Step Up Your Game, Develop a Personal Brand

Great branding doesn’t just apply to businesses. In fact, you can develop your own personal brand and jumpstart your career in any industry. But your personal brand isn’t about a good color scheme and font; rather, it involves identifying your strengths, values, and passions and using these attributes to build your professional presence. Here’s how you can create your own personal brand and give your career the boost it needs.

Identify strengths & weaknesses

During interviews, you’re likely asked about your strengths and weaknesses as an employee. But when you’re building your personal brand, you’re digging much deeper than these questions suggest. Identify a few things that you do particularly well. To get yourself started, you can ask yourself the following:

  • During your past successes, what was it that made you so successful?
  • What skill do you find yourself using the most in challenging situations?
  • What are some strengths others have identified in you?

Once you’ve created a list, narrow it down by deciding which skills you would enjoy using on a daily basis. This will help you identify a long-term brand path that will be both successful and enjoyable.

Network

Climbing any career ladder requires a little help. Fortunately, you have a built-in support system with your coworkers and upper management. Start by establishing a mentorship with senior staff, or by helping others around the office with small projects.

You never know who might lend a helping hand, so make connections in unexpected places to build potential in your professional network. If you make a habit of adding value to your work relationships, this will become something you’re known for and word travels fast of helpful, enthusiastic professionals.

Blend personal & professional

A great way to build your personal brand is by getting more involved with extracurricular activities around the office. Is there a party planning committee? Ask to join. You can also create your own social groups, whether you’d like to organize a monthly company outing or a book club among coworkers. This pro-activity and positive attitude will add a richness to your personal brand that will help keep you at the top of your game.

Get noticed

Finding ways to stand out can be difficult, but if you’re charismatic, open-minded, and willing to take advantage of new opportunities, you’ll find yourself getting noticed by your superiors and your coworkers alike. Be careful that you don’t have any traits that can negatively impact your personal brand, whether that’s tardiness, lack of professionalism, or unreliability.

Changes won’t happen overnight, but if you maintain these good habits over a period of years, you’ll successfully build your own personal brand and establish yourself as a person worth working with. Plan for the future with a well-developed, carefully designed personal brand.

Are You a Servant Leader?

Is your organization built for servant leadership? This business philosophy can change the way you do business from the top down, allowing you to create a stronger company and a more inclusive work environment. Here’s how you can recognize if your organization will support servant leadership, and how you can establish this innovative system.

What is servant leadership?

Servant leadership is a set of business practices that allows leaders to establish meaningful connection with their staff, improving their morale, productivity, and engagement. To accomplish this, servant leaders set aside their own ambition and adopt a “serve first” mentality.

They ensure that the needs of their staff are met, whether that’s a more comfortable work environment, personal and professional development opportunities, and well-being exercises. Servant leaders share their power and promote the spread of ideas and the inclusion of every voice in the organization.

Is your organization ready?

One of the big things that can get in the way of servant leadership is your company’s culture. Does your organization prioritize a corporate structure or performance-based recognition? In these structures, it can be difficult for leaders to elevate others to a shared leadership position, or encourage development for traditionally overlooked staff members.

Another area that can be examined is how your company identifies and encourages leadership candidates. Do they target aggressively ambitious candidates or those who are more inclined to help others before themselves? This can be a strong indicator of whether or not your organization will be accepting of this philosophy.

How to become a servant leader

If your company is open to servant leadership, you can work to develop some of the best practices of this modern philosophy. Larry C. Spears, former president of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, wrote the 10 most important characteristics of servant leaders, including:

  1. Listening
  2. Empathy
  3. Healing
  4. Awareness
  5. Persuasion
  6. Conceptualization
  7. Foresight
  8. Stewardship
  9. Commitment to the growth of people
  10. Building community

An individual with the drive to become a servant leader can adapt these capabilities if they don’t come naturally. For instance, leaders can make a conscious effort to listen and empathize with others in the workplace. Hold training sessions and establish mentorships to encourage the development of a “serve-first” mentality among upper management.

Servant leadership isn’t right for every organization. Determine if it’s right for yours by examining your corporate culture and existing leadership structures. If it is, work on developing leadership qualities among your managers and adopting the philosophies of servant leadership throughout ever level of your organization.

The Unexpected Path to Great Leadership

A lot of thought has gone into what makes a great leader, but it isn’t always traits like ambition and creativity that come into consideration. In fact, the way leaders view the goals and aspirations of their employees can be as telling as their personal characteristics.

Managers who honor the aspirations of their staff—even if those aspirations may be unrealistic or impossible—have what it takes to become a great leader. Here is why you should care about the dreams and ideas of your staff, and how this can impact your potential as a leader.

Managers as Role Models

As a manager, you hold a lot of influence over your staff, both in what they do and how they think.  If an employee expresses a career goal or an idea they have, how you react has the potential to affect their optimism and their long-term plans.  So instead of shooting down an idea, take the time to get to know your employee and understand the motivations that are driving this idea.

The better you know your staff, the more able you are to provide insight and advice when it comes to their aspirations.  They’ll trust your opinion and show more respect for your leadership if you take the time to discuss their plans.  As a result, you’ll be more able to inspire action and innovation and will be a more effective leader over all.

Finding Value in Aspirations

When your staff members have ambitious and long-term goals, these can benefit your company as well as the employee.  In pursuit of their ambitions, they likely want to develop or improve their skills and branch out into new areas of expertise.  If you offer training or professional development incentives, you’ll have a more talented, productive team and a more competitive organization as a whole.

Even if you don’t have the budget for training or development courses, you can honor your employees’ aspirations by offering them the opportunity to take on new roles within the organization.  Do you have a customer service rep who has an interest in IT? Give them the chance to shadow your IT staff or try their hand at small tasks.  Similarly, if some of your employees have the goal of becoming managers, you can slowly increase their responsibilities and allow them to learn managerial skills on the job.

Honoring the career goals of your employees can allow you to grow your skills as a leader, and it can also greatly benefit your company in the long run. You’ll develop a talented, motivated staff that values your role as a leader and looks forward to their future with your company.

 

6 Ways to Ace an Interview

Resumes are important tools for your job search, but interviews are the key to moving from job seeker to happily employed. Right now, millennials in the job market are facing tough competition from both their peers and an older, often more experienced workforce—so knowing how to ace the interview is crucial.

Here are six ways you can make a strong, positive impression at your next interview, and land that perfect job.

  1. Do Your Homework

Career expert and Millennial Branding founder Dan Schawbel states one of the biggest problems employers have with millennials is that they aren’t prepared for interviews.

Thorough research is one of the best things you can do to prepare for job interviews. Find out as much as you can about the company and the person you’re interviewing with ahead of time by reading their website, searching them on Google, connecting on LinkedIn, checking out company reviews on sites like Glassdoor, and talking to current and former employees.

While you’re researching, think about how your skills and experience will benefit this company in particular.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Did you drive perfectly the first time you got behind the wheel of a car? If not, why would you go to an interview and expect to be amazing if you’ve never done it before (or you’ve done it once or twice, but not very well)? Just like any other skill, practice makes perfect when it comes to interviewing.

There are several ways you can practice interviewing before you go for the real thing. Mock interviews with a professional can not only help you get some interview time in, but also provide you with feedback to improve your interviewing skills. You can also try practice interviews with a friend, or video yourself answering interview questions so you can review and analyze your performance.

  1. Bring a Business Card

To most millennials, this advice might sound archaic. After all, everything is online these days, and no one carries around those little rectangles of paper with printed contact information when you can just text or email.

In an interview with Business Insider, Schawbel recommended that millennial job seekers can benefit from having a business card to hand interviewers “because people don’t expect you to have that.” Where business cards used to be an expectation, they’re practically a novelty in the digital age—and employers will remember you for having them.

They’re also very affordable, with sites like VistaPrint.com offering 100 custom business cards for around $10.

  1. Bring Samples of Your Work

Chances are, you’ve already sent potential employers a link to your online portfolio or other samples of your work when you submitted your resume. But if you’re looking to ace the interview, bring copies with you—especially if you’re applying for a creative position like marketing or design.

Directing employers to a link or website during an interview can be awkward, or even annoying. Instead, have a thumb drive you can hand to the interviewer with your work pre-loaded, so your accomplishments can conveniently speak for themselves.

  1. Ask Great Questions

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for an interview is to come up with great questions to ask your interviewer. Use all that research you’ve done on the company to formulate interesting, well-informed questions that demonstrate your knowledge, and prove you really want to work for this company.

Virtually every interview is guaranteed to end with the interviewer asking whether you have any questions for them—but don’t save your questions until the end. Keep an ear out for strategic, relevant openings during the interview to ask your questions, and pay close attention to the responses.

Some sample questions you might ask your interviewer include:

  • Why did you choose to work for this company?
  • What is the workplace culture like here?
  • How would my performance be evaluated?
  • What challenges are facing [the department you’re interviewing for] right now?
  • Does the company encourage collaboration and innovation and how?
  1. Know Your ROI

When it comes to hiring, nearly every employer is looking for a return on their investment. When you arrive at an interview, be prepared to show them the numbers.

Your resume should contain this information as well. Make sure you can demonstrate ways you’ve been able to decrease costs, increase revenues, improve processes, or boost returns for past employers. If this will be your first job, have some prepared ROI statements for school accomplishments or personal projects.

Keep in mind that an interview is your chance to show an employer why they can’t afford not to hire you.

5 Surprising Benefits of Manager Employee Interactions

Employee motivation is the key to a happy and productive workplace. But unless your managers are interacting with your employees, the potential for motivation is slim.

It’s important to remember that money isn’t the only motivator—it’s not even necessarily the biggest. Motivation is often personal, driven to a large degree by individual circumstances, but there are some universal motivators that can fuel any employee’s performance. Among them are recognition, non-financial rewards, increased autonomy, and simple human connections, all of which can be achieved through greater manager-employee interaction.

Here are five ways managers can interact more with employees, and the motivational benefits these interactions achieve.

  1. Make Interaction a Daily To-Do

In the business world, nothing happens unless it’s a priority. Managers are often pressed for time and will focus on work-related issues before less urgent matters like talking with their staff.

Employee interaction can become a priority if managers realize that it truly is a work-related issue. Talking with your employees daily helps you build rapport, get to know them better, and lets them get to know you—so that “open door” policy you have truly feels like an open door.

It doesn’t take much. Simply greeting employees at the start of the day, saying goodbye at the end, and working in a few quick conversations about your employees’ work projects, personal life, or even weekend plans can go a long way toward building a happy and productive work environment.

  1. Help Employees Manage Themselves

Autonomy and a sense of purpose can be powerful motivators. Managers can help to build these motivational tools by empowering their employees to self-manage performance, development, and career progression.

Ask each of your employees to draft a yearly set of goals and development plans, and make the time to sit down with them individually for discussion and refinement. When your employees play an active role in their own career performance, they’ll be more motivated to deliver—and less in need of direct management.

  1. Reward Employees on a Personal Scale

Financial rewards for great performance is standard and accepted, but not all of your employees may need, or even want, extra money. Instead of defaulting to monetary rewards, ask your employees directly what they’d like or appreciate in return for recognition-worthy efforts.

Some may still want money. Others might prefer an extra day off or flexible scheduling, branded items or company stock, or even public recognition. Personalizing rewards and recognition for your employees demonstrates that you care about their interests and truly value their contributions to the team.

  1. Take the Time to Talk Shop

You may be surprised to discover that your employees can have valuable business insights that may benefit your department, or the entire company.

Employees are the closest people to actual work processes—and the customers you serve. They’re often able to identify the best opportunities for improvements, innovation, and increased customer satisfaction. So turn your small talk into shop talk, and stay tuned for important insights into your organization.

  1. Make the Little Things Count

No matter what kind of overall environment your company has, it’s the little things that make the difference. When interacting with employees, keep in mind that small, day-to-day actions—from the way you manage performance in general to the tone you set by greeting (or not greeting) employees each morning—can have the greatest impact.

Often, all it takes is a heartfelt “thank you” to restore disengaged employees and spark motivation. The more effort you put into manager-employee interactions, the more your company will benefit from happier and more productive employees.

 

What creative ways have you discovered to motivate and recognize your team members?

Are You Operating From Your Strengths? 3 Ways to Know

Whether you’re looking to land the perfect job or advance your current career, understanding and leveraging your strengths is one of the most important things you can do. When you operate from your strengths, you’ll have less stress, higher satisfaction, and greater productivity—and most importantly, you will be in complete alignment with yourself.

On the other hand, if you’re working against your strengths, your performance will suffer, your stress levels will increase, and you’ll find yourself stuck in your career and your life.

A strength is any ability you have that you are naturally inclined to do well, a natural talent …it’s where you perform at your highest and best. But how do you know what your strengths truly are?

To effectively leverage your strengths, you need to understand them beyond generic statements like “I’m good with people” or “I’m a fast learner.” Here are three ways you can determine your own strengths and put them to work for you to achieve bold success.

CONSIDER YOUR CORE VALUES

What’s important to you, both personally and professionally? Your values and your passions can help point you toward your strengths—people spend more time and energy on what’s important to them, and as a result, skills based on your values tend to improve at a faster rate.

Some common personal and professional values include:

  • Work-life balance
  • Physical and/or mental health and wellbeing
  • Job security
  • Financial gain
  • Respect and/or recognition
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Continuous learning / ongoing education
  • Helping others / giving back
  • Collaboration/ team environments
  • Creativity / innovation

 

LISTEN TO YOUR EMOTIONAL CUES

You will often know where your strengths lie on a subconscious level , but you may not have paid attention to how you feel when you’re performing certain activities so you can pinpoint them. Listen to your internal cues as you work and play to learn which activities bring you happiness and satisfaction. Do you feel confident and accomplished when you’re in a leadership position? Does it thrill you when you solve a complex problem? Do you enjoy brainstorming or taking a class?

 

GET A SECOND OPINION

Another way to identify your strengths is through the lens of other people. So ask them directly. Sit down with someone who knows you well, and ask them what they feel are your greatest strengths. The answers may surprise you.

You can also consider other people’s responses to your efforts. For example, if you enjoy organizing events, do you typically have a lot of people show up? Do they enjoy the events, and come back for others you organize? Positive actions are a strong confirmation of your strengths.

Finally, if you’re unable to identify any of your strengths innately, try adding new activities to your work or personal life. Choose something that aligns with your natural passions—and you may discover strengths you never expected to find, that could lead you in exciting new directions.

 

DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS

At launchbox, we use Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0 book and online assessment. It’s a great tool that helps you identify your strengths, from 34 different themes, and gives you strategies for applying them to your life. Get Strengths Finder now and start living from your strengths.

Work Life Balance

Work-Life Balance. What exactly does this mean to you?

A large majority of millennials rank Work-Life Balance extremely high on their list of things to consider before accepting or applying to a job opportunity. According to the PWC’s ‘Managing Tomorrows People’ study, 95% of millennials studied said a work/life balance is important to them.

Recently, Forbes release a list of 20 jobs that offer the best work-life balance and why. Some seem exciting, some seem unusual, and some are surprising. Did the list surprise you as much as it surprised me? Check out the reasons behind this list here.

The List

  1. Data Scientist
  2. SEO Specialist
  3. Tour Guide
  4. Lifeguard
  5. Social Media Manager
  6. Group Fitness Instructor
  7. User Experience Director
  8. Corporate Communications
  9. Firefighter
  10. Equity Trader
  11. Law Clerk
  12. Investment Analyst
  13. Administrative Assistant
  14. Office Assistant
  15. Sales Representative
  16. Help Desk Technician
  17. Substitute Teacher
  18. Carpenter
  19. Real Estate Broker
  20. Game Designer

Did any of these jobs catch your eye? If so, launchbox can help make them attainable. Come in to get your launch plan and discover the necessary tools to start the career you want today! A perfect work-life balance is closer than you may think!

 

Millennials Just Want To Have Fun

Time flies when you are having fun, right? But how many times have you stared at the clock waiting for a work day to end? Chances are, unless you work for an exceptionally innovative company, most people wouldn’t describe their workplaces as “fun”.

However, many millennials crave a fun ad innovative work environment. The main reason millennials switch companies is boredom, and an exciting work environment is likely to help retain employees. Studies show, when employees feel they are enjoying themselves, they become more creative, and more efficient. Companies like Facebook and Google have embraced the ‘fun’ work environment, and are shining examples of success.

At launchbox, we strive to create a fun work environment that keeps our team upbeat and innovative. Members of the team should be excited to come into work, not dreading it, and a fun work environment is conducive to that.

Check out the Forbes article regarding why a ‘fun’ work environment is so important for the incoming workforce.

Secrets Behind Retaining Millennials

“I’m not going to hire millennials because they are just going to leave in a few years anyway, so what is the point.” If we had a dollar for everytime we heard that we would be retired on a tropical island by now. On the surface, this statement raises a valid point: why hire people that will just leave? Those darn millennials are just so indecisive!

At launchbox, we find quite a few faults with this statement.

The first is that we, as a society, are getting to a point where we are no longer going to have the option to bypass hiring millennials. According to CICSO’s Millennial Research, “75,000,000 millennials are joining or looking to join the work force” and “by 2025 about 75% of the workforce will be millennials”. What are you going to do, scour the 25% of non-millennial workforce until you find a 50 year old willing to accept a starting salary? Good luck with that. Plus millennials think differently, are innovative, and create real diversity in the workplace. How about that for changing results against your competitors?

The second flaw with the reasoning is that millennials wouldn’t leave companies so frequently if these companies would learn to attract and retain millennials. Companies can’t expect to treat millennials the same way they treated incoming employees 30 years ago and achieve the same result. In fear of sounding too obvious, the generations are vastly different!

Millennials grew up in the digital age, and they don’t know any differently than to use the technology they grew up with. Information is at their fingertips, and everything is immediate. They would rather work harder than longer, which frankly makes a lot of sense to me. If I could complete a project in 4 hours with the same level of quality as a co-worker who took 8 hours but wasn’t as efficient, why wouldn’t you.

Millennials work differently, and have different expectations from a workplace. If you and your company met more of those expectations, maybe millennials wouldn’t ‘jump around’ as often.

Is it your duty to meet the needs of your employees? You ultimately get to choose.  Zappos and Google chose, and who wants to work there: most everybody. You may ask, why? Because they just get it.

As always, we’d love to know what you think.

 

Labor Day: The New (labor) Rules for Millennials

With the memories of Labor Day still on our minds while at work today, its important to keep in mind why we celebrate the holiday. Not only do we appreciate all the work we do everyday, but we are given the opportunity to appreciate all the hard work others do that makes the world go round.

This insightful blog takes an interesting spin on Millennials and hard work.

The author’s perspective is right in line with lunchbox’s views of millennials. The article touches on research about millennials and their ability to innovate the workplace. It also lists some interesting advice to millennials that is new and refreshing.

Check out the article and let us know what you think!