Byron's Babbles

Rewriting The Story To Create The Future!

Story Driven: You don't need to compete when you know who you areStory Driven: You don’t need to compete when you know who you are by Bernadette Jiwa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rewriting The Story To Create The Future!

This book is outstanding and warrants the writing of a review. I did a great deal of highlighting while reading this book and tweeting. Bernadette does an outstanding job of guiding us through how to differentiate ourselves, our brands, and our organizations by telling the right story. In order to do this she teaches us in the reading how to know who we are, what we stand for, where we are headed, and what has made us personally, our brand, and our organization. Most importantly, she teaches us why this story is important to be told. She posits we need to forget about competition and focus on what makes us and our work unique and valuable. It was great to be reminded that we, and those we serve, are identified by what we do. Our story needs to be one of significance and not just success. Anyone who wants to be grounded, intentional, and deliberate in the creation of the future he or she wants the world to realize needs to read this book.

~Dr. Byron L. Ernest

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The BEST Time to Look for a Job

This guest post originally appeared on Dr. Dawn on Careers

The BEST Time to Look for a Job

By Dr. Dawn Graham

Of course, the best time to be looking for a job is always.

I don’t mean a full-on job search, but rather keeping yourself “job-change ready” just in case you need (or want) to make a shift. This way, you’re not starting at zero when you begin to look.

You don’t need to put in a lot of effort to keep yourself “job-change ready.”  Here are a few tips:

Listen. Opportunities are all around you – in your current company, at your friends’ companies, and even in the company five floors down from yours. When you tune into what’s happening at the happy hour gathering, talk to people in the elevator, or chat up your colleagues over lunch, you learn a ton about changes that will impact jobs. Stay curious and ask questions – you’ll be surprised at what you discover.

Update. You likely have annual rituals – deep cleaning the freezer, doing your taxes, donating clothes to charity, etc. Make evaluating and updating your resume (and LinkedIn!) one of them. Review your achievements over the past year and use them to strengthen your brand. Consider what skills gaps you’d like to close in the coming year and seek out projects to gain that experience. People who are constantly on the move and involved get noticed when new opportunities arise.

Strategize. Those people you know who always seem to land on their feet aren’t lucky. They have a plan for when things change. If you haven’t spent time thinking about companies that you’re interested in, roles you’d enjoy or projects you’d like to work on, now is the time. While no one can predict the future, continuously generating ideas, taking actions towards them, and keeping informed will ensure that you always have options available. Then, unexpected twists become opportunities versus setbacks.

Job security only exists within you, not outside of you with an organization. Companies merge, policies shift, CEOs get replaced, departments downsize, and product growth bottoms out. Any of which can leave even the best performers on the unemployment line. This isn’t meant to instill a constant state of anxiety about work, but rather a reminder that employment in the US can be volatile, and your best defense is to always be job-change ready.

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Dr. Dawn Graham, PhD is one of the nation’s leading career coaches. She is the Career Director for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio’s popular weekly call-in show Career Talk and is a regular contributor to Forbes.

Her latest book, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers – and Seize Successis written specifically for people thinking about changing career paths. Packed with psychological insights, practical exercises, and inspiring success stories, Switchers helps these individuals leap over obstacles and into a whole new field.

Ready, Set, Switch – Shape Up Your Social Media

This guest post originally appeared on Forbes

Ready, Set, Switch – Shape Up Your Social Media

By Dr. Dawn Graham

If you’re a job seeker who isn’t on social media, you might as well not exist.

That’s a harsh statement, but in today’s technology-based world, there’s a basic expectation that you’re at least mildly engaged online, especially in the business world. Clients, employers, network contacts and even social acquaintances want to connect with you virtually.

So if you’ve been resisting social media, now is the time to get in the game, especially if you’re in a job search. You don’t need to go so far as to consult your teenager about the latest Apps, but there are a few foundational things that will help significantly.

First, the “why:”

Working your network. Contacts and referrals continue to be the best source for finding new employment opportunities, and it’s pretty difficult to network if you’re not on LinkedIn when over 500,000,000 other people are. While you may be well-connected in your local geography, networking crosses global boundaries now, and the internet enables you to easily access that world. Don’t limit your reach.

Information sharing. Over 90% of companies reported using social media in their recruiting and hiring in efforts. While LinkedIn was by far the top online site, Facebook and Twitter are gaining speed. Some recruiters use the tools to research candidates, while others use them as vehicles for posting openings and sharing updates. If you’re not following, you’re missing out. Additionally, the Society for Human Resource Management found that 35% of employers were less likely to interview candidates they could not find online.

Getting recruited. Passive hiring is on the rise according to 2018 hiring trends, and it’s hard to be “found” if you’re not active online. To be competitive, you need to go beyond the basic profile. Your online presence needs to be intentional, showcasing your brand and demonstrating qualities that are attractive to your target audience. The Undercover Recruiter recently reported that passive candidates are 120% more likely to want to make a positive impact on their new organization. With pressure to find stellar talent, recruiters are recognizing this and prefer to find YOU. They can’t do that if your profile doesn’t exist or reflects who you were five years ago.

Now the “how:”

Reconnaissance. Google yourself. Find out what comes up when you search for your name online. Is it a professional, updated LinkedIn profile at the top of the results list, or a DUI mug shot of someone who shares your name? Also, check your social media sites for questionable content and clean up photos or old posts that are not reflective of your professional brand. Even if your pages are “private,” chances are one of your contacts is connected to your new employer in some way. The world is getting smaller and that provocative photo at your friend’s wedding in Vegas may have been hilarious at the time, but not at all impressive to a potential employer. In fact, 55% of employers admitted to reconsidering a candidate after what they found online.

Rebranding. Dust off your LinkedIn and ensure it reflects your current skills, interests, and accomplishments. Is it time for a new photo? Have you been remiss in connecting with new people you’ve met in the last few months (don’t forget the power of 2nd level contacts!). Is your profile linked to an old company you used to work for or do you include dates that make it easy to calculate your age when you’d rather not publicize it? You don’t need to, nor should you, include everything about yourself online. However, a few well-placed accomplishments and a descriptive summary will take you far. Bonus: A study by Jobvite showed that 65% of employers who noticed volunteer or charity work on prospective candidates profiles viewed them more favorably.

Repurpose. Create a strategy to get active online to expand your brand professionally. Create a personal webpage, blog, or company page. If you’ve shied away from these strategies in the past, you might be surprised at how easy (and inexpensive) these things are today. If you’re not ready for that, follow influencers online whose work reflects your value and interests, and then repost their content with your network, sharing your insights. Also, check your daily notifications for anniversaries, birthdays or announcements about your network, which are easy ways to stay in touch. Create Google Alerts that do the heavy lifting for you by bringing relevant information directly to your inbox.

If you still long for a life before texting and Twitter, you’re definitely not alone. However, these are the rules of engagement in today’s job search, so find a balance that works for you and get in the game. A job search is tough enough – why not tip the odds in your favor?

Happy Hunting!

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Dr. Dawn Graham, PhD is one of the nation’s leading career coaches. She is the Career Director for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio’s popular weekly call-in show Career Talk and is a regular contributor to Forbes.

Her latest book, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers – and Seize Successis written specifically for people thinking about changing career paths. Packed with psychological insights, practical exercises, and inspiring success stories, Switchers helps these individuals leap over obstacles and into a whole new field.

A KISS of Stardom!

IMG_3094This week I had the opportunity to do something that I had never done before. I became Gene Simmons as a part of a team in a Battle Of The Bands Lip Sync Contest. This was part of our Carolina Schools Big Potential Leadership Conference put on by Noble Education Initiative, Inc. What an experience. Although each of the group’s members is iconic, perhaps the most memorable of them all is front man Gene Simmons, who is famous for his demonic character that breathes fire, spits blood, and engages in all sorts of outrageous behavior on stage. Here’s the deal: when we hit the stage, after an hour and a half of getting in costume and having makeup put on, I became Gene Simmons. I even spit blood. And, I didn’t lip sync. I sang every word of “Rock And Roll All Night.” Then, I spit blood (we got the fake blood capsules at a party supply place and I put the all in my mouth – what a mess) and did “God Of Thunder.” The crowd was going wild – literally. I’ve got to tell you, I did not want it to end. It was addictive.

So, what did I learn?

IMG_3093Shared Vision and Enthusiasm – Everyone, regardless of her or his age, knows KISS, the band. They are the band that would wear 6-inch heels, has blue/black hair, paints their faces, and one member, Gene Simmons, who would spit blood and blow fire. Amazingly, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t know that. Furthermore, when my colleagues and I started our rendition of “Rock and Roll All Night” it amazed me that everyone knew the words and sang along. It wasn’t just singing, though, it was singing with enthusiasm. We could tell, the song meant something to this group. Everyone was connecting in some way to it. As leaders, that is our job to make connections. Whether that means partnerships, or connecting everyone in the organization to a shared vision.

Engagement – I did a session yesterday morning on student engagement. While I was facilitating that session I was thinking about my rock band front man experience. My job both as a facilitator and front-man was to move, affect and engage an audience. This is also true in a classroom. We must move our students toward proficiency of skill, standards, and competencies, as well as affect change in their lives, while engaging them.

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 1.58.38 PMThe Band Is A Team – While I acted out the part of the demonic and crazed front man part of our our band, I realized it was the other three members of our band that made it all possible. Others in the band literally got my costume ready and did my makeup. They were supporting my antics on stage and supporting me acting crazy. The lesson here is that we can never be as good by ourselves as we can be as part of a team.

We All Need A Brand or To Be A Part of A Brand – The 2016 Gallup survey information tells us that we all want to be part of a successful brand or part of an organization that is doing good in the world. KISS holds all the records for record sales for any rock band ever – including Elvis and the Beatles. Their empire is worth over 1 billion dollars and there are over 3000 branded KISS products on the market today. KISS is a rock BRAND not a rock Band. What is your brand?

Have A No Limits Attitude and Approach To Life – There truly are no limits to what you can achieve. Success is a mind set. We all need to have a growth mindset. Either you think you can achieve it, or you don’t. Never let someone else tell you what you can and cannot achieve. Control those thoughts yourself.

IMG_3108Upon reflection, I got chills thinking about a few things:

  • Without KISS, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
  • What would the world and I be like if there were no KISS?
  • What band would have been my mentor to have a no-holds-barred attitude toward going after all my dreams?
  • Who would have taught me it doesn’t matter what the critics are saying because you cannot please everyone; I learned, from KISS, to go after what I believe will create change in the world?
  • Without Gene Simmons I don’t have the example of a humanitarian. Simmons received the MEND Humanitarian award, for his support of Mending Kids International, which provides surgical care to children in developing countries. During his acceptance speech he said, “I don’t have the right NOT to give back and neither do you. Some mother somewhere is crying her heart out because her child can’t have what we have in this country and we can change that.” Did you catch that? “I don’t have the right NOT to give back…” I heard you loud and clear, Gene!

IMG_3109 2IMG_3110As you can see, Gene Simmons and KISS has had quite an affect on me since the band began when I was 10 years old. I am so glad they have been a part of my life. I am also glad I had the opportunity this week to experience a very, very, very, very small part of what it feels like to be Gene Simmons on stage.

King For A Day!

IMG_2544Those that know me well, know that something I love to do during meetings or interacting with others is to declare a participant(s) “King For A Day.” I love to do this because by saying, “If you were king for a day, what would you do?” I have fully empowered that person to tell me what she or he is thinking. Furthermore, I am going to get to hear one person’s creative ideas given in a way that also involves implementation. Some people kid me and say I am wanting to change our democracy to a monarchy; not at all. What I am really doing is giving a voice to those who have knowledge and skills in the area being discussed. Many times I will make multiple people “King For A Day.” Let me tell you, it is fun to do ad provides a very safe place to lay out plans and ideas.

Sometimes, when I have have ideas I will say, “If I could be king for a day…” People laugh, and it has become a trademark of mine during meetings, but it is a great chance and way to throw out an idea(s) for critical review. I truly want the criticism and critical review. I honestly want to understand why my idea might or might not work, or better yet, what might make it a great idea. I have some that even kid me and call me the “Emperor,” when I walk in the room,

Really, by making individuals “King For A Day” I am creating a very democratic environment. My reformist idol, Martin Luther, would be proud of me because I am actually giving others and all a voice. And…I am letting whoever is designated as “king” to fully develop and lay out an idea/plan. More importantly, this gives individuals the opportunity to oppose ideas that have been proposed. We need to give those in our gathered communities the opportunity to emphasize contrary and less popular opinions.

img_1749-4In Lesson #24, entitled “Assign Someone To Play The Fool” of the book, 52 Leadership Gems: Practical and Quick Insights For Leading Others by John Parker Stewart, I learned that it is also valuable to assign someone the role of being “the fool.” In the European middle ages the only person that could criticize the king was the “Court Jester,” or also called “The Fool.” In the King’s court, the Jester/Fool played the important role of providing the king with valuable insight. Opposing ideas are essential for innovation and wise decisions. We need to make sure we are creating environments where voices are openly heard from all sides. In other words allowing some “foolish” behavior.

I am going to start allowing someone to be the “Fool,” or maybe I better position it as “Court Jester,” for a day as well as assigning “Kings For A Day.” How about you? Do you rely on others for input? Do you express your views? Are you willing to let someone. be “King” or “Jester/Fool” for a day?

Learning By Playing Like Kittens

Those of you who know me well, know that I really value my time in the barn in the morning. For some reason I can be working along giving bottles to babies, milking cows, or washing heifers, and at the same time, be thinking and reflecting on a lot of things. This morning I became entranced while watching a new litter of kittens romping and playing. They would go from one end of the barn to the other and then became totally into playing on a feed pallet we had leaned up against a grooming chute. They would climb, jump, and knock each other off. Such fun!

I began to think about all the things learned while playing. I also thought about how important it is for us to make learning fun for both our student and adult learners. Here is what kittens learn from playing, according to iheartcats:

6 Life Skills Kittens Learn By Playing With Each Other

• #1 – How to hunt. Kitten play is full of stalking, chasing, and tackling to the ground. …

• #2 – Good social skills. In order to grow into social, emotionally-healthy cats, kittens need to be socialized. …

• #3 – Coordination. …

• #4 – Communication. …

• #5 – Confidence. …

• #6 – Boundaries.

Most of these are skills we need all need to have. I have to tell you I witnessed a large group engaged in fun learning this past Friday. I had the opportunity to keynote an event. Click here to read about it. During my keynote, that was about the critical need for relevant learning, I had the over 200 participants put together toy glider planes I had put on the tables ahead of time. Everyone at each table became a team and the participants developed team names and then wrote the team name on the wing of their plane. Four containers had then been placed at the corners of the room and boundaries marked off. The participants were given time to put the planes together, practice, and then given one try at gliding the plane into the container.

I have to tell you, every person was up and engaged. There were questions being asked, teams practicing, laughing, strategizing, and adults and students having fun. It was amazing! Check out this video tweet – it shows it all. Click here to watch. All the while, they were learning the importance of learning in a relevant and engaging way. And…let’s see here…they were learning social skills – team work, coordination, communication – giving advice and feedback to one another, confidence – rooting each other on, and boundaries.

So, just as we know play is the cornerstone of the kitten’s learning process in the first few weeks and months of its life; I believe it is also the cornerstone of learning for our students and lifelong learning adults. It is by playing together that we humans and kittens will develop both physical and mental abilities. But play is more than that: it is also good, rollicking fun, which in turn increases both the kitten’s and our social skills, technical skills, and sociability.

The Critical Need for Relevant Learning

IMG_3066This past Friday I had the opportunity to attend and keynote a tremendous event put on by the Horizon Education Alliance. The event was called “Pathway Showcase” and was held in the Crystal Ballroom at the Lerner Theatre, which by the way is an awesome facility in Elkhart, Indiana.  More than 200 local educators, business and state government leaders were there to see project based learning (PBL) projects that were created in partnerships between students, teachers, and business leaders. These projects were created in order to teach our students in a relevant context – a subject near and dear to my heart. There were more than 40 of these projects that took place this past year. I continue to be so impressed with the work of Horizon Education Alliance to bring the Elkhart County community together to collaborate for the betterment of education for our students.

During my keynote I talked about how we need to connect school work to real life. I told attendees that education exists in the larger context of society. Students need to know why they are learning what we are teaching and how the learning fits into his/her real world context. When society changes, so too must education, if it is to remain viable. We need to be teaching our students to use adaptation to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate to apply the learning to real world predictable and unpredictable situations. If we can achieve this level of relevant learning our students will be motivated and have the ability to creatively innovate and problem solve.

I was so inspired to spend time talking with the students, teachers, and industry leaders about their projects. What I found were students working in teams to experience and explore relevant, real-world problems, questions, issues, and challenges; then creating presentations and products to share what they have learned. What I found were engaged students who were great communicators and very passionate about the projects created for their learning.

IMG_3039All the projects were awesome, but a couple really spoke to me. Chamberlain Elementary School students walked me through how they had learned to create by developing a first draft, multiple revisions, practicing and receiving feedback, and then finishing the final draft. These Chamberlain Explorers were learning to iterate. The students would not let me leave without sharing the Chamberlain Habits of Scholarship. See photo below for the habits:

IMG_3038I also had the opportunity to meet students from Elkhart Memorial High School who had been doing real world/real time research on soybean phytopathology with scientists from Agdia, Inc. As a former Agriculture Science teacher I could not have been prouder of these students. We cannot make it much more relevant for our students than having them do actual research on real problems with actual scientists. This adult interaction is also a very important part of facilitating relevant learning.

IMG_3033At the end of the event I really got emotional and realized that the world is going to be o.k. as long as we continue to teach our students relevant skills in engaging ways. Here are my final thoughts on how to make learning relevant and meaningful for our students:

To learn collaboration  work in teams

To learn critical thinking – take on complex problems

To learn oral communication – present

To learn written communications – write

Thank you to all the schools in Elkhart County and to Horizon Education Alliance for inspiring me and what you are doing for students!