Career Advice from a Novice Runner

31 01 2012

One of the best signs I saw during my first half marathon - Nov 2011

Hi there.  Welcome back to Campus to Career.  This week, I’d like to share some personal lessons I’ve learned recently as I prepare to run my first marathon in 2012.  Before February 2011, the only way you’d catch me running was when something or someone was actually chasing me.  Sound familiar?  I wasn’t a guy that found joy in the act of running…or exercise, to that point.  To me, it was something only Olympians and other serious athletes did.  Not a sport for me.

I was wrong.  I can go on and on about running, the solace I find in the activity, the rewards I’ve reaped because of my new-found joy in running (I lost 30lbs last year), or the satisfaction of knowing that something I trained for actually worked out the way it was supposed to in the end.  I’m going somewhere with all this, so stay with me.

There’s a career-related lesson in all of this.  I’ve broken it down into a few points below:

Set a goal.  The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  He had a very good point.  In your career and in life, set goals that you want to achieve.  Write them down, set a recurring calendar reminder (great for keeping you on task with deadlines) and tell your friends and family that you’ve set these goals.  They’ll help keep you accountable.

Set a plan to achieve that goal.  A goal without a plan is just a wish.  Ever hear someone tell their friends, “I wish I could lose weight,” or “I wish I would get promoted this year?”  When you set a plan to achieve your goals, you’re making a commitment to yourself.  You don’t want to let yourself down, do you?  Set the plan.  Again, like setting the goals, tell your support network.  Ask them to keep you in line when you have a moment of weakness.

Set realistic expectations.  Everyone automatically thinks of a marathon when they find out someone has taken up running as a sport.  For me, that’s certainly a goal.  But, in 2011, that was a stretch goal.  Instead, I focused on eating healthy, establishing a workout routine and training for a few races (I ran a 5K and two half marathons last year.)  My current boss has a saying that goes something like this: “set goals that are inspirational, yet achievable.”  We set stretch goals.  Why?  Because if we only give 100%, we’re more likely to end up with 80-90% of our goals achieved.  But, if everyone shoots for an extra 10%, we’re more likely to land at 100% overall.  Set expectations, but make sure that your goal can be achieved and that you’re giving more than “just enough.”  You’ll be surprised at the positive results.

Follow through.  The path to achieving your goals is sure to be filled with triumph and adversity.  When the going gets tough, the tough gets going, right?  Don’t quit when things get too hard for you.  Follow through.  Keep your goal in mind, ask your support network for a little boost, and push through.  But don’t just push through and run yourself into the ground.  Make sure you’re taking breaks throughout so your brain and your body have time to rest and recuperate.  Rest is just as important as the training itself.

Be flexible.  Like the point before about follow through, remember to stay flexible.  Life happens.  Have a Plan B (or C, D, and E) ready for times when life throws you a curveball.  As a runner, I’ve learned that sometimes, I don’t have time (or my body says STOP!) to train according to a strict schedule.  Flexibility has kept me on track.  If I can’t get my run in during the evening, I do it the next morning.  Sometimes, you have to make the decision to skip the activity and just keep moving forward.  Whatever plan you have, just know that there will be interruptions and distractions.  Learn how to make the most of those moments and keep moving toward achieving your goal.

That’s it.  I tried to keep it as simple as possible.  I’ve used running as a metaphor, but feel free to use what makes the most sense for you.  This post isn’t about running.  It’s about setting achievable goals, creating an action plan, following through with that action plan and learning to be flexible as you move towards achieving your goal.

If you’re interested in keeping up with my progress as I train for my first marathon this year (and who wouldn’t be?), please check out my other blog, Run Because.  There’s a theme to it, but basically I’ve found blogging to be very beneficial as I stay on track.  It’s amazing what kind of support you’ll get from family and friends when they know just how serious you are about something!  I’ll leave you with a final note:  thank you.  Say it (and mean it) as much as you can.  We all have untapped potential that is just waiting to be unlocked.  Sometimes a simple thank you is the key to unlock it.  So, thank you!

PS. The marathon is set for November 4, 2012 (Bass Pro Wildlife Conservation Marathon in Springfield, MO.) I have 40 weeks to train and yes, I have a plan in place!  Thanks Logan. 🙂

Photo credit: Jami Garner


Fostering Innovation with Shaun White

24 01 2012

Photo credit: Shaun White Snowboarding

My job requires me to travel – a lot.  You know the magazines that the airlines provide to their passengers?  I actually read them (even SkyMall.)  From time to time, there’s a good article with a real lesson that can be shared.  As I was reading through this month’s issue of American Way, I came across an article featuring Shaun White.  I probably don’t even have to explain who he is, right?  Shaun has become a household name with his line of clothing, Oakley sunglasses, video games, newly launched partnership with Burton snowboards…he even has his own gum (“whitemint”), thanks to a partnership with Stride.  Most of us know him either by name, reputation, or by his fiery red hair.  He’s competed (and won several medals) in the Olympics.  In most people’s opinion, Shaun White has arrived.

How does someone get to this point of success in their career?  It all starts with the competition.  I’ll dig a little deeper:

Competition fosters innovation.  If we all did the same thing every day, we’d live in a very boring world.  To break it down a further, competition to me means that a variety of ideas and people are fighting to find the most innovative idea and person.    Shaun didn’t stop when he won the gold medial in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with a high score on the half pipe of 48.4 (highest you can get is 50).  He kept innovating new tricks, new ways to put a spin on snowboarding.  By the way, his business franchise speaks for itself.  He’s also breaking down the snowboarder stereotype, so think twice before you make assumptions about someone based on their job or hobby!  Consider “best” as a given…are you really being innovative in your approach to your career?  Could you do more?  We all need a little healthy competition!

There’s a deadline and everybody is watching.  Innovation doesn’t just happen overnight.  It also doesn’t happen without setting goals or without taking action regarding those goals.  In the American Way interview, Shaun mentioned that it’s all about adrenaline and focus with his tricks.  That, and the fear of failure.  “I can’t do certain tricks unless it’s in a contest because that pressure – you need it,” he says.  “You get into that zone and I’m like, ‘Ok, I have to land. It’s not an option.’ Tricks seem to happen easier when you’re at events.  You need that contest mode to see the crowd, the clock’s ticking – all these things make you push harder.”  Think about he uses deadlines and acts to achieve his goals.  Are you following a similar philosophy?  

Short and simple – that’s how this week’s post wraps up.  The next time you’re reading a book or magazine article, think how it applies to you, your success or life in general.  You might be surprised what you can learn!  For reference, check out for American Way‘s full article.

Like this post?  I want to know why.  Leave me a comment!  Disagree?  Leave me a comment.  Campus to Career is shaped largely by your feedback, so don’t be shy – let me know what’s on your mind!

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Leaders Matter

17 01 2012

Photo credit: Knol

Yesterday, the U.S. observed a special holiday.  The holiday was in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.  You see, Dr. King had a dream.  He knew that effective, responsible leadership mattered.  He was a leader.   King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’   Your success…our success…is intrinsically linked to the success of others.  So before you blaze a trail for yourself, ask yourself the question above.  What are YOU doing for others?  To get you started, here are a few tips:

Think of yourself and believe in yourself as a leader.  This is the foundation.  If you don’t think of yourself as a leader, why would anyone else?  You can do this without coming off as arrogant or entitled – just keep your goal in mind and have an action plan to make it happen. 

Invest in yourself as a leader.  I mentioned having an action plan in the bullet above.  It’s good to have your goals in mind.  Better yet, it’s good to have them on paper with a clearly outlined action plan.  You have to invest in yourself as a leader.  Look at relevant webinars (there’s a lot out there for free,) conferences, books, blogs, etc.  Another way to invest in yourself as a leader is to find a mentor.

Practice effective, responsible leadership.  This is the secret to success.  Those who practice effective, responsible leadership set the example for others.  It’s actually a lot easier in the long run than cutting corners.  Who cut corners?  Think of any global corporate scandal recently.  Most of the problems have been because the leaders weren’t responsible.  They didn’t make ethical decisions.  Believe me, this does matter.  When leaders make ethical decisions, their followers make good decisions as well.  It’s all about setting the example.

Help others.  You can’t climb the ladder to success if no one is holding the proverbial ladder. It’s also a lot harder to climb if there isn’t a wall to lean your ladder against.  Help others as much as you can.  Pay it forward.  This isn’t just a flowery sentence.  Do it.  Paying it forward and helping someone in need will pay itself back ten-fold.  But don’t just do it because of the payoff.  Do it because it’s the right thing to do.  Remember, the point before this one?  It’s all about responsible leadership.

Confession: I can’t take all the credit for the ideas conveyed in this post.  In my life, I’ve chosen to surround myself with the best leaders in the business, learning from their successes and from their mistakes.  It’s made me into the person I am today.  Am I done learning?  No way.  Do I help people as much as I can?  You bet.  This blog is one of the ways I’m helping people find their passion and the job of their dreams.

What are you doing to ensure effective, responsible leadership?  I’d love to know.  Please feel free to leave a comment below, or if you’d rather converse one on one, send me an email at  I want to hear your story so we can help others together.  As always, thanks for reading.

Working with Muppetational Personalities

10 01 2012

Question of the day:  What do a college freshman, a level-headed frog, an over-the-top pig and a fuzzy bug-eyed alien have to do with job advice?

I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with “puppet.”  With the 2011 release of The Muppets in theatres (I haven’t seen it yet – please no spoilers,) it’s perfect timing to bring them all together for a fun blog post.  Don’t you just love pop culture?

The eternal optimist.  Let’s start with the frog.  To be more exact, his name is Kermit.  Kermit (voiced by Jim Henson) once said that his job was “trying to get a bunch of crazies to actually get the job done.”  You see, Kermit is the guy in charge.  He has to work with a variety of personalities from Animal to Sam the Bald Eagle to Statler and Waldorf, the show’s toughest critics.  Where am I going with this?  Kermit chooses to see the positive in every situation.  He’s the eternal optimist, sees the good in people and helps in every way he can.  Why?  He wants others to be successful!  Have you had a boss like this?  How would you work with them?  

The star(?) of the show.  When I think of Miss Piggy, I think of someone who must be the star of the show.  That person is determined and nothing will stand in their way.  Miss Piggy has a volatile personality.  She presents a public face which is the essence of feminine charm, but can instantly fly into a violent rage whenever she thinks she has been insulted or thwarted. Kermit is often the target of her anger, sending him flying through the air.  Why is he the target?  Miss Piggy sees him as a doormat because of his good nature.  If it isn’t good for “moi” (pronounced ‘mwah’), then it isn’t worth doing.  Do you work with someone like this?  If so, how do you get the job done without conflict?

The weirdo.  Do I really have to say who this is?  You got it – Gonzo.  He’s known as “Gonzo the Great” or “the Great Gonzo” to his fans.  He takes pride in his uniqueness and finds great enjoyment in EVERYTHING he does, no matter how bad the job really is.  I think he’s a lot like Kermit in that he’s an optimist.  I think Gonzo’s career wouldn’t be what it is today without his positive attitude.  Yes, he’s worked some crazy jobs, but he’s found enjoyment in it all (no matter how far he had to dig to find it.)  In the end, he’s learned from his failures (and like anyone, knows there will be more) and grows from it.  Does this sound familiar?   

The dreamer.  Jim Henson imagined puppets with a life of their own.  He changed the entertainment industry forever.  Did you know that Kermit was created from a women’s coat that his mom had thrown into a waste bin?  He used two ping pong ball halves for eyes.  I’ve created a few sock puppets in my day, but what Jim Henson did was so much more.  His imagination helped launch characters that we’ve grown to know and love like the ones mentioned above, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, and Cookie Monster.  It’s amazing what you can achieve if you dream big enough.

What do you think?  Any other Henson characters you can identify with in the job search?  C’mon, I know you’re itching to leave a comment.

Who is YOUR favorite Muppet character?   Better yet, how do YOU work with Muppetational characters on the job?

4 Twitter Chats to Advance Your Career

3 01 2012

Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.  I certainly enjoyed my time with family and friends.  I also had some excellent “down” time to think about where Campus to Career is going to go in 2012.  You’ll see some very exciting partnership announcements in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned!

In 2011, Twitter really had a breakout year.  There was a lot of great stuff that Twitter helped us see and a lot of stuff that wasn’t really great (think about the Rep. Weiner scandal, etc.)  I think you already know by now that I’m a huge fan of the platform.  There’s so much you can do with it!  From brand-building to networking to crowdsourcing to inspiration, motivation and information, Twitter brings a lot to the table.  To dig a little deeper into that comment, I’ve found Twitter chats to be very beneficial for the job search.  It’s a real-time chat where YOU get to ask the questions and provide helpful insight for those that need it!  You’re going to notice the use of hashtags (it’s that little “#” symbol before a word) a LOT more in 2012.  Click here for a great article from CAREEREALISM on how to use hashtags to find a job.

Here are my FAVORITE #jobadvice chats:

#InternPro – Launched in December 2011 by YouTern, #InternPro is  the first of three new interactive media channels designed to enable you to enter the internship and working worlds with confidence, develop networking skills, secure mentoring relationships – and take charge of your career.  I participated in the first one and have to admit that it was one of the BEST, most informative and fun chats I’ve been on in a while!  When: Monday nights at 9:00pm Eastern!

#CareerChat:  @MyPath_MP and @Bizmebizgal host and moderator the popular hour long Career Chat.  It’s a great chat to join on your lunch hour.  Why not further your career while eating that sandwich?  When: Tuesdays at noon Eastern!

#HFChat: HireFriday helps job seekers at all phases of their career transition. HireFriday lends a hand, and encourages a heart by providing visibility, networking, support, and access to resources. They offer advice, based on sound career development, and recruiting principles.  This chat has developed its own community, thanks to the very dedicated work of founder, Margo Rose.  Not only are there some really great folks there that are ready to be hired by YOU, there are many recruiters offering great advice.  Follow @Hire_Friday @HRMargo. When: Fridays at noon Eastern.

#JobHuntChat: Started In February 2010, Job Hunt Chat is a community where job seekers, recruiters, human resource professionals, career coaches, and hiring managers can connect.  Their method is simple: 1 chat, 6 questions, and 1 hour.  They take questions straight from the job seeker and offer real solutions from real industry experts.  Moderated by @CornOnTheJob @Blogging4Jobs and @girlmeetsgeek.

So what are you waiting for?  Join in, get great advice, and get hired in 2012!  Do you have other chat recommendations for job seekers?  Please leave a comment.  As always, thanks for reading.

Photo credit: Mashable