Debbie Interviewed by ReSound

Excuse me, what was that? Hearing loss? Who, me?

Yes, I have hearing loss and have learned ways to talk about it so as to help us all be better communicators. Read an interview I did with the folks at ReSound back in January. Here’s an excerpt:

What do you do to spread awareness of hearing loss?

In addition to having quality hearing aids, I do my best to hear and communicate well. When I’m in challenging situations, I tell my communication partners what I need from them (to speak up, enunciate, look at me, move to a quiet corner, etc.), and many times I tell them why. I take opportunities to inform people that hearing loss is widespread, and affects people of all ages, and is especially growing in younger age groups. I remind them it is not an age-related issue and there are probably people in their circles with hearing loss they aren’t even aware of. I learned more about hearing loss in general through the Hearing Loss Support Specialist program (offered by Hearing Loss Association of America) and stay up on hearing loss news so I can share with others through speaking and writing.

Read the entire interview at the ReSound blog site

 

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Your Support System – a Positive Mindset and Positive People

I write and advise frequently about how to see the typically unpleasant job search or career change as a positive experience – by putting concrete plans around it, noting every accomplishment and by recognizing it as an opportunity to meet new people and learn about different companies and industries while reaching for your right livelihood.

Now more than ever, it’s necessary for you to adopt these mindsets wholeheartedly, and also to consciously surround yourself with all things positive. That means everything you read, listen to, do and watch. And, more importantly, surround yourself with very positive, supportive people. Enough of this bad news from doom and gloom naysayers! Protect yourself and your future by seeking out the good.

While in a job search, it’s very easy to get trapped in desperate thinking. I know. I’ve been there myself, which explains why I voluntarily went back to the industry I vowed to leave for good not twice, but three times. I felt desperate and overwhelmed seeing the checkbook balance dwindle and “no thank you” letters flow in as I tried to change career paths. So, simply put, I gave up on my dream of pursuing the work life I wanted. This does not have to happen to you and it didn’t have to happen to me. By first being very clear about what you want and what you’re not willing to settle for, you can keep the dream alive. That next job may not look exactly like what you’ve got in mind, but it will be closer.

Be protective of yourself while in transition mode. Put down the paper and turn off the TV or radio when the news starts to weigh you down. Yes, there are downturns happening and companies reducing their workforces. Those facts don’t have to live in your head and affect your thinking and transition activities. Find the companies that are hiring and the parts of the economy that are thriving. Put your energy into uncovering the positive.

Find people who understand your current situation and have encouraging words for you. Not everyone knows how to do this and may dash your plans without even realizing it. Many times these are people closest to us – family and friends who know us well and want what’s easiest and least painful for us. What we know is best for us sometimes is not the easiest however, so we go back to what’s comfortable because of the advice of loved ones.

Someone recently asked me if she should tell everyone about her dream job she’s working toward. As much as we would like to share our excitement, it’s more important to look out for our plans and ideas and keep them carefully insulated, especially while they’re in a fragile development stage. Find people outside your closest circle – those already working in jobs and companies you’d love to try, fellow job seekers in the reception areas of places you’re applying and people in transition on online discussion groups. Find out what they’re doing, how they got there, where they’re headed, and what helpful suggestions they have to offer. Bounce your ideas and plans off of them and see what they think. Open up and ask. People are more willing to help than we realize and those who don’t know us well can have the most objective, beneficial opinions.

One of the most powerful ways I know of to surround yourself with support is to join a group where people in transition gather to discuss their successes and challenges while learning how others are making progress. There’s real power in a meeting of like minds and similar situations where everyone feels supported and uplifted to reach for their goals. Groups like this encourage each other to create visions and focus on what’s important to each of them personally. The best groups have no criticism or judgment of each other – only support and exchange of helpful ideas. I had the opportunity to see one of these groups in action just this summer. They each spoke briefly to the group about their backgrounds and target jobs, exchanged resumes, business cards, and most importantly, leads, referrals and ideas. For a room full of unemployed people, the overall feeling was one of utmost support and camaraderie.

Where to find these groups? There are online discussion boards where you can have a virtual group with people from any geographic location, informal discussions among friends and colleagues at someone’s home or a coffee shop, or more formal groups with guest speakers and valuable tools and tips. Search the Internet or form your own group and build that support system that will see you into a positive future. Look out for yourself, your goals and dreams and never give up on the work life you have in mind.

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Just Showing Up

After the holidays, especially that first partial week of January, I surely did not feel like getting up early to attend a Master Mind breakfast meeting.  So I didn’t.  Actually I did get up just a little later than usual after considering how I’d feel not starting out the day like I should.

So off I went, thinking I’d be missing all the news and plans being shared and there’d be very little time for me to talk, which was fine because my head was still in “holiday mode” anyway.  Maybe there wouldn’t even be that many people there.  I continued to go back and forth on showing or not showing until I got very close.   Then I was pretty sure I’d done the right thing as I noticed the familiar cars, more even than I expected.  Now, slightly embarrassed for showing up so late, I found my way through the restaurant, a new location, and was surprised to see a full table of 10 people!

As soon as I sat down and received a warm welcome, I knew I’d done the right thing. There were only about 30 minutes left, but even so, that was the best 30 minutes I’d spent on a chilly Thursday morning in early January.  After I was welcomed, the facilitator asked, “Debbie, what do you need from us this year to be successful in your business?”  The thought of “a louder alarm clock” entered my mind, but what I said was, “holding me accountable for following through on my plans”.   Everyone nodded in understanding and agreed to help me stay on task and focused this year.  What a way to start the year – no questions asked, no concern about my not fully participating in the first meeting, just complete support and willingness to help me reach my goals.

The closing question in our meetings is always, “What did you learn today?”  My answer that particular day was “just showing up made all the difference.” The power of a Master Mind at work once again.

Guest blogger at www.evancarmichael.com, mastermind group category.

Published in January 2008

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Staying on the Upswing during a Downturn

It’s a well-known fact that a positive attitude is a huge key to success, so when there’s a lot of talk about an “economic downturn”, a “pending recession”, “tough times ahead”, and general doom and gloom coming from many sources, I choose to beef up my positive outlook and keep moving forward.  That’s what I suggest to anyone actively searching for a job, contemplating a career transition, or worrying about the security of their current position.

Your attitude and the image you project is what people remember and that’s who they want to hire or keep on board when layoffs become necessary.  The more positive, confident and eager you are, the more people want to be around you and hear what you have to say.  We are bombarded by negative messages numerous times over in a single day – don’t you think someone with a positive outlook with good things to say and a smile on their face will stand out?  Absolutely!  Here’s how to make sure that “outstanding” person is you:

Pump up your Enthusiasm:  When HR professionals are asked what trait they most look for in candidates, they say Enthusiasm!  Even someone with all the skills and background can be overshadowed by another with more enthusiasm and less qualifications.  Show how much you want that job. Be interested and engaged; ask questions of the interviewer, especially, “what’s the next step in your decision process?”  No matter if this is your first interview with your first choice company or your eleventh interview with the eleventh company on your list – keep showing your enthusiasm.  It does pay off.

Show your Value:  At your current job, step up your involvement and present solutions and ideas that can cut costs or even create a low-cost revenue stream for the company. Take on new projects, if your workload permits, and offer to assist others with theirs.  Show initiative by attending training classes to improve your skills and set your sights on the next position you want within the company and do the things needed to get there. Stay in constant contact with your boss and make sure s/he knows you are eager, ready and willing to do your part to help the company reach its goals.  In the process, yours and your boss’s will be reached too.

Be a Model Employee: Now’s your chance to shine and set the example for others. It’s as simple as showing up on time, keeping your commitments, handling yourself professionally and maintaining that positive attitude through thick and thin.  Be fully engaged – be present with your customers, your co-workers, and management.  Participate in meetings by asking questions. Exhibit good manners, show dignity and respect for others and the company.  Stay away from gossip and complaining and follow that old tried and true rule – “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it.”  You will feel good about yourself by doing what’s right and exude a new confidence.

 

Self Care:  Make sure to take time off from job hunting and work-related activities to take care of yourself.  Know what you need to do to avoid stress. Watch your commitment level and say “no” to activities and people that drain your energy.   Exercise, sleep well, and eat right.  Surround yourself with positive people, places and things. The company you keep, movies you watch, music you listen to, and books you read all can have a subtle yet profound effect on your attitude.  Honor your feelings, stick to your values, and know that you can be of better service to others by taking care of you first.

Work your Goals: Are your goals for this year right there in front of you or safely stashed in a drawer where no one can find them?  Dust them off and review what’s been achieved so far. Pat yourself on the back, then get to work creating new ones.  Whether you are currently employed or not yet, goals will keep you motivated and on track to moving yourself ahead to achieving them.  Break each goal down into manageable action steps and assign a target due date for each of those steps.  Apply the S-M-A-R-T formula to each one – make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and attached to a Timeline.  It’s a proven fact that people with written goals and plans for their future are more successful.  Join that group of people.

 

Track your Accomplishments: Make a point of documenting your achievements throughout each month in the form of “c-a-r” stories. Write out the Challenge you faced, the Actions you took, and the Results that occurred. This serves many purposes: you now have a record of what you’ve done (thereby increasing your self confidence), material for your resume, and documentation for your annual performance review to share with your boss.  Use whatever system works for you – a computer document, a hand-written piece of paper taped to the wall, or notes on your daily calendar.  Review it often, make updates, and feel good about how you’ve spent your time.

Be a strong Communicator:  Constant communication about your ideas and activities will prove your commitment to your boss and colleagues.  Let people know what you are doing and where you’ll be if they need you.  Let your job prospects know of your genuine interest and the best ways to reach you for interviews by dropping them a personal note or email. Have impeccable follow-up. At the end of each day, ask yourself what activities need one more action toward closure. Be an excellent listener – stay attentive and listen to seek understanding, rather than thinking ahead to what you’ll say next.

Staying positive is a real gift that benefits yourself and everyone you come into contact with.  Make a point of practicing these tips daily so that you stand out from the crowd and ensure your spot as a Valued Employee or Top Candidate for the job.  Good luck with your next career move!

First published online August 2008 through California Job Network (www.californiajobnetwork.com) then syndicated into different US cities’ employment websites

Also published in San Diego Reader’s Job Giant in December 2008

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it really is all about you

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