The Power of Thank You

30 08 2011

Photo credit: Wordle

When was the last time you said thank you?  If you can’t remember, then it’s been too long.  I just started reading a book written by someone that I’ve met and have a great deal of respect for regarding their leadership.  The book is Touchpoints by Douglas Conant (President and CEO, Campbell Soup Company) and Mette Norgaard.  I’m not sure just yet if my article relates too much to the book (review will be posted soon), but I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Doug several times in my life and he’s always quick to thank others.  In fact, he’s been known to hand write hundreds, if not thousands of thank you notes to his coworkers, fellow leaders, family and friends over the years.  I consider myself lucky to have been a recipient of a few of those.  All I can say is what a feeling!

Why say thank you?  Well, for starters, it does matter.  People want to be appreciated and with the rise of Gen Y, they want to know often if they’re doing a good job.  How and when should you say thank you?  Here are some examples:

Say thanks at work.  As managers, we sometimes forget to say this.  A small thank you here and there makes a big difference.  Show your employees and coworkers you appreciate them.  Don’t assume that someone else is taking care of recognition.  Your thank you might be the only one they receive.   NOTE:  Thanking people for every little thing they do every day is over the top.  It’s nice to be appreciated, but when the thank you’s flow too often, they become less meaningful.  Thank people with a purpose.

Thank your network.  In today’s connected world the posts to Facebook, comments on blogs, retweets and mentions on Twitter shouldn’t go unnoticed.  Say thank you.  Reply to the comments, thank those that mention you on Twitter and pay it forward by sharing one of their articles that are relevant.

Follow up with “thank you.”  The first part of the last sentence was the keyword.  Follow up.  A thank you note or email after an interview, meeting at a career fair, or information session goes a long way.  Use this opportunity to remind the person who you are, where you met them, and add a note about what you did based on your conversation (applied online as directed, read an article, etc.)  This could be a handwritten note (makes a nice impression) or a simple, short email.  Here’s a tip:  You can’t follow up if you don’t get their business card or ask “How should I follow up?”  You’d be amazed at how many people simply don’t follow through by following up.

Thank your influencers.  I’m where I am today because of those that have influenced me over the years.  They’ve told me to follow my passion, follow through, be bold, have fun, and that a little weirdness is okay.  Taking the time to thank these people throughout my journey has been well worth it.  Update your network and let them know that because of their support, you’re where you are today.  Thank your teachers – knowing that their students are successful is one of the best rewards they could ask for.  Over the years, I’ve been incredibly thankful for the things my parents, siblings and grandparents have taught me.  Life is short and moves fast.  Tell them thank you now.

Those two little words can be very powerful in your career and in your life.  Don’t underestimate that.  So, without further ado, here’s my thank you:

Thank you for all the support you’ve given me on this journey.  I’m just getting started – there’s so much more in the works for the future.  This marks the 100th post on Campus to Career, a milestone that would have been unreachable without the encouragement, participation, and kindness of my network.  Thank you.  Seriously.  You’ve made me a better person, both personally and as a professional.   I’m looking forward to our future together.

I’ll leave you with a challenge:  Say thank you today.  Make it a point to say thank you every day.  Whether it’s to the person who holds the door open for you, takes your hamburger order, or a coworker that helps you with a project (and many more examples), show your appreciation by saying thank you.   You’ll be glad you did.

As always, THANK YOU for reading.  If you like this article, please feel free to share it with your network.  Like it, tweet it, share it…you know the drill.  🙂  Have a fantastic week!


Reading This? Thank a Teacher!

23 08 2011

For most of you, school is officially in session for the fall semester.   Whether you’re a student or a parent of a student, I thought it would be good to cover something that is close to my heart to get you started down the road to a successful year.  It all starts with a book…or two.


I’d like to say a special thank you to the teachers who taught and challenged me to read.  The unmistakable smells of books bring back so many memories from my childhood.  I’m glad I’ve had the chance to read the classics, but after looking at the “required summer reading list” at Barnes & Noble, I realize that I need to read more.  Not only do I need to read more business books, but books from classic authors like Kurt Vonnegut, etc.  After all, knowledge is power, right?

Some of my favorites over the years (ranging from elementary to present-day) include:

There are so many more, but this post would be very long if I listed them all.  What can I say?  I loved (and still do) to read.  My imagination runs wild, bringing the text to life.  In my opinion, the book is better than the movie 99.9% of the time.  I’ve never read Cliff’s Notes for anything.  It takes the fun out of reading.  Yes, there are a lot of books out there today.  I didn’t mention it above, but I also love Dave Barry’s books, bringing an unprecedented amount of humor (some will say it has rubbed off on my personality) to life.  Pick up a book at your closest store or library, download it, or listen to it as an audiobook or podcast.  I can be a 50-100 page quick read, or it could be War & Peace (which, in my day was a BIG book – now it pales in comparison to Harry Potter and Twilight).  Just read.

My advice?  Read for two reasons:

Pleasure.  Escape to another place.  With all the craziness in this world, we need an escape from reality.  Cozy up with a nice cup of tea, a quiet place and read to your heart’s content.  Let the text take you into their world for a bit.  I’ve found that this is sometimes just what I need to refocus on other things.  Take a break.  Enjoy a book.

Business.   Read for personal and professional development.  There are many books out there focusing on leadership, management, and every trade/skill you can imagine.  Find a book that will help you develop as an individual.  Don’t just read the text – take what you’re reading and apply it to the real world.  This might make for a longer reading time period, but you’ll be glad you did.  Check out the Book List tab above for some of my recommendations.

So, the next time someone asks, “Read any good books lately,” you can answer them with an emphatic “YES, I have!”  What books are on your list of favorites?  Please leave a comment below!

Employee Engagement: Communication Breakdown

16 08 2011

Photo credit: TransGriot

A wise person once said, “Ask the people who do the work.  They know the problems, but they also have the solutions.”

Where do I think all of this starts?  I’m glad you asked!  Recently, my company has been reviewing our annual employee engagement survey results and I have been inspired to write several blog posts from the conversations around this topic.  Don’t worry – I’m starting slow.  I won’t push it too much.

Employee engagement.  Now, there’s an interesting term.  Engage employees…hmm…it’s not as tough as it sounds.  How?  Engage them in decision-making and creative thought process, task forces, committees, advocacy or employee resource groups (ERG).  Why?  It’s simple.  Employees who feel they’re valued and what they’re doing makes a true difference stay longer because they’re happy.

What?  It’s that simple?  Well, maybe not exactly.  Sure, change takes time.  It sometimes takes some serious time, but if you pay attention to the little things below, it could make a big difference:

Communicate.  People want to know what’s going on.  If changes are being implemented, the natural reaction is to ask why.  Help them understand this.  Ask them what they would suggest to help make the organization more effective and efficient.  You’ll be surprised at some of the answers you get.  As the opening quote alluded to, the people on the ground floor know what is going on.  They know what works, what’s broken, and have ideas on how to fix it.  Before making your decisions at the top, ask others across your organization for their insight.

Learn…ConstantlyBenjamin Franklin said, An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  Do you learn something new every day?  If not, why?  Life’s experiences teach us many lessons – what to do, what NOT to do and so on.  Learning from those lessons moves us forward.  Not learning from them keeps us static, sometimes moving us backward in life.  What are you doing every day to make yourself a better employee (or potential employee), manager, husband, wife, mother, father, etc.?  Big changes take time, but if you take small steps every day, you’ll achieve your goal before you know it.  Make sure that what you’re learning every day can be applied – just because you learn that peanuts are an ingredient in dynamite doesn’t mean it’s going to get you very far.  Sure, it’s knowledge you can win Trivial Pursuit with, but what are the other practical applications?  Unless you’re a Demolitions Specialist…

Stay with me here.  Learning constantly does have a connection to employee engagement.  Learn about what’s going on at their level.  Get to know them better.  Learn what makes them tick.  Why?  You’ll get some great ideas and you’ll know how to work with them in the future.  What does this do?  It gains TRUST.  Build trust.  Never stop building it.  You’ll be glad you did.

These are just two things that could help with employee engagement.  What are your tips?  What did YOU learn today?  Please leave a comment below, tweet this, send it on to your Google + circles, share to Facebook or LinkedIn.  Pay it forward.  Thank you for reading!

Campus To Career

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Job Hunting: How Career Exploration Sites Can Help

9 08 2011

Guest post by Annie Favreau, Inside Jobs

Interviewers want to see applicants who are focused, informed, and have potential for growth. But the stress of looking for employment often means job seekers pursue positions in scatter-shot ways, going for volume over quality—which generally makes for an unsuccessful search.

My advice?  Draw a deep breath, and check out a career exploration site. By taking advantage of the tools supplied by these types of websites, you’ll gain the direction and in-depth information that will give you a leg up on the competition. Here’s how:

They help you see the range of possibilities. Job hunters often come into the process with set ideas about what field/job/type of career would help them thrive, but it pays to take an hour and open your mind. By freely researching the thousands of job descriptions and articles on career exploration sites, you can discover work options you wouldn’t have considered on your own. Most sites have tools to facilitate this process, like the “Show me Jobs…” tool on Inside Jobs that lets you enter a job title, then look through a list of positions that use similar skill sets but are more lucrative, more social, etc.

They help you focus your search. Once you’ve figured out a field you’d like to break into, career exploration sites can point you toward less well-known positions. For example, everyone knows what a Photographer does, but you might not have thought about a career as a Forensic Photographer, or an Underwater Photographer.

Why’s this important? The more visible a job, the more applicants it will have. By choosing a smaller career niche, you increase your chances of having someone actually look at your resume.

They help you understand your field. Nobody works in a vacuum, so career exploration sites are often designed to show you how jobs are connected. For instance, if you read the description of a 3D Animator, you may find links to positions that are related, like Texture Artist or Concept Artist.

The more informed you are about an industry as a whole, the better. First, you can leverage this information to craft a more targeted resume. Second, you’re more likely to impress interviewers if you’ve done your research and have a firm understanding of the field you are about to enter.

They help you get that competitive edge. On most career exploration sites you’ll find information about any training or education that is required for a given position. Even if additional education isn’t necessary, they will often let you know what training—like an internship, apprenticeship, or advanced degree—will set you apart from the other candidates.

Hunting for a job is never going to be a walk in the park. But the right tools make it easy for you to take the first steps toward landing your next interview, and your next job.

Annie Favreau writes and works for Inside Jobs, a career exploration site “where people can explore what opportunities exist and learn what paths can take them there.”

Want to learn more about career exploration? Check out Inside Jobs and follow on Twitter and Facebook.

Campus To Career

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Branding Lessons from MTV

2 08 2011

MTV celebrated their 30th birthday on August 1st, 2011.  The staple of Americana has brought us a lot over the years.  Many people launched their careers with MTV.  Carson Daly got his start with Total Request Live (TRL.)  Carmen Electra and Jenny McCarthy had Singled Out.  The channel had TONS of music videos in the early days, and then came the rise of reality television.  Lord, help us all.

So, what has MTV taught us?

People are interested in people.  Maybe we just like to watch a train wreck.  Or maybe it’s because we are genuinely interested in other people’s lives.  We all need an escape and sometimes, a reminder that there are some really crazy people out there.  Whatever the case, MTV has capitalized on this interest, bringing us everything from The Real World, Beavis and Butthead, Jackass, The Hills and yes, Jersey Shore.  They introduced you to Snooki.  You’re welcome.

It’s not about the music anymore.  They used to show a lot of videos.  After all, that’s what the “M” stands for, right?  The production value of a music video went from a couple of guys playing guitar in their garage to full-blown cinematic masterpieces.  The music video producer, director and filmmaker were born.

The issues are real.  According to Wikipedia, MTV has a long history of promoting social, political, and environmental activism in young people.  An example of this is Fight for Your Rights, a program that was created to bring forth awareness on America’s crime, drugs and violence issues.  From the promotion of how important it is for young people to vote in U.S. elections to ad series like Break the Addiction where MTV encourages their viewers to find ways to use less fossil fuels and energy, the brand is strong.  The issues are real and they’re relevant.

So, where am I going with all of this?  Well, you see, MTV is a pop culture icon.  It’s a powerful brand.  The network has been with us as our lives have been shaped into what they are today.  I remember the music video that was popular when I first fell in love (Aerosmith – Cryin’…who could resist Alicia Silverstone?), when Princess Diana tragically left this world (Elton John – Candle in the Wind), when Christina Aguilera was just a Genie in a Bottle, and when Michael Jackson scared the crap out of us as a zombie with ThrillerFun fact: According to Guinness World Records, Thriller is the most successful music video of all time, winning two Grammy awards, and four MTV Awards.  In a post about the greats, I can’t forget the very first music video that played on MTV: Video Killed the Radio Star.

I digress.  What MTV has taught us is that even with change, their brand remains relevant.  The influence on the younger generation is evident.  What would we do without our MTV?  The network’s brand has changed, adjusting to pop culture and as a result, it’s just as relevant as it was 30 years ago.  Think about this as you develop your own personal and professional brand.  What sets you apart from the competition?  How does your value proposition line up with the career you’ve chosen?

Here are a couple of articles to help you with developing your personal brand:

Personal Branding: A Reality Check on You, Inc.

To Lead or Follow? BOTH! 

Personal Branding 101: How to Discover & Create Your Brand