TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Protecting Your Reputation Online

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Examine your past, present and future

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As an entrepreneur who has spent a lot of time building a positive and powerful online reputation for myself, I need to make sure I’m working alongside others who have done the same. Thanks to social media and Google, it’s quite easy to find personal and business history on nearly anyone — especially if they aren’t careful with their social media activity. I’m not the only one interested in this type of information. Now every individual and potential hire is under a magnifying glass before their employer makes any final decision.

Mark Cuban recently did an interview with Inc. on the massive transformation of digital media and how personal data is being shared at an alarming rate. The majority of this personal data is collected through social networks and shared with various applications, sites, partners and more — usually without the end user’s knowledge.

Todd William of ReputationRhino.com agrees that data is potentially putting social media users at risk: “The pressure to share on social media is intense. But oversharing has a number of unforeseen consequences, like the boss discovering you at opening day instead of taking a sick day, your kids asking about those funny-looking cigarettes or a burglar finding out you are away from home on vacation.”

It’s not just about the sharing of your data, it’s also about what data is being shared, how it’s being used and how your past updates, shares, retweets and likes could possibly come back to haunt you.

Cuban mentioned that networks are now building personal profiles for every individual out there based off the data that is already available on the web. This information is priceless to marketing companies and companies who are hiring. It is completely changing the landscape of technology and the way we live our lives in the coming months.

Re-Examining Your Digital Footprint

Your digital footprint is already out there, but it’s not too late to make it smaller and remove any connections or content out there that could potentially harm you down the road.

With the recent news that Google will start indexing Twitter updates within their search results, it’s now more important than ever for individuals to take control over what content they have online and not let their past social media digital footprint potentially harm them in the future.

The first step is going through your main social profiles on networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and doing a manual audit of your updates, pictures and friend relationships. A manual audit will give you an idea of the type of content you’ve put out there in the past. By cleaning it up now, you can remove it from harming you in the future. In almost all cases, there is no need to leave potentially harmful content within your social profile history. All it takes it a simple click of the delete button to remove it from your profile stream.

Another option is to make sure you have a good reputation management plan or first impression in place. When someone searches for you or your brand online, you want to make sure they are finding quality content that puts you in a good light. For example, there are hundreds of other people who share my name in the world, but I’ve done my work to make sure I rank on the first page every time you search “Zac Johnson.” I created my own site, blog, managed social profiles and highlighted my expertise on other high authority sites across the Internet.

No matter how big or small your social network and online digital footprint might be, there is no better time to start cleaning it up than today. Removing just three pieces of potentially harmful content per day equates to over 100 removals over the course of a month. Take some time to invest in your future and your online reputation.

Zac Johnson has 20 years of experience in the online marketing and business space. You can learn more about Zac athttp://zacjohnson.com and through his latest online learning course and community at http://blogging.org.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Behaviors to Avoid for Happiness and Success

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Learn to get out of your own way for greatness

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What’s the secret to happiness and achievement? Sometimes it’s not so much what you do as what you stop doing. That’s the lesson behind some of the talks in TED’s playlist Counterintuitive Career Advice. The whole playlist includes 12 great talks, but the ones I love the most tell you what not to do–and show how most people hold themselves back from greatness.

Spend a little time watching these great speakers and you’ll learn some priceless lessons about getting out of your own way:

1. Stop making excuses.

Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career,” by economics professor Larry Smith, may well be my favorite TED talk of all time. He tells the audience what he tells his students–that instead of reaching for greatness, they will find excuses for failing to pursue their dreams. From “I’m not a genius” to “I value my relationships too much,” he demolishes every one of these excuses and then some. And he will leave you feeling extraordinarily inspired.

2. Stop being so agreeable.

Going along to get along is a powerful, deep-seated human instinct, explains Margaret Heffernan, author of Willful Blindness, in the thought-provoking talk “Dare to Disagree.” But resisting is well worth it, because agreeableness can literally be lethal. Heffernan uses real-world examples to illustrate the danger of staying silent when you believe something’s wrong, and the good things that can happen when we accept conflict and disagreement as the valuable tools they are.

3. Stop expecting to succeed all the time.

Success is only momentary, argues art historian Sarah Lewis (pictured) in “Embrace the Near Win.” And even the most talented and skilled among us only achieve success some of the time. She learned this from looking at an artist’s early–and not-quite-satisfactory–paintings, and by watching an archery team work hard for three hours and only sometimes hit the bull’s-eye.

“Success motivates us, but a near-win can propel us in an ongoing quest,” she explains. So celebrate your near-wins and your almost-achievements. They’re an important part of the journey to where you want to be.

4. Stop giving up too soon.

What’s the best predictor of success? It isn’t talent, skill, or intelligence. It’s grit–that enduring ability to get up and try again after you’ve failed, and to continue believing that you can always do better next time. That observation comes from psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth in her talk “The Key to Success? Grit.”

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals,” she says.”Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.” How do you build grit? The best answer so far is something called a “growth mindset”–the recognition that our ability to learn and grow isn’t set but can improve with our effort. Next time you fail, keep that in mind and know that, if you keep working at it, you’re certain to do better next time.

5. Stop looking for quick answers.

“It is striking to see how big of an overlap there is between the dreams that we have and projects that never happen,” declares Brazilian entrepreneur and educator Bel Pesce in “5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams.” We kill our dreams, she explains, when we expect to succeed overnight, when we look to others for answers or blame them for our failures, and when we slack off after achieving what seems like enough success.

But there’s one other way to kill our dreams, she says–focusing only on the dream and not on the process it takes to get there. “Yes, you should enjoy the goals themselves,” she explains. “But people think that you have dreams and whenever you get to reaching one of those dreams, it’s a magical place where happiness will be all around.”

It doesn’t work that way, she says. Achieving a dream is only a momentary sensation, much like when mountaineers work hard to reach a mountain peak, only to start back down a few minutes later. “The only way to really achieve all of your dreams is to fully enjoy every step of the journey,” she says.

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article above was originally published at Inc.com

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The 1 Thing to Avoid If You Want to Be Successful in Life

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Don't let the looks of skepticism get to you

It is the mid 1980s, and I am 27 years old. For the last six years, I’ve been selling my handmade soft sculptures on the street, at state fairs, and eventually, in a retail store. I’ve been learning how to create products people want. But it’s still been a tough way to make a living. And I’m beginning to feel like I may have hit rock bottom.

My friends and family have begun to side-eye me. In their eyes, it’s time for me to grow up — time to get with the program, time to get a “real” job. They are very kind, but I can tell they think I’m a loser. They have good jobs and they’re getting married and buying houses. I’m chasing my dream. At the moment, I also happen to be sleeping on a friend’s couch and my car has just broken down.

They couldn’t envision how my future was going to turn out, but I had faith. I knew my path was never going to be as straight as theirs. I believed deep down that what I was learning would be important later on. I felt sure of one thing: If I could create a living working with my hands, I’d be the richest man in the world. In my eyes, I was simply experiencing a bump in the road — a small detour.

We all hit rock bottom, don’t we? Thankfully, I met someone who believed in me. Susan thought I was talented. She saw something in me that others could not. She let me live with her so that I could start over, and for that I will never be able to thank her enough.

Susan’s apartment in Fremont was brimming with stuffed animals. She had teddy bears of all different sizes as well as farm animals like cows and sheep. She loved the soft sculptures I had created and collected those as well.

One day, Susan asked if I could design a bear. I told her no, I wasn’t a patternmaker — all soft sculpture was done by hand. “Try,” she implored.

So I did. I started studying the dimensions of one of her teddy bears. I needed to teach myself how pattern pieces could be sewn together to create 3-D objects. I took its measurements. Then I reached for paper, started cutting shapes out of it, and began taping them together. It struck me that I could just as easily sculpt in paper.

Inspired, I quickly moved on to color construction paper and built a fish modeled after the character Cleo, the goldfish in Pinocchio. To my delight, it looked absolutely amazing! I stuffed it with paper tissue to give it more dimension. Later that day, Susan took apart the fish and laid out the pieces of paper I had used to create it on shimmering fabric. Together, we created the first plush animal I had ever designed. I was hooked.

My world changed that day. Companies had been selling plush animals forever, and all of a sudden, I had a marketable skill.

For the next month, I created paper sculptures of everything from ducks to dogs to bears — you name it. Working with paper was extremely satisfying, because it was so forgiving. If I made a mistake, well, I could simply keep trimming and then tape the pieces together again to get closer to the right shape. I could shape, cut, tape, reshape, cut again and tape over and over again. I was working with my hands, and I loved being able to transform an idea into a product so quickly. It was magical.

One day, Susan suggested that I contact Dakin, one of the largest and oldest producers of plush animals. Conveniently, the company was located just across the San Francisco Bay.

To my surprise, when I picked up the phone and asked if they needed any freelance work done, they invited me to come in right away. I can remember taking the elevator to the top floor, somewhat in awe. I brought a few photographs of my work along. They’re weren’t much, but they must have been good enough, because they handed me a swath of fabric and told me I had two weeks to design a life-size realistic-looking golden retriever.

When a door opens, stick your foot inside. For me, “fake it ‘til you make it” has always been a bit of a motto. Had I ever designed anything like a life-size realistic-looking golden retriever before? No. But I took a chance.

First, I started studying the structure of a golden retriever. Then I went to the library to make life-size Xerox copies. Next it was time to starting cutting paper and taping it together. If I could make the dog look good in paper, I knew it would look good in fabric. And there it was: A beautiful life-size plush version of America’s favorite dog.

Dakin couldn’t believe how good it looked either. When I held the $1,500 check they handed me, I grinned.

Having the courage to make a change is a fundamental part of being an entrepreneur. What my friends and family didn’t understand is that I had realized my handmade soft sculptures could never be mass-produced. I didn’t want to keep selling my ideas on street corners — I wanted to grow my audience. So I needed to learn about manufacturing techniques. I needed to reevaluate where I had been in order to move on.

Dakin mass-produced my Golden Retriever, which the company named Sandy. The following February, I flew to New York for Toy Fair. After the show, I stopped by FAO Schwarz, the oldest toy store in the U.S. It was cold and rainy. Inside, there was Sandy.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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How to Leave a Job on Great Terms

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Offer to train your replacement

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You’ve nailed the interview, negotiated your salary, and just signed on the dotted line to accept your new job. Now, there’s just one tiny thing standing in the way of you and your sweet new gig: your old one.

When you’re job hunting, you tend to think a lot about what it takes to land a new position, but there’s a great deal to consider about the one you’re leaving, too. Even if you’d love to give your boss a piece of your mind or secretly hope that your co-workers end up on a deserted island after their next holiday cruise, it’s important to leave your job on a positive, professional note. Here’s how to do it:

Give Ample Notice

Once you know you’re leaving, set a meeting with your boss to put in your official notice. (And yes, tell your boss before you tell anyone else!) Although two weeks is standard (unless your contract says otherwise), it’s a good gesture to give more time if you know exactly the date you’ll be leaving further in advance. Most of the time, your boss will be appreciative that you’re leaving plenty of time to wrap up your projects.

Caveat: If you’ve seen your company escort employees right out the door once they give their resignation, don’t give any more notice than two weeks. In this case, it’s best to prepare yourself well in advance by tying up loose ends (i.e., downloading important files) before making your announcement.

Play it Cool

Unless you’ve just hit the Powerball, there’s a good chance that you’re going to have a long work life ahead of you. Which means that, at some point, your path will cross again with many of the people you work with.

So, no matter how happy you are about your new job, you can’t show it. First of all, no one likes a bragger (especially if they’re trying to get out of there, too). Secondly, there’s a good chance you’ll need to use your current company as a reference in the future. Do you really want your boss to remember you doing the Moonwalk down the hallway out of sheer giddiness on your last week? Probably not.

Connect with your Co-Workers

That said, once you’ve told your boss, you should announce your departure to all of the co-workers you work with—both to let them prepare for the transition, as well as to stay in touch with them after you leave. It’s appropriate to send a mass farewell email—one specific to clients and one for co-workers—letting them know where you’ll be moving on to and your relevant contact information. You don’t need to give everyone your home address or your birthday, but a personal email address orLinkedIn profile where you can be reached is a great way to show that even though you’re leaving, you’re not severing ties.

Wrap Things Up

No matter what projects you happen to be working on, make sure you complete them. Even if finishing whatever is currently on your plate requires more hours than you would like to spend on your current job, it’s your responsibility to not leave any loose ends (or, if it really can’t be wrapped up in two weeks, to leave detailed instructions). Not only for the sake of the person who will be replacing you, but because it’s important to your professional reputation to leave a job on a high and positive note. Nothing shows gratitude and accountability like a job that’s done well—and finished.

Offer to Train Your Replacement

There’s nothing a boss hates more than going through the hiring process—except having to train that new employee. And honestly, she probably doesn’t know your position as well as you do. So, if you can help with this part of your exit, then you’re winning points all around. Offer to help your boss screen resumes, sit in on interviews, work with the new employee, or create a training manual for your job. It will go a long way to leaving her with good impression once you’re gone.

Request an Exit Interview

Even if your company’s policy doesn’t include an exit interview, ask your boss for one anyway. Then, use that time to show your gratitude for the opportunities you’ve received, share what you’ve learned, and offer feedback for the next person who will fill your role. It will show that you not only took your job seriously, but that you’re grateful for the experience.

Pat Yourself on the Back

Once you’re sitting pretty in your new job and still on speaking terms with all parties involved, then you can take a breather and congratulate yourself. You did it! Just be sure to send your old job a thank-you note if they were kind enough to send you off with a going away bash and cupcakes. Showing gratitude, manners, and professionalism will make sure they’ll remember you fondly (whether or not you can say the same for them).

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article above was originally published on The Muse

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5 Excuses That Shouldn’t Stop You From Success

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"I don’t have any experience"

I’ve heard every excuse in the book from my students about why they’re unable to turn their ideas into reality. But the only way to succeed at becoming an entrepreneur is to have the courage to take that first, small step.

Unfortunately, most of us tend to focus on everything we think we can’t do, rather than what we can do. As a result, we never even get started. It doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve listed (and rebutted) some of the most common excuses I hear below — do any of them sound familiar?

1. I don’t have any experience.

The truth is that you need less experience than you think. I bet most successful entrepreneurs would tell you they learned by doing. In fact, I think lacking experience can actually be helpful, because your fresh eyes allow you to see things differently. When I started a guitar pick company, I had never worked in the music industry before. I asked a lot of questions, used the internet to do research, found mentors in the business and recruited a partner who did have experience. But I was able to see opportunity when others couldn’t, because they were too close to the industry. They were artificially constrained by what they thought was a given — I wasn’t.

2. I don’t have any time.

Starting a company is a big commitment, I agree. It takes an incredible amount of time. But there are other ways you can bring your product ideas to life that require very little time, such as licensing an idea. I always tell my students: Don’t quit your day job, because you don’t have to. (Of course, to do so would be unnecessarily risky.) You can successfully license an idea by dedicating your lunch break and some time before and after work and on the weekends. Your licensee is going to do the heavy lifting. You just need to figure out how to get your idea to them.

3. I don’t have enough money.

Today, there are a lot of options for starting a business. If you work smart, there is always a way to do something efficiently for less. I have been cutting costs for years, from hiring college students to do graphic design work to filing for a provisional patent application myself, using excellent (and affordable) software. You can bootstrap your operation — and still be very successful. With crowdfunding, it’s never been easier.

4. Protecting my idea is expensive.

Yes, filing patents is very expensive. But that’s not your only option and it shouldn’t be a major deterrent. I cannot give legal advice, but filing a PPA is a great way to start out. (If you make less than $150,000, you can file a PPA for $65.) Filing a PPA allows you to label your idea “patent pending” for up to a year. A year is more than enough time to test the waters. Maybe you can find someone who is willing to pay for your patents.

5. Prototypes are expensive and hard to make.

Before you start thinking about needing to create a prototype, you need to determine that there’s interest in your idea by crafting a sell sheet. A sell sheet is a one-page advertisement that can be used to gauge interest in your idea. It’s very basic — just your one-line benefit statement, a rendering of your idea drawn by a graphic artist and your contact information. ELance is a great affordable resource —I’ve hired graphic designers to draw one of my product ideas for less than $100. (Always have them sign a nondisclosure agreement.) I show my sell sheet to potential investors and licensees. If they’re interested, I go about proving my idea can be made.

There’s really no good reason not to get started if you have genuine enthusiasm. Don’t let your fear of failure hold you back. If you want it bad enough, it is possible.

So what’s your excuse?

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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8 Things Mentally Strong People Do Every Day

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They live according to their own values

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Just like people aren’t born with physical strength, no one is blessed with incredible mental strength at birth. Instead, mental strength is developed over time by individuals who choose to make personal development a priority.

In addition to avoiding the things that could hold them back, mentally strong people create healthy habits that assist them in growing stronger. Here are eight things mentally strong people do every day to strengthen their mental muscles:

1. They Use their Mental Energy Wisely

It’s easy to get distracted throughout the day by a variety of unimportant and unproductive tasks. Mentally strong people choose to use their time and energy carefully. They devote their efforts to the things that matter most so they can accomplish their goals.

2. They Reframe Their Negative Thoughts

Everyone has negative thoughts sometimes, but mentally strong people don’t let those thoughts hold them back or drag them down. Instead, they respond to their pessimistic predictions and harsh criticisms with a more productive inner dialogue. They stay motivated to do their best by talking to themselves like a trusted friend or a helpful coach.

3. They Work Toward Established Goals

Mentally strong people establish clear personal and professional goals that give them meaning and purpose. They forgo immediate gratification by keeping their long-term goals in mind. They view obstacles as challenges, rather than roadblocks to their success.

4. They Reflect on Their Progress

Mentally strong people reflect on their progress toward their goals every day. They set aside time to examine what they’re doing well, and they humbly acknowledge areas that need improvement. They hold themselves accountable for mistakes and they constantly strive to grow better.

5. They Tolerate Discomfort for a Greater Purpose

While some people go to great lengths to avoid any type of distress, others endure pain simply to prove they’re tough. Mentally strong people, however, tolerate discomfort when it serves a greater purpose. Whether they’re exercising when they feel tired, or they’re delivering a speech when they feel terrified, they use their pain to become better.

6. They Practice Gratitude

You can’t be at your best if you’re insisting you deserve better. Mentally strong people acknowledge they already have everything they need. They recognize their good fortune and express gratitude for all things big and small.

7. They Balance Emotions with Logic

Mentally strong people know their feelings play a major role in their perceptions and their behavior. They pay close attention to the ways their emotions could influence their judgement. They carefully balance their emotions with logic so they can make the best possible decisions.

8. They Live According to their Values

Although it may be tempting to measure your self-worth by comparing yourself to your competition, mentally strong people don’t fall prey to such distractions. They focus on living according to their values and doing their best, despite their circumstances. At the end of the day they don’t ask themselves, “Did I beat everyone else?” Instead, they ask, “Did I stay true to my values?”

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article above was originally published at Inc.com

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The 2 Biggest Reasons Why People Quit Their Jobs

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Go back and read your interview notes

In the first entry of Diary of the Happiest Employee on Earth, we read about a welcome party to honor a newly hired employee on their first day. In contrast to organizations that celebrate when people are leaving, this company celebrates the arrival.

It’s always been a mystery to me why we have celebratory lunches when people leave a company — especially those who choose to take their talents and go elsewhere. Like to a competitor! I have to buy you lunch and we’re never going to see or hear from you again? Why don’t we celebrate people on their first day? Balloons! Banners! Bagels!

There seem to be many instances in which, if companies would do the opposite of what they do now, it would make for a happier employee and a happier workplace. Take the problem employee, for example, which I wrote about in a previous post. Who really was the problem? The employee or the employer? Managers are so busy trying to document the problems rather than doing something simple to understand the situation — especially when it is a new employee.

That simple thing: Go back and read your interview notes.

You took notes. I know you did. Whether they are on paper, a napkin, your phone, or on some monthly report you produce (the one that makes you feel important but no one else reads) — you took notes! There were things about this person that excited you. There were things about this person that got you thinking about all kinds of new opportunities/projects/initiatives.

What happened?

When I talk to frustrated/former employees, especially newer hires, here are two reasons I hear over and over for why people moved on:

  1. I’m not doing the work I was hired to do
  2. I’m not doing any of the cool new things that were discussed during the interview process

Directions change. New leadership shows up. A hiring manager is buried in their own work and the arrival of the new employee becomes the opportunity to finally fight fires. We get it. We all get it. There’s only one problem –

Fires don’t get extinguished. More fuel gets added and the new employee begins their journey down the path to hell.

So, what’s a manager to do? For starters, keep those notes handy. And look at them regularly. Like maybe before that regular status meeting you hold every Monday morning to talk about the same things? Ask yourself, Is Johnny doing what I hired him to do? Is Suzie doing the cool stuff we talked about during the interview process?

To keep employees happy, productive, and not taking their talents to a competitor, there can only be one right answer to these questions: YES.

A friend of mine was hired as a trainer for an educational software company. Now, the last time I looked up the word “training,” the dictionary talked about teaching someone a particular skill or type of behavior. Sharon spends almost 75 percent of her time trying to sell software packages to school districts.

Sharon is not a salesperson. She’s an educator. She’s miserable. Her boss is also not happy with her performance. Of course she’s not: she hired, a trainer not a salesperson. Sharon doesn’t even answer calls from her boss any longer. She lets them go to voicemail. She’s also looking for a new job.

A few weeks ago, I noticed an employee at one of my clients made a move to a new company. He had been with the client for a very long time, took a new position, but stayed a very short time.

I asked, Why?

Simple, he said. I wasn’t doing anything I was hired to do, my budget was taken away, and I was fighting other people’s fires.

Mike went to his VP on numerous occasions. He was upfront about his unhappiness. He brought up what was talked about during the interview/hiring process. Fortunately, Mike is smart and has an in-demand set of skills. He found a new position quickly.

Problem employees. Unhappy employees. Retention issues. The answer is often right there in those interview notes. They need to be kept — like, forever. They need to be referred to — like, often. Especially in those times when an employee’s performance is being questioned.

Pretty simple idea, you would think. And yet, when I offer this suggestion, you would think I just handed that person the largest-ever winning Powerball ticket. (Okay, a little extreme, but you get my point.)

Oh and one more thing: if you’re gonna tell people, This is a fun place to work … then live up to your word!

This article originally appeared on Recruiter.com

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8 Sources of Professional Advice and Inspiration

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"Before going to others, look inward"

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Question: Who do you turn to first for advice and why?

Myself

“Before going to others, look inward. You know your situation better than anyone, and you are capable of amazing creativity. I find it useful to pretend that I’m looking at someone else’s issue instead of my own. If someone else were coming to you with this problem, what advice would you give them? Take a step back and objectively evaluate what is happening. ” — Laura Roeder, MeetEdgar.com

My Social Following

“I will post almost all of my personal or professional questions on Twitter and Facebook because I have some pretty awesome connections. You can expand your social circle online far faster than you ever could in person. Throw out a question and just watch all the great advice roll in. Also, you don’t have to endure endless conversations online. Who has time for that?” — Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

My Peer Advisor

“I have a daily call with Bhavin Parikh, CEO of Magoosh.com. Even on weekends we talk. While we run completely different businesses (watches for me, test prep for him) we’re going through many of the same struggles of growing a business. He knows everything about Modify, so that when I call and bring up some small issue, he has all of the necessary context and can simply give advice.” — Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

My Father

“My father is without a doubt the first person I turn to for personal and business advice. He has seen just about everything and has met just about every different type of person in his life as a lawyer. He is a very grounded, well-rounded person who has been a successful business person and (more importantly), human being. ” — Jason Grill, JGrill Media | Sock 101

Key Stakeholders

“I go to my key stakeholders, along with my team of external advisers. As the ancient proverb states, “A wise man has many counselors.” You want a diversity of knowledge, experience and education to help create the highest likelihood of success. ” — Parker Powers, ParkerPowers.com

An Executive Coach

One of my most trusted advisors is an executive coach. She has been part of my team since my business was only a few months old. Executive coaches are great because they know more about your business’ inner-workings than an outside mentor, but they are more removed than a board member or colleague. If you find the right one, he/she can be an invaluable impartial resource for key decisions.” — Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

My Wife

“My wife has no business background. She is a teacher. However, she possesses a deep understanding of me unlike anyone else in the world. Bouncing ideas off of her proves to be an effective exercise since she offers a fresh perspective on the issue at hand. ” — Logan Lenz, Endagon

Google

“I turn to Google because I hate asking questions without understanding the topic. Once I have a basic understanding, I am able to ask better questions, which leads to better results. ” — Matthew Moisan, Moisan Legal, P.C.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

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7 Traits That Will Help You Overcome Adversity

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Always ask why

I believe that what we put out into the world comes back to us. When we project positivity and openness, we are that much more likely to receive it in kind. Terrible things happen to good people, of course. I know that. It’s a simple fact that the events of our lives are often far beyond our control.

But what we do have control over is our attitudes. All day long, I am inundated with requests for help from budding entrepreneurs. Some bemoan their circumstances and lament their lack of capital or experience. Others tell me how excited they are about their ideas and that they can’t wait to get started.

Needless to say, I’m much more likely to offer a helping hand to the latter set.

After decades of meeting budding entrepreneurs and enjoying the pleasure of watching some of them succeed, I know for sure that having the right attitude can help you overcome your shortcomings. Can it overcome everything? No. But if you’re strapped for cash and don’t have any formal training, it can certainly help you get your foot in the door.

If you want to project a winning attitude, embrace the following qualities.

1. Enthusiasm

You’ve heard it before, and I’m going to say it again: Enthusiasm really is contagious. If you don’t believe in your idea, no one will. Having — and even more importantly, maintaining — your enthusiasm for your ideas is a must. I know I’m always willing to listen to someone who is excited, upbeat and eager to share his story. I can’t help it. My inclination is to want to be enthusiastic about it as well.

2. Curiosity

You’re always asking why. You have a thirst for knowledge. You are unafraid of experimenting with new technology. You ask yourself regularly, “What can I do better?” You read. When someone acts as if he already knows it all, I think, what do I really have to offer this person?

3. Urgency

If you don’t have a sense of urgency, you will never get anything done. If you try hard enough, you will always be able to think of a reason why you can’t. Instead, think less and do more. In my business, I am constantly asking my employees and myself: What do we have to do to ship? You will miss the market for your idea if you do not act.

4. Momentum

Do what you have to do to keep things moving. In other words, don’t wait to respond to an email until the next morning. Don’t wait to call someone back. Keep it going! Momentum is as important for your state of mind as it is your business. If you’re not pushing, your business will suffer, and you will become discouraged as a result.

5. Focus

What are you trying to achieve? How are you going to do it? Create a roadmap and stick to it.

6. Empathy

Don’t lose sight of what’s really important. Before you become angry, try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Yes, you have your ambition — but you’re still human. It’s hard to relate to someone who doesn’t think of anyone else.

7. Composure

Things will go wrong. Developing the ability to weather storms calmly and without overreacting will serve you throughout your life. If you lose your cool, others will respect you less. And in addition to the original problem, you will have created other issues to resolve!

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Words That Will Make You Sound Smarter at Work

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Use these words carefully to avoid sounding didactic

Subtitle: Without sounding like a prick. There is a special art to choosing the perfect word for a situation, particularly in the workplace. You want your vocabulary to be impressive but not so impressive it garners scoffs, professional but not stiff. It has to sound natural in context, like you’ve used it before. You want people to understand what it means, but maybe Google it “just to make sure.” Most importantly, it has to make sense, connotation very much included. If you’re looking to stretch your workplace vocabulary without sounding like a pretentious asshole, here are some suggestions.

1. Caustic /ˈkôstik/ adjective: sarcastic in a scathing and bitter way. Synonyms: derisive, acerbic, abrasive

Example: I didn’t appreciate the caustic tone of that email.

Note: Yes, it also means “able to burn or corrode organic tissue by chemical action” or “formed by the intersection of reflected or refracted parallel rays from a curved surface,” but this is less likely to be applicable in the workplace. Unless of course you are a chemist or physicist, in which case a liberal arts major who works in book publishing is unlikely to be of much assistance anyway.

2. Idiosyncrasy /idēəˈsiNGkrəsē/ noun: a distinctive or peculiar feature or characteristic of an individual, place, or thing. Synonyms: peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity

Example: Ah, just another charming idiosyncrasy of our printers I see. [sarcasm]

3. Paradoxical /par-uh-DOK-si-kuhl/ adjective: having the nature of a paradox; self-contradictory. Synonyms: contradictory, incongruous, anomalous

Example: I know that this idea sounds paradoxical, but I believe it’s our most effective solution.

4. Beleaguer /biˈlēɡər/ verb: to cause constant or repeated trouble for a person, business, etc. Synonyms: harass, pester, badger, vex

Example: The beleaguered school system can’t take much more of this.

5. Exacerbate /iɡˈzasərˌbāt/ verb: make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse. Synonyms: inflame, aggravate

Example: I understand that you’re trying to help, but what you’re doing is only exacerbating the situation.

6. Didactic /dīˈdaktik/ adjective: in the manner of a teacher, particularly so as to treat someone in a patronizing way. Synonyms: patronizing, pedantic

Example: He would be a good choice for the conferences if his speeches weren’t so didactic.

7. Innocuous /iˈnäkyo͞oəs/ adjective: not harmful or offensive. Synonyms: harmless, innocent

Example: There’s no need to be defensive, it was an innocuous question.

8. Parsimonious /pärsəˈmōnēəs/ adjective: unwilling to spend money or use resources. Synonyms: stingy, frugal, cheap

Example: In this campaign, there is no room to be parsimonious.

9. Bloviate /blōvēˌāt/ verb: talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way. Synonyms: spiel

Example: It’s tough to watch them bloviate about sweeping change when our internal processes are still such a mess.

10. Aplomb /əˈpləm/ noun: self-confidence or assurance, especially when in a demanding situation. Synonyms: poise, composure

Example: It was a tense meeting, but you carried the presentation with aplomb.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com

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