Review: Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World

Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World by Kelly Hoey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As an introvert at heart, "networking" has always been something I struggled with and have had to do more of than I'd ideally like. J. Kelly Hoey, in her book Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World, teaches the smart and targeted way to do this—even if you're an introvert and especially in today's world.

So networking is not about exchanging business cards or asking people to help you get a job. And it definitely should not be done only when you need help but always, to build relationships that last and to benefit both sides. And networking is everything you do, from the social media you participate in to how you respond to your email to which groups you choose to participate in.

Even if you think you're a good networker, Kelly and the many expert networkers she interviewed will share tips to further improve your networking game. And for the rest of us, this is a must read.

What's Your Mental Hangup?

Is there something everyone keeps telling you you're good at and your response has been denial? Well, perhaps you should rethink this.

I just finished reading Laura Berman Fortgang's book Now What? Know Who Your Are and Get What You Want, 90 Days to a New Life Direction yesterday, and she advises using this technique—paying attention to what others attribute to you—as a way to find your purpose. I had read it, but only today while at the gym did the dots connect for me. (So everything they say about exercise getting your brain juices going is true.)

For the last ten plus years, I've been told how great I am at networking and/or what a great network I have. I'd always scoff since I actually hate networking, but I enjoy getting to know people, talking to them, and making connections. This is why I actually enjoyed and succeeded at my first business development job more than I expected.

Despite this, I did not consider myself a salesperson and actually resisted getting another sales job for a long time. I'm an operations person and all about process and people. But the people part means I enjoy interacting and helping others. And if I want to eventually get the C-level opportunity I am working towards, I need to get over my mental hangup and recognize that sales is necessary and not evil. Perhaps I need to reread Daniel Pink's To Sell Is Human.

Ironically, I do have sales experience from my college and post-college days but had forgotten about it until recently. And even more ironically, some of the warmest and most helpful people I know are salespeople. I should not let the ones that give the profession a bad name ruin it for me and the others, nor should I allow my own mental hangup to get in the way of what everyone has recognized comes naturally to me.

Fortunately I got over myself in time for a great new part-time opportunity that will allow me to use all my talents, including the one I didn't admit to until now.

So are you fighting your own mental hangups and yourself? What are you going to do to overcome this?

***
PS I wrote this blog post last year, and although my situation and focus has changed, the lessons learned at the time I wrote this are still valid (although further evolved) so I have left the post as originally written.

Review: Settle for More

Settle for More Settle for More by Megyn Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit that I picked up Megyn Kelly's book since I remember her recent altercations with our new president, but her story is so much more than that.

Megyn, who was raised in a family where money was always tight, learned to work hard and long from an early age. On sheer will and perseverance, she became a successful attorney but then realized that the long hours and constant acrimony were not for her. She has always chosen to "settle for more" and therefore figured out how to transform her experience as a lawyer, and her related talents of research and storytelling, to become a successful journalist.

Along the way Megyn left a bad marriage, found her soul mate, had children, learned to juggle them all to varying degrees of success and yet stay true to herself and not settle for less.

Regardless of your political leanings or whether you're a Fox fan or not, Megyn's memoir is a fascinating and well-written book on a woman's journey to find her calling and self while settling for more. I highly recommend it.

How to Figure Out What Next When Transitioning

If you're like most people I know, you've found yourself between jobs and wondering "now what?" at least once in your life. Laura Berman Fortgang, author of Now What? Know Who Your Are and Get What You Want, 90 Days to a New Life Direction, takes you through an entire program on how to get unstuck.

Laura, who herself went through a career transition earlier in her life and has since coached many others on how to do so, takes us through the program she does in-person with her clients. The book is meant to take the entire 90 days, with each chapter representing a week's worth of reading, introspection, and contemplation. I admit I didn't do all the exercises nor take 90 days to get through the book, but it was still interesting.

The book and program are meant to help you figure out your "it"—your purpose—so that you can get back on your Life's Blueprint. Laura takes us through an exploration of our past since it is often the clue we need to figure out what our purpose is. Part of this is looking for patterns and activities you enjoyed back then; the other part is getting through the mental hangups and false beliefs that may block your purpose and happiness.

Laura then explains that our purpose is probably right in front of our noses. What do others keep asking your help with? What do friends and family believe you're all about? And what is the essence of your dream without the package that may not be possible?

Each step of the program is depicted with anecdotes from either Laura's own life or from those of her clients. It was very interesting reading how they got clarity and ultimately happiness by asking these questions and figuring out their purpose.

And the book does not recommend giving up your day job to live on purpose alone: it recommends planning for the transition. Laura even has a chapter that helps people learn to track their finances, budget, and cut costs if necessary. 

Have you ever found yourself stuck and unsure what's next? How did you figure out how to go forward?

Your One Word as Your Compass

Although I'm a fan of personality tests as a way to learn more about oneself, when a recent business book suggested figuring out your one "superpower" so you can flaunt it and be successful, I was stumped. There are two or three things I'm fairly good at, so which of them is my one superpower?

That's why when I picked up Evan Carmichael's book Your One Word: The Powerful Secret to Creating a Business and Life That Matter, I was doubtful I could narrow my core values into one word.

Evan breaks his book into three parts: the first to help you figure out your one word, the second to teach you how to build a campaign and movement with it, and the third how to apply it to your business. 

It took me nearly all of part one to actually figure out my one word, and a few days of just thinking about it. I considered quite a few others until I settled on the one that resonated most.

My one word is #Build. 

Evan differentiates between the lowercase, hashtag-less version of your word and the uppercase with hashtag so I am doing the same. And the difference is that your word—capitalized and with hashtag—means more to you than the one obvious meaning. Evan's word (#Believe) has three meanings for him, as does mine.

To me, #Build encompasses the three things that I value most and consider my strengths: I #Build solutions, connections, and opportunity.

Figuring this out was surprisingly liberating and as Evan explains, makes decisions easier since all should be made from the perspective of your one word. This is my compass. If an opportunity or job does not allow me to build—either solutions, connections, or opportunity—it is not right for me and I should walk away. And if a person I am considering working with or befriending is destructive—the opposite of #Build, what I believe in—that person is not one I will be happy associating with long term.

Regardless of where you are in life or in your career, knowing your one word and having its guiding compass is invaluable, so I highly recommend this book and the exercises Evan offers to get to your one word.

And learning more about oneself never gets old. Enjoy the journey.

Grit Your Way to Success

What do you think is the true secret to success? Do you think it's talent, luck, wealth, serendipity, or something else? 

As per Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, authors of Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You From Ordinary to Extraordinary, the answer is grit.

Based on their research and the anecdotes they share, having the drive to keep working through thick and thin, overcoming obstacles as they come along, and just keep going is what it takes. And many of the true successes through the centuries were not the people born with a silver spoon or extra helpings of talent, but those whose unlucky start in life taught them to persevere.

To be successful, one must be like the bamboo. Unlike all other woods, the bamboo is flexible, grows in all types of climates, is ready to be used as is, and is the last standing in a tornado. The bamboo is able to adapt and that is a key aspect of grit: not only to keep going but to be flexible and adapt to lessons learned and hardships experienced.

I can definitely relate to the need for hard work and am encouraged that grit is enough to overcome a late start or other misfortunes. But the question or difficulty comes in knowing what is worth persevering for and when it is better to quit and redirect that focus. 

Sometimes either you, plans, or life changes and the thing you've been working hard for falls short. If that thing is still your passion, your dream, the thing you need to do above all else, or something you still believe in, then yes, keep going. But if you find that you were wrong or for whatever reason you no longer believe, sometimes you need to let go to be able to move on and find your true dream.

Adaptation comes in different flavors as does grit.

Have you overcome with grit? Have you had to let go to and redirect for success?

Review: Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember when I first realized that we all needed communication and sales skills on a daily basis. Chris Voss, former expert FBI negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, made me realize the same thing about negotiating.

Negotiation skills aren't only necessary when you need a raise/promotion or are closing a big deal, nor do they only apply to the hostage situations that Chris shares. They can literally be used every day both at home and at work. Every time you're trying to get someone to back you, provide more information than they're inclined to, or do things your way, you can use negotiation skills to reach your desired outcome without ill will.

And that's the part I like most about Chris's approach: it doesn't require strong arming or any other questionable approaches, just being a good listener and approaching negotiation differently. Part of his approach throws out many of the long held negotiation beliefs; for example, Chris teaches to get to "no" rather than yes and that it's okay to show "weakness" and apologize, just to name two.

So not only is this book a very entertaining read because of Chris's anecdotes, both from his time with the FBI and how his students' have applied what he's taught, but also a very actionable read. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to get more out of their communication and negotiations.