Saturday, November 16, 2013

My review of "BA to Boardroom"....a no BS review for a no BS book

This post is sort of a testament to the awesome connected world in which we live.  Let me give you the backstory.  I was flying out to San Francisco for a week a Google.  Well, the person next to me was writing while I rocked out to Iron Maiden.  His name was Chris, and he was writing a book about having a great career.  I was writing a blog on “The No Asshole Rule” so we got to talking about his book, his ideas and started to share a few thoughts on having a great career.  We exchanged info, and went off to find our rental cars.

A few weeks later, I get an email from Chris asking for my address to send me a copy of the book.  AWESOME!!  So, after moving cross country and finally getting settled in the Bay Area I’ve had time to read “BA to Boardroom With No BS, Skills for Life” and wanted to take a few minutes to blog about it and share my thoughts.

First of all, it’s a great read.  Very down to earth and practical.  I also think it’s the kind of book that anyone can read and learn a few new things.  You don’t need to be a new college grad to heed Chris’s advice….even a dinosaur like me took a few tips, wrote them down and focused some of my energy on getting better.

Ok, with that, here is a quick summary of a few things I thought were really great about this book:

A Positive Approach - On page 23 Chris talks about approaching all individuals and situations in a positive way.  LOVE this!  Honestly, negative people suck (like that?) and are less successful.  People who can have a positive attitude and approach are well liked and able to leverage relationships more successfully in the workplace.  Chris gets into a little more detail on what this means and it’s all good stuff.

Applying yourself - Page 25 here, same general area of the book but Chris talks about effort.  Obviously, I agree with him 100% here and think honesty and accountability to work effort is critical.  For me, effort is one of the few things as a manager I can’t coach.  Either you work hard and really push yourself...or you don’t.  Developing this skill will serve you well over the long haul.

Making Choices - Right around page 33 Chris starts talking about how and where to start your career.  One quote I’d like to share:

Jobs vary in content but have some common characteristics.  Looking at what characteristics feel best to you will help you select a role that can produce the highest likelihood of being one in which you feel comfortable.

Such a great line.  When you’re starting your career and frankly at any point in your career focusing on a role that maximizes your skills and allows you to be comfortable is a huge step.  It takes time, you shouldn’t expect to just wake up and realize your calling in life but once you figure it out...embrace it.

Managing Up - In Chapter 5, he talks about a lot of skills but one in particular really rung true to me.  Managing up.  It’s not the sexiest skill and some people might call it brown’s not and it is sexy.  Managing up means making sure your boss and other leaders know what you are doing and ensuring they are there to help you.  Ever meet someone who complains they can’t get the resources they need...meanwhile you never have an issue getting what you need?  Well yeah, that’s because you’ve managed up well and received the support and faith of senior leadership.  HUGE skill.

Opportunistic Ambition - Chapter 6 talks about opportunistic ambition, having mentors and building a personal plan.  Really great chapter.  As someone who’s had a personal plan for a while, this really jumped off the page at me.  I very much enjoyed Chris’s idea of putting yourself first and then secondly having a contingency plan.  These are extremely hard concepts but really critical for your career.    In my experience, these skills don’t come naturally but once they come...they are like a tidal wave that pushes your skills into the next level.  I’ll stop writing about this now, go buy the book

Learning to Lead - Another fantastic chapter as this skill is another one that really can carry you through your career...even if you end up switching professions.  The big take away for me in the book is when Chris talks about creating a high performing team.  I mean, talk about the holy grail of work.  Being able to attract top talent and put them into a position to perform is literally the difference between great leaders and crappy leaders.  So, again, take some time to really learn how to lead.  You’ll thank Chris for this, it’s so important.  When I look at my team or other teams I’ve lead, I always ask are we a destination for great talent?  If not, how do I fix it.

Ok, LONG blog for me this week but I really enjoyed the book and couldn’t recommend it any stronger.  The link above will get you to Chris’s website and allow you to buy the book...just do it.  One closing thought.  I met Chris on a flight, and I’m the guy who never talks to people on the plane (thank you Bose headphones) but for whatever reason, Chris and I really connected.  There is a lesson here….when you meet people along the way, take time to get to know them….you might just meet someone really cool.

Until next time, good luck out there the job market is still tough so you’ve got to work extra hard.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The importance of setting goals

Been thinking a lot about this topic so kind of excited to write about it.  Now, it’s kind of boring and a little lame...I’ll admit it.   But the truth is, without goals you’re screwed and your career will go no where.

Let me explain.  Goals get you places right?  I mean...I’m going to get my Master’s Degree is a goal.  Get it done, check the box...winner right?  Well kind of, there is a lot more to the idea of goals than checking off a few things on your list.  With that, here are a few thoughts on the importance of goals

1) Yeah, they get you places - See above but when you’re talking about recruiting or your career they are even more important.  For example - Saying “We are going to hire 50 Software Engineers” allows you to understand resources, develop benchmarks and understand the difference between success and failure.

2) Goals tell your story - Ever complain about the dude across the cube who got promote but you think  are the better performer??  Chances are, he had goals, articulated them to the powers that be...and crushed them.  The best way to show off your success it to set some lofty goals and get them done.

3) Shared accountability - Ah, here is the big one.  Setting goals, allows you to clearly state what each person on the project owns.  So, when the rubber meets the road everyone is accountable for their piece.  If the project succeeds everyone knows why/how….if it fails, well that’s ok but everyone will know how and why as well.

So there a you go a few thoughts on goals...the key to all of this is setting realistic goals and trying to get them done.  If you’re working on a recruiting team that doesn’t have goals or even worse has messed up goals...take a stand and figure out goals that will work for your team.  Trust me, you’ve been far more successful w/ rock solid goals than if you just float around and wish for a positive outcome

More soon