This Week in PCM : Retraining Your Algorithm

09152016-retraining-the-algorithm

Algorithm – a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.

I have hired a virtual assistant to handle my social media accounts because I admit that this has become overwhelming. I have so many and even with HootSuite, scheduling my own social media has been cumbersome. However, now I am free. There are two benefits in handing over my social media accounts to a professional. One benefit is direct while the other is indirect. Freedom is the direct benefit. Knowledge is the indirect benefit.

Yesterday I had our first weekly follow-up meeting with my virtual assistant. She said that we had to retrain my Facebook business page’s algorithm because I was posting too much. She recommended only posting 2-3 times a day on my Facebook business page else the social media platform would think that I am spamming. Her using the phrase ‘retaining my algorithm’ has gotten me thinking about how to apply this thinking in my personal and professional lives.

‘Retraining the algorithm’ means taking positive action steps towards reshaping your personal and professional lives. Here are my four steps towards retraining your algorithm:

  • Admit what is not working and stop doing it
  • Write down what you want to accomplish with action steps
  • Take action
  • Measure the action

Admit what is not working and stop doing it

First and foremost, be honest. Admit what is not working and stop doing it! You are digging a deeper hole for yourself taxing your energy, emotions and spirit. Using myself as an example, my planning my own social media accounts has drained me. Once I hire the virtual assistant, I am free to pursue other business activities.

Write down what you want to accomplish with action steps

Write down what you want to accomplish. You cannot only hope and fantasize that what’s not working. Devising an action plan is a must because it creates a framework towards getting things done. Moreover, this action plan holds you accountable because you have crafted it yourself. You are taking ownership with an action plan.

Take action!

You must active instead of passive. There are so many people who write action plans yet take no action. Do not be one of them! You must implement your action plan. Remember, every day you take action you are putting the things that haven’t worked for you farther away in your rearview mirror.

Measure the action

Of course, you have to measure your progress. This trips a lot of people up. They have the action plan and are taking action; however, they don’t know how well they are doing or how to build upon the progress that they are currently making. This is where creating metrics come in. It is crucial that you know how well (or bad) you are doing. Measurements give me a tangible way to create a baseline and evaluate yourself. A baseline is essential because it’s a standard. Anything above the baseline is good and anything below it is bad. The baseline also lends towards continuous improvement because you can create additional metrics on becoming better.

These four steps will help you ‘retrain your algorithm’ for greater personal and professional success.

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This Week in PCM : Spring Clean Your Career

03272016 spring-clean-career

 

Spring cleaning is not just for your house. It can also be used for your career. Spring is a great time to dust off the cobwebs of your professional brand to make it stronger. If you want more opportunities this year, you must spruce up your brand. Here are my five tips towards spring cleaning your career.

Review your mission statement

You have to have a centralized focus in order to make any kind of progress. Before you spruce your resume and LinkedIn profile, write down what your mission statement is. What do you what to accomplish? There are too many people aimlessly wandering throughout their lives and careers. Don’t be one of them! You need to have a roadmap in order to (safely) arrive at your destination. A solid mission statement serves as the guide for the rest of your career package.

Dust off your resume

Your resume is a dynamic document not a static one. Therefore, you must update it at least twice a year. Have you done anything new this year? If so, is it on your resume? The biggest mistake people make is that they update their LinkedIn profiles but not their resumes. This is a grave error because most potential employers request your resume before viewing your LinkedIn profile. Therefore, if key information is missing then you will not be considered although you have the experience. Your resume and LinkedIn profile should have the same current information on it. If these documents aren’t aligned, then you can be missing out of numerous opportunities. Furthermore, some employers may think that you are trying to hide something.

Ensuring that your resume is properly formatted is another key consideration. Make sure that all of your fonts are legible and scannable. Yes, sometimes you want to try out the newest fonts available, but I recommend that you learn if they are scannable. If they aren’t, then the computer databases cannot read your resume and you’re automatically disqualified from the job.

Finally, please remember that your resume is not an autobiography. It should be longer than 2 pages. It should have all relevant information. Although some experts say up to 10 years, if you’ve experienced a lot of career change, then certain positions are irrelevant even though they fit the 10-year time frame. For example, you have been in the workforce for ten years and you are now a mid-career professional. There is no need to continually list your undergraduate internship just because it fits in the 10-year time frame. Your resume should serve as a snapshot.  That internship can stay on your LinkedIn profile.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile

I must start this section off with a bold statement regarding photos:

Stop it with the cookout, selfie, driver’s side and Glamour Shot profile photos! No potential employer wants to see you (and your seat belt) as your LinkedIn profile photo. Selfies are not professional photos. Please take the time and money to invest in a couple of professional photos. Your personal brand is at stake!

Whoosa! I have seen far too many people upload camera phone photos on LinkedIn. These make you look very bad. There are several places (Sears, JC Penney’s, Walgreens, etc.) that offer affordable business professional photo options. Remember, every photo taken is not multi-platform. This is LinkedIn not Instagram.

Your LinkedIn profile format is important too. Make sure that you have uniformity in bullets, numbers and italicized words. Another thing I would recommend is requesting new recommendations from LinkedIn connections. Having new recommendations increase your visibility. In addition, if you have received a new certification, completed a new report and given a new presentation, then upload it onto your profile. LinkedIn now has those capabilities. Moreover, you can upload your presentations onto SlideShare which is owned by LinkedIn for greater visibility.

Finally, you can optimize your name field by adding a few certifications and degrees. For instance, my name is Carla Jenkins, MBA, PMP. One or two is enough. You don’t want to go overboard listing every certification that you’ve acquired. Although I have CAPM and CSM, I don’t list them because you want your name field to be crisp instead of jumbled. More importantly, listing all of these certifications might make you appear as a professional test taker instead of someone with real-world experience. Employers do value certifications, but they also expect work proficiency.

Conduct a Gap Analysis

Ask yourself this question: right now do you have the skills necessary to realize your mission statement? If the answer is no, what classes do you need to take in order to acquire those skills? Make a list of things that you need to obtain. I would recommend joining a local Meetup.com group. These are one of the cheapest ways to acquire new skills. There is a Meetup for everything. Every Meetup has people who already work in the fields and companies you aspire. This is a built-in network right there. These participants know all of the players and the ways to infiltrate the system. Moreover, Meetup workshops are cheaper than the average continuing education course. Meetups allow you to mind the gap and your wallet at the same time. Here is my article on Self-Investment is the Best Investment where I list other low-cost options towards. You can check it out here: http://positivitychange.com/2015/10/this-week-in-positive-change-management-self-investment-is-the-best-investment/

Hire a Professional

There is nothing wrong with hiring a resume writer or career counselor to spruce up your resume, LinkedIn profile or personal brand. Remember, you only have a limited amount of hours in the day to do everything. You can research your options or ask your colleagues if they have had someone revamp their profiles. I would recommend visiting the Better Business Bureau so that you don’t get scammed out of your hard earned money.

These 5 recommendations will help spruce up your professional brand now and well beyond springtime. Visit PositivityChange for tips to manage positive change effectively in your personal and professional lives.

This Week in PCM: 5 Areas in Need of Spring Cleaning

03132016 spring-cleaning

Continuing the spring cleaning series, this week’s positive change management article will focus on 5 areas in need of sprucing. These areas are: finances, network, sales leads, website and operations.

Check your finances

Tax season is a great time to conduct a personal audit. If you spot problems, then you can resolve them or at least meet with an accountant and devise a repayment plan. Moreover, it is better that you conduct your own private audit rather than the IRS.

Reexamine your network

Right now who are you hanging around? Jim Rohn says that you are the average of the 5 closest people whom you associate. Evaluate your inner circle. Are they holding you back? If so, then find some new people to surround yourself. Your network is supposed to be your wings not your anchor.

Evaluate your sales leads/funnels

Are you optimizing and leveraging your technological resources to maximize your profits? Have you looked at incorporating new technologies like live streaming for news announcements or live product demonstrations? People and businesses are social selling through Periscope, Blab and Facebook Live. Social selling is selling goods and services through social media. Furthermore, can you generate more sales through a mobile app? You have to go where you customers are; and, the mobile market is ever increasing. Investigate all revenue generating avenues to meet or exceed your targets.

Review your website

Does your website look outdated? Check the photos, links, and copy. Also look at competition for new color ideas. In addition, remember that content is king. Is your blog informative and adhering to industry standards? Does your company have a blogging editorial calendar where it routinely publishes its articles? Reliability is key towards building an audience and increasing brand awareness resulting in customer retention.

Review operations and procedures

Are your business standard operating procedures (SOP) outdated? Do they make it harder to do business? If not, ditch them. You have to evaluate your firm’s growth. What works as a sole proprietor doesn’t work when you have employees. Reviewing your SOPs ensure that your business is nimble enough to compete in the global marketplace.

Check out the first article in the spring cleaning series: http://positivitychange.com/2016/03/this-week-in-positive-change-management-spring-cleaning/

Visit positivitychange for tips to manage positive change effectively in your personal and professional lives.

5 Ways to Convert Your Dream into Reality

01182016 Dreams to reality

 

What is your dream?

Whatever it is, everyone has one. It seems intangible like it will never happen but you hold close to you because your dream makes you feel like you are alive. When life gets mundane, it is the one thing that keep you going. Having a dream is commendable but it would great when you convert this dream into reality. Here are 5 ways to do just that:

Believe that you can accomplish it.

Believing that you can bring this into fruition is the first step. Don’t keep your dream inside. That’s irresponsible especially since you have the tools to actually bring it to reality. Currently, you are doing something different than your dreams. Now you can take baby steps towards shifting towards your dream.

Break down your big dream into smaller dreams

Oftentimes your dream is so big, it paralyzes you. Instead break down your very big dream into smaller dreams. I recommend creating a milestone list for your dream’s journey. For example, your big dream is home ownership and it takes 2 years. Break it down into smaller steps. Use the mortgage loan qualification process as a milestone list. It will guide you through the home buying process. More importantly, commit to writing it down keeping a dream journal if necessary to stay on track. Having a journal lets you not only keep track of your progress. It also chronicles your transformation.

Drop the deadweight in your personal and professional lives

Friends hold you back. The mistake that people make is that friends are temporary. There are 7 billion people on this earth. Certainly you can find some new people to support you.

Start shifting your behavior to support your new dream.

Bad habits are very hard to change. You can’t own a home if you’re buying the latest virtual reality gear over putting that money away in the bank. Write down your daily routine for one week. Look at your time wasters. If any of them are counterproductive, write down ways to eliminate them.

Detach yourself from the end result.

Be flexible. You may arrive at your goal quicker than expected. The result may even be different than your original dream. I have an example of this:

In late 2005, I decided I was sick of working temporary jobs and wanted to realize and be an economist. I majored in it during undergraduate and I needed to work in my major. It was dream. It was one thing to major in economics but working as an economist validated my dream. I applied for Cleveland State University’s Masters of Arts in Economics program. Initially I thought I would earn my MA degree in 2007 then start working as an economist. However, the Commerce department hired me as an economist in May 2006 and I only spent one semester at Cleveland State University. That experience taught me to be flexible.  Although I hadn’t completed my MA in Economics (yet), I had realized my dream of being an economist.

Bonus: Don’t fear being first.

As a dreamer, you will be the first to do something. Don’t fear, do it anyway. The fear of the unknown can’t zap your dream. On my journey, I have been the first person: 1) with an economics degree, 2) intern with the Washington Center on Internship at my college, 3) earn my MBA, 4) travel to a foreign country and not be in the Army, 5) earn my PMP certification, 6) live in Washington, DC and 7) make over $100,000. At some point, you will be first when pursuing your dream. Do it anyway!

Thrive not Strive

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Strive: 1:  to devote serious effort or energy:  endeavor <strive to finish a project>

2:  to struggle in opposition:  contend

Thrive: 1:  to grow vigorously:  flourish

2:  to gain in wealth or possessions:  prosper

3:  to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances —often used with on <thrives on conflict>

A lot of people call themselves strivers but do you really want to schlep through life? Do you really want ‘to continuously struggle in opposition to something’? Or do you want to ‘progress towards a goal’? Thriving is much better.

Ways to Thrive

Evaluate your current personal and professional routines looking for small ways to tweak them.

Examine your current personal and professional situations. Where are you? Where can you improve? Write them down then divide them into smaller parts. Find smaller ways to make a bigger impact. One strategy is called the 1% improvement. Instead of trying to make the big leap, just make small changes to your personal and/or professional routines. These small little things can pay big dividends.

For instance, what if lunch costs $10 a day and you pack your lunch every day for one week. This small change saves you $50 this workweek. During a 4-week month, this small change will save you $200. That’s a small change leading to something big. That’s a great example of tweaking your daily routine in order to thrive.

See yourself as world-class.

It’s hard when you’re stuck in the muck and mire, trying to pay your bills. You are caught in survival mode. You just want to get through the workday, get home and take care of your children; and, then do it all over again. However, you have to view yourself as more than a widget. You’re contributing something unique to the workplace. Playing to your strengths is a way to thrive in both your personal and professional lives. Read your original position description and look at why you were hired. This is one way of finding your competitive advantage. Do one thing showcasing it at work. You can do a presentation or demonstration of the new product or service. These are two ways to display your professional uniqueness. Once you own your uniqueness, you’ll start seeing yourself as a world-class contributor instead of someone who fills a cubicle punching a clock! Remember, companies are resourceful. They don’t waste money hiring duplicates.

The difference striving and thriving are small tweaks that will payoff huge. Commit to making these small changes so that you will have a bigger year!

This Week in Positive Change Management : Manifest Success!

12132015 Manifest Success!

Full Definition of manifest

1:  readily perceived by the senses and especially by the sense of sight

2:  easily understood or recognized by the mind :  obvious

Full Definition of success

1obsolete :  outcomeresult

2a :  degree or measure of succeeding b :  favorable or desired outcome; also :  the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

3:  one that succeeds

 

This week’s in positive change management is to manifest success. Start where you are at right. Ask yourself: how can you make things better personally and professionally? Jot down 1 personal thing and 1 professional thing that you need to accomplish and do them. These two things must be so necessary to change that it is like the air you breathe. These personal and professional changes are mandatory. These are your non-negotiables for change.

Start envisioning yourself in your future space having achieved these two goals. Chart the pathway towards accomplishing personal and professional betterment. Why stay stagnant when you can move forward? What’s your definition of success? Envisioning yourself pursuing them.

You can manifest success. It is attainable. Even if you aren’t sick and tired of being sick and tired, you can always make tomorrow better than today. Here’s to manifesting success this week and beyond!

Enhancing Positive Risk

Managing positive risk is indispensable towards increased personal and professional growth. There are four positive risk techniques: enhance, exploit, accept and share. Enhancing positive risk means distributing the risk among participants. For instance, if your team lands a huge contract, they will split the bonus money amongst themselves. Enhancing a positive risk is a win-win situation both individually and collectively. You can post the project accomplishment on your resume and LinkedIn as a team member while simultaneously highlighting your contributor. This is all the more reason to employ this technique.

09122015 Enhance pic