Category Archives: Permission

Feeling meh? 5 tips for getting the career you want

Feeling meh? 5 tips for getting the career you want

I had a really good job – interesting work, well paid, lots of travel.  It ticked all of the boxes.  One day I woke up and wondered what I was doing and how I got to this point.  I felt dissatisfied, unfulfilled and started to wonder if this was all there is.  Really?  This is it?  Blimey.  Cue implosion and rapid change of direction. Many of us drift through our careers and go from job to job without really thinking about where we want to get to or what we want out of life.  Life can be something that just happens to you and you get on with it, and often it’s fine.  But what if you take control and make things happen?  Read on for my 5 tips on getting the career or business you want.

1. Decide what you want.  A few lucky people know what they want to be when they grow up from an early age and go off and do it; most of us flit from idea to idea.  At various stages in my life I would have answered the ‘what do you want to be?’ question with: nun, doctor, choreographer, fashion designer, interpreter at the UN and war correspondent.  All of which would have been totally unsuitable (except perhaps interpreter).  My sister on the other hand always said ‘nurse’ and that’s what she became as soon as she could.  WE are much more successful when we play to our strengths and interests.  So think about what you want – not your parents, friends, colleagues or teachers.  You.  And go and do it.

changing_direction_choosing_a_path2. Find out how to become whatever you want to be.  What training or qualifications do you need?  What sort of life and work experience must you have?  Who should be in your network?  How will you get to know with the people who should be in your network?  What skills should you be developing?  What funding and support is available?  How closely do your current skills and experience match the requirements of your dream job.  Then go and do all of them.

3. Get a really good mentor, someone who understands you and where you want to get to and can help you with support, encouragement and really good advice.  If you’re in a firm or company this may well be someone who is a just bit older or more experienced than you and you may just be assigned to someone. That’s OK but if you can, choose mentors who will challenge you and be really honest with you. Their feedback may hurt temporarily but understanding and acting on your shortcomings will only help you make progress.  The best mentors I ever had could be brutal sometimes but they were telling me things for the right reasons and their insights were always invaluable (thanks guys!).

4. Not everyone can become a board director or partner or the next Richard Branson.  If, for some reason, you can’t quite get to where you want to be try and find a way to get as close to it as you can.  I recently worked with a client who wanted to be an opera singer but health problems meant that she wasn’t able to perform professionally.  She carved out a very successful career in arts administration, which kept her involved in professional opera and musical theatre, and she enjoys taking part in amateur productions as well as teaching singing.  No, she’s not on stage at the Royal Opera House but she’s living and working in a world she loves.

5. It’s never too late to change direction.  There’s also never a good time to change direction.  If that’s what you really want to do just go and do it.  (Change can be very unsettling, download my tips on coaching with change here

I don’t regret any of the choices I made in my career but I do sometimes wish I had got to some places sooner.  Once I thought about what I really wanted, worked out how to get there and took the appropriate action everything clicked into place.  I would love to hear about your experiences so please share your thoughts, ideas and insights.  Or if you’ve got that ‘meh’ feeling about your career or business why not have a coaching session on me?

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Building rapport with customers

Building rapport with customers

how bad customer service masquerades as good customer service.

We’re told that building relationships and rapport with our customers is all important, if we treat them well, give them great service they’ll be loyal to us.  I think that’s generally true, we would all rather work with people who are pleasant to us after all.  But I’ve also started to think that some businesses are getting it a bit wrong; they’re crossing a line and I for one find it very uncomfortable.    To show you what I mean here’s a few examples of slander, gossip and insincerity all experienced in major high street retailers during the past few months:

I was doing a bit of shopping in a major supermarket.  The man in front of me bought a bottle of wine, a case of beer, some burgers and sausages.  He showed no overt signs of alcoholism and I assumed he was having a barbecue.  He exchanged a few pleasant words with the checkout lady as he packed away his purchases before smiling at both of us as he said goodbye.  She greeted me and, leaning forward, commented in a knowing way that “He likes his booze”.  I was buying a few bottles of wine for a dinner party and a random few ingredients I had forgotten.  As I paid and left I wondered what she was saying about me.

In a different branch of the same supermarket chain at the weekend a younger checkout lady I had never even seen before gave me chapter and verse on her romantic entanglements, which involved a “love-rat” (her words) colleague at the same store.

I had my eyes tested and as he was firing puffs of air into my eyes the optician asked if I had taken the afternoon off.  Distracted though I was I responded politely.  He asked the same question as he was writing up my prescription 15 minutes later.  And then again as he showed me out.  He didn’t care, why should he?  But I would have preferred him to concentrate on my eyes rather than trying to make small talk.

It’s difficult, I know, because there are many people who love to chat and for some this may be the only social interaction they have all day.  Personally, I would rather exchange a few words than deal with a blank faced automaton.  But I do think the conversation needs to be appropriate and sincere and that’s where the retailers in question went wrong.    After all, you can’t force rapport, it’s either there or it isn’t and if you’re having to work hard at it then it’s probably not happening.  What’s wrong with “just” being respectful, pleasant, professional, sincere and efficient?  It’s certainly all I need.