Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did.

I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong. In fact, my difficulty is that I know I suck.

We generally seem to gravitate towards doing those things we are good at and shy away from our areas of weakness. This is a big problem. When trying to develop a new skill or hobby, we are usually unsatisfied with the results that we are getting. Not only that, but we will continue to perform poorly at the new technique until we have enough experience to feel confident, or we decide to leave our egos behind and just make a go of it. Here are four things we can both do to make some progress.

Give yourself some time

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. To make tangible improvement takes effort and time. No time invested results in zero gain. It’s that simple. Start with scheduling time to work on your new skill. Develop a practice routine and stick to it. I find it easier to do this if I put it on the calendar as a recurring task. To get from where you are to where you want to be you’ll need to invest your time, lose your fear of failure, and learn to enjoy the process.

Lower your expectations

It’s not uncommon to give ourselves unrealistic timetables for seeing remarkable progress. Slow down, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. For me, that means learning to play the super-easy tunes from memory. No fancy strumming patterns just simple down strums to the beat from beginning to end. Once I can do that, I can add some upstrokes to make it sound more interesting. What is the most basic level of achievement that lets you know you are on the right track?

Look for incremental improvement

I’m not going to go from complete beginner to improvisational virtuoso in a year, and neither are you. Whether you are growing your spreadsheet skills, learning a foreign language, or have picked up a new musical instrument. You will go further if you are observant of signs that you are getting better. Analyze your progress and identify what you are doing better this week compared to last. That will help you to remain motivated and continue to try.

Choose the tougher road

There will be slips too. You may have a comparable skill that you can substitute for the one you are learning. That makes it easy to revert to your previous habits. Unfortunately, you won’t improve that way. You need to challenge the new skill. Sometimes it means taking a step backward so that you can take two forwards.

In baseball, switch hitters are usually better from one side of the plate than the other. For example, the greatest switch hitter of all time, Mickey Mantle’s batting average was 50 points higher from the right side of the plate (.330 vs. .281 from the left). Just having the ability to do both sent fear through the opposing manager regardless of where The Mick stood (372 home runs lefty and 164 batting right). Would you rather pitch to a right-handed hitter that gets on base an awful lot or a left-handed power hitter? There is no correct answer to that question.

Currently, Shohei Ohtani probably spends more hours practicing his craft than any other player in the majors. Because he needs to be both a good starting pitcher and a hitter worthy of a place in the lineup on the days he is not on the mound. That’s a tall order.

The same is true for you. The only way to develop new skills and abilities is to work at them and put them on display.

Being good at new skills and abilities is fun. Going through the learning process is not. For me, it means not letting my guitars collect dust, and playing easier versions of the songs I like. It also requires that I add guitar time to my schedule and find joy in my improvements, no matter how small. I could write about music. I am pretty good at that. Though I think it would be more fun to play. I know the older, wiser version of myself will thank me for sticking with it.

This post originally appeared on Medium.com.

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The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did. I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong.

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How to Create Effective Training

A guide to avoiding training that sucks As an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things you will do is bring new people on board to work your vision. The business has been your baby since its inception. Now you need to dilute that passion with employees. Not only that, but they also need to understand

Read More »

How to Do Better Live Video Events

Hosting my first live video event.

Recently I hosted my first Facebook Live. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I did, however, learn how to do better live video events.

In this story, I’ll share tips for having a successful live video event. Whether you use Facebook, YouTube, or another channel these strategies can help you before, during, and after your event to ensure success. Not just this time, but in future events as well.

Before

Prior to my live, I organically marketed the event both in the Facebook group and to my own friends. I also got my more influential friends to invite people. Because my group is private, one needs to be a member to participate. So I saw my community grow due to this activity.

I have supporters all over the world. Therefore, choosing one time for my event was difficult. I decided to do the same program in the morning and in the evening. This was a big plus (more about that later).

I prepared diligently, and I suggest you do the same.

My email list is modest, and many of the people on it are also in the group. Nevertheless, I did send out a reminder about the event. My mom emailed me back and told me the links to the event didn’t work. This was true for non-members. So I had the opportunity to send out an “Oopsie email”. Saying there was an error in the initial email. An “Oopsie email” is one where you admit you made a mistake in the one you sent out earlier. This email allows you to re-engage an audience and piques interest for those who may not have seen the first one. It worked! This text-only email actually had more opens than the first fancy one that included images and stylized formatting.

I prepared diligently, and I suggest you do the same. This event was to introduce my book and show appreciation to people for their support. My plan was to read an excerpt from Win the Day then explain the format and finally take questions. I practiced reading, made a simple deck, and practiced about ten times.

No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.

Checking RSVPs, I found that my morning session had about ⅓ of the participants registered as the evening. A quick check of the morning audience allowed me to more specifically target the presentation and provided a smaller audience to test my content on.

During

The first thing that happened was that my frame rate was too low. Facetime would not let me access my video. So I immediately switched to my phone. That did work. However, the text was so small that I couldn’t tell how many people were actually watching, nor could I read their comments. To remedy that, I turned from portrait to landscape mode about five minutes in.

Ha ha ha, the video was sideways. It turns out that the platform will use your initial video to lock in an aspect ratio, So I was literally sideways for the remainder of my video.

Whatsmore, on the iPhone, I was unable to use my slide deck. I couldn’t read some of the questions and comments either. Luckily my reading glasses were on the desk. So I put them on and was able to read the scroll. That helped the Q & A session to go ok. There were a lot of personal questions about the journey that I hadn’t practiced answering. As a result, I was overly emotional. I am glad I had that first run with a small audience before doing it again later in the day.

For the second session, I had a friend help me to check my video and I had access to the Facebook dashboard. That was helpful, because 35 people attended, and all told there were more than 300 comments. That’s what I call overwhelm. I can’t even begin to imagine how someone with a larger following would manage the constant feed of questions and comments on their own. Talking, planning the segue ways, and reading comments all at the time could have led to panic. Fortunately, my preparation and practice had me prepared.

Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet - thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing - consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.

Due to having an earlier run at the same content, I was more confident and less emotional in the second session. While I didn’t answer every question, there were more than enough to get me through the sixty-minute session.

After

I received feedback from members of my inner circle and deconstructed the event. It was definitely successful, and I met my goals of authentically engaging with my followers. It would have been better if I had a handle on how to manage the comments and questions. When I watch live events, it seems kind of funny that the presenters are squinting to read the screen. I discovered that is the result of the limits on technology. Having the audience start their questions with “I have a question” helped find those needles in the haystack.

I didn’t really enjoy that the only engagement was messages, and the focus was all on me. Being more familiar with virtual meeting software, maybe using Zoom or a similar platform in the future, would provide a way to better engage the audience.

While not directly related to the event, reading my introduction aloud helped me to find some areas of it that could have been written better. Following this event, I went back and edited the introduction again. As far as writing and editing go, reading stories or chapters aloud definitely helps to write in a tone that is more fluid. After all, most of us silently speak the words we are reading.

Conclusion

Doing a live event is not for the faint of heart. I would recommend you promote your event to get people excited. Encourage your connections to invite their friends and colleagues. They will only share your event if the topic is clear and has value to them. Plan and practice several times, on video if possible. Planning will help you handle adversity and practicing will help you to sound more authentic. Get a friend to do a trial run with you, and expect the unexpected. Then when the time comes to turn on your camera, take a deep breath and prepare to excite your tribe. It’s showtime.

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How to Create Effective Training

A guide to avoiding training that sucks

As an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things you will do is bring new people on board to work your vision. The business has been your baby since its inception. Now you need to dilute that passion with employees. Not only that, but they also need to understand your expectations and systems. That calls for training that doesn’t suck.

I told them a hundred times, but they still don’t get it!

Providing proficient training means you need to understand your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. You’ve got to have a handle on their communication styles and how they learn. You can’t expect everyone to think and act the same way you do. That kind of top-down training leads to unmotivated and unproductive employees.

Having a clear vision of who you are training and what makes them tick will allow you to modify your training so that it meets your objectives and has you feeling confident in delegating tasks to the new members of your team. 

Are your employees’ visual learners? They will need you to demonstrate what you want them to do. Are they kinesthetically focused? They will need hands-on time to grasp the concepts you had planned to lecture them on. Do your new employees do better reading? For those folks, creating a manual would be sufficient. And if they are verbal learners, having them explain how to do the task will help to stimulate their minds. There are seven different learning styles and their variations. Each type of learner will benefit most when the training is adapted to their learning modality.

You will also want to consider your team members’ DiSC profiles. Are they leaders or followers? Are they perfectionists or is it sufficient that the tasks are done acceptably? Understanding your employees’ working style preferences will help you to adapt the training. DiSC knowledge will also enhance your ability to decide strategically who to assign tasks, and how to hire for specific roles. You can learn more about DiSC here.

What do I teach them?

You have a wide view of the tasks and how those benefit your company. However, your new employees may only see those as chores that they need to complete in order to get a paycheck. You’ve got to change that perception. Employees are highly motivated by the sense that they are contributing to the organization. Therefore, don’t just tell them what to do, also include some background information. They’ll want to know why. That makes them feel like they are part of the process.

When you consider how you are going to explain the tasks, break them down to their smallest elements. Don’t miss a single detail, because some people will need to niche it down that much. While others will take a more holistic view. Those people will do better by learning as they go. Remember, you are managing people, not tasks. Keep the needs of your staff in mind as you dispense new assignments.

They are now performing the basic functions, but I want them to do more

Congratulations, you created an effective training program, and your staff is meeting about 50% of its expectations. That’s a big win. But now you want them to raise their collective game. It’s time for feedback. Feedback is better done one to one. You will get more authentic communication that way. Ask the employee to evaluate their performance. Talk to them about how they feel the process and their productivity could be improved. Ask for their advice about adjustments to the system. Then give them the freedom to do their best work.

If their answers are not so free flowing, try suggesting performance enhancements you would like to see and create a plan together for improving productivity. It may feel like you are spoon feeding solutions to this type of person, but that is the level of engagement they will need to achieve the results you envision. Regardless of the employees’ working style preferences, make sure that both of you are evaluating the performance. That way you can agree on expectations, what constitutes success, and continue to improve the system. These were the goals of your training when you decided to conduct it.

Tying it all together

Training is an investment in your business and its people. It may seem that the process is labor-intensive, but after doing it a few times, you will have a system you can use for any employee doing the same task and more easily create new trainings as well. Furthermore, educating staff on the whys for your processes and spending time on feedback will make them feel like they are more than hired help. For any business, this builds loyalty and lays the foundation for great business culture. Finally, once your employees have demonstrated competence in these skills, it is one less thing you need to worry about. That will free you up to work on other needs, like growing the business.

Originally posted on Medium.com

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How To Fight Back Against Power Harassment

Don't be a victim

When it gets tough, your options seem to shrink

Recently, a friend of mine started a new job. As to be expected, they were initially assigned all the tasks that no one else wanted to do. Considering these tasks part of the training process, they did the work with a smile. Though they came home exhausted each night, they felt they were getting a better understanding of the job and its requirements.

Now, three months later, my friend has settled into their position and their smile has turned to a lump of stress that they can’t get rid of no matter what they do. The work is fine. It’s the people that are the problem. A pair of her coworkers (can’t exactly call them colleagues) have decided that she is a threat to their control of the work environment and set out to destroy her reputation through false accusations and nefarious behavior.

Relying on a friend to listen without judgment or proffering their own opinions will help you to get your problems out of your head and into the open.

We have all been in toxic situations and oftentimes there is no help available from the outside to deal with these bullies. The solutions need to come from inside of ourselves and the support of our friends. Having someone to talk with about the situation can help.

Finding an empathetic ear will allow you to voice your perception of what’s happening and the solutions you find viable. Relying on a friend to listen without judgment or proffering their own opinions will help you to get it out of your head and into the open. This will help you to analyze the situation more clearly and raise points you may not have thought about previously. Tell your friend what your expectations are for the conversation so they know how to listen, the types of questions to ask and how to interpret your body language.

As you get it all out in the open, you have some decisions to make, should you pursue some kind of retribution for the bully’s behavior, change your working style to smooth the situation, start looking for a new position, or just keep going forward accepting this harassment. Each of these has repercussions.

Taking your issues to your boss or further up the corporate ladder could provide you peace of mind that you are reporting a disturbance in the workplace and may get you some help in the form of counselling or a transfer. The bully could get reprimanded or dismissed and all will be right at work again. Or...The company could choose to do nothing, even worse they could leak the fact that you launched a claim to the perpetrator. That would make matters much worse. Here in Japan it is often the one that stands up seeking justice that is seen as the problem. So it is vital that you consider your options carefully before starting an internal probe.

Oftentimes what is perceived as conflict in the workplace can be attributed to working style differences. These can be defined using a behavioral model like DISC. Explaining the intricacies of DISC is beyond the scope of this article, but you can find a detailed description of it and how to use DISC to understand your work environment here.

Basically DISC relates to four primary working style preferences, Ds, Is, Ss and Cs. Ds are dominant. They are take charge people who expect to see progress and have little time for reasons or excuses. The senior managers in a company are usually high Ds. Is are Influencers, they like people and enjoy conversations. If you are a high I, you will be quick to volunteer to help but may forget what you’ve signed yourself up for later. High Is are often sales people. Ss are steady. They find serenity in helping others and being a part of the team. Ss rarely push back, instead they choose to go along with the flow. You’ll find Ss in administrative and support roles. Cs are conscious. They prefer facts and data to people. Tell a C what you want done and by when, then leave them to their devices to figure it out. Cs like rules and are skilled at using systems. You will find Cs in detail oriented work like accounting and writing code.

If you are an I and your colleague is a C. They will have difficulty understanding your friendly and carefree style. Likewise, you may find them unwilling to listen to your ideas and opinions as those are speculations and not based on hard data.

Similarly, if you are a high D and you work with a high Ss, you may be frustrated that they seem to never make decisions or that they are unwilling to take a lead role in any project. While your colleague may see you as mean and overly direct, expecting the impossible.

These differences in working style can lead to caverns of misunderstanding. So what can you do? Adapt. Adapt to your role and the responsibilities of your position. If you are offering an opinion to a high C, for example, include some hard data to support your suggestion. The high D boss could make expectations clear to the I and S so that they know what is expected.

Before choosing an option that allows you to stay at the company, consider if it is really a problem with just one person or a toxic company culture.

Using excuses like “it’s not my style” when faced with conflict management or new assignments, is not acceptable in the professional world where you are paid to get things done. You need to learn to style switch to accommodate the needs of others just as you expect them to change to make collaboration smoother. As an entrepreneur, this style switching is even more necessary to create good relationships with the clients you have but also to take advantage of new opportunities that come your way.

Your other solution is to leave the company. This is where having savings and a good network come in handy. The benefit of having money is that it provides you with solutions. If you are struggling to make ends meet and this job is all you have, then you are in a vulnerable situation and the bullies can smell that. To avoid this situation, start putting aside an emergency fund, if you haven’t done that already. Keeping your network warm with regular contact and doing favors will provide you with an asset you can utilize in looking for a new position down the road. Another option for exiting the situation could be a transfer. Before taking this option, consider if it is really a problem with just one person or a toxic company culture. Will your complaint stain your reputation? These are things you will need to think about carefully before choosing the internal options.

Toxic environments do not bring out the best in you. They usually result in diminished results and feelings of inadequacy. Contrarily, positive environments will help you to achieve more than you ever thought possible. Work environments at the extremes of the spectrum are few and far between. You usually get as much out of the culture as you put in. 

Finally, before you choose any of these options, it is a good idea to take a look in the mirror and consider if the problem is you. If you have experienced the same harassment in many roles, then it is possible that you are misinterpreting the situation. Consider your role in the problem and if there is anything you could have done to mitigate the predicament. Is there some way you could come to an amicable understanding with the other person? As mentioned above, a high I may think their boss is a bully, while a high D boss is just after results. An increased understanding of your coworkers, the way they work and the situation may help to alleviate the problems.

Bullying and power harassment are unfortunately prevalent in many work environments. They don’t reveal themselves in the interview and it is only after you settle into a job that the real culture is exposed. Take some time to understand your colleagues and what makes them tick. Despite finding a new position, keep your options open by maintaining a strong connection to the people in your network, and keep your bank account stocked. Then look for what you can do to contribute to a positive atmosphere. In the end, if the job doesn’t work out, re-enter the job market. After all, it’s a job, not your life.

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How to Understand If That Job Is Right For You

What is your DISC Type

Gaining a competitive advantage with DISC

Ever chosen a job you thought would be a good fit and later found that it wasn’t your cup of tea? Or maybe you are job hunting and looking for that position where you can continue to grow over the next 5-10 years. If you are looking for some insurance that you are applying for the right positions, you might want to use the DISC process to measure the opportunity and your fitness for that job?

What is DISC?

DISC is a natural work style preferences assessment that groups workers into four categories: D – I – S – and C based on traits like task or people focused, and whether you are assertive or reserved. DISC considers that your past behaviors and tendencies are a good indicator of the way you will prefer to work in the future. 

While this may not always be true, it is such a reliable tool that some companies have included DISC tendencies as part of the internal job description and use the assessment as a portion of the initial screening process. The ideal person for a position in the finance department may be a high C or conscientious type and if your assessment shows you to be a high I or Influencer, you may be immediately screened out of further evaluation for the position. That being said, it is not advantageous to game the test as you will only find that you dislike the work in the end.

You will, however, have a distinct advantage by knowing your DISC profile and the jobs that align with your strengths. So let’s take a dive into understanding DISC.

There are four quadrants to DISC moving from top left clockwise those are Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S) and Conscientious (C). Ds and Is are assertive, they will make decisions and feel that they have power over their environment. Ss and Cs, on the other hand, are more reserved and feel that their environment dictates what is and is not acceptable. 

At the same time, Ds and Cs often feel that they work in an unfavorable environment, while Is and Ss are generally more optimistic. Is and Ss also prefer to work with people and believe that there is a person who can solve any problem. However, Ds and Cs are task focused and think that people execute on well planned and developed solutions. Now that you have an understanding of DISC basics. This chart will help you to solidify the differences between the personality types.

Disc Characteristics

Defining Work Style Preferences

D (Dominant)

Dominant types prefer to focus on accomplishment. They feel that there may be several answers to a problem, but only one right one (theirs). For a high D, recognition comes in execution of the plan. They act quickly and welcome risk/reward situations. Ds will often challenge the status quo and don’t go along just because “that’s how we’ve always done it. If there is a problem, a high D wants a solution. You can keep your reasons and logic to yourself. Just give them the solution. Quick, clean and without drama. That is how Ds operate. 

The Dominant person wants to work in an environment where they are given authority and challenged to succeed. With that success will come prestige and the opportunity for promotion. As a result, many top managers have strong D traits. Ds like direct answers and will throw down a challenge to test their counterpart’s resolve and commitment to a solution.

High Ds like to work with people who weigh the pros and cons before making decisions. Once that is done, they prefer their counterparts to, like themselves, decide and take action quickly. Since Ds are risk takers, they like to make a decision and move on to the next activity. As a result, they may have a wide knowledge base and enjoy many types of activities. They are leaders, not followers. So they really have little need for others except to execute plans that have previously been decided on.

Colleagues and direct reports of Ds may see them as being overbearing and with a need to always be right. Ds want conversations to be brief and to the point. This can be difficult for those who are more personable.

I (Influence)

(Is) like people. Unlike Ds, (Is) believe there is a person who is right to solve any problem. They feel that influence is gained by winning over the crowd. A high I’s strength is the ability to communicate persuasively and motivate others. They are eternal optimists and will trust others to a fault. As a result, (Is) may be overly indirect to avoid offending others.

(Is)will quickly volunteer for any project and love team work. Unfortunately, they are not the best time managers. As such, they may overextend and forget that they had made a commitment to help. It’s not malicious. It’s more a matter of being over zealous.

Is like public rewards and will be quick to share others success stories, as a way to promote colleagues they like. They may be involved in several clubs and organizations outside of work. (Is) are always building their networks, and they enjoy meeting new people. They favor giving everyone a say before a decision is made and love brainstorming ideas. As a result, (Is) may be slow at making decisions. 

For Is, freedom means no boundaries or controls. A world without rules because everyone is naturally kind and considerate of others’ best interest. This is par-I-dise. The belief that everyone works with the best intentions of the group leads Is to be over-trusting and more hands off in working with others. Additionally, providing an environment of freedom means that a high I will instinctively trust their gut, not worrying so much about the details or consequences. This can occasionally lead to poor or underdeveloped plans and decisions.

S (Steadiness) 

Steadiness types like to work within the framework of preset systems and expectations. They have a need for structure and predictability. This allows them to exhibit extreme patients when things don’t go as planned. They also are very tolerance of others, so long as they are benefitting the team.

Ss find it hard to make decisions. Like Is they want everyone to have input before decisions are made. Even then, they may delay to consider one more thing, or to wait for the opinion of a coworker who missed the meeting. Ss are keen to develop specialized skills that allow them to be more effective cogs of the team. Ss are the go to team members to confront someone who is excitable or having a tough day, because high Ss are good listeners. 

High Ss do best with lots of praise, it makes them feel valued. Unlike Ds who don’t care what others think of them. Ss feel uncomfortable pressuring others to meet deadlines or raise quality. As a result, they may quietly do more work than they need to, finding it hard to delegate. While Ss are completely supportive of the team, they despise conflict and just want everyone to get along.

If there are changes afoot, Ss need a lot of lead time and support to make a smooth transition. They may wonder why systems are changing when the old one worked just fine. As a result, they need a clear understanding of why.

C (Conscientious)

Cs love high quality and accuracy. As a result, their best friend in the office is data. High Cs have little use for others, except to move processes forward. Unlike Is, Cs are more than happy to work alone and without interruptions, only talking to others when they need some something. 

Like Ss, Cs they like to have a solid framework to operate within. However, if you are having a bad day, it is better to stay as far away from Cs as possible. They have no time for emotions and comfort. They have very dry personalities and strive for perfection. This drive often leads to projects that are not completed because they are never good enough. And plans that are never realized, because more data is needed before they can move forward.

High Cs have a meticulous attention to detail and understand the intricacies of things. They are the perfect people to review your work, provided you are ok with direct feedback. Cs don’t mince words.

A C will feel that the deck is stacked against them, so they need as much evidence as possible to prove others wrong and support their own opinions. Unlike Is, they do not rely on instinct. The answers, they will say, are in the data. As such, when giving feedback to a high C is important to have specific examples and desired actions.

Cs need you to explain exactly what your expectations are. They will not interpret what you mean. They need to know that they have control of the elements necessary to achieve success, because they do not like to rely on others.

A D, I, S, & C go out to lunch...

Knowing Your DISC Profile

It is important that you know your DISC tendencies so that you can understand your natural strengths and weaknesses in your position or the ones you are applying for as your job hunt. You may have one trait that is higher than the others or two, some people even have three high traits. There are some suggestions for where you can get your DISC assessment.

While your DISC profile represents your natural working style, it can be adjusted to the situation, environment and even role you are in on a project. As a company employee, my profile is high I, high S. I am a motivator and know that by following the rules I will be more successful working in a big company than a small one with constantly changing norms. However, as an entrepreneur I am more high I, high D and less S. I have very few C traits. Influencing customers and collaborators is essential to successful projects. That’s my I side. Making quick decisions and finding appropriate solutions that propel my business forward align with the D in me.

As you gain insight to your own DISC profile and the definitions of the others, you will begin to recognize the traits of your coworkers. That will help you to more effectively interact with them. Don’t ask a high C how they feel about a new policy. Ask them what they think of it. Avoid giving a problem without a solution to your high D boss, tell them your recommendation and be prepared to tell them why. Though they may not ask for your reason if they agree with you. When proposing a new idea to a high I get them excited by telling them about the benefits. And if you need to get something off of your chest, find the high S in your network and have a chat with them.

Using DISC During Your Job Search

While positions have the same name from one company to another, the responsibilities in those roles can vary drastically. To really know if a job is a good fit for you, you need to read the job description carefully and do some background research on the company. That being said, DISC can be a good starting point to establish your fit.

Companies often use DISC as part of the hiring process to understand you. Why not use the same criteria to measure the job against your working style preferences and what you need to succeed? Here are some general examples of the DISC quadrant popular jobs usually fall into.

Entrepreneur – D

Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs are risk takers. They don’t mind the fact that all the decisions rest with them. They have a vision and they want to lead the way to that success. As is typical of the high D, Entrepreneurs make decisions fast and don’t need a lot of input from others to do so.

Senior Manager / Executive – D

As you move up the corporate ladder, it goes without saying your level of responsibility and the risk you need to take grow dramatically. Senior managers and people in the C Suites welcome the challenge of operating without a safety net. They know that big risks have big rewards and they have become good at assessing threats. These people, however, do not have much tolerance for those who would rather sit on the sidelines and have reasons for not taking action. They want things done and they want them done now, as any high D would.

Management Consultant = I

Management consultants need to be good listeners. Once they have heard where the bottleneck is or uncovered a problem, they need to recommend resources and solutions to solve those issues. Since management consultants need to meet people and make them feel comfortable almost immediately, they really need those outgoing and positive traits that are characteristics of the high I.

Recruiter – I

A recruiter’s skill comes in building networks of companies that are looking for new talent and career seekers that are seeking to leverage their skills and experiences into new and challenging high paid positions. Making connections between these groups is an area that high Is excel in.

Sales – I

Highly effective salespeople are skilled at solving personal problems with their line of products and services. They want you to keep coming back and to do that they need to create long-lasting relationships. Combine that with the recognition and rewards that come with achieving sales targets and you have the perfect job for a high S. 

Technical Writer – I

Technical writers need to learn about a specialized area quickly and share that information effectively. When they are finished with one project, they are on to a new area of temporary expertise. This type of work naturally suits a high I who doesn’t like complicated tasks. They usually garner their knowledge by interviewing others and capturing the expertise of their less outgoing counterparts into content that is accessible to a wider group of people.

Customer Success Manager – S

High Ss make great customer success managers. They want to help people to use their company’s services to the most of its ability. High Ss will listen to the customer explain the problems they are experiencing and be able to gently suggest solutions that meet those objectives. They may need to teach or train their clients on using some part of the system and have the patients to do well in that responsibility. Customer success managers need to make their clients feel they have a friend on the inside, the perfect role for an S.

Teacher / Trainer – S

Teachers and trainers are not always the best decision makers, they need a structure to their work. This makes them feel safe in their environment, a strong S characteristic. Once the teacher has this sense of stability, they can help others to prosper through attentive listening and applying their skills and experiences to customize the educational material to the students and their needs.

Hotel Staff – S

Customer facing hotel staff need to make guests feel like the most important people in the room. Since Ss do not have the need to stand out, like Is do, this is a role that suits their working preferences well. HIgh Ss and hotel staff are team players who realize that each cog serves its purpose.

Office Staff – S

Office staff excel at carrying out orders and following procedures. They prefer to be given a list of tasks and the time to carry them out. The skilled staff member knows everybody and most, if not all of them, like her, because she is a good listener and supportive. Characteristics that are common in a High I. She knows how to get tasks done and will quietly go about doing that, not wanting to make any waves.

Accountant & Auditors – C

It has been said that an accountant’s best friend is numbers. This could not be more C like. These people would rather work on a computational task than attend a party. Their attention to details can save a company millions of dollars. So they are consumed with making sure that everything is in its correct place on the ledger.

Translator – C

Translators work alone and their daily routine is all about accomplishing tasks. These are classic high C working style preferences. Translators are highly independent. Just tell them what you want and by when. Then leave them alone to do the work. They have little time for interruptions and distractions like their high C colleagues.

IT Programmer – C

IT programmers focus on detailed code writing. They prefer to work in silence and can spend long hours writing and analyzing code at the computer. While they are skilled at this intricate task, they are generally not so good at training others to do the work. They tend to feel you either understand or you don’t. And if you don’t understand, go ask someone else, the high C programmer is too busy to help you.

Research Scientist – C

Research scientists like to work within the confines of the scientific method. That structure allows them to control variables within it. In this way they can get engrossed in the details of their work without need for talking to others or getting input from the outside. This type of work environment is paradise to a high C.

How You Can Have Success With DISC

Ali, not her real name, had just come to Japan and was excited to start her new job as an ALT. It had been her dream to live and work in Japan. She felt that was going to come true. However, after a few weeks at her school, she had become disenchanted.

She stressed about all the rules and that she was assisting, not leading, in the lessons. Being an ALT is a good position if you are a high S. the job requires a high level of cooperation and an ability to work effectively as a supporting member of the team. Ali liked the social part of the job. As a high I, having to always comply with the English Teacher’s demands and teaching the same lessons over and over again drove her crazy. 

Ali came to me feeling like she had failed at her opportunity to make it big in Japan. Through an interview and DISC assessment, we discovered that she is indeed a high I and would do better in a role where she can socialize, build relationships and manage her own workflow, so long as she is getting results. Based on our discussions, she began applying for jobs as a recruiter. Not only did she get a job within a few weeks but through additional coaching, she sharpened her professional skills, too. As a result, she excelled in her new position, and she received the award for New Associate of the Year. She has now been working with her firm for three years and is loving her work.


Bryan, not his real name, was having problems relating to his colleagues, as a high C, many found his communication style abrupt and rude. During one brainstorming meeting, he commented, “This is stupid. Why don’t you just make a decision, so I can get back to work.”

This made his high I and S counterparts quite angry and Bryan soon found himself in the boss’ office. His supervisor warned him to respect the ideas and opinions of others, or he would be looking for a new job. The feedback from his boss was a wake-up call to Bryan. He contacted me about developing more effective communication skills.

The first step was to analyze his disc assessment and confirm that he is, in fact, a high C. Knowing that, we could explore the differences between his working style preferences and those of his colleagues. We uncovered strategies that allowed Bryan to switch his communication style to more effectively interact with his colleagues. Before too long, his co-workers came to understand him better, too. They consulted him for his technical expertise and attention to detail. He opened up to them a bit more about the challenges he faced on projects and got some interesting ideas by listening to a wide variety of ideas and opinions. Needless to say, Bryan kept his job and made some new friends too.


Peter, not his real name, is a high S. He has worked in the sales department for the last five years. As one of the company’s top producers, he had been offered promotions several times. Each time he declined. He was happy just being responsible for his own work and unsure if he really had the patients and task focus needed to be a good manager.

A previous assignment had him mentoring and training new sales associates. He found that he liked that aspect of the work. So he took a chance and accepted a promotion to District Sales Manager. At first, he found the work very challenging. Too many administration tasks and not enough time meeting customers or motivating his staff. Eventually, however, he settled in and found a detail focus assistant that helped free him up to do tasks that fit his working preferences and the key roles of his job. 

He became better at making decisions, sticking to deadlines, and holding people accountable. Now he runs the most successful sales region in the company. He also assists his team on sales calls where his direct reports are having trouble closing or meeting client’s high expectations. Though his DISC type has moved more towards D, Peter couldn’t be happier.

3 Free & 1 Paid DISC assessment

So how do you understand which job will be the right one for you? Start with a DISC assessment. This will help you to more clearly understand your natural working style preferences. While you could pay for an assessment, and those offer tremendous insight, why not start out with a free one? There are several available on the internet. In fact, if you took more than one, you could validate the results and feel confident that you have successfully identified your preferred working situation.

Here are some DISC assessments you can take right now

Online Personality Tests – https://www.onlinepersonalitytests.org/DISC/

The Online test takes about five minutes and you can take it without providing your email address. It will give you a brief, 1-2 page, report about your DISC preferences and tendencies.

Truity Personality Tests – https://www.truity.com/test/disc-personality-test

The Online test takes about five minutes and you will get a four page analysis identifying your strongest DISC areas. You can’t download this report, but you can print or save the page as a PDF. To get the full Online Personality Test DISC report costs $19 US or about ¥2,000.

Tony Robbins DISC Assessment – https://www.tonyrobbins.com/DISC/

This assessment gives you good insight to your preferences and motivations. It will take you about 30 minutes to complete this assessment. Once you’ve finished the self-assessment, read the 11 page report and the download page carefully to have a better understanding of your tendencies. Then, you won’t need to buy the report upgrade, which is priced from $20 US to $100 (¥2,200 – ¥ 11,500).

The Paid Assessment

One DISC assessment that is really useful, but not free, is the DISC Classic 2.0. This 10 minute assessment provides a detailed report that explains your natural strengths and weaknesses, how others see you and a description of how you will see those with differing assessment scores. It even provides some information on what types of jobs are a natural fit for you. It cost $72 (¥8,000) and is available from Manager Tools – https://www.manager-tools.com/products/DISC-profile#

Wrapping It All Up

Understanding DISC could give you a competitive advantage as you do your job hunting. It will help you know what your working style preferences are, and you can compare those against job descriptions to find a job that suits you best. Once you enter the workplace, knowledge of DISC tendencies will help you better understand your colleagues and provide some insight as to how to work more effectively together.

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Be more empathetic with active listening

Active listening requires listening deeply

It's not your turn to speak yet

It can be frustrating, infuriating and even disappointing when others don’t listen to your views and opinions. Everybody has an idea to share yet no-one takes the time to hear yours. So how do you get others to truly comprehend your words, your thoughts and your ideas? Try active listening first.

To communicate more effectively you need to start with listening. Not only will being a deeper listener help you to engage others, it will also allow you to present ideas in ways that resonate more lucidly with your communication partners.

We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.

Listen with your eyes and watch with your ears

When you listen, it has to be more than just waiting for an opportunity to speak. That’s confrontation, not communication. You need to slow down and really take the time to understand what is on  your communication partner’s mind.

One way to be an active listener is to look at the other person as they speak. Take in their posturing. Do they look nervous or excited? Read their body language. Are they swaying or fidgeting? Examine facial expressions. Is there a smile or does their face look strained? There are so many things that are going on inside the person you are speaking with. If you do not take the time to consider their thoughts and feelings, you will be unaware of what they are really expressing to you.

Using your eyes helps to increase your level of empathy  and more actively involves you in the discussion. Let your eyes help you unwrap a deeper meaning to the message than just the words that come from your communication partner’s mouth.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

It's about more than just the words

To be an active listener, you need to consider both what the other person is sharing and why. Why are they saying this now? Why are they saying it in that way? Are they framing the message in a way that will make more sense to you, or are they choosing their words carefully to omit something they do not wish to reveal?

Peter Drucker said, “The most important thing in communicating is hearing what isn’t said.”

Maybe her words are just coming off the top of her mind. Try to rephrase as a way of ensuring you understand the meaning behind those words. Stopping your partner with an occasional do you mean or are you saying builds trust that you are actually listening to them and helps them to focus their ideas as well.

Ask questions to dig more deeply into their point of view. Once you have the gist of their idea ask more questions to understand it deeply. Get the depth and detail you need to respond in an engaging way.

Gabriella Blum, the Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Harvard Law School recently talked about the dangers of not actively listening, “By failing to listen carefully and effectively’, she said, ‘we lose important information, act on wrong assumptions, and unnecessarily damage the relationship.”

Communication is what the listener does.

Respond with empathy

Now that you have a clear understanding of your communication partner’s thoughts, frame yours in a way that will be clear and insightful for them. You know their mindset from listening deeply. So you can now present an impactful response that will resonate with them.

Choose your words and phrasing in a way that will engage. Just because you are listening in a laser-focused manner, does not mean that your communication partner is too. In fact, they probably aren’t. So framing your response is even more important.

There are so many ways to say the same thing that presenting your ideas in a way that your conversation partner easily comprehends will make your message more impactful. Stop from time to time to ask, does that make sense or do you know what I mean?

Let them reply to your idea as you build it out. Weaving their ideas into yours, or even better yours into theirs, makes the discussion more collaborative. Even if you do not see eye-to-eye, you will have a better understanding of their views and they of yours. That all starts with listening.

So listen actively. Understand what your conversation partner is feeling and saying before you respond. Then when you do, reply in a thoughtful and insightful way. As you become a better listener you will be a good communicator too.

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The end is just the beginning of your next big thing

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

-Albert Einstein

Doing a lessons learned exercise may seem laborious. If you’ve had a difficult time or outright failed, you may want to move on from that bad experience quickly. However, taking a bird’s eye view will help you to comprehend shortcomings and capitalize on incremental improvement. When you have success, celebrate; but also analyze why you were successful and how you can repeat that going forward. Taking some time to deconstruct your success is just as important as evaluating when you fail. Nothing is ever done100% correctly or incorrectly.

Discontent is the first necessity of progress.

— Thomas A. Edison

Here is a list of questions focused on success, challenges, and growth that you can use to self-evaluate and improve your future results. While you do not need to use all of them, getting in the habit of doing the lessons learned exercise, even for a few minutes, will help you to quantify your development and visualize greater success.

Focus on Growth

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No Comparison

Why comparing yourself to others is futile and what to do instead

Whenever we evaluate our personal development, we often find ourselves in an underappreciated situation as we compare ourselves to others. There’s no way to be satisfied with those results. There will always be someone better, smarter, and more skilled than we are. If there isn’t, you’re fooling yourself. Our experiences and time commitments are quite different from those around us. As a result, where we see difficulties others may see success. So it is better to measure your success against yourself.

 

Using ourselves and our personal goals as the measuring stick of success allows us to realistically chart our course. We can envision what comes next and the path to move ahead. We can also be more open to seeing others achieve what we seek. We can then be appreciative of their success and offer praise for their well-done work. So how can you become more aware of your progress? It all comes down to three things: measure, communicate and sprint.

 

Set quantifiable goals

Setting quantifiable goals allows you to objectively measure if you are making the mark. These checkpoints can be evaluated with a yes/no answer.  For example: run 3km twice during the week, use a new word you have learned four times in a day, or write 500 words every day for a month. Through the use of these clear goals, you can accurately monitor your progress in two ways.  First, you can readily understand if you have achieved your goal. Secondly, it’s easy to track your progress. If you are using a system like lessons learned – which I discussed in an earlier article – look back to discover opportunities to apply what you had hoped to do. Then, do better next time. You may even try a three step grade: attempted, competent, and confident as a way to honestly evaluate your performance. Write this information down. It will help to motivate you the next time you face a big challenge.

 

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill

 

Talk to others

If you’re having difficulty understanding how to succeed or your progress is slow, ask others who have cleared similar hurdles how they did it. This will provide you additional options for success that you may not have considered before. While their situations are undoubtedly different from yours, their approach may be a novel one you never considered. 

Additionally, by talking to others about what you are working to achieve, you create a sense of urgency and accountability to make progress.

“You should never try to be better than someone else, you should always be learning from others. But you should never cease trying to be the best you could be because that’s under your control and the other isn’t.” ~ John Wooden

 

Use the Scrum Approach

I love scrum because it requires the practitioner to break up progress into actionable steps and achieve them one by one. It focuses on making progress in sprints. So, rather than gazing into the unknown, you tackle the milestone you can see. Those sprints require demonstrated proof of concept. With scrum you reach success incrementally. 

 

If you are setting your goals too high, you are probably also expecting to reach those achievements too quickly, and also unsure of exactly how to get there. Using the scrum approach you consider what level of improvement would make a noticable difference (maybe 5-10%) and how to achieve that. Once you have cleared that goal, work on the next big thing to move you forward to your desired level of improvement. Consider all the actionables necessary to achieve that initial goal. Move through them step by step. Then proceed on to the next phase. Just like the proverb says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

 

In the end, the only way to make true progress is to take it step by step. There are no shortcuts. Don’t feel discouraged because someone else does with ease something you are struggling with. They also struggled with it at some point. Just be ready to put in the work. Stay focused and celebrate your progress. Life is a marathon not a sprint. You should run to complete the marathon, and not just make it up the next hill.

 

“How do you become better tomorrow? By improving yourself, the world is made better. Be not afraid of growing too slowly. Be afraid of standing still. Forget your mistakes, but remember what they taught you. So how do you become better tomorrow? By becoming better today.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

 

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5 Reasons to Work With a Coach

Are you stalled-out in achieving your goals? Have you come to a dead-end and don’t know what to do next? If so, a professional coach could be the answer. While you may find yourself wrestling with the idea of paying for something you should be able to do yourself, there are distinct advantages to hiring someone to help you achieve a higher level of success. Here are five reasons to work with a coach.

  1. A coach will take you farther, faster than you could go on your own. 

Coaches have already seen the pitfalls you are experiencing, they have made the mistakes and learned the lessons. As a result, a good coach will help you navigate your way around those obstacles and reduce missteps that could slow your progress by months or years.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear 

– Bruce Lee

  1. A coach will give you objective feedback 

There is no reason for a coach to sugarcoat your feedback. That does not drive results. Instead, they will tell you what they see based on your explanation of the situation and elicit information that will enhance your understanding of what you are experiencing and how to grow from it.

  1. A coach will not let you live a life of excuses 

Coaches are paid for success, your success. If you are not moving the needle, they are not being effective. As a result, a personal development coach is firm but fair. They want you to succeed. Sometimes it may seem like they want it more than you, but in reality, they want it FOR you.

To excel at the highest level — or any level, really — you need to believe in yourself, and hands down, one of the biggest contributors to my self-confidence has been private coaching. – Stephen Curry

 

  1. A coach will understand your situation better than friends or family

Because your coach is a confidant, they will have a clearer picture of your motivation and characteristics that both help you to succeed and appear to sabotage your efforts. Your coach will keep your information confidential and spend time searching for solutions for you, using their experience and network.

  1. A coach is paid to focus on you and your success

 Your coach is invested in you, just as you invest in them. To keep you moving up that slope, they will be thinking long and hard about how to help you, not just while you are in front of them but continuously. That assistance could come in the form of pitching you and your business to their colleagues or suggesting ways to advance your career. I am always on the lookout for opportunities that my clients can fill. Here is one, a website for finding jobs in Japan. That kind of service comes at a price, but its value is immeasurable. After all, two can achieve much faster than one.

A self-taught man usually has a poor teacher and a worse student. 

– Henny Youngman

 

If you are ready to unlock the power to be your best or see the finish line but do not know how to get there, consider hiring a professional coach. Trust that you can achieve your vision. Then find the best people and tools to help you get there. Working with a coach could end up being the best investment you have ever made.

 

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The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did. I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong.

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Avoid Boring Zoom Meetings

Engaging meetings

6 Tips for Improving Virtual Meetings -

As more and more meetings go online, the world is learning what Silicon Valley has already known for a while now. Virtual meetings save time and money. However, with these savings come tradeoffs. The biggest one being that we just don’t engage with others in Zoom meetings as we did in face-to-face ones. This is a real problem for getting to know your colleagues and building alliances.

In-person meetings provide us stimuli that allow us to understand more clearly not only the information we are hearing but also the reactions of others to it. Like it or not, virtual meetings will be part of our post-shelter-in-place working life. Below are six tips to help you embrace and maybe even enjoy your virtual meeting experiences.

Schedule a social

All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl.

Meetings can be more than business. Try scheduling a virtual coffee break chat or happy hour. Informal gatherings like these allow you to get to know each other and explore a wider variety of solutions to challenges everyone is facing.

Start with a chat

There won’t be any donuts to incentivize you. But, taking a couple minutes to start with an informal discussion about interest, plans, and non-business topics will help everyone to get to know each other a little better and build a good rapport.

Nudge quiet folks to speak up with a private message.

There are always quiet people in the meeting, and encouraging them to speak up through a private message may help to raise their confidence to share their opinions. So remind them of the great idea that they explained to you the other day and ask them to share it with the group.

Be aware that a skilled facilitator will be able to see these comments. So keep a professional tone to them.

Sum up key points visually

Use the chat box to summarize important points of the discussion, capture deliverables, and share files relevant to the topic. That will help with comprehension of the points, especially important when not all participants have the same language skills. These notes will also be downloadable after the meeting. Which will save the minutes taker time in completing their report.

Live questions

Encourage everybody to type questions into the chat box as they arise. There are two benefits to this. First, the speaker can quickly assess what is essential to the audience, making adjustments along the way. Second, participants can ensure they don’t forget their questions, improving the value of the talk for everybody.

Use pictographs 😀

A common complaint people have about virtual meetings is the inability to read non-verbal communication such as body language and tone of voice. Pictographs are a quick and easy way to react in a way that others can understand. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then pictographs are a priceless communication tool in virtual meetings.

Online meetings are about as similar to face-to-face meetings as TV is to the theater. So, don’t expect the same experience. It’s just different. We are only at the beginning of what will be possible in virtual meetings. Learn the technology, adjust your agendas, and experiment with new things. Incorporating social aspects and utilizing the chat box may turn you into a virtual meeting maven.

Here are three other resources for improving your online meetings