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April 7, 2012 / mbolke

5 Things I Decided to Change About My Business After Attending a Retreat

I had two goals in mind while attending a recent envisioning retreat for entrepreneurs:

  1. Connect with like-minded business owners
  2. Be more intentional, not just productive, in how I approach my business

Achieving Goal #1 wasn’t difficult. There were some terrific leaders in attendance, one of whom is an accomplished editor. She has read my blog articles and is interested in working with me on producing my book. I wouldn’t have made that connection had I not attended.

Goal #2 was tougher than I thought. By the end of the retreat I had clarity about several significant changes I’d need to make in order for me to achieve it:

1. Say “no” more often.

I place a high value on freedom. It’s one of the reasons that I left Corporate America. I wanted more choices. Choices about how I spend my time, the type of work I do, and the people with whom I work.

I’d been acting like I had no choice for a while, however, believing that:

–I just had to work on an undesirable project in order to someday maybe perform the work I really wanted to do.

–I had to work with a client that constantly re-scheduled at the last minute, was often late in paying invoices, and insisted I do follow-up work for free.

These scenarios represent a handful of situations that completely drained me, and left me with little time and energy for the work I love and the clients I enjoy.

Recognizing that I do have choices was a key takeaway for me from the retreat. The moment I stop thinking that I do, I’ve given in to a belief system that simply isn’t true.

How I will practice saying “no”: Read more…

November 30, 2011 / mbolke

So, You Got The Job. Now What? 8 Steps to Take from Day One

The interview was tough. The competition was fierce.  The process was lengthy. The decision’s been made and the job is yours. Your first day has arrived.  Do you know what to do to begin making every day count? Follow these 8 steps right from the start.

1. Think of the reputation you want to have as you exit your new role. It’s not too early to think this way. Stephen Covey challenges his audience to “begin with the end in mind.”  Imagine that you’ve successfully performed in your new role and you are interviewing for a position in the future. What will you be known for? What examples will you have to share in your next interview about your successes, failures, and key learnings?

2. Understand the phases you’ll experience in your new job.  

Honeymoon – Once your courtship with your new employer is complete, you’ll enter the honeymoon phase.  During this time period you’ll think everything is wonderful.  The new people, policies, and processes will all be exciting.

RealityAs you begin to settle in to your role, you may find that the job is harder than you thought, the resources are fewer than you’d like, and the days are longer than you had hoped. Read more…

August 9, 2011 / mbolke

12 Tips for Managing Your Boss

Few resources exist that provide guidance on how to manage up effectively, yet it’s something almost every employee wants to know. If you already have a good working relationship with your manager, applying these 12 tips will strengthen it. If your current relationship with your manager is poor, putting these 12 tips into practice is essential to getting it back on track.

1. Your boss is not out to get you. Your manager is not thinking about how to make your life miserable during their daily commute — their job is stressful enough. Yes, there are bad managers out there. I’ve worked for some of them and chances are, so have you. Your manager probably has, too, which means that they may not have had exemplary leaders to learn from. Nearly all of the managers I personally meet (this number is approaching 10,000) are sincerely seeking to be good leaders, do the right things for their organizations, and take care of the people they manage.

Be thankful times have changed. My grandfather once told me that in order to keep his job at Ford Motor Company, he was required to clean his boss’s house every Saturday for free!

2. Alignment is crucial. Know what’s expected of you. Your annual performance review is not the time to discover that you’ve been out of alignment with your boss’s expectations. Your manager should have been giving you feedback throughout the year in order to avoid surprises in your review. However, you do have a part to play. Discover the top 3 things your manager expects of you. Even if you think you know, you should ask and check in regularly to validate your assumptions.

Not convinced? Read more…

July 26, 2011 / mbolke

14 Ways to Nail Your Next Job Interview

Your resume has made it out of the void and into the right hands – you’ve been invited to interview. Ready to go from being just another candidate to the organization’s next new-hire? Here are 14 ways to do it:


1. Find out as much as you can about the role. If you already work for the company or know someone who does, this task is much easier. If not, do you know anyone in a similar role at another organization? Knowing the key success criteria will allow you to map examples of your past experience to those items during the interview.     

2. Research the company. Who are their competitors and what makes them better? What is the press saying about them? How has their stock performed? In what locations does the company have a presence? Who’s on their executive team?

3. Discover who’s on the interview team. Search LinkedIn to review their individual profiles, which will help you visualize being a part of the team and increase your comfort level during the interview. Don’t send out invitations to connect just yet, unless you personally know someoneYou don’t want to be viewed as a cyber stalker before you even walk through the door.

4. Review your resume thoroughly. In response to a question I once asked a candidate during an interview, he replied: “Oh, wow, is that on there? Can I see it?”   Read more…

July 12, 2011 / mbolke

Evaluating Your Next Career Move? Consider these 5 Keys

Leaders often ask me how to evaluate potential career opportunities.  While timing is an important variable, it’s not everything.  It is, however, one of five keys to consider when deliberating a possible career move:

1) Self-Awareness: Will the new role play to my strengths? Many people take a new role because the title or the money seems like an advancement. However, if you’re not in a position in which you have the ability to exercise your strengths most of the time, you’re likely to face burn-out, or worse, hurt your reputation by derailing your performance.  You may possess strengths in a particular area that you haven’t had a chance to exercise and are unaware that you have.  One of my favorite resources to use with clients who’ve never taken a strengths inventory is the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths.  No time to read it?  Take the abbreviated route by going to Strengthsfinder, and completing the on-line assessment for a nominal fee.  Am I over-using any of my strengths?  It’s not uncommon for leaders to “do what they’ve always done” when advancing or changing roles, which may not be the best approach.  In his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith uses a witty style to address 20 interpersonal behaviors that potentially limit a leader’s future success.  Not sure what perceptions exist of you in your organization?  Consider taking a 360 assessment, which polls colleagues for their view of your contribution and produces a confidential report for your review. Tag a trusted advisor or hire a coach to go through the results with you and help you map out a game plan for addressing blind spots.   Is there a gap that I need to fill?  If you are in a front-line manager position today and your end-goal is to land an executive role, know what skills and experience you need to gain in order to get you there.  While it’s not necessary to master areas of deficiency, it is important to gain experience managing those areas successfully.  Start examining job postings now for positions at that level so that you can seek out opportunities that give you exposure to areas you may need one day.  The majority of VP-level jobs, for example, (see more…)


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