Tag Archives: #learninganddevelopment

Thinking is the Ultimate Human Resource

imagesBecause I help people in career transition, I sometimes get asked by people if I’m always able to tell people what job they should be doing and I have to explain that that’s not what I do. What I actually do is facilitate the process which allows people to come to this realisation themselves, in essence I help people to have clarity in their thinking and as I said in an earlier post if we have a question, problem or situation we also have the answer or solution.

My programmes also support job search, and I get asked if I always get people a job, to which I reply: ‘my role is to support people in getting the job themselves’. This may all sound very cliché but when I’m performing in my role at my very best, I’m merely the facilitator in helping people do things for themselves. I meet with my clients weekly, fortnightly or whatever time-frame which allows them to carry out the objectives agreed on in our session, and I always say to clients that the best work takes place away from the sessions, whether that’s research, networking or marketing themselves, these are the actions that will drive their programme in line with their needs and objectives outlined at the outset of our work together.

I sometimes use the analogy of a sports coach and the world of Career, Leadership and Executive Coaching evolved from the world of sport.  Many of my clients will have worked with a sports coach or personal trainer or will have an understanding of how these people help their clients – individuals or teams get the most from their performance, they don’t go out and play a game or do their fitness programme for them, they do however walk alongside them , supporting their motivation, determination and persistence in achieving their goals, they help them to continuously improve their performance and to be in a position to achieve things for themselves.

Clients will want to achieve the objectives outlined at the beginning of their programme for themselves. This gives them great satisfaction and the skills they gain throughout the process remain with them and indeed help to progress their career to the next level, because of their ability to recognise what’s unique about themselves in terms of their skills, experience, knowledge and attributes. This allows them to be confident in communicating this and effectively marketing themselves, whether in writing – job application, CV, and cover letter, or in person – interviews, or in networking situations. The experience they gain in building their networks in their chosen field also remains with them and gives them the impetuous to continue to develop strong relationships, allowing them to easily navigate and progress their career when the time is right.

I truly believe Thinking is the ultimate human resource and once people are confident in their ability to think for themselves and believe they have the answers they need within them, this instils the belief they can do for themselves. The ultimate satisfaction for me in my work is when my clients are confident in thinking and doing for themselves and creative thinking promotes creative doing.

Evolving Careers Players can help you manage and develop your career. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

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Mrs Beetons Christmas Puddings

????????????????????????????????????????My brother is an amazing cook and dinner at his house is always a culinary delight. As we both live in London we’ve shared many Christmas dinners with our respective family and friends. I remember one Christmas dinner when we were finishing our meal with a traditional Christmas pudding which he had made and I relayed a story of the first Christmas pudding I made.

It was in my first year in secondary school. I gave the pudding to my sister and her family as a Christmas gift but when she opened it, she found it had gone mouldy! My brother relayed a similar story about Mrs Beeton, who secured an order for her Christmas puddings from Fortnum and Mason – the wonderful British Food Emporium who for three centuries have been committed to bringing the world’s best food to Piccadilly. (In their own words) Now unfortunately for Mrs Beeton the Christmas puddings she made which were distributed in their Christmas hampers to their elite clients suffered a similar fate to mine – they were mouldy. Ooops!

This lead the conversation to Mrs Beeton, who perhaps was the Martha Stewart of her day. I originally thought she was a woman who had many years experience as a cook but the truth is she set out to develop her cooking ability at the age of 21 when she undertook a writing assignment to write a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain, the book contained over 900 recipes and also gained the name ‘Mrs Beeton’s Cookbook’.

Mrs Beeton was an accomplished pianist, having studied music in Heidelberg, however she established her career in writing when she married her husband who was a publisher of books and magazines and she began to write articles on cooking and household management for his publications. The rest as they say is history.

I expect Mrs Beeton would have developed her career even further or indeed developed a new career as I’m sure you’ll agree she was a woman of many talents but sadly she died aged 28. Similarly to Mrs Beeton we all have the potential to develop new skills that will allow us to perform in the career of our choice and in line with the demands of the role, I also believe we all have the capacity and capability to have a number of careers in our lifetime and the proof of that I guess in the pudding – or maybe not!

Evolving Careers Players can help you manage and develop your skills and career. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

Create the Next Chapter of Your Career and Life Story

imagesThere have been a few turning points in my life that have caused me to stop and think about what’s important to me and to consider what I want from my work and my life outside of work. Sadly one of those occasions was when my brother died aged just 41. He had lived very much in the present and enjoyed the simple things in life. I remember his wife telling me how in the summer once their four girls were in bed, they’d sit in their garden and watch the sun set.

As well as bringing up four daughters they also gave their time generously to supporting the families who had been impacted by the Chernobyl disaster and every summer they would have children from Chernobyl stay with them. It was important for them to give back or indeed give forward. Thinking about my brother caused me to realise that I needed to live in the present and make everyday worthwhile. I took a step back to evaluate my most important values and consider what needed to change in my work and my life to honour these.

I’d worked in Investment Banking for several years and while I enjoyed the work and worked with great people, it also afforded me a great lifestyle. However the hours were long and I wasn’t spending as much time with my family as I would have liked. I made the decision to leave banking and set up in business myself.

This took time as first I needed to figure out what I wanted to do next and then I needed to retrain. It was quite a juggling act initially: working to bring in much needed income while studying and subsequently gaining practical experience to launch my new business and career. Although tough it was extremely enjoyable and from the outset I was carving a lifestyle in line with my needs and values. Now I both plan for tomorrow and live for today. At times it can be extremely challenging but its also extremely rewarding.

When I begin working with a client who’s considering a career change, quite often it’s because of a particular turning point in their life and they’ve come to realise that life is too short for them not to be living it fully.

In light of the reality that life is short, what are the important elements you need to include in your life to ensure you’re fulfilled and motivated in both your work and your life outside of work? To get started in your thinking take time to reflect on the following questions:

▪ What do you want to accomplish? Contribute? Complete? Create or build?
▪  What legacy or reputation do you want to leave behind?

Perhaps now is the time to create the next chapter of your life story.

Evolving Careers Players can you help you manage and develop your career and life chapters.We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

If you have a question or problem – you also have the answer

imagesI believe for every question or problem we have we also have the answer within us, and to demonstrate this I’ll tell you a story about Jack.

Some years ago when Jack was just seven, his primary school decided they were going to form a school council with two representatives from each class. This was announced in the morning at school assembly and the students were told that anyone who wanted to be considered would have an opportunity after lunch to speak in front of their class to be considered for nomination.

Jack relayed this to me at the end of the day when he told me he was among the candidates nominated from his class. I asked what he’d done and what he’d said that resulted in his success at this initial stage, and he said, at lunch time he’d found himself a quiet corner in the playground and thought through what he might say, but when he stood in front of his class and saw everyone staring at him, he froze and couldn’t remember what he was going to say. I asked what he did then, and he said “well I just started talking and I don’t remember what I said but at the end everyone clapped and I was nominated”.

He was on a high and went about developing his campaign strategy. Then one day when he came home from school he seemed quite subdued and when I asked what was wrong, he said “Today Owen (one of his opponents) brought cookies to school and gave one to anyone who promised to vote for him”. He asked his dad and I what he should do but we just looked at each other and wondered if we should perhaps go out and buy chocolate for Jack to give to his friends. We didn’t do this, nor did we have the answer to give Jack and so he went about working on his campaign.

At the time Jack was into both The Simpsons and The Rugrats and he made up stickers, leaflets, posters and banners, saying ‘Vote for Jack’  using these cartoon characters, he had the whole family involved in his campaign. Jack took himself away from the immediate problem of how to compete against Owen and his cookies by busying himself with his campaign.

Then the morning of the election came and when I dropped Jack at school, I asked what he was going to say in his election speech and he said he didn’t know but he was concerned that his classmates would vote for Owen because they would get another cookie. I waited with baited breath all day, hoping he wouldn’t be too disappointed if he wasn’t successful. When I picked him up in the evening, I asked tentatively what happened. And Jack said “oh yeah I was elected” in a no big deal sort of way. ‘But what did you say I asked.

Jack answered: ‘“Well I stood up and everyone was staring at me, and I said Owen has promised you cookies if you vote for him, these cookies will last a couple of minutes,  I can promise to help make your dreams come true, these will last forever” My god Jack I asked where did that come from? I don’t know he said it just came to me.

Therein lies my belief that whether we’re 7 or 97 if we have a question, or a problem that we think we don’t have the answer or the ability to cope with, we actually do and quite often the solution comes to us when we take ourselves away from the immediate problem and busy ourselves with something perhaps related to the issue as Jack did by working on his campaign, or we may just need to distance ourselves from the issue. I find I have my most inspirational thoughts when I go for a walk or visit an art gallery or museum, or take in a film or a theatre performance.

At the time Jack was successful in being elected to represent his class at the school council he loved Jackie Chan films and earned himself the nickname among his classmates as ‘Jackie Chan the first school council man’.

Evolving Careers Players can help you manage and develop your career. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

How to Answer Bizarre Interview Questions – Such as: How would you count the hairs on a cat!

imagesA client was asked this question when he was interviewing for a project management role at an investment bank in the City and was given a pen and paper, and calculator! to work it out. He was thankful of this because it gave him time to gather his thoughts and while he didn’t calculate he did scribble down a few thoughts.

His answer was: “He’d weigh one hair, then shave the cat and weigh all the hair he shaved off, he’d then divide the overall hair weight by the individual hair weight to get the number of hairs on the cat. He got the job!

What the interviewers were looking for was a candidate who could demonstrate their ability to think on the spot, showing creativity and intuitiveness as well as logical and practical thinking, including how they would go about solving difficult and even unusual challenges that might arise, and also to have conviction in their answer and the confidence to communicate this. The interviewer is more interested in how you get to an answer, as opposed to what the answer might be.

Such challenging questions are becoming ever more commonplace in interviews it seems, as employers seek to get past the polish and hire the best candidate. With so many self-help websites, candidates can be quite polished on standard interview questions, making it difficult for people to stand out if they ask the routine questions, so doing things differently will help them get to the best candidate.

Evolving Careers Players can help you “Get past the polish to hire the best candidate”. We support our clients in their selection process by devising role-play for real-play workplace scenarios, including a few quirky situations!, allowing you to get to know each candidate beyond ‘canned’ answers. They’re having to react in the moment allowing you to find the right person that both fits your company culture and can refresh your business with new ideas.

We deliver corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios, career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre,www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your requirements: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

Check out one of the role-play scenarios we set up for a client who wanted a candidate to demonstrate how she would manage a team member who is resistant to being managed by a younger manager. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz3_3b06Kuk

What completely engages you in your work?

imagesWhat is it you find yourself doing when you’re completely engrossed and the time just passes by and you have to remind yourself to stop to eat and before you know it the morning has turned into evening and you can still continue with what you’re doing into the night. For me, lately it’s writing and I say lately as I suppose part of me wonders if this is just a passing phase and if my thought process will dry up soon.

Why do I want to write? Because as Colin Firth said in his role as George V1 in the ‘Kings Speech’ ‘I have a voice’ and I’m discovering writing to be a great expression of that, and being the reflective soul I am, writing is a more natural medium for me to get my thinking out there, as opposed to impromptu speaking– as Mark Twain once said ‘it takes me three weeks to prepare for an impromptu speech’

My professional/personal development is important to me, as I expect it is for many people and for some of you it will be an important perk of the job, i.e. you’re fortunate that support to continue to progress and develop your career is part of your reward package. However what do you do if the training budget has been frozen, or like me you need to fund your own learning and development or you want to develop skills for something you aspire to do in the future and can’t get buy in from your HR department to approve this because they can’t see how it will support you in your current role and actually you don’t really want them to know about it anyway.

The good news is there are ways to gain skills that will serve you in progressing your career path in the direction of your choice and this can be done in a manner that fits into your life/work and is cost effective.

For example once I knew I wanted my next career to be about supporting individuals in their career learning and development (In a previous life I worked in Investment Banking) I undertook studies in Career Coaching and Career Management at Birbeck University. This was a significant investment but knowing the work I aspired to do, I knew to be able to support others I needed a good theoretical foundation that I could then personalise to my client needs. This has led me to where I am and I’m thoroughly enjoying my client work and learn so much through my clients.

And so to continue my own learning and development and move my career in the direction I want to, I’ve identified that I want to develop my research and development skills along with my writing skills and for the moment I’m not going to invest in any specific training to do this but instead I’m adapting a hands on approach of just getting stuck in and building a little of this into my day/week .

The purpose of this is to become a specialist in my area by staying up to date with what’s going on in my industry and discovering new ways of doing things and as a result be able to support my clients in a manner that draws on expertise, is fresh, interesting, creative, innovative and fun.

Other areas I want to develop are my technical ability, and my marketing skills – in the past I have to admit to being a little phobic about technology. So, to facilitate this development need, I built my first websites and I’m learning all about social media and I have to say I’m really enjoying it and of course it’s a double whammy because along the way I’m developing my business and my business skills – so a win/win really.

If I can do it so can you, just think about what you’re doing when you’re completely engaged and build more of this into your day and think about the skills you want to develop and you’ll find ways to take a hands on approach to make this happen.

And what if as an aspiring writer my thought process does dry up and I develop writer’s block as they say, well that’s when the romantic side of me kicks in and I think I’ll take myself off to a beautiful location, perhaps a French or Italian home that  has a vineyard for a backyard… My creative juices are sure to flow once more – or it might just seem that way a vintage or two later!

Evolving Careers Players can help you manage and develop your career. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

From the World of Publishing to Companion Animal Practioner, Making Personalised Dinnerware for Discerning Pets and Dog Walking

imagesI’m sharing Janet’s story by way of demonstrating that if you can conceive an idea you can achieve it. It will take planning, preparation, the necessary training and development, a good business plan and strategy, but as Janet discovered you just need to take the first step and the rest of your journey will unfold along the way.

Janet worked in the publishing industry, it was a natural fit because of her love of literature and she was happy there for many years. However as time went on Janet’s interests in other areas grew and developed. As well as being very creative Janet has always had a strong passion for animals and with her partner has two beautiful cocker spaniels and a cat called Taj.

It’s always good to make time for your interests and hobbies outside of work and for most people this is enough, while for others this can lead to building a business in line with their passions. This is what happened for Janet.

She first enrolled on a ceramics course making art ceramics and her obvious talent was recognised early which resulted in her work being displayed in galleries in the UK and Germany. Although a major achievement it didn’t bring in a lot of money. By way of‘ a filler’ as Janet figured out what to do with the art ceramics she began making dog bowls.

The reason she focussed on this specifically was because her own two dogs being cocker spaniels had long floppy ears which got in the way when they were eating and so she designed a bowl that helped to overcome this problem. The bowls proved to be so popular that Janet decided to let the arty stuff fall by the wayside and focus on building the bowls (for both dogs and cats) as a business. She developed a website to market her wares and this took off overnight and the orders came flooding in and her business was featured in Vogue magazine 2010. Because she was doing this alongside her day job, she had a waiting list and her clients were quite happy with this, after all they were getting a unique gift for their much loved pet.

Phase one of Janet’s new career and business was underway and although it wasn’t exactly planned it had in essence evolved from nurturing her creative ability. Then through her love of animals she came across TTouch, which is a therapy used in training, handling and rehabilitation of companion animals. She undertook the training needed to develop her skills and ability to set herself up in practice as a TTouch Therapist. Having gone through the process she has now established herself and has developed a new website to market her services. Along with word of mouth it’s amazing how quickly the word is spreading and her business is developing and she is working as a Companion Animal Practioner.

As phase two was developing Janet had the realisation that she was now in a position to move away from her publishing career and become self-employed, she needed to develop her business plan and strategy to ensure the timing was right and she had everything in place she needed to make a smooth transition. Obviously for anyone leaving a secure job where they know they have a salary at the end of each month, they need to take financial considerations into account and be comfortable with their projected income, because Janet established her business alongside her current work, she was in a good position to understand the potential demand and income from her products and services, and so it was from an informed standpoint she planned her transition.

Once she began to talk to people about her plans she actually secured another piece of work to add to her portfolio. As both her and her partner were working full time they engaged the services of a dog walker to exercise their dogs during the week. This is another successful business and once the woman who did the dog walking learnt that Janet was moving on from her permanent job, she asked if she’d like to join her business and do some dog walking when time permitted. This was a win/win situation for both women, Janet has regular paid work on top of her earning potential from her products and services, along with getting paid for her daily exercise! And the other woman can focus on developing her business in the knowledge her client’s dogs are in good hands.

The moral of this story is: even if you don’t know where your journey is taking you, take the first step. I like to use the analogy of driving in a fog: you need to travel from Cornwall to Scotland, but you can only see a few yards ahead as you begin your journey but somehow that’s enough as you know the fog will clear and you move towards your destination at a pace that’s safe and manageable. You may eventually come to a crossroads and when you do, the time you’ve taken thinking and reflecting during your journey will help you figure out which road to take.

Some people will say to me if you don’t know where you’re going how you will know when you get there, others will say not knowing where they’re going may take them along more interesting paths. Just remember we’re all different and there’s no right or wrong path to your destination.

•Published with client permission. Name has been changed.

Evolving Careers Players can help you establish your next career. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com