4 Things I Learned on a Cattle Drive

Career Coach Sherri Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each year, I create a new mantra for myself.  One year it was “think big.”  I spent the entire year 10x’ing my ideas, goals and dreams.  Another year I claimed “follow the positive energy.” I made it my mission to pursue those people and activities that energized and inspired me.  This year, I’ve declared 2014 as “The Year of Adventure!”

So when I heard about an all-ladies cattle drive taking place in the heart of Montana led by Ambassador Barbara Barrett, I did what any city girl would do – I ignored it.  But the more I tried to ignore it, the more Barbara and the cattle drive crept into my psyche.  Until finally, I signed up.

Why did I try to ignore it?  Because it was so far outside of my cushy-snuggly comfort zone that the idea terrified me.  Me, the girl who has to call my brother because I’m too afraid to chase a mouse out of my house… had signed up to go on a cattle drive, fly fishing adventure of a lifetime in Montana.  Little did I know that this 6-day excursion would have such a big impact on my life.

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Here are four (4) things it taught me –

  1. Changing my mindset.

    I went from thinking, “No way!” to “How could I make that happen?”  by breaking it down into a few simple steps –
    * Safety – I called the organizers with a list of questions to make sure it was safe for a “beginner” to sign up.
    * Finances – I got my finances in order so that I had a budget for it.
    * Preparation – I mitigated some of the fear by taking four (4) horseback riding lessons and a fly fishing lesson before the big event so that I wouldn’t be such a “beginner” 🙂

After I put all of these small actions into place, then the rational side of my brain gave me the green flag to go for it.

  1. Role models are important.

    On the first day of the cattle drive, we were pushing about 30 angus cattle along a narrow dirt road tucked between a mountain and the Bitterroots river.  One of the calves decided to go Maverick and bolted up the mountain to make a U-turn and run back to his buddies in another pasture.  A female wrangler named Holly yelled “YEE HAWWW!” as she smacked and kicked her horse straight up that mountain to chase down Mr. Angus.  It was impressive.  It was jaw dropping.  It was crazy inspiring to see someone role model boldness and bravery. If you want to learn something new – go watch a role model in action. We need people in our life to role model “how” and “that” we can do it.

  2. Trust in yourself that you’ll figure it out.

    For most of the initiatives that I lead in my career, my plan is about 50% set in stone, and the other 50% I figure out along the way.  But in my Montana adventure, I had about 90% that I needed to figure out.  In the end I figured out what I needed to. I asked questions, got help when I needed it, stayed open to coaching, and just kept trying.  What I learned is that it’s okay to be a novice at something and it’s okay to be scared. What’s not okay is to let fear stop you from doing anything.
    Repeat after me:  TRY –> LEARN –> REPEAT.  🙂

  3. The feeling of being “empowered.”

Yes, it started out as sheer terror, but after a couple of days of just doing it (i.e. not falling over backwards on my horse Tonto because “we” decided to jump over a ravine,) the fear transformed into feelings of confidence, courage and empowerment.

I can’t remember the last time I felt empowered in my career, and I’m not sure I ever felt empowered in my home life.  But I sure felt empowered by day #3 of the cattle drive.

I’m going to take this confidence back with me into my real life.  I figure if I can conquer staring down a steer then I can certainly conquer managing my toughest career challenge. This experience has given me a new perspective – if I can manage through something that is so far outside my comfort zone, then anything that falls inside my day-to-day world seems easy peasy 🙂

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I guess the thing that amazes me the most was how invigorating and personally rewarding it was to go outside my comfort zone.  I use to plan my vacations to be low key, low maintenance and low stress, because I figured I had all the stress I could handle in my daily life.  Now, I’m going to seek out vacations that are new, different and highly adventurous.  I’m thinking that “vacation with gusto” may be my next mantra for 2015!  🙂

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Leading Career Coach Sherri Thomas

Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, “The Bounce Back” is the 2013 winner of “Best Career Book” by Indie Book Awards for independent book authors. Her first book is on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand.” As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360 Sherri passionately teaches professionals and executives how to reinvent themselves into a more enriching and fulfilling career. 
 

 

Your Career Shouldn’t Be That Hard

Nothing is worse than feeling helpless in your career.  Helpless.  Hopeless.  Stuck.

The notion that you don’t have any career options is a myth.  Every day you are making choices.  Every day you make the choice to work for the company where you are.  You make the choice to work for the boss you have.  You make the choice to work on the projects you drive.  Every day you’re making decisions about your career.

So what can you do if you dislike your company, manager or your job?

I’ve been a leading career coach and author for the past 6 years (and working at a 6-figure job for a Fortune 100 Company for the past 14 years), and what I know for sure is that when my career is moving in the right direction – it’s fun, exciting, challenging, scary (in a good way) and immensely rewarding.  And when it’s moving in the wrong direction – it’s excrutiatingly difficult. That’s when I know something’s gotta give.  It’s time for ME to make a few changes.

Below is a simple a step-by-step process and that even with the small changes can help you find your career flow –

1.      Know what you want.

What’s pulling you toward your career right now?  What’s pushing you away?

The first step in getting un-stuck is to sort through the logic and emotion of everything going on in your job right now and make a list of what all the positive things are that you’re getting in your job, such as a salary, benefits, doing purposeful work, working for a company you love, working for a manager you respect, being in an environment where you can constantly learn new things, etc.

Now make a list of things you dislike about your job such as little or no career advancement, limited visibility with leaders, feeling unvalued or unappreciated, being under-challenged, etc.

Look at both lists.  Are they out of balance? Is there anything you can change on your “dislike” list?  Many times it’s difficult for us to come up with solutions on our own so try brainstorming possibilities with a few people you trust such as a mentor, manager, department managers or colleagues.

What’s in your control that you could change?  How could change it?  Who could help you?

2.      Shake things up internally. 

If you like your job, but just wish one or two things would change – then see if you can make it happen.  There may be some parts of your job that you enjoy, and parts that you don’t.  Identify what those are and then have a heart to heart talk with your manager.

Try saying something like, “I am really enjoying my job, but there are a few things I’d like to see if we could change.”  I once said to one of my managers something like, “I’m really not sure how much value I’m adding to the research project, but if you gave me those 4 hours each week, I would use them to create a new leadership initiative.”  I then went on to explain the new initiative and how it would benefit me, the department and my manager. Ten minutes later he told me to, “Go for it!”

Another time I asked one of my manager’s if he needed any help with the budget and told him that I wanted to learn about managing the department’s finances.  He gave me more financial responsibility and taught me everything I wanted to know!

Other great sources to help you shake things up internally could be your boss’ manager, other department managers and anyone who has, or has had, a responsibility that you would like to have.  Two key things to remember are –

a.      You are the only one who can make a change happen.
b.      You cannot make a change by yourself – you need the support, wisdom and mentorship of others.

3.      If you can’t get what you want internally – go external.

Sometimes our career requires big bold changes.  If you’re unhappy in your job and you can’t get what you want inside your current organization, then it’s time to explore external opportunities.

The first step is to simply start exploring possibilities. Talk to others who are in the industry or job role that interests you.  Ask them what a good day looks like, what a bad day looks like, if they have any special training or education, and how they got their job.  You can learn a lot about different career options simply by talking to others.

After you identify a job role that you are really interested in, the next step is to start exploring job openings.   Let your network know that you are ready to take the next step in your career and ask if they could send you any job leads, referrals or recommendations.

Also, search the job boards on company websites where you want to work.  Be sure to set up Job Agents on Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com so that you’ll receive weekly job openings in your e-mail box.

Whether you make a few small changes in your career or one big bold change, you owe it to yourself to have a career that lets you do meaningful, purposeful work and makes you feel valued, appreciated and energized.  You really do have control over your career – you just have to get in the driver’s seat and make it happen! 🙂

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, ”The Bounce Back” is the 2013 winner of “Best Career Book” by Indie Book Awards for independent book authors. Her first book is on AMAZON’s TOP 50 LIST for personal branding books, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand.” As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360.   Sherri specializes in providing one-on-one coaching to professionals and executives who want to change, reinvent or advance their career.

For a limited time, you can download the three FREE chapters of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

Sherri offers personal one-on-one career coaching to professionals who want to change their career.  Learn more: www.CareerCoaching360.com 

The Bounce Back by Sherri Thomas             

New Year, New Career!

Want 3 simple tips to help you make a faster and easier career change?

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As a leading Career Coach, I’m seeing that many professionals make the mistake of posting their resume on a job board, or handing their resume to a recruiter, and then just sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring. Although the economy is improving, we're still in a tough job market which means you need to be much more proactive and strategic to make a career change. My clients have had great success doubling their opportunities and cutting their job search time in half by following my three simple job hunting rules…

  1. Think Up, Down and Sideways.

The biggest mistake job hunting professionals make is looking for a position with the exact same title they had in their last job. Instead, consider looking at smaller companies and going one-level up, as well as larger companies and going one-level down.

Additionally, many companies don’t require you to have industry experience, only expertise in a specific job function, so you can also double your opportunities by applying for jobs in a variety of industries.

For example, if you’ve been working in advertising agencies, then be sure to target organizations that have in-house advertising, marketing, or communications departments. Or, if you’ve been in sales, finance, engineering, or administration in a certain industry (such as health care, high tech, or construction), start applying for those same jobs in other industries.

Finally, it’s not mandatory for you to meet 100-percent of the requirements in a job description before you apply. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 75-percent of the skills and experience required, and express in your cover letter and interviews that you’re a quick learner, flexible, and passionate about the position and the company. Your resume will get you an interview. Your attitude and confidence will get you the job.

2.  Create a strategic job search plan.

It’s easier to catch fish when you know where the fish are, and it’s easier to get hired when you know which companies are hiring. Find out where your potential employers are by reading job boards (CareerJournal.com, theLadders.com, etc.), as well as industry publications, business journals, and company websites. You’ll be able to learn which industries are hiring, which companies are hiring and what the hot jobs are!

Company websites.
Create a list of companies where you would like to work. Visit their website weekly for on-line job postings, and announcements for departments expanding.

On-line job boards.
Some job search sites are notorious for listing outdated jobs, or jobs with no contact information. Why waste your time? Instead, make a list of job search sites that offer high quality jobs. Conduct a search on Google or Yahoo for the job role and the city you want (example: marketing director, Portland). Review all the sites listed on the top three or four pages, and bookmark only those sites that list promising job opportunities.

You’ll find that each site varies in the quality of positions listed (lower-level to senior-level, as well as salary ranges), plus the type of industries, or vertical sectors, listed. Some sites may also do a better job than others updating their lists, or publicizing openings in your city. Focus your attention only on those sites.

Once you’ve created a list of your targeted companies and favorite job boards, make a commitment to review those sites weekly.

3. Work your NetWORK.

The #1 way job candidates are getting hired in today’s market is by getting a referral within the organization. That means, you need to make it a priority to get connected, and stay connected, to people who could hire you, or introduce you to others who could potentially hire you.

Get re-connected with past employers, customers, and colleagues. Meet new contacts by attending industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events, and association meetings that target the industry (high tech, health care, etc.), or the job role (marketing, finance, management, etc.) you want. Try to attend a couple of events each month.

Also, you never want to give the impression that you’re hungry for a job. Instead, you want to be seen as someone who’s resourceful, knowledgeable, and has a wide network. Send out personalized notes and e-mails with information that you think would interest them such as links to reports, case studies, press releases, videos or websites. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers in your network. Influencers are drawn to those who are resourceful.

The goal is to create a pull relationship with your network so that they are drawn towards you (not running away from you!)

When you’re searching for a new job, remember to stay focused on what you want, stay positive, and believe in yourself. It takes persistence and patience – but you WILL find those companies who jump at the opportunity to hire you!!

Your Assignment… Create your “job search strategy.”

Expand your career opportunities by researching job openings across various industries advertised on company websites and job boards (such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com). Read a variety of job descriptions to determine if you have the right mix of skills, experience and expertise. If you match at least 75% of the job requirements – then apply! (Nobody meets 100% of the job qualifications except the person who just left that job! )

After you find a job you want to apply for, then customize your resume to meet the job description and ask your network for recommendations and referrals.

By following these three (3) strategies you’ll be well on your way to a new career!

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, ”The Bounce Back” is the 2013 winner of “Best Career Book” by Indie Book Awards for independent book authors. Her first book is on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand.” As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360.   Sherri specializes in providing one-on-one coaching to professionals and executives who want to change, reinvent or advance their career.

For a limited time, you can download the three FREE chapters of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

Sherri offers personal one-on-one career coaching to professionals who want to change their career.  Learn more: www.CareerCoaching360.com 

The Bounce Back by Sherri Thomas             

Need a little help with your career change?

Check out some of these popular resources to help you reinvent and re-brand yourself…

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  •  “Career Change Boot Camp Program

    A quick-start, complete do-it-yourself self study program that includes step-by-step strategies, tools and resources to help you change careers quickly and easily.  Includes 2 CD’s, eWorkbook and transcripts so you can get started immediately!

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Twice I've Been Hired During the Month of December

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If you’re out searching for a job, but thinking about stopping your job search during the months of November and December because nobody is hiring – think again.  That would be a BIG mistake.

Twice in my career, I’ve been hired during the month of December.  No, I’m not talking about temporary jobs like stocking holiday sweaters at the local Gap store or delivering holiday packages for UPS.  I’m talking about real, permanent, full-time job offers I received with large marketing and advertising agencies.

There are three great reasons why it’s actually EASIER to get hired in the months of November and December, than any other time of the year –

  1. First, many companies may still have budget left for 2103.

    Many organizations have an infrastructure in place of “Use it or lose it”, meaning that if they don’t use up their dollars that have already been budgeted and approved for hiring new employees, then that money will be gone on January 1, 2014.

  2. Second, companies want to gear up for 2014.

    Many organizations want to hire new employees now so that they can hit the ground running at the beginning of the year.

  3. Third, there is less competition.

    Many job candidates stop searching for jobs or go on vacation (because they believe the myth that nobody is hiring during the holidays) so the competitive pool is much smaller. Which means that the odds are in your favor 🙂
    Here’s a tip – if you get invited to an interview during the holidays and you want that job, and you need that job – then make it a priority.  Figure out a way to go to that interview and then go see your Aunt Betty in Minneapolis.  Or, if it’s a phone interview, don’t let them hear your brother-in-law laughing in the background to the cat getting fried in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

So how did I get hired?  Networking.  I went to every holiday party, event and mixer I could find.  At first, I felt really awkward saying that I didn’t have a job, but then I just started owning it saying something like, “Actually, I’m looking to take that next step in my career right now, and looking for opportunities as…” an Account Manager, or as a copywriter, or whatever.

I also called up old friends and colleagues and started the conversation by saying, “Hey, I just wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!”  Most people are in a more relaxed and sociable mindset during the holidays (even department managers, hiring managers and company leaders), which makes it easier to connect, and easier to ask for job leads, referrals and recommendations.

For one of my job offers, I called up the President of the company who I use to work for and asked if he could look over my resume to offer me any advice.  That phone conversation led to a meeting, which then led to two interviews, and a job offer the day of his holiday office party.

So if you’re looking for a new job this holiday season, then rev up your job search by putting on your best holiday sweater and going out to socialize.  Who knows, maybe you’ll get a nice beefy paycheck in your stocking this Christmas! 🙂

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Power Up Your "Career Confidence"

You are the “story teller” of your own career.

Every day, people are creating perceptions and making assumptions about you based on what you're telling them. If you're sending the message that you've been short-changed, passed over or stepped on in your career, then people will see you as someone who doesn't have much value in the workplace.

BUT(!) if you're send a strong, clear message that you're a key contributor with some big successes under your belt, then managers, hiring managers and Sr. leaders will be more likely to give you job leads, job offers and bigger career opportunities.

Here are a few tips to help you frame your “career story”…

  1. Stop being so humble.

Being humble is a career stifller. Yes, it’s a nice quality to have, but if you never talk about some of the successes you’ve had in the workplace, then your career is sure to sit on a shelf for the next 10 years.

I had lunch yesterday with one of my best friends from college, Arizona State University (Go Sun Devils! :)) who became an Emmy winning TV news reporter for NBC-TV in Phoenix.  Now, at 50-years old, he has his own company AZ Freelance TV advising Corporate leaders as a Media Strategist. He told me that he’s ready to expand his business, but “I'm not the type of person to brag about myself.”  This is a man who has interviewed three (3) U.S. Presidents (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.)

Seriously? How would anyone ever know to hire him if he didn't talk about his successes?

Talking about your accomplishments builds your credibility. It lets people know what you’re good at, what you can handle and what you can accomplish. It makes you stand out from the crowd. If you want to get noticed, then you’ll need to learn how to talk about your achievements, not in an arrogant kind of way, but more in an “I’m a key contributor who gets big results” kind of way.

Write down 2-3 of your biggest achievements over the past three years. Now, practice saying out loud in a sentence or two how you contributed to those successes and what the impact was to the organization. For example, “I was the technical lead for a new internal tool that was launched on the SAP platform. The tool is now saving the group $100,000 a year.” Or, “I was on the creative marketing campaign for the xyz product which helped the company gain 3% more market share.”

The key to getting more job offers, leads and opportunities is leaning how to talk about your successes. Nobody will know what you’ve accomplished unless you tell them.

2. Frame your story in a positive way.

One of my favorite chapters in my new book, “The Bounce Back” gives strategies on how to frame your story to hiring managers after you’ve been laid off or experienced a career setback. Managers, Sr. leaders, customers, and hiring managers create their perception of you based on what you tell them. If you talk about your career in a positive, confident way – then they are going to think of you as a positive and confident employee.

Earlier in my career I was laid off at a small advertising agency.  A few months later, I bounced back and was hired as the Regional Marketing Manager for a Fortune 100 company. I believe that a large part of the reason I was hired was because of the way I told my career story to the Vice President. During the interview, I talked about how the company that laid me off was a great company and how much I loved my role and responsibilities. I truly believed in what I was saying and so my tone was very genuine. Then, I addressed the reason for my layoff which was, “I didn’t realize when I took the position that I was expected to fill the shoes of two employees. Even though I had some big results and was good at my job, I just simply couldn’t fill both of their shoes.” The VP called me the next day to tell me I was hired.

Everybody has setbacks in their career.  E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y.  It's not the setback that holds you back, but how you internalize the setback. The key is to frame your career story in the most positive, honest and confident way possible.

3. Don’t take yourself out of the game because you fumbled.

I had a TV interview a few months ago and the reporter asked about my book. I froze up. I got nervous, said “umm” and garbled out a few lame sentences. Man-oh-man, I wish I could have a do-over.

It happens to all of us. Whether it’s a job interview, a big presentation or the perfect networking opportunity – sometimes, we just freeze up. It happens, and it happens to everyone. The key is not to beat yourself up. And don’t shy away from future opportunities to give a big presentation or go on job interviews. The lesson is to learn from the situation and then do better next time.

Keep looking for opportunities to step into the spotlight and tell your story again and again. If you fumbled a presentation, then go ask the team leader if you can present it again with some new data that you just received. If you fumbled a job interview, then send an e-mail to the interviewer providing a little more clarity on your experience or area of expertise. For me, I wrote to the TV reporter and tee'd up a few more tips out of my book to share with her viewers, and then had a follow-up interview.

Sometimes a do-over isn’t possible, and if that’s the case, then just get on with looking for your next opportunity and be ready to strut your stuff. Don’t let a negative experience stop you from moving your career forward. Get out there, find your voice and share your career story with confidence. Your next career opportunity is out there – you just have to go find it! 😉

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, ”The Bounce Back” is the 2013 winner of “Best Career Book” by Indie Book Awards for independent book authors. Her first book is on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand.” As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360.   Sherri specializes in providing one-on-one coaching to professionals and executives who want to change, reinvent or advance their career.

For a limited time, you can download the three FREE chapters of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

Sherri offers personal one-on-one career coaching to professionals who want to change their career.  Learn more: www.CareerCoaching360.com 

The Bounce Back by Sherri Thomas             

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Was this the year you were going to make a career change?

One year from now, do you want to be doing the exact same kind of work you're doing today?

If not, then there are a few things you need to START doing, and a few things to STOP doing…

  1. Stop going with the flow.

    Stop working on mundane projects you can do in your sleep. Part of the reason you’re feeling under-utilized and under-valued is because you’re under-challenged. We weren’t meant to take a job and then stay there forever. We’re meant to stretch, develop, grow, bounce. Look for ways to step up and flex your professional muscles. When you stop learning and growing, your career will stall.

  2. Stop taking setbacks personally.

    Everyone experiences career setbacks. Everyone! If you’ve been a victim of a layoff, a demotion, a project that failed or didn’t get accepted then get over it! Hanging on to feelings of rejection, embarrassment or anger isn’t helping you. You only think other people care about your setback, but seriously, they’ve moved on and you need to, too. It’s not the setback itself that is holding you back, but how you’re internalizing it.

  3. Stop being “small.”

    If you think that being humble and shy will help you be successful, think again. When somebody offers you a big juicy project or a spot on a high profile team – grab it! Saying things like, “Oh, I don’t know if I’d be the best choice for that,” or, “I don’t know if I have the right experience to do that” will keep you sitting on the bench. You’ve got to step up, be bold and put yourself out there (especially if the new opportunity scares you!) Yes, finding new opportunities means taking risks – big bold risks that you won’t be able to take if you’re playing it small.

And here are a few things you'll need to start doing…

  1.  Start talking about what you want to do.

    Start describing the types of responsibilities and the kinds of projects and teams you want to work on. If you don’t have a crystal clear vision, then at least start talking about the type of work you enjoy doing. By simply having these conversations with your manager, colleagues, and those in your network can lead to new career paths and opportunities.

  2. Start claiming your space.

    Put your expertise out there by showing others you have something to say through presentations, articles, coaching others and speaking up in meetings. Don’t be a shrinking violet, but instead, have confidence, be bold and voice your technical opinion. So what if someone may not agree with you – that just makes it a more interesting conversation. 🙂  Successful executives and professionals constantly put themselves “out there” – that’s why they’re successful. Don’t shy away or back up, but instead step up, speak out and claim your space at the table.

  3. Start charting your course.

    Go find people working in different industries and job roles. Ask them about their responsibilities, education, training, challenges and career paths. Get connected to those who inspire you. Give yourself permission and time to explore all possibilities. That doesn’t mean that you have to accept every opportunity that comes your way, but you at least owe it to yourself to learn what else is out there so that you can get ready for your next career move.

Successful professionals aren't successful because they let things “happen.”  Instead, they make things happen in their career.  They figure out what they want, take some risks, stretch, grow, fall down, learn and bounce.  Don't let someone else take the wheel on your career path.  Step up and make things happen.  It's your career and your year! 🙂

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, ”The Bounce Back” is the 2013 winner of “Best Career Book” by Indie Book Awards for independent book authors. Her first book is on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand.” As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360.   Sherri specializes in providing one-on-one coaching to professionals and executives who want to change, reinvent or advance their career.

For a limited time, you can download the three FREE chapters of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

The Bounce Back by Sherri Thomas             

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“No” Doesn’t Mean No in Your Career Unless You Want It To

Career Coach Sherri Thomas tells viewers how to re-brand their career on NBC-TV Phoenix.

Sometimes, I get told “no” in my career. But it doesn’t stop me. It brings out the gritty side in me 🙂 

A few years ago, I desperately wanted a higher position and a higher paycheck. I was working for a regional retail chain as an advertising copywriter with a small salary, and felt significantly under-utilized. After four years, I asked my manager about development opportunities in our relatively flat organization and he told me there weren’t any.

Being stifled like that really frustrated me.

I realized that if I wanted to advance my career, then I would need to invest in my own development. So I joined the American Marketing Association Phoenix Chapter’s Board of Directors, and within eight months became President. Two years after that, I was named President of their National Council, representing 75,000 members in North America.

That investment of personal time and energy helped me develop my leadership skills, which led me to a new company with a 6-figure salary job.

How many times have you been stifled in your career?
No options. No opportunities. No budget for professional development.

Throughout my career I’ve learned one thing: I own my career – not someone else. A few years into my new job, I decided to go for an even higher paying technical position. The only drawback was that it required a project management certification that I didn’t have. After 30-days of studying around the clock, I had my certification, my new job and a bump in pay. I’ve been working at that same Fortune 100 Company as a Program Manager for the past 13 years – yes, I’m a Career Coach who’s driving my own career 🙂 

I look at my career and my own professional development as something I’m driving on my own terms. If it’s something that I really want to do, and I mean really want to do, then I step up and invest in myself.

“No” is not an option in my professional development.

I take full ownership of developing myself, and sometimes that means investing my own personal time, money or even vacation days.

I’m not saying that I like using my vacation days or spending my own money for professional development. But sitting around waiting for the possibility of someone else investing in me isn’t going to help me. I don’t do it for the company I work for. Or for my manager. I develop myself for me.

So how do I determine whether a development opportunity is worth my own personal investment?

I ask myself questions like, What’s in it for me? Could this help me get my next job? Does this feed my passion? Is this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? These answers help me determine how badly I want it.

There are blessings that come with being told “no.” It can give you clarity on what’s important. It can cause you to set boundaries on what’s non-negotiable. It can make you bold. It can make you resilient. It can make you stand up and fight for yourself and your career.

Never let someone stop you from growing in your career.

Be smart about which development opportunities you want and then go after them. ‘No” is not a stopping point. It’s a distraction. When a roadblock pops up, do whatever it takes to go around it. You own your career – not someone else. 🙂

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, ”The Bounce Back” is the 2013 winner of “Best Career Book” by Indie Book Awards for independent book authors. Her first book is on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand.” As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360. Sherri specializes in providing one-on-one coaching to professionals and executives who want to change, reinvent or advance their career.

For a limited time, you can download the three FREE chapters of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

The Bounce Back by Sherri Thomas

I’ll be a “Guest DJ” this Saturday…

This Saturday, I’ll be the “guest DJ” on RadioFreePhoenix.com

Sherri Thomas practicing to be a "Guest DJ" on http://RadioFreePhoenix.com on Saturday, Aug 10th, 5PM PST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My career has been full of U-turns.

Some people have a very straight path in their career, but mine has been a series of ups, downs, U-turns, more ups, more downs and a few hairpin lefts.

I certainly don’t plan it that way. But as I look back, I wouldn’t have changed one single thing.

One U-turn came when I was in college at Arizona State University. My dream was to work in television. Growing up, I use to watch the Mary Tyler Moore show and loved how she produced the news. In my eyes, she was what made that news station “click” and I wanted to be just like her. So I focused my sites on becoming a TV news producer.

During my last semester in college, I was interning at the local NBC-TV station, when I was approached by a friend (the now hugely popular DJ “Larry Mac” in Phoenix and Tucson.) We were friends in college and while I interned at three local TV stations, he was a DJ at the campus radio station. He invited me to take a shift as a disc jockey. I politely turned him down. I didn’t see the whole DJ thing fitting into my career plan. Fortunately, he asked me again, and through his encouragement, I said yes!

Now, I wasn’t the smoothest or coolest DJ.
I stumbled. I fumbled. I flailed.

…but, man was I having fun! That is, until the very last day of my last semester.

That’s when the radio station’s operations manager, another ASU student named Danny who was also the Assistant Manager at a nearby Warehouse Record and Tapes store, called me into his office for a final one-on-one exit interview. He bluntly blurted out that I was the worst disc jockey he’d ever heard. I remember him saying, “Nobody in Phoenix will ever hire you.” Ouch.

Granted, I wasn’t very good, but c’mon, the worst DJ he’d ever heard? Seriously?

Right then and there, I put my Mary-Tyler-Moore career plan on hold and made it my mission to get hired as a DJ in Phoenix. Six months later, I had 10,000 listeners on KUKQ, a small hip hop station in Phoenix where I played hits from artists like Robert Palmer, the Pet Shop Boys, the Bangles, and Kool and the Gang every Saturday night. One year later, I switched to an oldies station, KOOL-FM, and talked to 30,000 listeners every Saturday morning. Three years after that, I was in Monterey, California as the new morning show jock at the rock station playing tunes from Van Halen, Bob Segar, Stevie Nicks and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I became one of the few women in the country to host my own morning radio show.

I’m writing this article as a thank-you to Danny.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, he was a blessing in my life. Had it not been for him, I would never have taken such a huge risk and experienced the magical, exhilarating, adrenaline-chasing world of being a DJ.

Some people are put in your life to support and encourage you. Others are there to challenge you to be better, stronger, or to simply take a different path. As I look back in my career, I’m grateful to those career-changers in my life. They’ve pushed me out of the nest, pointed me in new directions and helped me find new strengths and talents I never knew I had.

Join me this Saturday, August 10th at 5pm PST as I “guest DJ” on RadioFreePhoenix.com

…and again for an encore presentation on Sunday, August 11th at 3pm PST. I’ll be hanging out with one of my favorite gal pals DJ Liz Boyle and station-owner-rock-star Andy Olsen to reveal my personal all-time TOP 15 favorite songs, plus share a few stories from my DJ days – like the time I met Billy Idol 🙂

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, ”The Bounce Back” is the 2013 winner of “Best Career Book” by Indie Book Awards for independent book authors. Her first book is on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand.” As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360. Sherri specializes in providing one-on-one coaching to professionals and executives who want to change, reinvent or advance their career.

For a limited time, you can download the three FREE chapters of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

The Bounce Back by Sherri Thomas

The Art of Promoting Yourself without Bragging

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

As a leading career coach, I’m seeing that a lot of clients have one common challenge:  talking about themselves!    

Talking about yourself can be one of the most difficult challenges in making a career change.  More specifically, How can you talk about yourself in your networking opportunities, interviews and to hiring managers without sounding like you’re bragging?

 The fact is, people aren’t going to know what a superstar you are unless you tell them! :) I use to be intimidated by this, too, until I learned some pretty important lessons.   So too help you in your career change, here are three (3) of my networking strategies critical to your success…

  1. Talk about your projects, teams, and the value they delivered to the organization. 

It may feel uncomfortable talking about your achievements, but the fact is you won’t get noticed (yet alone hired!) if you don’t talk about them!  Here’s a tip – focus on the projects and teams you contributed to, and the value they delivered to the organization. Talk about goals, or stretch goals, that were met and how they benefited the organization to help increase revenue, save costs, or gain more market share.

2. Focus on results. 

Many career changers make the mistake of focusing on their previous responsibilities they’ve had in past jobs.  What I want you to do is talk about the results you’ve helped achieve on your projects, programs and teams. All programs are measured in terms of success metrics (or else they wouldn’t get funded) so if you don’t know the results – go back and ask the project managers or department managers. 

Here’s a bonus tip…

To add even more credibility and stand out from your competition, I want you to quantify your achievements with a number, dollar, or percentage. For example, instead of saying that you managed a sales team for a specific product, instead, say that you led a team of 5 sales professionals who increased sales by 15% and generated $250,000 a year for the past 3 years!  Quantifying your successes says that you are a driver, high achiever, and that you get results. 

3. Attitude is the key ingredient! 

I’ve found that getting a new job really boils down to two things: confidence and passion.  To get the job at the NBC-TV station in Monterey and beat out the other 100 job candidates, I was passionate about the company AND the position.  Even though I didn’t have the kind of experience that was required, I told the hiring manager that I absolutely knew that I could do the job.

There’s a kind of quiet confidence that we all have down deep inside.  A confidence that comes from knowing what we’re capable of doing.  When you transition into a new job role or a new company, you need to show the hiring manager that you have confidence in yourself and know that you’ll be successful in the job.   

And finally… 

Great companies are ALWAYS looking to hire great talent – and that means you!  So, if you’re serious about getting into a new career, then follow these three tips, power up your confidence, and believe in yourself!  Your new career is out there waiting for you – you just need to go get it!  🙂  

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, “The Bounce Back” is the 2013 winner of “Best Career Book” by Indie Book Awards for independent book authors. Her first book is on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand.” As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360 Sherri provides one-on-one coaching to professionals and executives who want to change, reinvent or advance their career. 

For a limited time, you can download the three FREE chapters of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

 

 

The Bounce Back by Sherri Thomas             

“Nudgers” Give You Guts

I’m writing this blog from New York City where my book, The Bounce Back was just awarded 2013 Winner for “Best Career Book’ by the Indie Book Awards (kind of like the Sundance Film Festival but for books! :))  It has been an exhilarating, whirlwind week of awards ceremonies, dinner at The Harvard Club, media interviews and one very cool red carpet event.

The funny thing is, I almost didn’t write the book.

I had no intention of writing a second book until Marcus Buckingham nudged me.  I had first met Marcus, author of “First, Break All the Rules,” and “Now Go Discover Your Strengths” a couple of years after I had written my first book.  I stood in line to get his autograph at a conference in Orlando, Florida where he spoke.  That chance introduction led to a few follow-up conversations and then meeting him at his office in Beverly Hills.  It was during that meeting that he graciously offered to give me advice if I ever wrote a 2nd book.

Up until that time, I had never even thought of writing anther book.  However, when Marcus said that, it was as if a green light went off inside me.  I become super-charged with thoughts and ideas for a 2nd book. Within 48 hours I had the outline for The Bounce Back sketched out, and three months later, the book was written.

I’ve started thinking about the “nudgers” in my life.  Those who encouraged me to move in a new direction, take on something big, or stretch outside of my comfort zone.

Once, I had a manager who nudged me from a marketing role into a technical role.  He encouraged me in such a supportive way that I embraced the challenge with vigor, and as a result achieved one of the biggest accomplishments in my career.  I would never have done that without his support.

Another nudge came from a conference speaker I randomly met at a Project Management conference in Denver, Colorado. I told him how great of a speaker I thought he was, and he encouraged me to become a speaker. At the time, I thought there was no way I could ever get up and speak in front of such a large crowd, but through his mentorship I’ve now spoken at more than 100 conferences.

It helps to have people nudge you, but ultimately, you have to nudge yourself.  You have to find the courage to step up and take a risk.  I know how scary it can be.  I know that it’s so much easier to stay inside your cushy-cozy comfort zone.    But if you stay where you are you’ll be missing out on what you could become.  You will never experience new highs.  The thrill of big wins. The feeling of accomplishment.

And what if they pay-off doesn’t come?  Well, then maybe the payoff is simply a development opportunity. A new skill that you learned or strengthened.  A new experience that you gained.  A new confidence you found in yourself.  Never-the-less, you will learn S-O-M-E-T-H-I-N-G.

So the next time someone tries to nudge you, accept the challenge.
It could be the best thing you ever do for yourself!

Cheers from The Harvard Club in New York City!  🙂

 

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and award-winning author named 2013 “BEST CAREER BOOK” by Indie Book Awards for independently published book authors for her book “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster after a layoff, re-org or career setback”.  She also authored, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand– which is on AMAZON’s TOP 50 LIST for personal branding books. Sherri is the President and Founder of Career Coaching 360 which provides resume help, interviewing support, and personal career coaching packages for executives and professionals who want to change their career.

For a limited time, you can download the three FREE chapters of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

The Bounce Back by Sherri Thomas