“Will You Marry Me”?

Building business relationships

 

You would never ask someone to marry you on a first date, so why would you expect someone you’ve met for the first time to refer business with you?

We have all heard the expression “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” and in many cases we use that expression in a less-than-complimentary way. In those situations, perhaps we should respond by assessing our own skills in developing relationships that can help us build business and careers. Professional relationships that help us along in our career do not happen by accident or without significant effort. They require nurturing, constant contact, and a host of other important ingredients that, when properly applied, can create a support team as dedicated to our success as we are.

We begin developing close friends early on in life. What we might not have realized in our developmental years is that the friend we sat beside while learning our ABCs may indeed be our doctor, tax adviser, or our children’s grade school teacher later on in life. However, as adults we can visualize that the people we meet at networking events may indeed end up changing our life—or more importantly, we may be able to change theirs.

Building career relationships is all about capturing relationships as an ongoing and fundamental part of our life plan. Life is about who you know; the common ground we find with our associates; and the commitment to engaging with our friends and associates, those we know now and those we have yet to meet. The most important relationship in the world may be just around the corner, or waiting for you to say hello at that next mixer.

5 Keys to Building Business Relationships That Should Be Considered When Networking

  1. Contact: Assess your availability to meet and be met by others. Are you in the right professional associations? Do you attend events regularly? Are you an observer or participant? How many people in your associations do you know on a first-name basis?
  2. Commonality: Seeking commonality with others is important, as it is the means by which you communicate in an interesting and outgoing way. Finding activities, interests, and even exercise plans that you have in common offers the easiest way to interact on different levels, broadening your communication.
  3. Credibility: Associates, especially new ones, need to see us as credible people. This means that we need to mean what we say, say what we mean, and always follow through with the commitments we make. When people say, “Do you walk your talk?” What they mean is, “Are you credible?” While we never know how many demonstrations of credibility we have to perform so that people believe we are who and what we say we are, there is a universal answer to how many times we can NOT be credible. One! That’s why it’s important to take our commitments seriously, each and every time we have the opportunity.
  4. Confidence: Only when we have had the opportunity to demonstrate that we “walk our talk” over time and with enough interactions will our friends and associates be willing to show confidence in us. When people have confidence in you they will follow your lead, your example, and your direction. They will allow you to influence their thoughts on particular issues and they may even see you as an expert in others.
  5. Trust: Most relationships never really make it here! You see, trust allows a relationship to flourish because it makes no difference which party leads and which follows. One respects the other in any given interaction and works to unconditionally support the direction, philosophy, and commitment of the other. When you achieve this level of trust in a relationship, you’ve made it! The relationship has achieved intradependence!

It takes time to cultivate relationships, which is why attending just one networking mixer won’t do it. It requires the dedication keep attending, having a plan when you arrive, and the patience for building those relationships over time. Next time you decide that networking isn’t worth the effort, think about this: People who have made time in their schedule to network have gotten results like these:

  • 87% of top-level executives network 2–3 times weekly
  • 80% increase their business development
  • 45% increase their sales
  • 95% build their business relationships
  • 90% increase their business opportunities
  • 80% have found their next job through networking
  • 65% receive a return on their investment
  • 76% get in front of the type of business that they would like to meet

Sharon Jenks is the CEO of 6 Degrees Business Networking, #sd6degrees

The Measure of a CEO

 

 

RulerI read an interesting article recently in which the author, a seasoned business consultant and attorney, referred to half of all the CEO’s out there as being “below average”.  There were no studies cited, no research statistics offered, and no indication of what “average” is, was, or has been.  The article offered one example of a high profile CEO who was fired three months after his initial hire date for failing to produce profits commensurate with his salary!  Was this something the company did not realize when they hired him?

How do we measure the quality of our Chief Executive?  Do we only work with those who come with a demonstrable track record of success?  Do they know how to make money?  Are they good with people?  Do they have clear vision?  Are they skilled facilitators, mentors, directors and growth mongers?  Can they build a sales team, create a marketing plan and implement operational strategy?  Are their values clear, is their mission strong and does their very presence in the boardroom exude integrity?

If the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “YES”, you haven’t found a CEO; you’ve found Superman or Wonder Woman.  I work daily with CEO’s.  Lot’s of them.  In fact the foundation of my consulting practice is CEO skill development and strategic planning which puts me in direct one-on-one contact with these high level power brokers.  My experience often leaves me wondering why anyone would want to take on this extremely complex, thankless, unforgiving and emotionally draining task.   The CEO’s I know work incredibly long hours, take all the company problems home, directly answer client complaints, smooth over human resource issues, answer to profit driven BOD’s, and at the end of the day, offer everyone else the credit for company accomplishment.

The CEO position is also the most tenuous position in the organization.  Anyone who has been around for more than a minute knows that founding owners, managing boards and Chairman don’t make mistakes.  It’s always the CEO who goes; the CEO who ultimately takes the fall or pays the price for poor company performance.  So why do they do it?

The CEO’s I know can’t walk in a room and not be a leader.  They are driven to accomplishment, goal and task.  They are deeply committed, driven to personal and organizational excellence, focused on the strategic vision of their industry and organization.  Are they perfect?  Not a chance.  Ego driven?  Absolutely.  Difficult to please, often argumentative, aggressive, and in many cases abrasive to those closest to them?  Yes.  Should we accept this kind of behavior? No.  But we also need to take the time to understand where the behavior emanates from.

To cite an example, one of my clients recently took on the CEO role of a high growth, seemingly successful $50 million dollar manufacturing company.  Once inside, she realized that the reason the profits were so outstanding is that the previous owners had never provided for the appropriate infrastructure to maintain quality in production.

When my client recommended a major and costly reorganization to support quality in their process the Board of Directors began to second guess their choice for CEO. Couple this with the normal fair of several employee related legal claims against previous management, a management team in transition, a cash flow shortage and yes, you may be dealing with someone whose fuse is pretty short.

While the tender of success in the workplace is measured in dollars I find it hard to judge a CEO negatively simply because they negotiate the strongest personal compensation package possible.  I often ask skeptics a simple question when I am queried about the validity of a client’s compensation package; “Compared to what?”  Even professional compensation specialists have a difficult time agreeing on CEO compensation as the points of reference are as varied as the individual needs of the organization.

I want to be clear that I am not condoning poor performance nor am I suggesting that there are not compensation plans out there that cross into the land of absurdity.  I am saying that we need to take a long hard look at the men and women who have the courage to take on these high profile positions.  Hopefully when we do, we will see leaders we can be proud to follow, leaders we can trust to do the right thing, and leaders that will promote the health and well being of American business.

Sharon Jenks is CEO of The Jenks Group Inc., a California Consulting Company that specializes in strategic planning and executive development. She can be reached at http://www.thejenksgroup.com.

 

TIPS FOR GROWING YOUR BUSINESS

grow your businessIn order to have a successful business, practice these things. If your business strategy is lacking in a particular area, its time to fix it. These are seven tips to grow your business.

1) BE HANDS-ON AND METICULOUS

In order to grow your business, the business owner needs to be there all the time and hands on, like a doctor.

A business owner can never be afraid to do the small tasks. He or she should pitch in and straighten up boxes or pick up things. Small things do get noticed, so attention to detail is very important.”

2) SHOW YOUR PASSION

Selling is a transfer of enthusiasm. Business owners need to show their enthusiasm for their product or service, as well as for their customers.

Besides showing passion, business owners need to be optimistic. In business, there are all kinds of problems. You have to look for the good in every situation and look for the lesson in everything that goes wrong.

3) FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER

The purpose of business is not to make a profit. It’s to create and keep a customer. You want them to come the first time, then come again and finally bring their friends.

How you are doing is directly related to how many satisfied customers you have. To increase customer satisfaction, you have to listen to your customers and be involved in their buying experience.

4) BECOME MORE COMPETITIVE

Unless you have an exclusive monopoly, competition is everything and differentiation is the key to successful selling. You can’t be a ‘me-too’ company.

You must have a competitive advantage. If you don’t have one, create one.

It all comes down to your USP or unique selling proposition. This is what makes you better than your competitors. It can be your location, your product, but often it’s you. When customers think of a business, they often think of the people who make up that business and especially the owner.

5) MIND THE MONEY

In putting together a business strategy, business owners should always focus on sales, revenues and cash flow, and to know every day how much money is being made. Focus on your net profit, not your gross profit. This gives you a more realistic view of how the business is doing.

Look to ‘idealize your business.’ Think about what your perfect business would look like, and figure out what you need to do to create it.

6) BE THE BEST

Successful business owners are always striving for excellence. They want to be the best at what they do. Being the best is about being in constant motion, working harder and faster. Being the best is also about wanting to learn more.

7) MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS

Everyone defines success differently. The best measure of success: Number one, you should enjoy what you do. That’s the ultimate success. Next, you should consistently hit your numbers, it shows that you know what you’re doing. Lastly, you should love your product or service, and you should love your customers. If you do all these, you can’t help but be successful.

CONCLUSION

All of these tips to growing a successful business are important. Having your own business is challenging and rewarding. It is important to plan and set your goals in the long term.

By Brian Tracy

How To Persuade Anyone Of Anything In Ten Seconds

Elevator speech, 30 sec pitch

 

You’re on the most important elevator ride of your life. You have ten seconds to pitch- the classic “elevator pitch”.

Love or Hate. Money or Despair. And you may never get this chance again. As PM Dawn says, “I feel for you. I really do.”

There are books about this. But don’t waste your time. They are all garbage.

I’ve been on both sides of this equation. I’ve had people pitching me.

But mostly, I’ve been scared and desperate and afraid to ask someone to give me, want me, love me, all in the space of an elevator ride or in the time it takes one to ride an elevator.

Perhaps the hardest thing for me was when I was doing my “3am” web series for HBO.

I had to walk up to random strangers at 3 in the morning on the streets of New York and convince them within 5 seconds to spill their most intimate secrets to me rather than kill me.

Not quite an elevator pitch but the same basic idea. I had a lot of practice. I probably approached over 3000 people cold.

In some cases people tried to kill me. In one case I was chased. In other cases people opened up their hearts and I am infinitely grateful to them.

The ideas below have worked for me in the hundreds of times I’ve had to be persuasive. Either in writing, or in person. In business and in friendships and in love. I hope variations on it can work for you. You decide.

A) WHO ARE YOU?

People want to know they are talking to a good, honest, reliable person that they can trust and perhaps even like, or love.

Yes, love.

They won’t love you by looking at your resume.

You have to do method acting. Imagine what your body would feel like if they already said “Yes” even before you open your mouth.

You would be standing up straight, smiling, palms open, ready to close the deal. You have to method act at the beginning of your pitch.

If you are slouched and your head is sticking out then your brain is not as well-connected to your nervous system and you won’t be in “flow”.

I can drag out the science here but this is a Facebook status update and not a peer-reviewed scientific paper for the Justice League of America.

The reality is: when you’re slouched over, not only are you not using the full potential of your brain, but you look untrustworthy.

B) RELAX

Think about how you breathe when you are anxious and nervous.

I will tell you how I breathe: short, shallow breaths in my upper chest.

So do the reverse before a ten second pitch.

Breathe deep and in your stomach. Even three deep breaths in the stomach (and when you exhale try to imagine your stomach almost hitting your back) has been shown to totally relax the mind and body.

People sense this. Again, this builds trust and relaxes you.

Now, even though you haven’t said a single word, you’ve probably done the two most important things for persuading someone.

C) UHHH. YEAH. UHHH. MMMM-HMMM. UH-HUH

I have a hard time with this. It seems natural to say, “yup” or “right” or “uh-huh” or whatever.

But here’s the facts (and, again, there’s been studies on this): people perceive you as stupid when you do this.

Just keep quiet when someone is talking.

Then, when someone is done speaking, wait for two seconds before responding. They might not be done yet. And it gives you time to think of a response. If you are thinking of a response while they are talking, then you aren’t listening to them.

People unconsciously know when you are not listening to them. Then they say No to you.

D) THE SIX U’s

FINALLY, now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. THE ACTUAL NUTS AND BOLTS OF PERSUASION

By the way, I’ve googled “the 4 U’s” and each time I get a different set of 4. So I’m going to use the 4 that have worked for me the best.

This is not BS. This is not a way to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do. This is a way for you to consolidate your vision into a sentence or two and then express it in a clear manner.

This is the way to bond and connect with another person’s needs instead of just your own pathetic wants.

You can use this in an elevator pitch, on a date, with your children, on your mother, whatever. But it works.

Think about these things when talking:

  1. Urgency


Why the problem you solve is URGENT to your demographic. For example: “I can never get a cab when it rains!”
  2. Unique


Why is your solution unique: “We aggregate 100s of car services into one simple app. Nobody else does this.”
  3. Useful


Why is your solution useful to the lives of the people you plan on selling to or deliver your message to: “We get you there on time.”
  4. Ultra-Specific


This shows there is no fluff: “Our app knows where you are. Your credit card is pre-loaded. You hit a button and a car shows up in 4-5 minutes.”

Of course the example I give is for Uber but you can throw in any other example you want.

I’ll throw in a fifth “U”
  5. User-friendly
In other words, make it as easy as possible for someone to say “yes”. Like a money back guarantee, for instance. Or a giveaway. Or higher equity. Or testimonials from people you both know. Etc.

OH! And before I forget, a sixth U
  6. Unquestionable Proof

This can be in the form of profits. Or some measurable statistic. Or testimonials. Or a good wing-man. Whatever it takes.

E) DESIRE

A lot of people say you have to satisfy the desires of the other person in order for them to say “yes”.

As much as we would like to think otherwise, people primarily act out of self-interest.

The less they know you, the more they will act of self-interest because to do otherwise could potentially put them in danger. We all know that kids shouldn’t take candy from strangers.

In an elevator pitch, the investor is the kid, what you are asking is the candy, and you are the stranger. So their gut reflex, unless you make the candy super-sweet, is to say “no”.

So make sure you make your candy sweeter by sprinkling in their desires.

And what are their desires?

  • recognition
  • rejuvenation
  • relaxation
  • relief
  • religion
  • remuneration
  • results
  • revenge
  • romance

If you can help them solve these URGENT problems or desires, then you they are more likely to say “yes” to you.

I don’t know what you are selling, but hopefully it’s not to satisfy their desire for revenge. But if it is, don’t do anything violent.

The one time I had to sell romance on an elevator I had to do three things: tell her life would be ok, make sure I knew her address and last name, and send her a teddy bear and flowers the next day.

But that’s for another story.

BUT FIRST

F) OBJECTIONS

Everyone is going to have gut objections.

They’ve been approached 1000s of times before.

Do you know how many times I’ve been approached to have sex in an elevator?

None.

But probably many others have and you have to put up with their non-stop objection.

I will list them and then give solutions in parentheses:

  • No time
(that’s ok. It’s on an elevator. So they have elevator-length time. The key here is to stand straight and act like someone who deserves to be listened to).
  • No interest
(you solve this by accurately expressing the urgency of the problem)
  • No perceived difference
(but you have your unique difference ready to go)
  • No belief
(offer unquestionable proof that this works)
  • No decision
(make their decision as user-friendly as possible)

– – –

With great power comes great responsibility.

Most people don’t have the power of persuasion. They mess up on each of the points I’ve outlined above. It takes practice and hard work.

But this is not just about persuasion. It’s about connection.

It’s about two people, who are probably strangers, reaching through physical and mental space and trying to understand each other and reach common ground.

It’s not about money. It’s not about the idea. It’s not about yes or no.

It’s about two people falling in love. -James Altucher

(Photo by Marco Wessel)

Executives Learn from Navy SEALs – Game Changing Skill 5: Chaos as a Strategic Advantage

What are the rules of engagement by which you operate? Do you defy Sequence 01_Still003(1)(2)distraction and adapt to situations in order to maintain focus? Are you aware of the details that lead to execution on goals?
Have you ever wondered what compels a normally reasonable person to run headfirst into a disaster to help rescue a person in need?  Have you ever wondered how a fireman or a soldier can walk calmly into a burning building or a firefight with the enemy?

While we can understand the concept of subjugating self to mission and the importance of the mission itself, what differentiates a spontaneous unplanned “rescue” action from a “mission” action is that an operator has been trained to deliberately utilize the chaos around him or her to their strategic advantage. They support their action with the unconsciously-competent components of their “kit” to be the most formidable operators on the planet.

The first key learning point that makes the Fifth Skill complete is establishing organizational Rules of Engagement.  Good leaders and good teams work together to complete a mission successfully most of the time.  Great Leaders and Great Teams completely understand the team’s Rules of Engagement before they ever enter the fracas, which makes them successful all the time.

Being strong enough of character to establish organizational Rules of Engagement and enforcing those rules – or, more importantly, explaining them to the point where team members want to follow them – enable a team to function at a much higher level.

Rules of Engagement are those conditional guiding principles that the team agrees to live with for the single purpose of being game changers.  These might include things like no meeting Tuesdays, no cell phone Fridays, or no texting Mondays.

While technology certainly is an easy target, there are many other rules around which great team treaties can be made.  The identification of meeting purpose, for example, creates a common understanding for all participants about how they should behave in a given situation.  If the meeting is for the dissemination of information and it turns into a free-for-all about the company picnic, focus has been lost.  If the meeting is for the purpose of problem solving and there are insufficient facts or reports with which to make sound decisions, the meeting is most likely a waste of time.

When your Rules of Engagement are embedded in your unconsciously-competent kit, you’re on your way to utilizing “Chaos as a Strategic Advantage”!

The second key learning point for the Fifth Game Changing Skill is focus.  Operators and first responders have the ability to accept the environment they’re in, adapt to it as necessary, control it to the extent they can, and never take their eye off the objective.

In the techno-cultural environment we live in today, we’re bombarded with interruptions that we sometimes desire and sometimes don’t.  Yet no matter the intent, we’re disturbed out of our thought process as many as 100 unplanned times each day.  These distractions include everything from a person casually strolling by our office door to the chime on our iPhone letting us know a text, message, or phone call has come in.  All of them take our mind off the task at hand for a minimum of 17 seconds, and that’s only if we don’t engage or respond!

The ability to stay focused on the task at hand, completing that task satisfactorily and then moving on to the next, allows us to achieve greater levels of personal output and success.  These distractions are not going to go away, and, in fact, may become of greater scale than we can imagine today.  Practicing focus, understanding the importance of single-minded purpose, and executing on it offers us competitive advantage.

The third key learning point of the Fifth Skill is execution, which is the ability to enact, finish, or complete the mission, strategy, or task to which we are committed.  There are many people with good intentions and great minds, creative, intelligent, and willing individuals, who don’t have the capacity to complete the mission due to lack of focus.  Further, there are many individuals who don’t consciously understand how much they are distracted on a minute-by-minute basis throughout the day, preventing them from being successful or, more importantly, a game-changer.

To execute effectively, all team members must be present and in the moment with a complete understanding of their responsibilities and authority, coupled with mission commitment and the ability to perform on target, on time, every time.  Completing on small tasks and recognizing the success of meeting even short milestones makes a team hungry for more success!

In SEALs training, each mate is required to make his bed perfectly each day or pay considerable consequences, which may include a two-mile open-ocean swim while in uniform.  The purpose of this activity, and getting it done perfectly, is to start each day with a small task successfully executed.  They then build on that one success to the next throughout the day.  Even if the rest of their day is horrible, they can still look forward to a good sleep in a well-made bed that night.  Small things matter when it comes to execution; there are no shortcuts to success. -Ed Jenks, Author of CEO Point Blank and Sr Strategist for The Jenks Group, Inc.

http://www.sosttraining.com

Executives Learn from Navy SEALs – Game Changing Skill 3: Subjugation of Self to Mission

Safety trainingCould your executive team explain the corporate mission to a complete stranger? How do you deal with team members who are willing but unable? What about those who are able but unwilling?

The idea of “subjugation of self to mission” requires some definition of terms.

As defined by Merriam-Webster, subjugation strictly translates as “to gain control of by use of force; to gain obedience.”  Mission is defined as a “goal or activity given to an individual or group to accomplish.”

For the purposes of our work, we are defining “subjugation of self to mission” as the understanding and agreement that the goal we want to achieve is of greater importance than the individual team members who are charged with the task of  executing the strategy it takes to achieve the goal.

One should not assume that the individual is not important in this arena; quite the contrary.  The value proposition of the team is based on the collective contribution made by all members.  We often toss around the axiom that the “sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts,” and particularly in Military Special Ops such as our US Navy SEALs, the axiom becomes a foundational pillar of the strategic approach to mission.  All team members have a role that is strictly defined within the mission, a responsibility that is non-transferable, the authority necessary to complete their specific task, and the training and support necessary to be successful.  In this scenario, if an individual is incapable of completing their piece of the assignment, it does not mean the mission fails; instead, it means another teammate must complete their task as well as yours. -Ed Jenks, Sr Strategist for The Jenks Group, Inc.

 

 

Executives Learn from Navy SEALs – Game Changing Skill 1: Tip of the Spear

Tip of the Spear: Speed, Surprise, and Impact of Action Triangle

 

What constitutes speed in your organization? Do you have the advantage of surprise? Are you aware of the game-changing impact of your actions?

 

 

S.O.S.T. is an educational experience for executives who want a new, more effective approach to achieving corporate goals. Let us teach you how this can be applied in your organization.

 

 

http://sosttraining.com/

 

What US Navy SEALs can teach your Executive Teams

Strategic Operations Skills Training

Strategic Operations Skills Training

 

KFMB Channel 8 News reporter Alicia Summers filmed and participated in our S.O.S.T. training. Here is FAST Team 8, they were awesome!! Back row left to right, US Navy SEAL Steve Bailey, Master Chief Ret., Dave Sweeney, Room 5; David Foos, Meeting Match; Craig Goldberg, 6 Degrees Business Networking; US Navy SEAL Mike Cheswick; Faisal Kohgadai, Meeting Match; Matthew Arena, TGG Accounting; US Navy SEAL Kirby Horrell; Front row left to right, Sharon Jenks, The Jenks Group, Inc. and Alicia Summers, Reporter KFMB Channel 8 News. You can watch the video here:

Not Your Typical Corporate Classroom

To learn more about the Strategic Operations Skills Training (S.O.S.T.) go to http://www.sosttraining.com and find out how this unique program can improve your organization when your team learns the 6 Game-Changing Skills taught by the US Navy SEALs and The Jenks Group instructors.

 

Limiting Telecommuting Is Smarter Than It Sounds

Telecomuting

 

The number of Americans who telecommute jumped nearly 80 percent from 2005 to 2012, according to a study based on U.S. Census Bureau data. That’s 3.2 million full-time employees of companies who work out of their homes, making up 2.6 percent of the U.S. workforce. If you count the self-employed and anyone who works outside a regular office, then nearly a third of American workers could be considered telecommuters.

It’s not hard to see why the ranks of telecommuters have expanded so quickly. Telecommuting can free employees from the time-wasting drudgery of long commutes, and from the many office distractions that can impede productivity. And it allows some employees to flexibly blend work with the comforts and responsibilities of home life—be it relaxing in the den while reading reports, or being present to greet children returning from school. Meanwhile, technology is providing more and better options for staying in close touch with managers, colleagues, partners and customers.

Yet some major employers, including Yahoo, Best Buy and Hewlett-Packard, have in the last few years reversed liberal telecommuting policies and pressured employees to return to the office. In an age when commerce, entertainment, social interactions and an enormous portion of our work have migrated online, isn’t forcing people to rub shoulders in an office building a needless and even counter-productive anachronism?

I don’t think so. Frequent physical presence can be a crucial element of organizational success. It’s not that telecommuters don’t work at least as hard as employees in the office. Rather, the issue revolves around a more nuanced view of productivity, and what it is that enables employees to fully contribute to a team.

“Team” is the operative word here. For more and more organizations, the value of employees’ individual contributions have come to pale beside the impact that team performance has on organizational goals. Companies win not by getting employees to put in more hours grinding out more widgets or crunching through more reports, but by establishing rich, stimulating cultures that nurture innovation and engagement. Developing and sustaining that sort of culture is all about collaboration and teamwork, and not so much about the sort of quiet concentration one can achieve working alone at home.

There’s no one right way to build a culture of collaboration, but most paths have certain elements in common: frequent useful feedback, mechanisms for making employees feel listened to and valued, reinforcement of team spirit, and multiple sources of inspiration, encouragement and guidance. Yes, of course, all of this can happen via electronic communications. But I think most of us recognize that these types of complex, often subtle, emotionally rich interactions are more likely to happen face-to-face than through a screen.

Collaborative excitement doesn’t happen automatically when you invite people into a building together. It requires leadership capable of fostering the right sort of culture. But it’s more likely to happen when people are chatting by the coffee machine, making eye contact across cubicles, observing body language during meetings, eating lunch together, and the many other ways we communicate with our colleagues. Part of the reason we like the electronic world is that we can better control our availability—but sometimes it’s the less-controllable availability of physical presence that invites the spontaneous discussion or observation that can lead to a breakthrough.

Sure, in the next few years, the ever-advancing world of electronic communications may find ways to surpass the advantages of physical presence in spurring cultures of collaboration and teamwork. And needless to say, organizations can find appropriate middle grounds between telecommuting-friendly and fully office-based environments—it’s not a clear-cut issue. (Yahoo, Best Buy and HP seemed to take their anti-telecommuting positions to sharply correct environments that had drifted too far in the other direction, among other problems.)

But in a world where the trend has been to increase reliance on electronic communications, it’s critical that leaders make a point of thinking through the costs and benefits of allowing physical presence to become a depreciating asset.

-Steven J. Thompson, CEO at Johns Hopkins Medicine International, Senior Vice President Johns Hopkins Medicine

7 Career Mistakes You Don’t Even Know You’re Making

career mistakes

Older workers have a harder time finding jobs and remain the demographic that once unemployed, stays out of work the longest. So hanging on to their jobs is of paramount importance. Yet here are 7 mistakes older workers unwittingly make:

1. They don’t think they need to pick up new skills while they are still employed. 
Jobs are not static anymore. The workplace is constantly evolving and they need to evolve along with it. If an employer offers training classes, some older workers wrongly believe the classes are intended for new company hires and don’t go. Instead. they should be taking as many of those earn-as-you-learn classes as possible.

Should they lose that job, training is hard to come by. Government training programs are geared toward those who are receiving public assistance. The goal is to get those folks off the public dole and into tax-generating jobs.

Retraining programs for college-educated professionals kind of don’t exist. That, or they do a terrific job of hiding themselves from the public. In fact, a “60 Minutes” segment featured a Connecticut program in 2012 for just one reason: It was such a rarity. In that program, college-educated professionals, who had lost their jobs when they were in their 40s or 50s and who had been out of work for a full 99 weeks, were given a crack at some internships that could lead to permanent jobs. These former six-figure earners were grateful for the foot in the door for one big reason: Most of their peers don’t even get that.

Take-away: If you have a chance to broaden your skills, jump at it.

2. They think community colleges are just for kids.
The community college system has borne the brunt of re-training the displaced older workforce. There’s a program that launched in 2010 called the Plus 50 Completion Strategy which basically helps post50 students complete their post-secondary degrees,and aims to give older workers the skills they need to get jobs in fields that are actually hiring — like health care. So far, the Plus 50 initiative has served about 24,000 students, which — not to diminish this rare drop in the bucket — is about how many out-of-work journalists I hear from in any given week.

Even if you are working, it still makes sense to keep an eye on what lies around the corner for you professionally. Many of these classes can be taken online. If you are in one of those careers that is contracting, use the “hospice time” to prepare for what you will be doing next. And a community college is a great place to start.

3. They don’t sufficiently value reverse mentoring.
Older employees have some amazing teachers right under their noses, says Robert L. Dilenschneider, an author and business leader who lectures older workers around the country about staying relevant. “Younger employees are fluent not just in the new technologies but in the best ways to deliver business messages and marketing in such technologies,” he said, and older workers should seek them out. When workers can learn from each other, the workplace is strengthened.

Mentoring is a two-way street and the older workers who embrace that — instead of thinking that their age and experience alone make them the only teachers in the room — improve their value to the company.

4. They wrongly assume that working beyond 66 will be their choice.
This is a silly assumption, especially with companies eager to reduce costs and an economy that can provide many eager-to-work millennials who can be paid less than an older, more-experienced worker. The reality is that there is a guillotine lurking in every future and no job is secure for a lifetime anymore. It’s another argument for making yourself as invaluable as possible to the company by being willing and able to do multiple tasks.

Most boomers have gotten over the notion that they will be able to retire as young as their parents did. Now the goal is to hang on to the jobs they have for as long as possible.

5. They inflict self-damage when they joke about being tech-illiterate.
Stereotypes are bad things. And one of the popular stereotypes is that older people resist technology. It hurts them in the workplace and can be the death knell if they are job-hunting. And never mind that it isn’t a universal truth.

It’s important not to fuel the myth. Telling your younger boss that you need your teenager to program your new phone isn’t a funny joke; it’s a check mark in your “not capable” column.

6. They don’t make time to socialize with the younger people in the office.
While you may not think you have oodles in common with your decades-younger coworkers, it’s important to secure your place in the office universe.

Go out to lunch when they invite you, make time for the occasional drink after work, be interested in their weekend plans. Aside from the fact that having office friends will actually make coming to work more fun, it’s also easier to lay off the people who nobody knows.

7. They don’t actually have an exit strategy or a retirement plan.
A Fidelity study reported that 48 percent of boomers won’t be able to afford basic expenses in retirement. It begs the question: What are you doing about it?

The simplest answer is to try and save more and look for ways you are wasting money now. Another thing to think about is your housing costs, which are pretty much everyone’s big ticket item. While you are still working is the perfect time to look into more affordable places to live or how you can adapt your home expenses to be more aligned with your reduced retirement income. -Ann Brenoff