Archive for August, 2007

Job interview dilemma: Should one ask about work-life balance?

August 29, 2007

UPDATE (Feb 2013): I just participated in a series of seven videos on job interview tips with the Globe and Mail Careers. I’ll be posting them over at my bigcheesecoaching site. You can see the post with each of the videos here.

This is the latest issue of my “Ask a Coach” column published in CA Source — the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants  (CICA) online newsletter. Although targeted to the accountancy profession, the content is relevant for anyone interested in a balanced work-life. Enjoy!
QI’m interviewing for a position with a company that interests me but I’m fearful of the balance issue. I hear people in this organization work very long hours and travel alot. I’m not afraid of hard work – in fact, I am known to be a very dedicated and hard-working person who gets the job done. But I also believe in having a life outside of work. How do I broach this topic in the interview? And should I even be bringing this up? Will it take me out of the running for this position?

A.  It’s good to hear you declare your desire for balance in your work and life. You’re in good company as a growing number of executives, even those at the most senior levels, are starting to ask about work-life balance in interviews. According to a recent survey by New York-based Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), work-life balance has become a new competitor for top talent. Eighty five per cent of the recruiters surveyed said they had candidates who rejected job offers because they couldn’t get the flexibility they were seeking.

You asked if you should you bring it up in the interview, I say: heck yes! If it’s important enough to you to determine if you’d want that position, then use the interview opportunity to explore if the fit might be right for you.

Here are some things to consider in preparation for your interview: (more…)

This just in: Free the humans!

August 20, 2007

If you read my post yesterday, I ended with a call for ideas on how to ease towards and back into September and work mode….with more joy and less angst. Well, this just in: Two colleagues in the coaching world that I respect very much are starting a movement called “Free the Humans” — and kicking it off on Labour Day with a “Free the Humans” be-in picnic!

 According to Darlene Russell and Charmaine Sherlock — the co-founders of this event and social movement — “the intent is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the famous Summer of Love and to mark our reluctant return to work”.

Darlene says on their blog: “We thought this would be the perfect occasion to introduce Free the Humans, the new social movement committed to freeing the human spirit and liberating the imagination at work.”

Very coooooool. So if you are anywhere near the Hamilton area on Labour Day – mark your calendars and check it all out at their blog: http://freethehumans.wordpress.com/

And if you’re not from the area…..stay tuned in because as Darlene said, this is about much more than a one day event: it’s a social movement and they inviting others to help co-create a new way of being at work.

Gotta like the sound of that!

Also worth noting, Darlene and Charmaine are also offering a fantabulous program for organizations wanting to perk up their people with their unique coffee breaks. If you’ve ever witnessed Darlene in action with her creativity, well, you’ll know you’re in for something special!  It’s all on their blog – so check it out!

To freeing the humans and a TGIM work life!

Eileen

Beat the “Back to September Blues”

August 20, 2007

UPDATE (August 24, 2011): I originally wrote this post a few years ago but I think it is still quite relevant and thought I’d share it again. Here’s to new beginnings! Well, that’s one way of ‘reframing’ the end of summer and beginning of the fall season, isn’t it? 🙂

Can you hear it? Smell it? Feel it? It’s undeniable. It’s September.

Fall leaves

(Photo courtesy of Rune T from Flickr)

And it’s making its way back into town. Nudging out the lightness of summer…and imposing a little bit of its heaviness…its urgency….the workloads…and with all the seriousness of that familiar and earnest “back to school/work’ mentality”.

Arrghh. Already? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard (and said myself): “The summer is going by way too fast“. Notice how we never hear anyone say these things in February or March: “Winter is going way too fast….darn, before you know it will be spring”.

August is like Sunday: I think the end of August is akin to what Sundays are to Mondays.  They can bring a little bit of resistance in us. If there was a way to delay September (or Mondays), many of us would!

That resistance seems to be a naturally ingrained habit.  We automatically start to dig our heels in a bit deeper as we get ready to do the heavier lifting that comes with fall.

But here’s the thing (if you’ve been reading my blog – you know there’s always a ‘thing’:): The worry and resistance — albeit may be a bit ‘automatic’ — is wasted energy and definitely not good for your ‘mojo’ (another word in my TGIM vocabulary….i.e your ‘joie de vivre). The worry and regret puts us in either the past or future…and we miss the present! And it takes away the lightness of being that can come with any season — with the right perspective.

Fall is coming – nothing we can do about that. But we can do something about the perspective we hold in these last days of August.

Here are a few tips to beat those “Back to September Blues”:

1) First let’s give summer the farewell it deserves and celebrate it! You can do that literally (party anyone?) or mentally by reflecting on what you loved about your summer this time round. Distinction: This is not about dwelling…it’s about acknowledging. Too often we focus on what we didn’t get around to doing this summer…e.g. didn’t travel enough, take enough time off; etc. That mindset is filled with regret and definitely not good for your “mojo” and TGIM perspective.

So take out a list…and go for it! Nothing’s too small to mention if it gave you a bit of joy. My list includes things like: cycling days, golf, summer cooking, entertaining, etc. I was delighted to make strawberry jam and homemade applie pie for my first time this summer! And in the last weeks of summer I’ll be enjoying the fruits of my gardening labour (literally – tomatoes anyone!?)

2) Now make a list of what you have to look forward to in the fall. Focus on both your worklife and life in general in autumn. I did this and realized that despite my sadness that summer is over, I actually remembered how much I do love fall. It’s a great season. For instance, for those that live in four-season climates, we have the fall foliage; if you like fashion, you can’t deny that fall is the season for new clothes! A new TV/Movie season starts – and in Toronto, one of the world’s best filmfests ever.

On the worklife front, I’m lucky in that I have projects and client work that I’m looking forward to. Yes, lots of work coming….but when I put it in this light…well, it’s much more enticing.  How about you? What are you looking forward to in your worklife and ‘life’ in general?

3) Lifelong learners – take a course! It can be work related or anything. Last fall, I got back into my Second City courses. Back to school isn’t just for kids….T’is the season to learn something new just for you!

4) Pay attention and notice what happens as you create your list. I don’t know about you but I’ve been working on my list today and have noticed a marked difference in my energy. I’m now actually looking forward to September! I can almost taste it….and it’s okay!

How about you? Any thoughts/ideas to share? In the week leading up to September it would be great to share some more tips and ideas. Bring ’em on!

Till then, here’s to a TGIM worklife,

Eileen

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Starting my 10th year in biz…..lessons learned thus far.

August 16, 2007

This August I am beginning my 10th year of being in biz for myself. Wow! I can’t believe it. Time flies when you are having fun:)

 When I put out my shingle way back in 1998 I was focusing exclusively on the communications side of my biz and operated under the biz name of: Chadnick Communications.  In 2003, I expanded into the coaching world and started Big Cheese Coaching.  I continued to operate both simulataneously as I’ve been growing my coaching biz more fully. Over the years, I’ve been redefining my role/mission in the workplace. It’s been quite the journey – and an amazing experience. I’ve learned a ton about building biz – and more importantly, a ton about myself.

Lots of change. Lots of learning. Exciting times. Scary times. Times of doubt and times of confidence. Was it worth it? You bet!

In the spirit of starting my 10th year, here are some reflections — lessons learned and things I’ve observed in my experience over the years. Note the emphasis in ‘my experience’ because different folks may have different perspective.

Here are mine:

1) When you are a solopreneur remember that you are the business. It’s imperative to take care of yourself. Your ‘whole self’ — not just the working widget side of you. Health, fitness, balance, outside pursuits — they add up to a fuller you which is good for you and good for biz. That said – be prepared to work hard!:)

2) People hire people. Your brand must be authentic and credible. As a solopreneur – you are the brand. I’ve been told over the years that I’m not a ‘shiny PR type’ — but rather am ‘real’. I always took that as a compliment. It has become even more important in my work as a coach — where it’s all about authenticity. Make sure you are clear on who you are – otherwise how can others truly get to know who you are…and who they are hiring?

3) Your worklife must reflect your values and your priorities. Make sure you know your values and priorities (part of knowing who you are) – so you can ensure your work life is aligned with who you are and what you are wanting. Values stay – but priorities can change. Is your worklife reflecting that?

4) If you build it – will they come? Big mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make is thinking it’s enough simply to declare they are in biz. In addition to the professional skills of your trade (e.g. communications, coaching — or other) t’s important to develop marketing and business skills — especially if you are a solopreneur or operating with a small team.

I was lucky in my early years of being in biz. My network literally worked itself. I had a full plate of client work on day two of declaring myself open for biz. People knew me (in the communications world) and word of mouth spread. But when I moved to coaching – a whole new area that most people aren’t that familar with — well, it’s another story. Marketing is increasingly important for me these days. So building the biz becomes as important as continuing to build your professional skills. I take great pride in my professional skills and work hard to continuously hone them…..but what good would they be if I had no biz!

5) Expect that there will be ebbs and flows to the business. Some days are feast and you might feel overloaded and wonder how you will get through all the work. Others may feel like famine (why isn’t the phone ringing!). After 10 years, you learn that if you are doing all that you can do to grow and sustain your business, that the slower periods will pick up. You learn not to panic. Well……you learn to try not to panic:)….and to enjoy a little bit of those reprieves.

6) Networking is very important. And it’s  not only about building biz. You also need opportunities to grow, connect, learn. Depending on the nature of your biz, some days can feel isolating. Over the years, I’ve maintained memberships in both my communications world (via IABC) and coaching (ICF). And I’m lucky that I have a fantastic network of great people whom I count in my network (friends, past biz colleagues, associates, etc.)

7) Figure out your boundaries and respect them. From the get-go I realized that I need to establish boundaries. I’ve realized that I work hard enough during the regular work week that I choose not to take evening clients (except for emergency situations). If I did, I’d literally have no life. Read point #1….it’s important to take care of yourself….or else there will be no biz. 

8 ) Review and reflect regularly on your biz …not just how the biz is doing but also how you are doing in it…..i.e. your personal experience with it. Is it still working for you? Are you still engaged? Or losing steam? How’s your Mojo? Are you experiencing a TGIM worklife – -and if not, what do you need to shift? If you don’t take time regularly to check in with yourself – well you may end up sleepwalking through work…and that’s bad for you and bad for biz.

9) Build a team of professionals (and/or others) who will support you. That might mean having a good accountant, a good web person, a good tech support – and others….i.e a coach perhaps:)?  You’d be surprised how much value this will all give you as you navigate the challenges, opportunities and complexities involved in running your own biz.

10) Celebrate success along the way…..but make sure you define success on your terms. Financial success and clients are certainly important measures but what else is important to you? Is it the quality of your work-life experience? The learning along the way? Small and large accomplishments all count. Acknowledge them. 

More to come I’m sure in the days/year ahead on this….but for now, here’s to a TGIM worklife! It’s been a good ride thus far…..looking forward to more!

 Questions/comments welcome….

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Eileen