Archive for May, 2011

Settle for a Slowdown: How a Vacation can Energize or Kill your Motivation

May 31, 2011 5 comments

Eric and Justine San Francisco Fisherman's WharfNo, this post is not about the Dierks Bentley song called “Settle for a Slowdown,” although I really do like that song. It is about the trip my Fiancé and I took to San Francisco over the Memorial Day weekend. My Fiancé just recently graduated from college earlier this month and I just could not, for the life of me, decide what to get her. Jewelry? Purse? Jeans? Nah, I’ve done all that before. So, I decided I would take her on a trip to San Francisco, because she hasn’t stopped talking about how much she loved San Francisco since we went there for her 21st birthday.

In one of my previous posts, 4 Things You Get to Enjoy When You’re Successful, I talked about vacations from a family standpoint, bringing the family together. But what I didn’t talk about was how important vacations can be for the working person. Vacations are a great way to prevent burnout, where you eventually get so stressed out with your career that you explode (not literally of course). I specifically planned this vacation on a weekend where I had a free day off (Memorial Day) so that we would have a full three days to enjoy the city. I didn’t have to burn any precious PTO and I didn’t fall behind in the office because nobody was working yesterday anyway.

Eric and Justine San Francisco FIsherman's Wharf Pier 39Vacations can have one of two effects on the working person: they can re-energize you or they can de-motivate you. Some people return from vacation ready to get back in their “groove.” They’ve enjoyed their weekend, their holiday, or PTO, and now they feel like it’s the first day on the job and they want to impress everyone. On the other hand, some people return from vacation wishing they were still on vacation. They enjoyed their time off so much that they don’t want to be back at work. Luckily for me, I felt re-energized to get back into the swing of things. I went to bed on time last night, I woke up early, made it to work five minutes earlier than usual, and got quite a bit of work done today.

So whether it’s a weekend stay-cation or a week long vacation, remember to enjoy your time off with family and friends and come back to work re-energized and ready to go!

When was the last time you took a vacation? Did you come back to work re-energized or de-motivated? Share your comments below!

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4 Things You Get to Enjoy When You’re Successful

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Avoid Burnout Within the Workplace – Ashley Cray

Want to Learn How to Become Successful? 5 Classes of Successful People you Need to be Friends With

7 habits of highly effective people successful success make more moneyIt pays to hang out with the rich folk, literally.  What’s the best way to learn what success is all about?  Hang out with those who’ve led successful careers themselves.  You’d be amazed how much you can learn from people who’ve encountered large amounts of success throughout their lives and professional careers.  Not only do you get to experience what it’s like to be wealthy, but you get to learn how they got there and hopefully gain some tips that will help you become successful.

When it comes to successful people, I’ve identified five classes.  Here’s how it works.  Those at the bottom can learn from the people above and those at the top can teach the people below them.  A guy like me falls below the entire list.  I’m young, but I’m not quite successful (yet!), which means I can learn from every person above me.  I will be able to relate the most to the young and successful type, but I will likely learn a lot more from the retired and successful type.  If you consider yourself to be middle-aged, but not quote successful, you would fall between the transitioning and middle-aged successful class.  While you may be older than the transitioning and successful person, you can still learn from them.  Why?  Because they’re successful, and you’re not.

1.  Retired and Successful (65+)

These are the people who’ve worked their butts off for most of their lives, made lots of money, and now are sitting back and enjoying the wealthy life.  They are wise and knowledgeable and have the most to learn from.

2.  Retiring and Successful (50-65)

These are the people who are approaching retirement in the next couple years.  They too have worked their butts off for most of their lives and now they’re on the home stretch.  They’re wisdom and knowledge may be more relevant, as they are slightly younger and are still active in the work force.

3.  Middle-Aged and Successful (35-50)

These are the people who’ve worked their way up the corporate ladder or “figured it out”.  (I use the term “figured it out” for those who’ve learned how to make money on their own, whether it’s starting a business or making smart investments, they’ve become successful outside the typical corporate environment.)  These guys know their stuff, but unfortunately they don’t have a lot of time take someone under their wing and show them the ropes.

4.  Transitioning and Successful (30-35)

These are the people in between the young and middle-aged successful class.  They usually have a mid-level management title and an indirect connection with the organization’s “higher ups.”  On a personal level, they’re usually “settling down,” getting married, having kids, selling the lifted truck to buy a more economical vehicle.  At this point, they usually have a very good blend of educational knowledge and experience, which makes them a very valuable connection.

5.  Young and Successful (20-30)

These are the people fresh out of college who have a more educational knowledge base.  They’re book smart; not necessarily experienced.  They know how things should be done; not necessarily how they are actually done.  These guys are successful because they did well in school, started working early, and have moved past the entry level position within an organization.  They’re bills are usually smaller than most, making their personal bottom line relatively larger than others.

Now that you know how to classify successful people, where do you rank in the mix?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Dress For Success (Part 1): 3 Reasons Why You Should Look Sharp at Work

May 20, 2011 3 comments

business suit successful jean shorts unsuccessful mullet How do you identify a successful business person without ever talking to them?  You look at the way they are dressed!  Okay, I understand that is kind of like judging people, but we all do it.  We see a guy wearing dirty cut-off jean shorts and a ripped white t-shirt and say, “Wow, what a slob…”  But, when we see a guy dressed to a “T” with a nice suit, shiny shoes, and a slick haircut we think, “Damn, that guy knows how to make a living…”  But in reality, the cut-off jean short guy might actually make more money than the slick suit guy.  Shoot, the slick suit guy may not even have a job.  The point I’m trying to make here is that we all judge people by their appearance and since we know people do it, I’m here to tell you why you should always try to look sharp, especially at work.

1. Confidence Booster

The last two days, I’ve dressed up for work because I was part of a two-day on-site visit from one of our software vendors.  Since I work in a warehouse type environment, we’re allowed to wear things like shorts and a t-shirt because nobody ever really sees us except the people we work with everyday.  We aren’t really exposed to the public.  I decided I wanted to look “legit” for this external entity to make myself look more believable and trustworthy.  Well it turns out I impressed myself.  I walked into work on Wednesday morning with a big smile on my face and I felt important, even though I was the same person I was when I left Tuesday night.

2. Positive Image

As soon as I walked in that morning, I had people asking me all kinds of questions.  “Why are you looking all fancy today?”  “You got an interview or something?” “Looking sharp, Eric!”  Not only does that increase your confidence, but it increases the positivity of peoples perception of you.  I’m not saying people thought I was any smarter or more successful that day, but they sure make me feel like it.

3. Stand Out In The Crowd

This is, in my opinion, the most important part of dressing for success.  When all your coworkers are wearing casual clothing, try dressing up a little.  Don’t do it gradual though.  On Monday morning, dress for success and see what people say.  You have to get that “WOW!” factor.  I guarantee you will get noticed and you will start a conversation around yourself.  People will talk about you and word will spread.  Spreading the word is good, as long as it’s positive, which this is.  When you dress for success and conversation spreads, it gets translated to upper management as, “Hey, this guy is legit and wants to be successful.”  DING, DING, DING…Promotion!

In Part 2 of dressing for success, I’ll discuss ways you can change your style and appearance to help you look legit!

Image Credit:
Business Suit
Jean Shorts

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Office Mistake #2: Reply All When You Didn’t Want to Reply All…

May 17, 2011 1 comment

We’ve all done it, right?.  Hit reply all when we really didn’t want to reply all.  Please tell me I’m not the only one.  Most of the time it makes people laugh.  Sometimes it hurts peoples feelings.  Sometimes it can get you fired.  I’ve seen it happen at work.  I’ve seen it happen on campus.  And I’ve also done it myself.  So, I’d like to share with you some reply all stories that I’ve come across.

I personally have a habit of using reply all because I like to keep people in the loop.  It’s always important, especially in the work setting, to keep people on the email chain so they stay informed.  It can be a good habit or a bad habit, depending on the situation.  I hate when people forget to use reply all, then call you two days later to see why you haven’t done what they wanted you to do.  Well duh, I had no idea because you didn’t copy me!  On the other hand, I’ve made the mistake of using reply all when I shouldn’t have.  I remember one time replying to an email with a funny joke about the original sender.  I didn’t want the original sender to see the joke, but since I replied all, he saw the joke.  Luckily, he thought it was funny and I didn’t get in trouble.

About a month ago, I got an email from the University that was sent to all undergraduate and graduate students of the University regarding new fees that will be tacked onto our tuition.  About 30 minutes later, one of the students replied all (yes, replied to every student of the University).  Fortunately, the email didn’t say anything, other than the fact that it was sent from a Smartphone.  It was probably just an accident, no harm done, but I’m sure it made everyone laugh and shake their head from left to right like I did.

So how do you prevent yourself from making the mistake of replying all when you don’t want to?

1. Don’t talk smack behind people’s back.

First off, you shouldn’t be saying things about people that you wouldn’t want to say to their face.  If you’re drafting up an email and you don’t want a particular person to see it because it might be insulting or hurtful, don’t send it.  Just because the person you’re talking smack about doesn’t see it, doesn’t mean your IT department isn’t screening emails.

2. Use spell check.

I’ve found spell check to be a great way to catch myself before I accidentally reply all (or forget to include an important person on the email).  But, you have to take spell check seriously.  I’ve done it a number of times; been in a hurry and just skipped through my spell check only to realize after it finished that I replied all!  When the spell check box pops up, look at the address section of the email.  Make sure your email is going to the correct people before sending it.

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Why Am I So Hairy!?

May 13, 2011 6 comments

Eric Chaump Hairy Legs Why Am I so Hairy?

It’s true.  I’m hairy.  I’ve been considered hairy since I was in middle school, or about 13 years old.  My arms are moderately hairy.  The hair on my neck grows out of control if I wait to long to get a haircut.  My chest is getting to the point where the hair sticks out the top of my collared shirts.  Luckily, though, my back isn’t hairy, except for that one pesky hair that grows out of a mole that my Fiancé has to pluck every couple of weeks.  Now that I’ve completely grossed you out, let me tell you about my pride and joy of hairiness, my legs.

I started growing hair on my legs when I was in elementary school and by the time I was in middle school, it had turned into what I called, “The Black Forest.”  How did this name come about you might ask?  Well I was sitting outside with my mom one day when a small bug flew onto my leg.  The bug got trapped in what seemed like a spider web of hair and I told my mom, “Look Mom, its The Black Forest, once you go in, you never come back.”

So now that I have your attention, let me tell you why this is important in the business setting and for your career.  I’ve been teased most of my life about my hairy legs and much of my coworkers have given me the, “Holy crap, you’re hairy!”  In fact, one of my nicknames at work is “Heric” because I’m hairy and my name is Eric.  I started to wonder if “showing off” my hairy legs was a good idea at work.  It might affect the way people perceive me.

So here’s my question, does the presence of abnormal physical features prevent a person from being successful or moving up the corporate ladder?  After discussing this issue with a couple people, I’ve come to the conclusion that it does.  But why?  Hairy legs doesn’t seem like a big deal, so why should crooked teeth, obesity, “coke-bottle” glasses, vertically challenged, cross-eyed, or handicapped.  We’re all capable of doing the same job regardless of our physical attributes, right?  So why should that stop anyone from becoming the person they want to be in their career?

Overqualified? Maybe It’s Time to Find a New Job…

May 10, 2011 3 comments

we'd love to hire you but you seem overqualified you'd probably leave in a few months for a place that pays by the armI have a friend who recently got laid off from her job. At first, I felt bad and wanted to help in any way possible. But, after she got done telling how much of a crap job it actually was, all I could say was “good for you!” She really didn’t need to be working for an organization like that; one that stressed her out every time she was there and praised the employees who did nothing, not to mention the lousy pay. I considered it a blessing for her because her boss did for her what she was planning on doing anyway. Of course, this is one of the reasons why we should all be considering other career options while we’re still employed. Fortunately for her, she had a plan, so when she got laid off that day, it didn’t really matter, because she knew exactly what she was going to do.

Some people start looking for other options while they’re still employed because they plan on quitting. Why would you want to quit? I’ll tell you why. Because some people are actually overqualified for their current position, like my friend was. With the economy the way it is right now, people are happy to pick up any job they can get, regardless of the pay. Unfortunately, they end up lasting a couple months before getting bored or unsatisfied with the compensation because they are “too good” for their job.

For those of you who are in this position, I encourage you to get out there and start looking for better opportunities. They are out there, I promise. And don’t get stuck in the realm of, “I’m not qualified for that position.” Who cares!? How much effort does it take to apply for a job online and get your name in the system? Maybe an hour of your time? You’d be surprised by how many applicants see “five years of experience required” on a job description and won’t even apply because they only have three years of experience. Or applicants who see “Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s degree preferred” and won’t apply because they’re only half way through their Master’s. There are companies out there who are actually hiring under-qualified applicants, but you won’t know that unless you try. So get out there and try!

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4 Benefits of Picking a Job and Sticking With It

May 7, 2011 2 comments

Many people believe the best way to “rise to the top” is to switch jobs often.  You start with a small company, get promoted once or twice, then move on to the next company, with better compensation and benefits.  Sounds good enough, but switching jobs can often be stressful and non-beneficial.  Here are some reasons why you should find a good job when you’re young and stick with the company throughout your career.

1. No Starting Over

Don’t you hate that new job anxiety?  Going to work the first day not knowing anyone, not knowing the processes, and not knowing what do to.  When you pick a job and stick with it, you don’t have to worry about starting over.  Don’t worry, you’ll still get promoted throughout your career, but it will be the same people, same processes and systems, and same culture that you’re used to working with.

2. Early Retirement

I’d like to share with you my story of Bob and John (that’s not their real names, by the way).  Bob is nearing 50 years old.  He was hired by a company when he was fresh out of high school.  He stuck with the company all these years, moved up the ranks, and has been quite successful throughout his career.  Bob plans on retiring within the next year or so.  On the other hand, John is in his early 50’s.  He’s had a number of careers throughout his life and has been successful without a doubt.  But John isn’t planning on retiring any time soon.

Part of starting over with every new job involves your retirement benefits.  Let’s say you worked for a company for 2 years and you’re ready to move on the the next.  You’ve contributed $5,000 to a 401(k) and your employer matches 150% of your contributions, which means the total value of your retirement is $12,500.  Unfortunately, you aren’t fully vested until you’ve completed 5 years of service, you’re only 1/4 vested.  If you quit, you only get to carry over $6,875 instead of $12,500.  That’s like free retirement money that you’re throwing away by switching jobs.

3. More Likely To Get Promoted

Companies like to look internally for possible promotion candidates before they post the job on the website.  The nice thing about current employees is there’s no surprises.  When you’ve worked for a company for 5, 10, or 15 years, they know exactly what you’re capable.  Sometimes, they know you’re capabilities better than you do and they know what path is best for you.  At least that’s what a good company would do.

4. Gets Easier As You Go

Similar to not having to start over, the more time you spend in a job or with a company, the easier it gets.  You learn more about the people, processes, systems, and culture, and the more you know, the easier the job gets.

So what are your opinions?  Did you pick a job and stick with it or did you move around throughout your career?  What are the benefits of each?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Pros and Cons of Sticking With One Job for Years

4 Reasons Why You Should Work for a Good Company

May 3, 2011 4 comments

I love my job heart productivity job satisfaction moraleDo you go to work every morning wishing you didn’t have to?  Do you get to work and the office morale is dull?  Do you watch the clock, counting down the minutes until you can leave?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should be asking yourself if you work for a good company.

What does a good company do?

• Sends gifts around Christmas time.
• Holds corporate-wide events, like Christmas parties and summer-time picnics.
• Achieves solid financial growth year after year.
• Gives out annual bonuses, even if they aren’t that much.
• Is lenient about lunch breaks and work hours.
• Encourages team-building.
• Has a solid goal setting/employee review system.
• Provides benefits other than the standard health/vision/dental benefits, like employee discounts.
• Recognizes achievements, like anniversary celebrations every month.

Why should you work for a good company?

1. Increased morale.  A good company creates a fun, relaxed, yet professional work environment.  Employees enjoy coming to work and are more likely to encourage others to enjoy coming to work.
2. Increased productivity.  When office morale is high, there is a tendency for employees to be more productive.  High morale may not encourage employees to work longer or harder, but more efficient.
3. Pride. People who work for good companies like to brag about their company.  A good company also makes the employee feel like they are a part of the team, or “family,” and the company makes it clear that they wouldn’t be successful if it wasn’t for YOU.  When a company does this, the employee feels an emotional obligation to help the company achieve its goals.
4. Job satisfaction.  Satisfied employees are more likely to stay with the company longer than others.  Job satisfaction also relates to productivity, as satisfied employees tend to be more productive.

These are the reasons why you should work for a good company.  Working for a good company makes you a better employee and can help you truly enjoy and advance your career.

Now I’d like to ask my readers a few questions.  Do you work for a good company?  Are there any other things a good company does?  What are some other reasons why you should work for a good company?  Share your thoughts below!

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