Thursday, December 22, 2005

Your (and My) Year in Review

Here's a set of year-in-review questions from Steve Kennedy, Entrepreneur/Coach* and one of my former clients:

2005 year in review

The end of the year is a great time to look back over 2005 and review what you have accomplished. It helps to ask yourself some questions to get you thinking. Journals are helpful as they remind you of how much you really accomplished in the last 12 months. If you don't keep a journal and you work with a coach you can look over your notes or coaching prep forms or have a review session with your coach. After this exercise planning next year seems easy. HAVE A GREAT 2006!

1. What were some of the things I learned in 2005? What was my greatest lesson?

beezee writes: Professionally, the greatest lesson for me was the power of having three main business development (BizD) engines all working in harmony. For those interested, my three have been:

    • The Internet - My website placement on Google, Yahoo!, and MSN has been quite powerful - especially for my most important keyword search phrases.
    • Writing/Interviews - Articles I've written that were published in various on-line and print journals of the American Society of Training and Development,, the Wall Street Technology Association's Ticker magazine, and across various blogshperes, have raised my visibility considerably. So, too, have interviews with HR Magazine, the Washington Post (twice), the Chicago Sun-Times, the Indianapolis Star, and Better Homes & Gardens.
    • Referrals/Returning Clients - Thanks to all who have sent me new clients, or who, as former clients, returned for additional coaching. It's very gratifying how this part of my BizD efforts continues to develop.  

2. What were my accomplishments in 2005?

beezee: My biggest accomplishment in 2005 was filling my coaching practice to the brim and creating a waiting list that now has a half-dozen people on it. Too, coaching people across the U.S. and Canada, in France, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia - even Saudi Arabia - was/is waaaay cool.

3. What was my greatest challenge, and how did I work with it?

beezee: I don't know if it was my 'greatest' challenge, but keeping time zone conversions straight was certainly a 'recurring' challenge for me in 2005. Inevitably - and embarrassingly - I'd schedule someone to call me at a certain time (in their time zone) and then  mess up the conversion to MY time zone when posting it in Outlook. Sheesh! Ultimately, I learned to have them tell me what time that'd be in MY time zone (US Central Time) so I could put it correctly in my calendar. (Thanks again Tom, and Kat, and Gabi, and Andy, and  Mary, and Joan, and everyone else!)

4. What would I do differently?

beezee: With respect to the time zone thing? More practice, I guess. (Is that too obvious of a <wink> to you international readers out there?!) 

5. What were the most significant events of 2005 for me personally?

beezee: I'll leave this for a separate conversation.

6. What do I feel especially good about?

beezee: That I get to wake up every morning and coach. That I have a vibrant community of friends. That I have a family that loves me. That our dog is trained to go outside, do her business and come back in, without me having to out into Chicago's sub-zero wind-chilled weather to walk her.

7. What was my greatest contribution?

beezee: There are a lot of people out there who are more focused, more confident, and more successful as a direct result of working with me, and I think that just rocks! 

8. What fun things did I do in 2005?

beezee: Oh, so many. It was a great year all-around.

9. What possibilities can I see for myself now - that wasn't clear before?

beezee: I see that there are a lot of ideas and information that I have readily available to me that others do not and that they might benefit from me providing such things for them to read and review independent of any coaching I may or may not do with them.

10. What am I most grateful for?

beezee: see #6.

11. How would I rate this year in terms of happiness?

beezee: It was a "Spinal Tap" kind of year for me - an eleven!

12. What would make 2006 a 10 on your happiness scale?

beezee: More of same, only one louder! 

Those are my answers. Now what are yours?!

* If you'd like to contact Steve Kennedy directly, here's how:; 978-815-0484; Please be sure to let him know I sent you. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Employee Discussions

I just created a new website for my recently revised e-book about having better employee performance discussions.

The e-book is called, "Employee Performance Discussions: 10 Important Things a Boss MUST Know How to Say" and is available at

Whadeya think?


Monday, December 19, 2005

Congrats on the Promotion - a Coaching Success Story

This one's from TC, a consulting firm executive, in Paris:

“Barry, I made it! They told me that out of the 16 candidates, I was the highest rated. Unbelievable! Well thank you for your support and coaching. I achieved what we set out to do a little over 2 months ago (i.e. get promoted to VP). Thank you! I will be calling again.”

Thank YOU, TC-the-VP!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Thanks to

Those of you following this blog know that I've been doing some writing lately for* newsletter:

As a thank you for these contributions, has made a sizable donation to a charity of my choosing.

I just wanted to recognize them publicly for doing so.


* is the world's leading $100,000+ jobs Web site with more than 550,000 members and 20,000 new jobs each month. Follow this link to sign-up with


Friday, December 09, 2005

On Becoming a Better Conversationalist

Dave had an interesting comment to a recent post titled, "Key Networking Skill: Saying Goodbye" where he looked at the notion of saying goodbye from the perspective of someone being said goodbye to:

"The two problems with being socially inept," he wrote, "are (a) people are always using clever ways to stop talking to you and (b) you don't realize its happening until they've finished doing it."

To be clear, my post was not about using "clever ways" to stop talking to socially inept people. It was about taking care of your own needs to move on without being outrageously impolite.

But let's flip the coin. What if, as Dave implies, the goal is to become more "ept" at social interactions, that is, better at the whole small-talk thing. Well, one of the best books on the subject is How to Work a Room, by Susan Roane. Here's a few excerpts that may be of help:
  • Remedy #1: Redefine the Term "Stranger" - Look for what you have in common with people at an event. This is the planning that helps you feel more comfortable and more prepared. These common interests can be the basis for conversation.
  • Remedy #2: Practice a Self-Introduction - A good introduction simply includes your name and something about yourself so you can establish what you have in common with other people at the event. It only has to be 8-to-10 seconds long.
  • Remedy #3: Move from "Guest" Behavior to "Host" Behavior - "Hosts" are concerned with the comfort of others and actively contribute to that comfort. "Guests" wait for someone to take their coats, offer then a drink, and introduce them around the room.

Other tips:

  • Say something ... Anything - Don't wait; initiate. Take the risk. Listen with interest. Smile and make eye contact.
  • Try strategies that feel comfortable - Read nametags; Go with a buddy; Walk up to - and start talking with - people standing by themselves; Smile; Ask questions. Be genuinely curious about who people are and what they have to say.
  • Avoid common crutches - Do not arrive too late. Don't leave too early. Don't drink too much. Don't gorge at the buffet table. Don't misuse the buddy system by joining yourselves at the hip.

I think that just deciding that this is something you're going to learn to do - and become comfortable in doing - is 90% of the work. And all you need to do that is simply decide that it's important enough to you to learn how. From there, (1) start noticing what others say and do - and how it works; (2) practice doing some of what works yourself; (3) stay conscious and purposeful about your learning; (4) congratulate yourself for stepping up to the challenge!

Keep me posted as to your progress.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Moment of Silence

25 years later and the memories are still going strong. Imagine! 

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What do you NEED to know about your boss?

Some will say you don't NEED to know anything - just do your job and that'll be enough. I believe that to be a career-limiting approach to your work because if you don't have the active -and consistent - support of your boss, chances are good that you won't get that plum assignment you were hoping for, you won't get those extra bonus dollars you were counting on, and you won't get that added respect and regard that's needed to make doing your job that much easier. So what DO you need to know about your boss? Well here's a start:
  • What does s/he listen for? Examples: If s/he listens for problems to solve, there's not much sense in talking about a great opportunity you see in the marketplace. Conversely, if s/he listens for opportunities, then framing an issue as a problem-to-be-solved will likely yield little traction.
  • How does s/he like to be updated? Examples: Some bosses like the in-person update. Others, though, are so busy that they prefer updates by email or voicemail. Some prefer the Blackberry or Nextel update; others hate it. The key is to know how to get the info over to your boss before your boss comes-a-lookin' for you.
  • How much information does s/he want? I've already written about mysteries or headlines, but let's take it farther. Examples: Does s/he want only problems with solutions in tow, or is s/he willing to engage in some brainstorming with you? Does s/he want line-and-verse of a situation, or just enough to know if things are under control or not?
  • What's the ideal frequency of updates? Examples: Something every day or once/week? Something as soon as it happens, or presented in batch-mode with other items of note? How often is too often? How often is not often enough?
  • What are his/her hot-buttons? What topics/issues will elicit a greater response (positive OR negative) than others?
  • What does s/he look for in a go-to person? Do you truly know what value-added means to him/her?Are you that type of person consistently enough?
  • Does s/he prefer that you ask for permission or beg for forgiveness? Example: Does your boss want to refer your plans before you get started on them, or have you run solo until you run into problems?

The more you know about how your boss likes to operate, the better you can tune your performance to provide exactly that. Note that this isn't about the ethics of work; it's about work style and preferences. And the better you can tune your performance to provide exactly what your boss is looking for, the greater freedom, flexibility, recognition, and reward you'll probably be given.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Clearly Unclear

When asking for permission to do something, some people assume the answer is YES unless they specifically hear NO, while others assume NO unless they specifically hear a YES. This is what happened to Mike and Steve.

Both Mike and Steve wanted approval to try out a new procedure at work. So they went to their boss to ask for the okay. The boss pushed back hard, citing a number of reasons why he thought the plan was a bad idea. Steve took that to mean NO that they could not proceed. But Mike said, "He didn't say NO; he just said he thought it was a bad idea. And maybe it is, but the only way to tell for sure is to try it and see. I took his push-back to mean YES, go ahead and try it, but keep your eyes open in case things go south."

So who was right?