How to be a good employee

There are few employees who wake up in the morning with the thought “I can’t wait to get to work and make everyone miserable!” Whether this it true or not, I believe it to be true, and believing that makes my life A LOT easier.  Sure, there are those people that always cc your boss and maybe another employee to cover their butt but if you talk to them they will usually tell you “that is how you get things done.”  They don’t see another way.  I wonder if they realize how much damage their actions do, or maybe they just don’t care.

The good employees worry they will be fired, the bad employees are always surprised when they are.

If you ask most people I bet they will tell you that they are good at their job.  Or at the very least they have a litany of excuses as to why not.  Yet we all know people who are “bad” employees.  OK, maybe “bad” it too harsh.  But I know I have been a bad employee before, I just didn’t realize it at the time.

Be a little early

I can’t tell you how many times I have talked to people about being late.  Unfortunately some companies have rules that are quite inflexible while others are more apt to treat you like an adult.  Either way, if you know the rules, follow them.  Actually, do a little more than the minimum.

You don’t even really necessarily need to be at work all that early.  Just start your day earlier.  Being a little early allows you to do several things:

  • Plan your day:  Tim Ferriss and many others start their day journaling and setting daily / weekly goals.  If you fail to plan then I guarantee you won’t succeed!
  • Ease into your day:  I don’t think anyone likes coming into work only to be hit in the face with emails that piled up overnight.  If you are able to, I advise checking email briefly before bed and/or when you wake up.  That way you know what you are in for that day.  It is also not a bad idea to reply to the urgent ones with something like “Thank you for the email, when do you need the information?  Would by noon tomorrow work?”
  • Review deadlines:  One thing that backs up a lot of people is not having or not updating time-frames.  A to-do list is one thing, a to-do list with deadlines is on another level.

Be conscious of your brand

There is a lot of talk about branding these days.  Companies have a brand that they promote and so should you.  To me your brand is what people think of when they think of you.  Your brand should emote feelings and adjectives.  When people think of you does it bring a smile to their face or a frown?  What word would others use to describe you?  These all speak to your brand.

Your brand needs to be authentic.  If you are very casual then you probably don’t want to dress at the top end of the dress code every day but that doesn’t mean you have to dress at the bottom either.  A bow tie (hand-tied, clip-ons are for cops and kids) can set you apart from the crowd.  An ascot or a bolo tie… it would be much tougher to pull those off and it could be seen as disingenuous.

Help others

I know this may shock some people but this is generally seen as a good thing to do in life.  No really, it is.  Many people see helping others as a sign of weakness.  It is actually a sign of strength.  But there are limits.  If you help others while neglecting your own work it will not work out well for you.  Even something as little as holding doors for others will help set you apart.  How about picking up trash you see in the office?  Unless you work in a Union environment, helping others will go a long way.

You can also be a resource for others.  This can be as simple as telling people about a good quote you heard or as focused as setting up a Google Alert.  Let’s say you want to move up in the marketing department.  Maybe set a Google Alert for “Social Media Marketing” and/or other related terms.  Then you can receive daily or weekly news straight to your inbox.  That is an easy way to stay on top of trends.

Learn to say no tactfully

I am trying to do what Derek Sivers suggests… it is either “HELL YES!” or it should be no.  True, there are many times that saying no is not an option but you need take control of your to-do list.  Now that you have a deadline for everything, when one of your bosses comes to you and asks you to re-design the cover sheet for the TPS Report you can say “sounds good, where would you like me to put it in my to-do list?”  Then you can walk them through your task list in order of importance.

Be a life long learner

Whether your “thing” is podcasts, books, movies, TV or radio be sure you are taking in some things that actually help you.  Don’t like learning new information?  Learn to like it.  You may first need to do some habit/task bundling.  That is where you “bundle” one thing you need to do with something you like to do.  Or come up with a reward program for yourself.  Maybe you only get one hour of your favorite show after listening to one hour of a professional development audio book.

Life is not as difficult as some make it out to be.
Al Pollard

Top 10 list on how to be a bad co-worker

There are a lot top 10 lists out there so I thought I would add one to the multitude:

Top 10 list on how to be a bad co-worker

You know, those people that want to do their jobs poorly.  Please note the pervasive sarcasm in this post.  Yes, that person that wakes up every morning looking forward to doing a bad job at work.  You probably have or have had a coworker or two who you think wakes up and asks themselves “how can I make my coworkers and boss miserable today?”  You might even think that HR and hiring managers like this type of person because they keep hiring more of them.  Or maybe, you are tired of having people want to work with you.  It gets old winning awards and knowing that you are doing a good job… it’s time for a change!  You want to join the ranks of the ne’er-do-wells.  This post is for you.

1. Show up late… to everything.  This shows EVERYONE that you value your time more than theirs.  Way to go.  There might not be an “I” in team but there is a “ME.”

2. Gossip… A LOT!  You know people LOVE bad news, so why not spread some.  Or even better yet, create your own.  You saw your boss go into a meeting with the CEO… that MUST mean layoffs are around the corner, you better start telling people.

3. Don’t clean your dishes in the break room.   Don’t they have cleaning people for that?  I mean seriously.  If you cleaned up after yourself you would be taking work away from someone else.

4. Take personal calls at work and speak LOUDLY.  Everyone else is so focused on work they won’t even notice when you talk about how your family puts the fun in dysfunctional.

5. Don’t do what you tell people you will do.  The Bible even tells us that if you put your faith in anyone but God you will be disappointed.  So why not allow them to learn that lesson through you?

6. Deadlines are for suckers.  You can’t rush creativity and most deadlines are artificial anyway.  If they were real there would be consequences for missing them.

7. Don’t eat breakfast until you get to work.  Your employer knows you don’t work well when you are hungry so it is a good idea to clock in at work before you start making your breakfast.

8. What dress code?  Even if you know the dress code, they don’t really expect people to adhere to it.  Your coworkers understand and maybe even enjoy seeing your underwear, bra, belly or any other item or part of your body some people consider “personal.”

9. Wear a lot of perfume or cologne.  Better yet, wear a lot of Patchouli Oil.  Everyone enjoys the same scents you do and if not… well, they just need to get over it.

10. Do what you want, when you want, where you want.  You have your rights, don’t let people take them from you.

11. Don’t follow directions.  If someone asks you to do a top 10 list do 11 or 12 if you want.  They will appreciate that you think “outside the box.”  All those haters need a “paradigm shift” to see things the right way… your way.

12. Personal hygiene.   Bathing is optional and bad for the natural oils you produce.  Just use more patchouli oil.  Fingernails and toenails?  If you decide to clip them why do it in the privacy of your own home?  Clip them at work in the break room or in your cube.

Feel free to add the ways YOU can be a bad employee in the comments.  These people need all the help they can get.

The employee who steadily smiles and peak performs while having to work with a difficult and sometimes toxic coworker, proves that he/she is in control of their happiness and peace of mind.
Ty Howard

It’s OK to be a good employee, but are you?

My boss and I were talking about possible topics for a Lunch and Learn program we are starting this year.  He brought up a topic that I have a passion about… Many people do not know what it takes to be a good employee AND it is OK to be good, you don’t have to be the best.

What’s next?

It seems we are all looking at what is next.  Some interviewers even ask about this.  Where do you want to be in five years?  What are you goals?  I don’t think goals are bad but many times they are not where we NEED to be, there are where we THINK we WANT to be.  Many times goals are are like that person you always wanted to go out with.  Only, once you are engaged, you realize that they are a self-absorbed muggle.

What if we stopped looking at CONTENTMENT as a bad word?  Sure, if we were all content the economy would come to a screetching halt but I am not worried about that.  There are enough of the self-absorbed Jones-chasing people out there to keep up demand.  I know because I use to be one.  Even now I struggle to not be one.

I want to be good at my job, enjoy what I do, the people I work with and  I want to be paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work.

Most people would scoff at those statements.  All the books and self-help stuff tells you to be the best.  You need to climb the ladder and move up.  You need to fight THE MAN till you become the man.  But to what end?  Most of this is just chasing after the wind.  You move up to make more but with that usually comes more responsibility and more stress.  Do you really want to be the person that realizes later on that you missed your kid’s childhood?

Let me be the first person to tell you that good is good enough.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t grow and want to get better but you don’t always need to be looking to move up.  There is a great peace that comes with contentment.  I want to be content with what I have but ready to take advantage of any opportunities that come my way.  I am always looking for better ways to do things but not to beat others and not for the financial rewards.

Who doesn’t want to make a little (or a lot) more money?   But in the words of Ferris Bueller “I said it before and I’ll say it again. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  No matter what you think happens after this life, you only get one shot at this one and you don’t want to miss it.

The question isn’t what are we going to do. The question is what aren’t we going to do.
Ferris Bueller

2 attributes you must have in your job search

First, I fully admit that I have a lot of skin in this game.  I am not only a corporate recruiter, I am also an employee and soon to be co-worker.  I want us to hire people I want to work with.  Who do I want to work with?  The people I like working with the most have two main attributes…

Self Awareness

This may seem trivial but if it does, you probably don’t have much of it.  I was speaking with a co-worker about this the other day and it seems that very few people can get out of their own skin.  They see everything through a myopic point of view.  They are just in their here and now.  There is no thought given to how others will see things or how their actions will affect the future.

I confess, I sometimes have this same issue but I work to seek others’ input and get their points of view.  Yes, sometimes it hurts.  Sometimes I feel like yelling “But you just don’t understand!  You are being selfish!”  Newsflash… we are all selfish.  This started in a garden long, long ago and it is still true today.

We all need to take time to reflect.  Try to see your own perspective from outside.  What if someone else said what you just said?  What if you received an email like that?  As my Mom says “If the problem is not with me, I can’t fix it.”


Guess what?  Crap happens and it happens often.  Let’s look at my own life… One of your kid’s goes deaf in one ear, your family takes a 60% pay-cut, you get Cancer… life happens.  You CAN build resiliency.  It is like a muscle that needs to be exercised.  Don’t believe me?  Just Google it!  There is TONS of advice available from organizations like the American Psychological Association and the Mayo Clinic.

Just like in exercise and sports we all have God-given abilities to start with and some have been given more than others.  For some of us resiliency comes more easily while others must constantly work at it.  Resiliency is not ignoring the feelings and thoughts that created by adversity.  It is feeling them, acknowledging them and then making the conscious decision to set them aside.  The Black Knight is not resilient, he is ignorant.

From there are a few main keys to building resilience….

  1. Get enough sleep and exercise, and learn to manage stress.
  2. Practice thought awareness.
  3. Practice Cognitive Restructuring to change the way that you think about negative situations and bad events.
  4. Learn from your mistakes and failures.
  5. Choose your response.

Want to know the SECRET to interviewing?  Demonstrate these two things in your resume and your interviews.  Sure, there are a lot of other things you need to have and demonstrate to be the best match for a company.  But in my mind, these two are non-starters.

I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.
George S Patton Jr.


What is on your NOT to do list?

Tim Ferriss @tferriss brought up a great point in his podcast… Why is it, that all this professional development stuff adds to our to-do list but rarely takes things away?  We need to start a NOT to do list!


Start by listing out all the things you do… from the time you wake up till you go to sleep.  Next try to figure out what is productive (brings life) and what is NOT productive (brings death.)  How about all that TV you watch?  What about the hour(s) you spend on social media?  Are those REALLY bringing you life?  Do they have a positive impact on you and those around you?

Hell  Yes

Remember that one way to cut back on your to-dos is to only say yes to things where it is a “HELL-yes!”  If it is not hell yes, then it should probably be no.  I understand that this runs counter to “Year of Yes” but if you are already stretched thin or there is more you need to get done (a job search) then it is not time for a year of yes… yet.


It might be time to say goodbye to some of the energy vampires in your life.  Don’t get me wrong.  We are all called to minister to people but not to ALL people all the time.  Sometimes you will need to start moving away from people.  If you decide to do this there are two main approaches.

  1. Tell them.  I don’t mean that you need to tell them “how it is.”  You can be honest with them without being mean and hurtful.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt them, or you.
  2. Stop being around them.  This may mean that you need to stop going to some groups you are a part of.  Or maybe you need to change to the early church service.  Who knows what awaits you when you get out of your comfort zone!

So start making your list and start checking them off!

The More you love what you are doing, the more successful it will be for your.
Jerry Gillies

What going it on your own costs you

I was reading Kristin Wong’s article at LifeHacker: “The Biggest Wastes of Time We Regret When We Get Older” when it hit me… this can have BIG costs in your job search!

That’s OK, I’ll get the next one

Don’t believe me?  Ever had something like this happen… You are talking to an acquaintance or friend when you mention something like “I wish I had…” fill in the blank:

  • Made it the concert
  • Gotten an interview with …
  • Heard about …
  • Known …

Then your friend says something like “Oh, I wish I had known you were interested.  I know someone there that could have hooked you up.”  #yousoidiot  You think to yourself… “Seriously!  If I had just put it on FB, Twitter or mentioned it in casual conversation I could have avoided all of this!”  If you are like me you then think “I’ll never do that again,” only to do it again and again.

Leverage your network

If you stop for a moment and think about all the people you know I bet you have quite an impressive list.  When identifying your network don’t just include your close friends, think about people you have just met or even have a loose connection with.  Research has shown that frequently, loose connections are more helpful in the job search than close friends.

Put your network on a contact schedule.  For those of you in sales think of putting them into some type of CRM that will help you keep track of them.  If anyone knows of a good way to categorize, filter, sort and keep contacts up to date (outside of excel) please let me know.

If you’re not asking for help, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough.

Maybe feeling like “I got this” is an indicator that you have gotten too comfortable in what you are doing.  I believe that if we are not growing then we are 1. being left behind and 2. shrinking.  I am competitive so I don’t like the idea of someone getting ahead of me and I want to continue to grow.”Al Pollard

Al Pollard

Growth is the only evidence of life.
John Henry Newman

The Science of the Job Search


My wife is a science teacher and she is always teaching / reminding me about how God made the world.  Usually when we think of momentum we think of the locomotive pulling all of those train cars and how difficult it would be to stop them or when you are moving you have momentum.  But did you realize that momentum also KEEPS you from moving.

Newton's First Law of Motion: I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Law of Inertia

So if you are not DOING anything then you are in a uniform state of motion.  What is going to be the inertia that you apply to change your current state?  If you are in a job search are YOU doing anything to affect change?  What is force that you are going to apply to change things.

Newton talks about external force because he applied his “laws” to inanimate objects.  What about you?  Are the only forces that come to bear external?  A friend of me starts many of his prayers with “Jesus in me…”  God is in us, how will we allow him to move us?

James 1:6 ...the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 3:4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.

Start today, do you want to be a wave on the sea or a ship? CHOOSE to move.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.
Dalai Lama


Why are you SO busy?

If you are like me there is not enough time in the day to get it all done. I have often times said “if there were 36 hour days and 9 day weeks I could get it all done AND have 3 day weekends!”  But I recently realized that the problem is with me, not the clock or the calendar.  Let me explain.

This goes back to one of my favorite quick reads for teams from over a decade ago: “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.”  This is a favorite of mine for a few reasons.  The first of which is that “monkey” is the funniest word in the English language.  My boss in Seattle shared this fact with me.  He then proceeded to explain the extensive research he and some other VPs at the company had done to come to this conclusion.  Needless to say this “research” was done in Las Vegas, but I admit it is hard to say “monkey” without at least a little  smirk.  Back to the content of the book.  It explains how tasks, projects and to-do’s are monkeys that end up on someone’s back.  It turns out that some of us are habitual monkey pickeruppers.  We might also be known as people pleasers, multi-taskers or go-getters.

It is either HELL YES or it is no.

Guess what? If you are always busy then you don’t have time to do the things you REALLY want to do when they come along.  At 57minutes into his interview, Derek Sivers tells Tim Ferriss his views on being busy including how he decides what to say yes to. Caution to those of you with sensitive ears, there is some big boy language in the podcast. Derek boils it down to that one statement, if you have an opportunity and you don’t think to yourself “Hell Yes!” then you should say no.  We need to get busy deciding what we WANT to do or what we GET to do rather than what we HAVE to do.

Telling someone you are too busy means that you do not have control of your life and you have unclear priorities. But I get it.  If you are like me you are working for The Man.  You nor I get to decide what we do at work or when we do it.  Or do we?  If you are like me, work is not an 8am to 5pm work day with a nice little lunch break in the middle.  I have a choice.

If the problem is not me then I cannot fix it.

I say this to myself a lot and if you follow me you read it a lot. I write it and say it a lot because it is TRUE.  You are busy because of you, NOT because of others.  How about the friends who want to go to lunch each day?  Could you maybe get involved in that cool leadership project if you ate a quick PB&J at your desk and spent that hour researching leadership development programs?   Or maybe you get to work at 8am because you sleep till 6am due to the fact that you were binge-watching Arrow or you just had to see THAT game?  If you had gotten up at 5am you would have made it to work at 6:45 (your commute is a lot shorter without traffic) you would have time to watch some of those Lynda courses your mentor recommended.  We all have choices.

So, the next time you have an “opportunity” to do something or to pick up another monkey ask yourself… are you thinking HELL YES! or should it be a no?

Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to.
Rob Bell

Maybe you shouldn’t start looking for another job

I was reading a LinkedIn article by J. T. O’Donnell and some stats she quoted jumped out at me:

72% of workers would rather work for themselves

86% plan to actively look for a new job this year

Here is a tip… it you want to work for yourself you won’t find THAT in a job search.  I have often times to people with a BS in Entrepreneurship that they didn’t need a degree to be an entrepreneur.  Why do we always think that happiness will come when we are running things or with that next promotion, relationship, or job?  I will tell you why… because happiness happens TO us.  That’s right.  I will be happy when…  relies on someone or something else.

If the problem is not me, I can’t fix it.

When we realize that no one owes us anything then we are on the right track.  I have found that if I am not happy, I am probably not fulfilling my intended purpose in life.  Talking to people about their purpose is like talking about past lives.  Ever notice that people who believe they have lived past lives have usually been someone important?  I have never heard anyone say “yeah, in my past life I worked in a coal mine and before that I was an indentured servant.” Coincidence?  Same goes with purpose.  I don’t hear people say their purpose in life is to encourage others, unless they are a motivational speaker and they get paid for it.  Ever thought that you can fulfill your purpose in spite of your job?  Many people do but most do not.  We let our work define us rather than our purpose.

Nice to meet you, what do you do?

If you keep looking for happiness you will find it, only to lose it again.  But joy can be maintained.  To me happiness is caused by external forces but joy comes from within.  Dan Gilbert talks about happiness in his TED Talk.  Dan shows that happiness consistently wears off.  So what are we to do about this?

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

You could continue changing jobs ever two to three years chasing the RIGHT position.  Or you could start your own business and let it own you.  But I think God wants us to figure out what brings us joy then get busy doing THAT!  We don’t have to do the thing that brings us joy all day every day.  We don’t even have to get paid for it.  If you don’t know where to start and you want to feel joy, help someone else.  Making someone HAPPY will bring you JOY.

So before you start your 2016 off by looking for another job take a minute and reflect… where is the problem?


2016 New Year Resolution #1:  Be more awesome than last year


Use your future memory in your job search

futureWhen I first heard the term “future memory” I as immediately attracted to it as it seems to be an oxymoron.  How can you remember the future?  Another term for this is “prospective memory” or “automacity.”  Many people might also hear it called “muscle memory.”  We are constantly training ourselves to do things in the future without taking the time to think about them.  The problem is that we are rarely intentional about developing our future memory.

How do you get future memory?  Practice.  You must practice if you want to perform well.  This is especially true of interviews.  No, you cannot rehearse an entire interview but you can prepare and practice a few things:

Non-verbals:  Ask people for feedback on your non verbals.  Do you make effective eye contact?  How is your handshake?  Do you have good posture?  The list goes on.  Be sure to tell people why you want the feedback and that you want honest feedback.  Your livelihood may depend on it.

Interview responses:  Anyone who is not prepared for one of the following questions should not pass go and will not collect $200… Tell me about yourself.  Why are you interested in this position and our company?  What is your biggest weakness and/or strength?  Why did you leave your last job?

Making small talk:  This is where being a jack of all trades helps but anyone can do this.  One way is to listen to or read some recent news stories from NPR or the BBC.  Sorry, those are truly the most fair and balanced news agencies out there.  I also highly recommend listening to a few podcasts that are on the top of the charts or just check out some TED Talks.  If you do not or have not watched / listened to TED Talks then you are REALLY missing out.

So stop remembering the past and get started building your future memory.


The future depends on what we do in the present.
Mahatma Gandhi