen them.  Then, the only time we make a change is when our happiness is lost and we must change something to find it again.

Determination. Malcolm Gladwell proposed the law of 10,000 hours in his book, Outliers, which basically suggests that it will take you ten years of intentional effort to hone your craft. In the 1970’s, where people held “long” jobs, ten years would have been enough time to make a considerable impression on your company. However, today, job tenure is about 4.4 years. In other words, by the time you craft your skills, you’ll have gone through two companies and will be on your third. Granted, organizations are transforming themselves at alarming rates and are forcing such change, it will take you longer to build your expertise. As Henry Farber, an economist at Princeton, says “For some reason I don’t understand, employers seem to value having long-term employees less than they used to.” Such changes will increase insecurity, volatility and risk. Staying true to your cause will be challenging, as the changes you have little influence on will act to redirect you when you least desire it. But that’s business today.  It requires more determination than ever.

Our dreams of success are influenced heavily by our surroundings. From the commercials we watch on TV to the Internet to our neighbors, our dream is constantly bleeding through the lines and off the canvas. Fortunately, reality steps in and gives us a gentle nudge and reminder of where we really are. Our success isn’t simply a victim of circumstances, unless you want it to be. It can be planned. It can be changed. It can be improved. You simply have to develop your dream by giving your mind an image of your desired life, making changes when the happiness of work is gone and no desirable future is in view, and setting goals that are in sync with your own established limitations. Lastly, if you really want to achieve your dreams, you will. You’ll give it everything you have. You’ll find all the answers. You’ll get all the help you need. You won’t give up until your dream materializes. That is, if you really want it. Otherwise, you’ll be forever stuck in your own unborn dream.


In a recent trip to Munich, I ran into a young professional, Alize, who expressed her disdain for the corporate world. I was at the airport and was sitting down reading my book on Personal Branding. Yes, sometimes I actually read my own work. Anyhow, she noticed what I was reading and asked “does that crap really work?” I appreciate that kind of candor. I told her what I do for a living and then replied “it can.” Then, she launches off into her story. She felt she had always gone above and beyond all activities she engaged in. “No matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to matter. I’m tired of working my butt off. Maybe I should just quit. No one seems to care anyhow.” Do you know how she feels? I certainly do. High achievers also have high stress and if not treated, it will eventually break you down.   Here’s a little advice on avoiding the mental breakdown.

Alize had been working very hard for many years with little forward mobility. She felt she had outperformed her peers through the development of impressive credentials. Not only did she do her day job but she was also an author, speaker, and entrepreneur and did some consulting work on the side. Alize was bursting at the seams with skills. She had been in the same company for 9 years, pushing very hard every single day to make an impact on the organization and her career. Unfortunately, the only thing she got for her efforts was a huge drain on her energy, motivation and passion. You know the feeling, right?

I said to Alize, “Just QUIT.” By the look on her face, she wasn’t expecting that. I went on to explain that most high achievers work hard for many years, often in the same company. They also work just as hard outside the company. There are several problems with this. First, you run the risk of burnout.   I know this illness very well. I told her of my experience about ten or so years ago when I was working on my PhD in Engineering, writing my first book and working full-time while supporting my wife and three kids. There were periods where I had no sense of time. I was just so busy moving from my studies to work to family that I didn’t really stop consider whether the sun was up or down. It didn’t matter. I had a lot to do and not enough time to complete it all.  Burnout is tough on you, not just the physical aspect (i.e. stress) but mostly is the impact to your drive and determination. If you let burnout go too far, you may just simply quit and give up on your dreams. You’ll fall in line with the other robots and live a minimalist life. I know you’re thinking surely such a thing doesn’t happen to high achievers, because high motivation runs in their blood. It’s who they are. But….it does happen. After years of working your butt off and failing to get the rewards you feel you deserve, you become cynical. You also feel like you begin losing control and your advice means nothing to anyone. You feel isolated and unsupported. Your work becomes noticeably off, considering it already was out of balance.

The second problem is that Alize didn’t really have a plan or strategy for her career growth. She was just working hard and hoping someone in management would recognize it and reward her. I wasn’t sure how long she was planning to continue with that approach but obviously burnout was going to be the reward she would get. I don’t think working hard in one company for a long time is a bad thing, as there are numerous benefits to such an approach. They challenge is that it’s hard to predict when or if you’ll get a big break. But if this is your approach, you need to plan milestones to achieve and celebrate each accomplishment. Your career will last a long time. It’s actually a length of time so great we can’t really comprehend its entirety. So, we need to establish goals that we can achieve in time periods we can understand.

Alize needed to quit. She has to stop and take a break.   When you totally commit yourself to your work, you’ll eventually find that it’s all you got. And if it isn’t rewarded, you’ll eventually lose your passion. Most of us wait for rewards to come from the outside. Me? I understand that organizations don’t really care if I’m an author.   They don’t really care that I’m a public speaker. These are great skills to have but if my job doesn’t depend on them greatly, then the only person who will see great value in these skills will be me. I won’t waste a lot of years of my life trying to convince my management that these skills are worth more than they really think they are worth. I may still continue doing them because they bring me some sense of achievement and recognition I’m not getting from my company.

Another big program for many high achievers is that they choose to get all of their rewards for the efforts from the company they work for. Alize admitted that she certainly did. After so many years of little reward, she grew bitter towards the company. The reality we have to face is that our career isn’t on the minds of managers. They are probably more worried about their own career. Alize realized that she needed to quit putting all of her happiness in the success of her job. If after nine years, she didn’t get the rewards she was looking, did it make since to keep working and waiting or should she seek some happiness elsewhere?

Growing a career is difficult to say the least. Many times the things that are getting in our way are the things we put in the way, such as our habits. Sometimes you need to step back and take a close look at what is really working for you. This may mean quitting a few things that just aren’t giving you a return. It will be a mental challenge because you are already too busy and will feel like you’re adding more work on yourself. But what if it starts giving you results? Here are a few things I’ve learned from clients over the years:

  • Quit putting all of your happiness in the success of your job….consider a life outside of work.
  • Quit waiting for someone to recognize your achievements….celebrate them yourself.
  • Quit complaining about your lack of progress….go make something happen.
  • Quit believing your barriers are real….run at them head-on and find out for sure.
  • Quit using the same strategy that doesn’t work….try something new.
  • Quit looking for a fast-track to success….most paths take years of hard work.
  • Quit making the wrong impression….if you want to be a big player, dress like one.
  • Quit playing with your phone….give people your attention and you’ll get theirs.
  • Quit multitasking….do your best work by focusing on the task at hand.
  • Quit leading by email….relationships with people are more effective in getting work done.
  • Quit relying on your performance only….learn to market yourself.
  • Quit trying to create your own success….build a team of supporters.

“Quit” isn’t a bad word. It should be a sign that you’re paying attention to what you are doing and the return you are getting on your efforts. The pace of business today is fast and always changing. This is an indication that your strategies for personal success will need to change too.

So what would you QUIT today?

The Future for Executive Recruitment

Have you ever wondered how organizations find their next leaders? In the June Harvard Business Review, Claudio Fernandez-Araoz discusses what he calls the new era of talent spotting. In this article, he provides his insight into how organizations need to be seeking top talent based on today’s amorphous nature of business.   In this post, we’ll provide a look at what companies are looking for today, which you’ll certainly want to know if you have plans to become an organizational leader. We’ll take a look at the various eras of development of talent spotting and make some predictions on what the future holds for you.

The Physical Era. The first era of talent spotting, according to Claudio, was purely visual. For thousands of years, work was comprised of tasks that required a lot of physical labor. Therefore, if you wanted to get it done faster, you would choose people who appeared to be big and strong. Even though these physical attributes aren’t as critical to the work we do today, some attributes are still considered to be valuable. For example, height is apparently important as the Fortune 500 leaders, as well as military leaders, are 2.5 inches taller than the average American.

The Intellectual Era. The next era of finding talent is the era that I’ve grown up in; that is, an era where education, experience and performance are important. These filters were required because work had become standardized and professionalized. Work was broken down into tasks that required certain skills. These skills were easily identified and could be assessed on a resume and during an interview. For up and coming leaders, it was easy to identify a career path and the credentials needed. You had to go to college and earn your degree. You had to engage in professional organizations and extracurricular activities to show you were well rounded. Then, you had to put your expertise to work and create some major accomplishments that organizations could verify. Your past performance was a predictor of future performance. Fortunately for professionals in this era, their credentials and accomplishments were valued in similar roles across a wide range of organizations, allowing a flexibility of movement from company to company. According to Claudio, this era is gone.

The Potential Era. Here’s where we are today. Corporations are amorphous, which is an intentional lack of structure that supposedly allows the company to change to meet market needs. The structure we knew in the previous era no longer exists. Claudio refers to this new environment as VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). Corporate strategy, once defined in a five year plan, now changes so frequently that such plans aren’t even created.  In this kind of environment, employees with fixed skill sets and expertise are useful for a short period of time. Employee value comes from an ability to move from one skill to the next in an efficient and effective manner. Today, companies will be looking for those superstar all-purpose players; that is, anyone who can do anything, anywhere, at any given time in and in any manner required (which explains the shortage in such talent).

So how do organizations go about finding such potential candidates? They measure ‘potential.’ Claudio suggests managers must learn to assess prospective employees on five factors. These factors are the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. While Claudio admits to a method with 85% predictive accuracy, organizations are going to struggle with it, especially with new college graduates. But first, let’s consider the working professional.

Most companies don’t have any “high potential” programs to identify such talent in their existing workforce. Sure, the big companies do but the world isn’t full of big companies. It’s mostly small and medium enterprises (SME), who can’t afford to create such formal programs. (Personally I think SMEs will have more of these high potential people anyhow as you have to wear many hats in a small company). But, for entertainment purposes, let’s just consider the big companies.

Now, we know most of the big companies only hire the top talent from the best universities. My first question would be “do these top programs teach motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement and determination?” My initial thought is probably not. I didn’t want to ask any programs to respond to this question for fear of getting a canned response, so I thought it might be interesting to see what graduates and students of top programs would suggest.

Every couple of years, Business week surveys the best schools and invites students to provide open comments on their experiences. Here are some interesting comments from the class of 2012. At Columbia Business School, students complained about the lack of outreach by career services, the lack of university resources dedicated to the business school and the acceptance of too many ‘connected’ applicants. “Too many students are ‘sons of,’” claimed one MBA graduate. “They are plain dumb but got in because dad or mom wrote a big check to the school. This is not acceptable.”

At Duke, an MBA student asserted that the students could be “a little too party-oriented and immature” which sometimes led to mediocre classroom discussions. “Faculty and staff could hold students even more accountable for not taking the academic portion of school seriously enough,” stated another. “We should stop babying people and start really pushing people to be great.”

At the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, graduates thought that lax grading policies in classes led to a less-than-ideal learning environment.

In talking with a friend who graduated from Stanford, the grading policies were not very motivating for students. In short, the top 10% of the class got an ‘A’ and the bottom 10% got the door. So, everyone aimed for being better than the bottom 10% in what this graduate called a “quest for mediocrity.”

On and on this goes….NYU’s alumni network isn’t involved in the school, Wharton has poor quality in teaching, and INSEAD students felt the professors should take their own classes to see how bad things really are. Now, we must realize this was an open forum for complaining, but it still creates enough concern that even the top programs aren’t going to create potential leaders with the 5 great ingredients. I’m not just picking on the top programs but they do have a tendency to create many of the graduates that take top positions in big companies. So, do we really think these companies are selecting ‘potential’ employees based on these ingredients? No, but this might be part of Claudio’s strategy.

Ok, I took too long to say that I don’t think MBA programs will create a talent pool with such ‘potential.’ To make the situation even more difficult, I don’t think companies will be able to develop these ingredients either. Having spent many years working with MBAs, I haven’t seen anyone turn an underachiever into an overachiever. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but it certainly isn’t the norm.

The Aura Era. This era is yet to arrive and is a prediction based on the current trends in finding top talent. The executive of the future will possess such extraordinary abilities that they can be detected only by those sensitive to such emanations. There have been many movies in the past and even in the present that have alluded to these abilities. More recently, the movie ‘Divergent’ depicted a society where people are divided into factions based on virtues, as determined by a unique serum-based aptitude test. The ‘divergents’ has values of all the factions, think independently and aren’t easily controlled by the government. One of my favorite movies that addresses the detection of extraordinary abilities in others is Star Wars. I imagine one day you’ll go into a job interview with Darth Vader. He’ll raise his hand towards you and will sense your JETI abilities. You know his famous words “The force is strong in this one.” For my UK fans, I imagine your future will be determined by a Harry Potter style sorting hat. You’ll simply walk in the room and they’ll place the hat on your head, which will declare you a leader or a follower. The interesting thing about these techniques is that they don’t consider any of the things we currently consider to be important. Is there a leader gene we can test for? The challenge for the professional is that we see organizations moving away from parameters that can be measured and verified easily, which can lead to many of the issues we see today (e.g. nepotism, favoritism). The good news is that your interviews won’t require any preparation time. In the future, you’ll either have it or you won’t.

At this point, I really hope that organizations don’t attempt to start hiring talent based on potential, as I think it will add an undue level of complexity to an already challenged process. In the end, it’s likely to do little to change how things really work. Potential isn’t something you just pick up at the grocery store. You probably have a history of indicators that show you can do great things. Seems like that should be sufficient, right? But if it isn’t, I’m in the running for big promotion as my skills are untapped! I suggest that organizations be a little more stringent on the performance of the people they hire. If you aren’t doing a good job, then you should be given an opportunity to improve before being released. If companies want to hire like professional sports programs, then they should also fire the same way. If a leader isn’t working, there’s no need to punish everyone for their shortcomings.

So what do you think? Will hiring managers adopt this practice? Will ‘potential’ become the new currency for career success?