It’s Hard to Help People Help Themselves

Help
Photo Cred: Dimitri N.

A couple of months ago, I hosted an event in Philly.  It didn’t have the turnout I was expecting  and so I was a little bummed.   My friend Valeria Maltoni came up to me and said “It’s hard to help people help themselves.”

Those words really stuck with me.  I’ve given it great thought. Why wouldn’t people want to be helped? Are they just lazy?  So lazy that they wouldn’t even do the bare minimum to get something?  Or is it something else?

Then, I read Chris Brogan‘s newsletter today…and it all came together.  He said,

Look at your efforts through others’ eyes. Now, in measuring your self-worth, your own eyes are the only ones that matter, but in trying to better understand how well you’re serving people’s needs, try to see it from their side. Are you quick to pounce? Do you have their interests at heart or yours? The more clarity you can bring to this, the better you’ll do.”

So many “professionals” claim to be providing a valuable service, but are really just interested helping themselves. They have a backwards mentality.  Instead of building a more valuable product, they’re concerned with making their product LOOK more valuable. They’re pretending to help customers.

There are many of you that are really trying to help.  Unfortunately [potential] customers don’t believe that you’re actually trying to help them.  They think that you’re trying to take their time and money for your own gain.

They don’t believe you because they’ve been fooled too many times.  They’ve lost trust.

That’s why it’s hard to help people help themselves.

Are you really helping or are you just pretending to help?

Edit: Marissa Pherson left a comment on this post over on Brazen Careerist and linked to a speech that I thought was really smart and relevant.  It speaks about the difference between “helping” and “serving”.

btw…if you haven’t signed up for Chris Brogan’s newsletter yet, you’re truly missing out.  It’s really the only newsletter I’ve ever enjoyed and the only one I actually read through. I highly recommend you try it out.

Are you Afraid of Competition?

Photo cred: Stuart Barr
Photo cred: Stuart Barr

You may not know it, but I am a very competitive person…always have been. Between my parents always pushing me to be better, and playing every sport I could, the competitive spirit became instilled in me.

Competition is a good thing as long as you keep it within reason and you keep it respectful.

Many place a lot of focus on collaboration. Consistently help others and it will pay off in the long run.

This positive mentality is a great one but are we afraid to challenge each other? Afraid to challenge ourselves?

When someone launches a new product, do you just say “wow what a great job!” or do you think about how it could be done better? While the former will make the person feel better, the latter will contribute to the growth of the the idea.

Of course, like everything else, you have to find that middle ground. You don’t want to be overly competitive and you don’t want to put too much focus on collaboration.

You can collaborate, communicate and be respectful while being competitive.

I think we all have the competitive aspect in us. Some just refuse to admit it. When you see someone accomplish goals that are similar to goals you’ve set for yourself, you probably get a little jealous. You probably want to enjoy the same accomplishments. You probably feel competitive.

Embrace your competitive side. Competition provides motivation. It pushes you to become better. It pushes others to become better.

…and if someone gives you a hard time for being respectfully competitive, they don’t want you to succeed.

Mentor Monday: Arik Hanson talks about the changing nature of mentoring.

Business mentors have been around since the beginning of business.  Like many other aspects of business, while the concept of mentorship remains the same, new developments in tools and technology allow us to practice these concepts in new, and possibly more efficient ways.

This mentor Monday, I am honored to have a guest video post from Arik Hanson, a mentor of mine.  In this video, he shares some thoughts on recent trends in the way professionals build mentor relationships, and how mentors and mentees interact.

Enjoy!

View all Mentor Monday posts.

14 Ways a Blog Will Help You Get a Job

keyboardNot everyone should start a blog…you should only start one if you are ready to commit to it and you have something to contribute.

If you think you can do that, then starting a blog is one of the most valuable tools you can utilize to get a job.

Starting a blog shows…

  1. your commitment to your field.
  2. your writing skills.
  3. your communication skills.
  4. your knowledge in your field.
  5. you… on search engines.
  6. how you deal with criticism and feedback.
  7. that you’re always thinking about issues and trends.
  8. your creativity.
  9. your persistence in maintaining the blog.
  10. your ability to bring new ideas to the table.
  11. your ideals and beliefs.
  12. your level of thought leadership in the community.
  13. your network and your ability to network.
  14. your love for what you do.

continue the list in the comments!  How else does having a blog help someone get a job?

3 Reasons Why Resumes SHOULD be Irrelevant

Photo cred: "kafka4prez"
Photo cred: "kafka4prez"

Why are resumes still necessary?

We call for a change in how business is done and then we still use this remnant of a professional mindset that is no longer acceptable or effective.

I’ve thought a lot about this topic of resumes…probably too much.  Stuart Foster and I have discussed it a few times but today when he brought it up, it sparked a good conversation with Amy Mengel, Dana Lewis and others.  Amy Mengel just posted her thoughts on the issue which completely made me rethink my argument.

She makes some great points.  Today, to disregard your resume, regardless of your industry, is foolish.  It is integrated into pretty much every company’s hiring process and if you don’t have one, chances are you won’t get a job.

My point isn’t that you shouldn’t have one…my point is that you shouldn’t have to have one.

Resumes are still very relevant, when they SHOULD be irrelevant.

and here’s why…

  1. Resumes usually aren’t a truthful representation of someone’s value. A double standard exists here.  We focus on being honest, human, transparent, selfless, etc…and yet resumes violate every one of these virtues.  Every time I would visit career services, or have my resume reviewed somewhere, it would be analyzed and reformatted to hell!  Every adjective and verb would have to be ideally selected from a list of “strong descriptive and action words”.  I know a lot of people that put things on their resume, that they barely participated in.  Resumes show how the candidate wants to be viewed, not how they’re actually viewed.  How is this human?  How is this honest?  This is painting a perfect picture and there’s no such thing as a perfect picture. And if you don’t do it, you’ll lose to someone who does.
  2. There are more effective methods. Amy made the point that HR has to keep everything on record and have every resume on file.  But resumes are usually outdated within months of their last update.  If you really want to keep an accurate, up to date file on each candidate, why don’t we start using tools like LinkedIn over resumes? LinkedIn also provides short recommendations, which in my opinion, are A LOT more valuable than you saying how great you were at your last job.  It’s greener, it’s smarter, it’s up to date, and it creates a much better view of a candidate than a one page resume.
  3. It’s time to become savvy. Perhaps this is more industry sensitive, so try not to take this as a blanket statement.  I think that companies that aren’t web savvy no longer have an excuse.  Saying I need your resume, because I don’t understand social media isn’t going to fly anymore.  If you’re hiring someone that has a blog, and you haven’t read a good deal of their blog, you’re crazy.  I bleed my thoughts and experiences onto this blog, and my beliefs could completely contradict the culture of your company, but you’d hire me without reading what I’ve openly shared?  A highly overprepared interview with a HR person who doesn’t know diddly about the industry will never give you the same kind of insight into my knowledge and ideas that my blog provides.

I’m not saying that the HR person needs to read every blog, twitter, linkedin, and whatever else for every candidate..

Use linked in as a filter, the same way you would a resume.  Then once you narrow down the selection to a few candidates, YES, you should read their blogs, their twitter and anywhere else they interact online…and wouldn’t you know it, all of those places are linked right there on their LinkedIn page!

To say that something is necessary and acceptable because the current system allows and requires it, is how a lot of horrible things have happened in this world.  This is no different in concept.

brb…I have to go take my blog link off of my resume so that no HR departments read this.

EDIT: Here are some alternatives to the traditional paper resume.  LinkedIn isn’t the only option.

Facing Reality: My First Step Into The “Real World”

Photo cred: Mike Epp
Photo cred: Mike Epp

This is my second week working with Scribnia and I have already learned so much. I’ve come to a lot of realizations, some good, some not so good and some a bit scary. I hope that as I grow as a professional and learn these valuable lessons, that I can share them with you. My writing should in no way replace actual experience, but rather give those of you who haven’t been there a bit more insight, and bring in those that have been there to discuss their experiences.

There are many things that I’ve consistently heard people say in their blogs and conversations that I thought I understood. So many concepts, issues, questions and ideas on which I thought I had a strong grasp. It’s impossible to truly understand some of these things without experiencing them first hand. Situations that are easy to solve in writing become 100x harder when actually facing them. That’s the difference between conceptual discussion and experience.

One good example of these concepts is the one that goes, “every situation is different, and you have to adapt and apply.” This is SO true and is something that I understood in concept, but didn’t really understand when it comes down to actually acting. It is also something I am learning VERY quickly. There will very rarely be an “answer all” solution, in any situation. What separates the great from the good from the bad is the ability to adapt, and see what works in each unique situation. This is something that I hope to develop as a professional.

So expect to see a lot of posts about these “realizations” that I have as I experience more in my career. If you’ve had similar experiences, please share them with the community. If you haven’t, I hope that these help prepare you, but don’t take them for your own experiences…because you will only truly understand some things when you experience them for yourself.

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How I Used Social Media to Get a Job

road
Photo cred: Jason (aka Jasmic)

First off, I’m proud to announce that I have been hired for this Summer as the Community Manager for Scribnia (in alpha), a web start-up based out of Boston, but working out of Philly. I am extremely excited about this opportunity and look forward to what should be an amazing experience to work with some great people.

Of course I use social media for a number of reasons, with finding a job only being one of my goals albeit the main one recently.  I would not have been able to create this job opportunity without the help of the social media tools I have frequented over the past several months.  I’d like to share my journey to this point with you in hopes that it might inspire some of you who are in a similar position to embrace these concepts.

I started off at my internship at Ruder Finn Interactive (RFI) which I may be referring to as the start to my career for the rest of my life. A big part of what I did at RFI dealt with reading and outreaching blogs. I quickly learned the value of blogging and began to read more and more about the social media space. There was a lot of talk on these social blogs about Twitter and so I checked it out.

I spent a couple months not really “getting” it and really only used my Twitterberry 2-3 times a week. I started following a lot of people in the social media space like @chrisbrogan @SoItsComeToThis @Skydiver @Scobleizer and other people that I already knew that were on twitter. Eventually Twitter “clicked” for me.  By connecting and following more and more interesting and helpful people, I was directed to a lot of great blogs where I started reading and commenting like crazy. I found my passion.

I reached the point in reading and commenting on blogs while connecting on twitter where I realized that I had a lot to say about this stuff, and decided to start my own blog. I went to wordpress.com, whipped up a blog and just started writing. It didn’t take me long to realize how tough and rewarding writing a blog can be. It would take me 2-3 hours to write each post, if I can come up with good ideas for posts. For a while I was also facing the new blogger’s dilemma, where I felt like I was speaking to the world and no one was listening. It’s not a fast or easy method, but you have to stick with it.

Fast forward…after months of reading, writing and connecting, I’ve created some amazing connections/friendships with professionals who share my passion. My blog has a small but amazing community, and has allowed me to show potentially hiring companies my level of knowledge and that I have a passion for the industry. I’ve learned more from conversing and sharing with other professionals than I ever could have from my classes or books. I’ve even had the privilege to guest post at blogs that I’ve followed and looked up to from the start, like Mashable and Kyle Lacy.

The biggest lesson I think I’ve learned is to never pass up an opportunity to connect and to network. These social media tools have made it easier than ever to network and you should use it to its fullest. Even if you don’t think there is that much to gain directly from connecting with someone, you never know where an opportunity might develop. By connecting and sharing with each other, you contribute to the community and make it better for everyone… including yourself.

Stuart Foster, a smart and wittily sarcastic consultant who created The Lost Jacket asked me to write a guest post for his blog. I immediately responded telling him I would. I wrote the post where a pretty interesting conversation ensued. One of those people in the conversation checked out my blog, and found me to be a good candidate for his company’s community manager position. I am now moving to Philly this Summer (=.

Regardless of your passion, you can contribute, connect, and share using these tools.  You never know where your opportunities will come.

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