The Path: Step A. To B. To C. To?

black and white

“…Do well at Step A and you can proceed to Step B. Do well at B, and proceed to C. As I look back at my life so far, I realize that I was playing by a very narrow set of rules. And if I played by those rules, worked hard, and caught a lucky break or two, I’d be rewarded with plenty of wealth and prestige.

And that worked okay…for a while…until I began to have nagging doubts. “The Path” began to feel just a bit too narrow. I felt that I was always trying to do well in life in order to move to the next step. As a result, I had completely lost the ability to live in the moment or to appreciate success for success’ sake. And failure? Well, that wasn’t even an option. Most insidiously, I began looking at the people in my life only as potential allies (or, gasp, even pawns) in my quest to keep plugging along down The Path…”

~ Steve Roesler, Life Choices. Bitter or Better?

Credits: Stairway by Bobus @ Elinka.  Quote Source:

20 lessons learned in my first 80 years

Byron Wien

Byron Wien grew up in Chicago during the Depression.  “He was orphaned at 14 and overcame a difficult childhood to attend Harvard undergrad and business school.  He recently turned 80, and in response to a request from a conference organizer moments before he was supposed to speak, Wien committed to paper some ideas which surely contributed to his success, but more important, they are lessons that shaped such a rich and remarkable life.”  Here are a few excerpts:

  1. Network intensely.  Luck plays a big role in life, and there is no better way to increase your luck than by knowing as many people as possible.  Nurture your network by sending articles, books and emails to people to show you’re thinking about them.  Write op-eds and thought pieces for major publications.  Organize discussion groups to bring your thoughtful friends together.
  2. Read all the time.  Don’t just do it because you’re curious about something, read actively.  Have a point of view before you start a book or article and see if what you think is confirmed or refuted by the author.  If you do that, you will read faster and comprehend more.
  3. On philanthropy my approach is to try to relieve pain rather than spread joy.  Music, theatre and art museums have many affluent supporters, give the best parties and can add to your social luster in a community.  They don’t need you.  Social service, hospitals and educational institutions can make the world a better place and help the disadvantaged make their way toward the American dream.
  4. Younger people are naturally insecure and tend to overplay their accomplishments.  Most people don’t become comfortable with who they are until they’re in their 40’s.  By that time they can underplay their achievements and become a nicer, more likeable person.  Try to get to that point as soon as you can. [Read more...]

Running. Against the Wind.


Out the door. 6:30am.
Driving to a team meeting in Manhattan.
Freezing rain. Tap tap tapping on hood of car.
Passenger side wiper banging on an ice chunk. Curse. In a hurry. Again.
Fwap. Fwap. Tap. Tap. Fwap. (You could stop and clear it pal. You could. Or you could keep watching and listening to this show. Show plays on.)
I fan through playlist.
Dreary day. Fog. Rain. Icy conditions.
Feels like, looks like, Detroit. I rifle through playlist hunting for Bob Seger.
And, land on “Against the Wind

Traffic slowing. Yellow caution lights frenetically flashing.
Salt truck scattering its melting magic on I-95.
I turn my attention to the lyrics.

↓ click for audio (Bob Seger – “Against the Wind”)

It seems like yesterday
But it was long ago…
We were young and strong, we were runnin’
Against the Wind

Running. To get on travel teams. To get grades. To get out of high school. To get the girl. (No one would have me!) To get to college. To get to adulthood. To get. To acquire. To, To, To, something else… [Read more...]

Mission for today…

try harder














“The answer will only arrive after we stop looking for it,” says bestselling author Jonah Lehrer. Examining recent research into what drives creative insights, Lehrer breaks down how and why we have “aha!” moments, using examples that range from Bob Dylan writing “Like A Rolling Stone” to a Tibetan monk’s zen puzzle-solving powers. But insight isn’t everything. Those who achieve great things in the long-term also have another important quality: Grit, a single-minded persistence that helps them keep their eye on the prize and pushing ever-forward even when the “aha!” moments aren’t around.


Image Source: abirdeyeview via graff14

Related Posts:

Worried about your job? Hope is not a strategy…

Klaas Verplancke, ParapluieHBR Blog Network: “…It would take something like 1,000 hours — and maybe a lot longer — to recover from a forced career change…

…If disaster were to hit, you’d like to believe that you could find another job. Well, as the cliché goes, hope is not a strategy. Especially in this job market.

…It certainly seems we are running harder and harder to keep up with the required knowledge in our specialized fields. What would you actually have to invest in order to stay in this race? In this race, information is the tiger and there doesn’t seem to be an end to how fast the tiger can run. But remember, the good news is that you don’t have to outrun the tiger. You simply have to outrun your competitors, people like you who are going to be looking for a job, once their industry becomes obsolete…”

[Read more...]

Feeling Blah about work?

job rainI received some backchannel email blow-back on my last post (10 Most Loved Jobs. And 10 Most Hated) and the related posts on Doing What You Love.  (Whispering to me: Here you go again.  Not everyone is in the situation YOU are in.  Try to walk in someone else’s shoes for a change.  Tired of you preaching about Doing. What. You. Love.  Some of us can’t walk away to a lesser paying job to Do.What.We.Love.  We need to pay the bills.  We can’t relo away from aging parents, family, friends.  We can’t walk away from our house and the mortgage. We need to keep the Don’t-Love-My-Job we have.) 

OK.  I get it.  Yet so many are unhappy.  Feel stuck.  Are unfulfilled. Or are frustrated in their current station. The three articles below share some excellent advice on how to make the most of the current job you are in.  My Cliff-Notes recap is summarized here:

  • Do. (Continue) to do an excellent job.
  • Connect. (Develop deeper relationships with people you work with)
  • Learn. (Learn & apply new skills and knowledge which will fuel higher levels of engagement)
  • Contribute. (Achievement and contribution gives us a higher sense of purpose.)
  • Don’t Complain.  (…And drag down your colleagues and pollute your brand.)

There’s no justification for an employee to wait expectantly for the organization to furnish engagement, as if it’s something somebody can give you. The key to sustainable high engagement is taking primary responsibility for it. Now is the time to own your own engagement. (FastCompany)

Here’s the 3 self-help articles on the topic…

[Read more...]

10 Most Loved Jobs…(and the 10 most hated)

From the HBR Blog Network: Happiness Will Not Be Downloaded.  I draw the line on a solve being fixing things yourself Smile otherwise a great post.  A few excerpts from the post below along with the charts for the 10 Most Loved Jobs and the 10 Most Hated…

Ten Most Loved Jobs

“…The proliferation of cooking shows, blogs, celebrity chefs…taps into something more primal: it’s one of the last jobs that still does what most of us don’t — make things…In this sterile, white-collar world, where meat comes from ShopRite and homes are built by “guest workers,” cooking is the last physical job many of us can relate to.”

[Read more...]

T.G.I.F.: How hard can this be?

…Apparently very hard.  A polar bear smells a seal under the ice.  Unfortunately for the bear, the ice is too thick.

Source: headlikeanorange via Planet Earth Live – BBC

Related Posts:

T.G.I.F.: “How much more can a man take?”

fairy-wren: grey heron hitching a ride

Related Posts:


Source: Adapted from Themetapicture

Related Posts:

Pictorial Week in Review…



Source: Adapted from Themetapicture

Related Posts:

The Era of Prosperity-on-Auto-Pilot Is Over

From GapingVoid:

“Hardly a mor­ning goes by these days without me hea­ring some story…about Ame­ri­can eco­no­mic woe…

The Great Con­ver­gence is upon us, and our friend, the Inter­net is acce­le­ra­ting the pro­cess…

The good news is, if you have a talent, the world wants it, and it has never been so easy to show your talent to the world…

The bad news is, espe­cially for us fat & lazy Ame­ri­cans, is that the great, century-long era of Prosperity-on-Autopilot  is over…

The world still wants serious talent. And it still wants peo­ple doing the grunt work: pushing mops, dig­ging ditches, wai­ting tables, ans­we­ring pho­nes, flip­ping bur­gers etc…

Learn how to work hard, work long hours. Find something you love, and then excel at it. Above all else, learn how to create, learn how to invent. That’s your only hope, really.

Do what you love (for 63 years!!)…

My post from earlier in the month “Do What You Love” was Freshly Pressed by WordPress on Thursday.  In less than 5 days, the post has had 4076 hits, 214 comments and we’re still counting.  The topic hit a cord with many WordPress bloggers who are unhappy in their current job or find themselves “stuck” in the job they are in.  Generally, the response from many was that Paul Graham’s essay inspired them to press on.

Coincidently, I happened to be flying yesterday when a colleague shared this NY Times story with me.  (Thanks CP).  I appreciated this story because I see myself in Mr. Akana…love the work, proud of the firm, fascinating clients, wonderful colleagues and a continuous learning environment.  I would wish this good fortune on everyone.  But we digress…back to the story. [Read more...]

One day at a time, one person at a time, one action at a time…

Thank you Nicholas Bate…when I come across your work.  I stop, I pause, I focus, I read. I think.  I think.  I think.  I think…

Why you will fail to have a great career…

Larry Smith is a professor of economics at University of Waterloo. He coaches his students to find the careers that they will truly love. The most notable start-up he advised in its infancy is Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry. (No commentary please from the audience on how his advise is working for RIM now…Smile)

While I didn’t find any earthshattering revelations here, I did find Smith to be an engaging and inspirational storyteller in his presentation of the excuses we invent in failing to pursue our passions – - excuses including:

  • “There are no more great jobs, all the good jobs are disappearing”
  • “Great careers are a matter of luck”
  • “People who have great careers are geniuses, special one-of-kind”
  • “In 1950’s, competency would land you a good job. Today, not so much given how competitive it is…”
  • “I would do this (pursue my passion) but I’m not weird or obsessive…there is a fine line between great, weird and madness…and this is why normal people don’t have great careers”
  • “If you work hard, you can have a good career. But you need to work really really hard to have a great career and you are not prepared to sacrifice _____ (family, children, friends, etc.)
  • “I value my relationships more than my accomplishments. I will not sacrifice them in pursuit of my passion or a great career.”

[Read more...]

Do what you love?

We’ve all either given or received the career advice: “Follow your dreams.”  “Do what you love.”  “Love what you do.”

Recently, there have been an increasing number of counterarguments making the case that if we were all going to “do what we love,” we’d starve doing it.

I came across a 2006 post by Paul Graham: “How To Do What You Love” that offers what may be the best thought-leadership on the subject that I have read.

Graham is an essayist, programmer, and investor. In 1995, he co-developed the first web-based application, Viaweb, which was acquired by Yahoo in 1998. He has an AB from Cornell and a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard, and studied painting at RISD and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.  Graham’s blog is one of the most followed in the blogosphere.

It is an essay (longish for those of us with ADD) but I would encourage you to read it in its entirety as my excerpts below don’t give his work its due:

“To do something well you have to like it. That idea is not exactly novel. We’ve got it down to four words: “Do what you love.” But it’s not enough just to tell people that. Doing what you love is complicated.”

[Read more...]

Don’t wait for a salary increase…

Thank you Nicholas Bate

Wednesday For Women…Get Seduced

“It began as a frolic…an innocent flirt. Then she was seduced and was never the same again. That’s the story of Shelly Lazarus, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and one of the most powerful women in business.  Early in her career, she was working at Clairol and received a call from a headhunter saying that Ogilvy, an up-and-coming advertising agency, needed a junior staffer who knew something about hair. Lazarus remembers thinking, “well, this should be fun. I’ll do it for a year or so, then I’ll go and get a real job.” But then something unexpected happened. “I was seduced,” says Lazarus. “I was absolutely smitten by the world of advertising, the world of ideas.” The rest, as they say, is history. In a steady rise spanning three-plus decades, Lazarus progressed through the Ogilvy empire and became CEO in 1996, a role she held through 2008. She was named Chairman in 1997 and remains at the helm of what has become one of the world’s largest marketing communications and branding firms….

“…Nor would she be type-cast. “There were no boxes around me, no rules to follow. So I made them up as I went along,” Lazarus remembers. “From the beginning, I was fascinated by the way different people lead. I had exposure to all these different companies and watched all these people leading in different ways. I realized that there’s no one way to lead. So it gave me permission to do it my own way – in a way that was totally me.”

“To Lazarus, passion is the lifeblood of a successful career – and life.  Get seduced by your business, she advises.  Fall in love with what you’re doing.  That’s her first piece of advice.

Here’s 8 additional career tips from Shelly:

[Read more...]

Are Your Positioning Yourself For Career Advancement?

See George above.  He’s got a plan.  Competition for promotions is fierce.  What’s your plan?  You may have just received or you are about to receive your 2011 performance evaluation.  This is an appropriate time to reflect on whether you are appropriately positioning yourself for a promotion.  I thought this recent article from the HBR Blog NetworkPositioning Yourself For Career Advancement was very thoughtful.  I have had several first hand experiences of the consequences of  #1 and #4 of the four common misconceptions regarding career advancement:

  1. The belief that producing results in your current job is sufficient. 
  2. Confidence that you’ll get the feedback you need from your boss in your annual performance review.
  3. The sense that promotions are all about who you know
  4. A naïve belief that all it takes is adding a little polish, a new suit, a new style.

Here are a number of excerpts from the article:

[Read more...]

Book Review: The Power of Professionalism. Are you a Professional?

Are you a Professional?

How would you define a Professional?

Bill Wiersma conducted research asking a number of executives in various industries (including members of the Dave Matthews Band) whether they considered themselves professionals and what was their definition of a professional.  Yet many who who surveyed did feel that those occupations that required a special degree or qualification, such as a doctor, lawyer, or accountant were professionals.  His startling findings were that most people he surveyed did not view themselves as professionals, let alone understand the mind-set required to be one.   It matters because the higher the degree of professionalism in a firm, the higher likelihood of achieving goals and driving better results.  And that viewing oneself as a professional is a precursor to being one as the aspirational identity is affirming, and it elevates her view of herself and therefore influences her actions.

His research went on to find that 7 mind-sets were prevalent among the most trusted professionals:

[Read more...]

Top Career Investments for 2012

Source: Forbes: Top Career Investments for 2012

As you reflect upon 2011 – here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. Did you get better at your work?
  2. Did you help advance those around you?  Are you a better leader?
  3. Are you more influential?  Did you advance your organization’s goals?
  4. Did you improve your skill set and your mindset?
  5. Did your networking generate a positive ROI?
  6. Did your perspectives change about what you should be doing for a living?
  7. Did the industry you serve discover your unique talent?
  8. Were you asked to give a keynote and/or contribute to a blog?
  9. Did you “package yourself (your brand)” better for success?
  10. Are you making more money?  Do you feel more successful and significant?

If you didn’t answer Yes to at least 8 or more of these questions, consider the following for 2012:

[Read more...]

Shatter Your Standards…

I’ve been an avid follower of Robin Sharma. He is the founder and CEO of a leadership consulting firm and the author of more than 10 international bestsellers on leadership (The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari; The Leader Who Had No Title). He’s ranked by some as being among the world’s top leadership experts. I was inspired by his recent post Master Your Life and Have Fun Doing it, where he shares some worthwhile thoughts as we close out 2011 and head into the new year.

  • 2011 is finding its way to completion. Many of us are thinking about the holidays – and joy-filled moments with those we love most. This is also a superb time to carve out some solo time and begin reflecting on what you did well in 2011. And what you need to improve so that the new year is guaranteed to become your absolute best year yet. Please remember: success doesn’t just show up via luck. No, success is the inevitable result of doing a number of specific things, in a consistent way.
  • So as you reflect…on your 2011 wins…I invite you to remember the following 6 Insights to Master Your Life:

Find, Hire, Love & Promote the One Percenters…

Tom Peters shared the simple and personal story below in a recent post on his blog.  It reminded me of my “One Percenters.”  Those that don’t stop until the job is done.  Those that drive for and achieve a consistent standard of excellence far beyond what is pursued by the pack.  Have a tough deliverable – go to your 1%.  Have a short time line – go to your 1%.  Have a sensitive situation – go to your 1%.  Need a candid opinion – go to your 1%.  Need it done right – go to your 1%.  Far too often we get consumed by bottom performers, turnaround situations and fire-drills.  Tom is right.  We need to hire, love & promote the One Percenters and hold them close as they are “worth their weight in gold times 10.”

[Read more...]

Career Planning in 60 Seconds


Source: Simon Kemp: Career planning in 60 seconds – a recreation of +Bud Caddell’s “How to be happy in business” diagram

We’re are a society of NOW, NOW, NOW. Yet, The easy money is gone. Overnight success is impossible. Grab the shovel and start digging…

Alexandra Levit has released a new book called Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success. Levit is a former syndicated columnist for the Wall Street Journal and she is a frequent national media spokesperson on careers, getting a job and corporate life. She offers some timely and practical advise in her new book where she “debunks” 10 business myths that no longer enable you to quickly climb the corporate ladder (and keep your current job). These 10 myths include:

Myth #1: Overnight success is possible.

Myth #2: Controversy will propel your career.

Myth #3: Employers want you to be yourself.

Myth #4: Being good at your job trumps everything.

Myth #5: It’s best to climb the ladder as fast as possible.

Myth #6: You’ll get more money because you’ve earned it.

Myth #7: The problem isn’t you, it’s the organization.

Myth #8: You won’t get laid off, you’re too essential.

Myth #9: If only you could break out of Corporate America, everything would be perfect.

Myth #10: Do what you love and the money will follow.

She has a solid post on Tom Peters blog called Forget Overnight Success and Learn to Be Persistent. You’ll find some key excerpts below.

[Read more...]