Archive for July, 2009

Sometimes it all comes down to one little detail. . .

Monday, July 27th, 2009

So I went to my competition in Vegas this weekend. Drove up on Friday, competed twice that day, saw a lot of dancing, hung out with some new friends, and had a lot of fun. Slept a few hours and drove home.

While it was a very fast trip, and I have to say again, a lot of fun, in the process of putting all of this together the one lesson which came forward more strongly than ever was that no matter how much preperation you have done, no matter how hard you have trained, no matter what you have going on, if you haven’t taken care of the most basic, most important detail(s), it doesn’t matter.

Let me tell you a story. . .

Back in 1999 / 2000 I was working for the President of the Digital Domain, Ken Williams at Sony Pictures Entertainment. We shared a wing of Thalberg with the Government Liaison Faith and her assistant Danielle. While I was working for Ken, China had changed their policy about working with Japanese based companies, which, needless to say, was a HUGE issue for Sony. Faith and several other execs were going to Beijing for meetings and were bringing gifts.

Danielle asked if she could use Ken’s conference room to wrap the gifts which were being taken over as tokens of appreciation. This is a common practice when working with the Chinese. As Ken was out of town that day, I naturally siad yes.

About Noon I walked into the conference room and say Danielle standing there with a very puzzled look on her face. She wasn’t quiet sure how to go about wrapping and organizing the gifts. Having run a holiday gift wrapping shop for several years while I was in University, I made some suggestions and helped Danielle to strategist. Then I offered to help. We only had 4 hours and a lot of gifts.

i ordered in lunch, transferred phones into the conference room and we got to work. By the time the guys from the mail room came up to pick up the oxes with the gifts, we were down to about a handful left. As they were having to make two trips, we were able to finish in plenty of time.

Monday morning, I came in and there was a beautiful basket of flowers sitting on my desk. It was Danielle’s way of thanking me for my help. She said to me, I had done all of this work before hand, finding out about traditions, all the details, including what colours to use and to not use. But in the end, if I hadn’t had the extra help, and from someone who knew what they were doing. none of it would have mattered. Because the boxes wouldn’t have been ready to go out on time and we wouldn’t have been able to have them for the meetings. And while that seems like a small thing, it really could have been a disaster to the larger project. So in reality, your help and ability to organize that part was what allowed the project to come to a graceful completion.”

I was blown away.

In the case of my competition, I had transportation issues come up. I had originally planned on driving my car to Vegas. It’s 4 hours and one tank of gas each way. About a week before I left, my mechanic and my Godfather informed me that there was no way in Hades that my car was going to make it to Vegas. I could see their point. One of the down side of being an unemployed Grad student is that I don’t have a lot of funds to take care of even the most essential of things. (this is changing.)

So I started looking for in expensive ways to get to Vegas. The best airfare I could get at that point was $250+ and I still had to get to the venue which was away from the Strip.

I posted to my Yahoo Groups!

I posted to my Facebook!

I tried to contact a classmate who works for one of the airlines and had offered cheap vouchers to classmates for school associated things.

I offered to pay up to $120 to anyone who had vouchers they were willing to let go of.

I talked to people on Craigslist, on E-bay and a few other sites. Nada.

Finally, I e-mailed my sister who is traveling. I asked her, can I borrow your car for the day. She said, if you can find the keys, yes, but you owe me.

That is what I needed. hat was the one thing which could have derailed all of it for me. And trust me, I went through the whole gamut of possibilities including but now restricted to my not finishing my project and having to redo my second year.

Once I chose to get out of my head and grounded into now, I realized that this could be done. I simply needed to be willing to risk asking. To set aside my pride, my negative expectations, my fears and to move forward with my request while continuing to look for other options.

As a Coach, this is where I say to clients, do what makes you uncomfortable. And to also consider the risk verses the reward. The reward for me was that I would be able to ring my project to completion. The risk was that she would say no. But if she did, would ai really be any further behind than I was at that time? And if I were still looking for other options, and had opted to not invest too much in any unrealistic expectations, then I was taking responsibility and able to move forward no matter what the out come.

But i have to be honest, thee were moments when I was very worried about this. And I found myself spending time sorting out the underlying issues which were causing me to freak out a little. Coached myself back on track, asked my sister and was granted permission to use her car (bless you Allison. You have no idea who much of a help this was.) and was able to finish my project with ease and grace!

But like Danielle and the gifts, it is many times that one small detail which makes or breaks a project. Remembering that and to acknowledge how important that one detail was, that support was, to say thank you, is a detail which will go a long way.

Things to think about.

Until next time.

Working with robots

Friday, July 24th, 2009


Recently, I have been looking at the fact that I am about to finish school I feel that I need to find some interim income while I build my Coaching Practice. So in support of that, I have posted resumes for both Coaching and Executive Assistant positions. I have had some interesting responses.

(One note about my EA Experience – I am a very high level, very expensive EA. But when I hold that job, I am always very good at it!)

It seems that people are searching solely by keywords. I have received a request for an interview by a company who is looking for a trainer for LVN’s. Which I am completely unqualified to do. Because they are looking for someone who is a Licensed nurse of Psychologist. I am neither. They are also looking for someone who has taught in a formal institution. Not me.

But what did their robots pick up?

Well, I have been a trainer, I have worked in the Health care industry and I have a Masters in Spiritual Psychology. I had the proper key words which the robot was looking for, so they sent me an e-mail. And while I believe there are many things which I could teach LVN’s which would help them to become better nurses, the bottom line is that, well, I am in no way qualified for this position.

I find this situation to be increasingly true. Case in point, due to encouragement from friends with in one organization I wish to work for I have registered my resume through their on line HR portal. I have received several “It’s a Match” e-mails from them. everything from baggage handler to second assistant to the Managing Director of a hotel to grave yard shift manager for a call center.

Ummm, yeah. Anyone else see the problem here?

Key words and algorithms are interesting. I realize that this is what the Net now bases its searches on, but there does come a point where there becomes an issue between the Keyword search and the reality of the situation. There is no way that I am qualified to be a trainer for LVN’s. Like wise, I am completely over qualified for any of the positions which have been brought forward by the other company. Not to mention that for some people, these types of approaches can be seen as an insult. (I had one person call me telling me that they had a job which was the perfect fit for me. It was selling telecommunications equipment. Because of my background as a Sales manager and trainer, plus my work in the motion picture industry, the resume was picked up. I had a very difficult time getting them to belief that I had no desire to hear more about the company. When asked directly what in my resume would lead them to believe that I was qualified / desired this post, they unfortunately couldn’t answer. They had, in fact, never seen my resume.)

While this style of resume review has been in effect for several years, as seen above, it is somewhat ineffective. How many
people are incorrectly targeted? How many are incorrectly categorized? And how much effort is put into having to correct what the robots are doing?

And how many really well qualified candidates are missed or turned off because they do not have the right combination of key words?

Sometimes I wonder, if I were to put a “resume” up on a website with just the “right” keywords, what would be the response? Would I get more hits, more phone calls than my actual resume which is well written and have been edited by more than one professional? I don’t know. Might be worth the experiment.

Lastly, algorithms are no match for human review. Recently a friend of mine put up a local Google ad for an event which she is holding in Dec. She is a belly dancer and is wearing a traditional costume. And actually very conservative, because this is slated to be a family event.

Google kicked the ad back saying that it was adult content. She finally got a hold of a live operator, after several frustrating days, and had the ad reviewed. Seems that algorithms found the combo of her breasts and the word “girls” offensive. The ad had to go through several hands, but eventually it was approved.

Likewise, the site I have posted my blog on in the past started to filter words. I wrote, ” . . . and it cuts both ways. . .” and the blog was bounced back because of the word “cuts.” Tool and hot also received flags. HELLOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

In a effort to stop this from becoming a mini rant of my own, I offer you this: As a Coach, I would naturally suggest to my clients that pack their resumes with the type of key words which will get the attention of the HR people and industry who they are interested in seeking jobs with. But be aware that those key words may also bring forth a lot of attention which was not who they were aiming at. This is what the delete button is for. Although, if something looks interesting and they are open to it, why not check it out? They can always say no.

But the other thing which I would highly recommend to HR Recruiters is to stop and read resumes, not simply key words. Yes, you can always use the keywords as a screening devise, but be willing to actually sit down and read the whole resume. You might be surprised at the things you’ve missed and the perfect matches which have slipped through your fingers because a robot was doing your job.

Things to think about.

Until next time.

Putting one foot in front of the other

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I was reading an article today regarding the astronauts who were part of the early space program. A quote from Buzz Aldrin caught my attention. He said to his biographer, Remember where you were standing when the spotlight goes off. You’ll have to find your own way off the stage.”

What an amazing piece of insight! What a beautiful, honest reminder that the spotlight is illusive and illusionary. And that the every day work is where reality lies.

This last year, I opted to create a project for school which was a bout raising my mastery on an area where I was already acknowledged as being good. This was something which I loved but which I had lost touch with the reasons which I loved it. So I went back to class, to performing locally on a regular basis, to working with master teachers and perfecting to the degree possible my skill set and my art.

The one thing which helped me the most wasn’t the events, it wasn’t the special add on’s, it wasn’t the sparkly costumes. It was showing up in class every day and drilling the basics over and over again. It was putting aside my ego and going to the beginners classes and doing 100 more of what ever the teacher suggested that I do, taking the suggestions which were given to me as ways to improve my skils and not as a personal attack or a way to belittle what I was striving to achieve in any way, shape or form.

My surrendering of ego, of artistic temperament, is key if we are to achieve what we set out to do. As a Coach, especially to high level Executives who have been achieving things from the time they were very young, this can be as much of a challenge than with a Diva such as my alter ego. But does that serve the Executive?

Let’s face it, much of what we do on a daily basis is pretty mundane. Returning e-mails, analyzing numbers, having meetings to help guide the company forward, helping to determine the best way to handle any given situation, dealing with personnel issues and support relationships both inside and outside the company so that they continue to flourish. Plus the occasional crisis management session.

All of which is great and very necessary for the continued growth and prosperity of the company. But let’s face it, not always the spot light. And many times the transition back from Golden Boy can be difficult and as stressful as the move into that place.

And sometimes this is very unglamorous. Afterall, crunching numbers for the 102nd time, tracking spending, making sure that the boss gets to his meetings on time, really isn’t earth shaking, or terribly affirming that you are a necessary cog in the operation.

Plus there is the conundrum of what to do when others don’t know what to do with you? Years ago I had a potential employer state that he was unsure about hiring me as an Assistant because I had been an Executive previously. He felt that he would be uncomfortable asking me to do the filing. My response was, 80% of any job was the mundane. Filing was just part of the territory. And the truth was, I enjoyed filing. Because it helped me stay grounded, organized and out of chaos. Which was very, very important.

And that is probably the greatest gift of going back to basics. I helps you to remove all the ’stuff’ from your field of vision so that you are able to move forward grounded in what is real for you. And this allows you to shine.

Now, wish me luck. I go to Vegas to compete on Friday. It’s my time to shine!

Until next time.

A Perfect life, if not now, when?

Getting nervous (and what to do about it!)

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I must apologize for not writing anything in the last few weeks. I have been writing my thesis and dealing with some unexpected illness. (Is illness ever actually expected?) Anyway, thesis is complete, I am hydrated enough that my brain is starting to function normally again and I am no longer sleep deprived! All good.

So what is this about being nervous? Welllllll……..

I am sitting at Starbucks burning my CD’s for my event in Las Vegas next week and all of the sudden it hits me that it’s almost here and this is really happening! That all the work I have put forth in the last 9 months are about to cumulate here and I get to *gulp* prove to myself and the world what I am made of!

WHAT?!?!?!?! No more playing? No more pretending that I “know” what I am doing? Now I have to show up and actually walk the walk. Show up or shut up? Put my money on the table? EEEPPP!!!!!!

*grabs paper bag and starts slow, deep breathing exercises*

There are several things going on here. One is that I never get nervous. I am one of those people who by nature takes their time to learn everything which pertains to what ever they are doing. Then they practice until they are comfortable with what they are doing. Then they go do it, knowing that there is a lot of serendipity and things which can’t be counted on. In fact, you can always count on something not going hte way you planned it! So flexibility, learning to roll with what ever come up, improvising and letting go of control so that you can get back to the agenda (or dump it as needed) are all good skills which people like me are past masters at.

So what is the issue? I know my ’stuff’. I have practiced what i am doing. I have a fair idea of the physical details, and I am comfortable with the group which I am going to be in front of. (Knowing your audience is a big key for me. While I would always approach anyone I worked with with courtesy and respect, how I speak to a peer is going to be different than how I speak to my boss, or his boss. Or the extremely conservative client. There are times when it is a good idea to cover your tattoos!) So what is the problem already, right?

I think for me, the problem, the challenge is that i have used this as a metaphor for the rest of my life. That my investment in this event and more specifically in my performance in this event, has been linked in my mind with my performance and ability in the other areas such as Coaching, my art, my basic ability to gain Mastery over my life. And I suddenly had anxiety over the greater picture.

And, ironically, not only what happens if I “screw up” but what happens if I do it right? What happens if I “win”? What are the expectations, the bar which I have just set? What happens when I no longer have a fall back of, I am not good enough, worthy enough, pretty enough, too fat, too thin, too young, too old, not tan enough, too tan, chose the wrong music, having a bad hair day, just no longer cuts it because I have proven that all of these thoughts are meaningless. They are simply my way of keeping myself playing small. Keeping me in line with a set of beliefs which no longer support who I am trying to be. Who I desire to be. Who I know I can be.

From a Coaching perspective, if I were my Client, I would suggest that this be a topic for journal writing. To focus on one thought, one word and see what it brought forward. And while doing this, I would also suggest that the Client look at both their expectations and their investment in the results, as they may not be in alignment. Plus, Look at the irrational beliefs which are underlying the anxiety. Is the client fat, lazy, ugly, etc? If not (probably not) then what are they? Time to help the client change their perspective, their point of view about where they are coming from. And help them to find a way to ground the positives via meditation, affirmation, or simply helping them to become aware of what their previous pattern has been and replace it with a pattern which more closely supports their agenda.

And if all else fails, I ask the client do that which makes them uncomfortable. Encouraging the client to simply be in the moment and allowing anything which will happen to happen. Commit to doing what they have decided to do and to move into trust that if all else fails, instinct will take over and everything the client has worked on to them to this place and time will come to the fore and they will be fantastic!

In visualizing that, I know that I will be fantastic! Afterall, I am extraordinary.

Now, if someone would just hold that paper bag for me. . .