MONEY

How to Compete for an Out-of-Town Job

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Mikey Burton

You can improve your chances of finding a new job by taking your search on the road, but you’ve got to be strategic in selling yourself.

Three out of four hiring managers recently surveyed by Challenger Gray & Christmas reported a shortage of local talent. So theo­ret­ically you could have better luck finding the job of your dreams if you’re willing and able to move.

Problem is, many companies are hesitant to hire out-of-towners because of concerns over relocation, money, and local knowledge. But you can put hiring managers at ease by preemptively addressing these three issues in your application:

How Willing You Are to Move

Transparency is crucial. “If a recruiter in Pittsburgh sees you’ve been working in L.A. for 10 years, they’ll want to know why you’re applying,” says Marcelle Yeager, president of Career Valet, a professional coaching firm.

Don’t skirt these issues or, worse, lie by using a local pal’s address. Instead, write beside your address that you would be eager to relocate to the area for the right career opportunity, recommends Jaime Klein, founder of Inspire Human Resources, a New York HR consulting firm.

What It Will Cost the Company

Hiring costs are top of mind for recruiters when evaluating long-distance applications. So pay your own way for an in-person interview if you can swing it, says Stefanie Wichansky, CEO at Randolph, N.J., management consulting and staffing firm Professional Resource Partners. A subtle approach: Indicate that you are frequently in the area and can make yourself available at the hiring manager’s convenience.

Definitely don’t bring up needing relocation assistance in your cover letter. “That makes your candidacy less attractive, as you’ll be a more expensive hire compared to the local competition,” says Wichansky. Wait to raise the issue until the company has determined that you’re the best candidate. “You’re in a better position to negotiate once you’ve proven the value you can bring to the organization,” she says.

How Well You Know the Area

Unless you have a skill set that’s unique or in high demand, you’re going to need to convince a hiring manager that you’re not ­hampered—and wouldn’t hamper the company—by your lack of knowledge of the local market, says Yeager.

One way to tap into the market from afar, besides following local news and blogs, is to join region-specific industry networking groups on LinkedIn. Start discussions to gain an insider’s perspective, then demonstrate this knowledge in your cover letter. An out-of-towner looking for work in commercial real estate, for example, might study neighborhoods and establish relationships with local developers to show he can hit the ground running.

 

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Books That Will Make You a Better Person

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And tips from each one to get you started right away

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

Leadership is not about who you know, or why you know it, or how much you are paid to lead. It’s often about what you know and how you apply that knowledge. That’s why I’ve decided to scour the best books on leadership that were published this year and distill the information down to the most useful tip with a quote from the book (in my opinion).

1. Resilience is critical to success in leadership

“A few years ago, two former business school professors of mine, Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of Power, and Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, did an informal study of my Stanford MBA classmates to discern what factors were the most influential in determining which students would “make it” and which would not. (As I recall, they were not looking for those who had made it as measured by dollars earned, but those who are most successful all around in achieving their goals and dreams.) After eliminating many different factors, they landed on resilience as the one defining skill and behavior that allowed some to stand out from the rest. After all it wasn’t that none of us face that adversity–we all did. But some were able to pick themselves up and brush themselves off and move on, while others were not.”

Denise Brosseau in her book Ready to Be a Thought Leader: How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success

2. You must bridge the communication gap created by leadership

“Most successful people have little interest in listening to those individuals who cannot add value to a situation or topic but force themselves into a conversation just to hear themselves speak. Good communicators address both the what and how aspects of messaging so they don’t fall prey to becoming the smooth talker who leaves people with the impression of form over substance.”

Mike Myatt in his book Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly

3. Leadership is, at its core, about the mobilization of ideas

“Leadership is about setting a direction. It’s about creating a vision, empowering and inspiring people to want to achieve the vision, and enabling them to do so with energy and speed through an effective strategy. In its most basic sense, leadership is about mobilizing a group of people to jump into a better future.”

John P. Kotter in his book Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World

4. Good leaders are highly aware of their own vulnerabilities

“The role played by blindspots is to meditate between the poles of self-confidence and self-doubt. A leader with too many blindspots can be overconfident, even blindly arrogant, and exposed to a range of risks.”

Robert Bruce Shaw in his book Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter

5. Leaders equip people for success beyond their own purview

“Entrepreneurial leaders foster in people the feeling that they are personally successful–the hallmark of leadership.”

Derek Lidow in his book Startup Leadership: How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn Their Ideas Into Successful Enterprises

6. The role of a leader is primarily to care for others

“And when a leader embraces their responsibility to care for people instead of caring for numbers, then people will follow, solve problems and see to it that that leader’s vision comes to life the right way, a stable way and not the expedient way.”

Simon Sinek in his book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

7. Take time to reflect and lead in the moment without stopping only to focus on problems

“Most leaders can barely breathe through the blur of activity, much less reflect on and register the best of what is happening in the present moment. And on the rare occasions when they do step back to assess the situation at hand, they focus on the problems, ignoring the opportunities.”

Kathryn D. Cramer in her book Lead Positive: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do

8. Trust in leadership can be distilled down to four basic elements

“Trust in others (and their trust in us) depends on four elements: reliability, congruence, acceptance, and openness.”

Joanna Barsh and Johanne Lavoie in their book Centered Leadership: Leading with Purpose, Clarity, and Impact

9. Body language trumps spoken instruction

“Remember, every communication is two conversations, the spoken content and the body language. The body language always trumps the content when the two are in conflict. So in planning your content and failing to think much about your emotions, which drive your body language, you’re leaving that to chance–the more important of the two conversations.”

Nick Morgan in his book Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact

10. Hope in leadership comes from analyzing success and feedback

“To increase your chances of moving toward your ideal self, challenge any self-defeating thoughts. Keep in mind your past accomplishments, candidly assess what has stopped you from achieving goals, as well as your personal beliefs about your abilities. Consider relevant feedback from others about what you have achieved and what your potential is. This helps increase your sense of hopefulness, which research has shown is critical in imagining and realizing the ideal self.”

Stewart D. Friedman in his book Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Ways Truly Successful People Basically Never Act

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If something doesn’t work out as planned, don’t look for excuses

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

Whether we are talking about a football game, an election or an entrepreneurial journey, one thing is certain — there are going to be winners and there are going to be losers.

Want to stack the odds of being a successful entrepreneur in your favor? You can start by taking note of the following 10 things that you should never do.

1. Be jealous or envious

Seeing other people around you succeed should motivate you, even if they are your competitors. You should understand that every single person has the ability to become successful, and wasting time focusing on other people’s success or achievements will just sidetrack your own progress.

Related: 7 Things Confident Entrepreneurs Never Do

2. Look back

You are going to face hard times, difficult decisions and possibly even failure at some point. Don’t let small bumps in the road stop your forward progress. Find ways to maneuver around obstacles and continue to push forward, never looking back.

3. Make excuses

If you make a bad decision and screw up, own it. If something doesn’t work out as planned, don’t look for excuses. Search for the cause of the problem and chalk it up to a valuable business lesson. If you identify and own the problem you will not make the same mistake again. If you are constantly making excuses for your mistakes, you will continue to make them because you haven’t properly identified the root of the problem.

4. Stop learning

Your age, years of experience or level of success should never prevent you from learning. There isn’t a single person on this planet who knows everything. We can all continue to learn and be inspired from other entrepreneurs, whether they are billionaire household names or those just starting his or her entrepreneurial journey.

5. Associate with negative individuals

People who constantly make excuses, complain and have a negative outlook should be avoided like the plague. We all know people like this. No matter what you say or what the situation is, they always chime in with negativity. People like this are a cancer and their negative aura can rub off on you. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals that are as focused and determined as you are.

6. Wake up without a plan

Time management is a crucial part of being an entrepreneur. There are only so many hours in a day, so to be efficient you need to know what your goals are and what tasks you need to get done prior to starting your day. If you are scrambling to create a plan of attack every day you are going to be in trouble. End each day by mapping out the following day’s to-do list.

Related: Don’t Delude Yourself. These 3 Common Behaviors Hold Your Business Back.

7. Be scared to make changes and adapt

You need to be willing and able to adjust your plan and overall strategy, because there is a very good chance that you will need to adapt to maintain success in the future. Imagine if Apple never adapted and just stuck to making computers? After releasing the iPod it started manufacturing smartphones, tablets and now are releasing its first wearable technology, the Apple Watch. Once just a computer company, it is now a consumer-electronics powerhouse.

8. Let your bark be bigger than your bite

Successful entrepreneurs don’t sit back and talk about what they are going to do. They plan, follow through and conquer. Nothing is going to get accomplished just by talking about it, and nobody is going to be impressed with words alone.

9. Focus solely on dollar signs and decimal points

Instead of chasing the money, focus on creating products and services that make a difference and provide value. If you do this, the money will come. I would be lying if I said the goal of my company wasn’t to make money, but focusing on providing a great service paves the path for the money to follow.

10. Let failure stop you

Most statistics state that eight out of every 10 new businesses fail. Successful entrepreneurs go into everything knowing that there is a chance of failure. If in fact they fail it is viewed as part of their growth and they keep plugging along.

James Dyson is a perfect example, as his first 5,126 prototypes were failures, but the 5,127th one worked and went on to become the top-selling vacuum in the U.S. He is now worth $4.5 billion because he never once let failure stop him.

Related: 7 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Master Self-Awareness

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Common—And Disastrous—Financial Mistakes to Avoid

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Some issues are inevitable, but it’s easy to avoid these simple financial mistakes while starting and growing your business

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re busy working every day to find your way, build your product or services, grow your company and achieve your goals. Unless you’re a financial whiz, it’s not always easy to also work out your financial plan and pin down precise numbers; sometimes important financial details can fall by the wayside. Even if you are a financial whiz, creating a financial plan and managing your finances can be challenging. But it is essential that you understand the importance of accurate financials — both for your own stability and ability to plan, and to convince and assure potential investors of the validity of your business.

As an entrepreneur, you can make many financial mistakes. However, once you know the potential missteps, you can take simple steps to avoid them. Here are the top five financial mistakes startups make and how to steer clear:

Miscalculating (or Not Calculating) Your Cash Burn

Your burn rate is the amount of capital you go through every month to keep your business running. If you don’t have a good understanding of your burn rate, you are seriously hindering your ability to achieve your milestones before your money runs out. According to Hiscox’s survey of new business owners, approximately one-third underestimated monthly expenses. Along the same lines, almost 20 percent of new business owners realized that they didn’t have enough financing. It’s all too easy to miscalculate your operational costs, so initial financial assumptions are often off. Keeping track of all of your startup expenses will minimize these miscalculations.

The first step in managing for cash flow is to create a bottom-up projection, using real-world variables. (see my previous article on Bottom-Up vs Top-Down Forecasting). Top-down forecasting can lead entrepreneurs to be overly optimistic about the sales they’ll close and the revenue they’ll earn. Bottom-up forecasting will give you a more realistic (albeit a less inspirational) gauge of how much money you’ll need to get going — and keep going.

Re-forecasting is also key. You need to account for both fixed and variable costs and continually make projections that accurately reflect the real state of your business. (For more information about managing your burn rate, see my previous article on How to Reduce Your Startup Business Burn Rate.)

Not Completely Understanding Your Market Place

If you don’t properly understand your market, you may be guilty of pricing your products/services incorrectly. Don’t merely add your costs and calculate in the margin you’d like to make. Consider your market position and the value of your offering; start with price and work backwards. In your calculations, keep coming back to the marketplace: Who is your customer? What need does your product/service fulfill? What do you have to offer? Who is your competition? And what trends may affect your market, and how?

Hiring and Expanding Too Quickly

One of the greatest expenses of any company is its people. To keep your costs low, you need to consider ways to save money on staffing. A big mistake many startups make is hiring too quickly. Having too many employees is a huge drain on your funds.

In addition to the recruitment and salary costs, there are additional physical costs such as a necessarily larger office space, equipment and supplies. There’s also the psychological cost: What will happen to these people if your company doesn’t grow and you need to lay them off? And don’t forget the all-important reputation cost as well. How will it look to investors and others if you have to disassemble your team? Instead, hire slowly as you go.

Making Bad Hires

Another key to saving on staffing costs is hiring for potential as opposed to experience. Don’t waste money hiring experience just for the sake of experience. And, whenever possible, outsource non-core competencies. For example, outsourcing your financial support frees up your time to focus on other aspects of your business. The company you hire will be responsible for making sure that you stay on track and take care of your financial obligations.

Doing Your Own Finances (When You Have No Training)

If you’ve closed a seed round of funding, have a lot of expenses, and/or are earning real revenue, you need a CFO to help you manage your finances on a strategic level. If you don’t yet have a lot of financial activity, you may not be in need of CFO services. But, at the very least, you still need some financial support with your day-to-day accounting and bookkeeping. Honestly, it will cost you more in the long run to do your own finances rather than hiring a professional from the get-go.

Note that there is no need to bring a full-time accountant and CFO on staff. If your company is still small, it makes more sense to outsource these functions, getting support on an as-needed basis while simultaneously reducing your cost structure. Just don’t do it yourself!

TIME Careers & Workplace

15 Tips for Being Happy at Work

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Want to be happier at work? Try taking time out for these proven techniques

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

Breaking news. In 2013, unhappy employees outnumbered happy ones by two to one worldwide, according to Gallup. Based on studies that took place in 142 countries and contained approximately 180 million employees, only “13 percent of employees worldwide are happily engaged at work.”

Of course, you probably didn’t need statistics to know that. Being miserable at work has just become a way of life. Or, has it?

I’ve been trying to be happier each and every day. With 2014 coming to an end, it’s time to turn over that new leaf and start actually being happy at work. But how can you accomplish such a seemingly hopeless task?

Try these 15 proven tactics that will make you happy at workplace.

1. Have a Sense of Meaning

In 1983 Steve Jobs convinced future Apple CEO John Sculley to leave his job at PepsiCo by asking him one question: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Why was this so effective? Besides sparking his curiosity and imagination, it gave Scully the chance to do meaningful work. This has been backed by research from Wharton management professor Adam Grant, who has found that “employees who know how their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t; they are vastly more productive, too.” Additional research from Harvard professor Teresa Amabile has discovered that no matter the size of a goal–whether curing cancer or helping a colleague–having a sense of meaning can contribute to happiness in the workplace.

2. Create an ‘Office Nest’

Jennifer Star, a founding partner of the Balance Team, notes on Monster that since you spend so much time at work, if you want to improve your happiness there you should “make your space your own, decorate your area as much as your company policy permits, and make yourself as comfortable and relaxed as you can be in your office.”

3. Find a Work Best Friend

Research from my free hosting startup Hostt has found “that having a best friend at work can turn a moderately engaged worker into a highly engaged worker.” When I hire people, I try and really pay attention to referrals of workers. When workers are engaged in friendships they contribute more to the bottom line.

Christine Riordan states in the Harvard Business Review that employees who “have friends at work perceive their job as more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying.” Furthermore, having friends at work can create a support system, comradery and a sense of loyalty.

4. Smile

Something as simple as smiling can improve your happiness at work because it tells your brain to be more happy–thanks to the release of neuropeptides. Smiling is also contagious and will make your co-workers smile as well.

5. Leave Personal Problems at Home

Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management From the Inside Out, informs CBS News that “when your personal life is in tumult, a lot of emotional hijacking goes on. Emotions consume you and stress exhausts you.” When it happens that you have an inordinate amount of stress, it will seem like your work is never ending, you will watch the clock, and you will be distracted from being more productive.

While it’s easy for your personal life to carry over into your professional life, make sure that you attend to personal matters before heading out for the workday.

6. Be Future Oriented

According to experts like Geoffrey James, “you’ll make better decisions and be more satisfied with your results if you know that most of what you’re doing in your work at this time still fits into your long-term plans and goals. That’s only possible if you keep those plans and goals in the forefront.”

7. Say ‘Thank You’

Based on experiments from Professor Francesca Gino of the Harvard Business School and Professor Adam Grant of the Wharton School, “receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people that are around us, too.”

In fact, their experiments have discovered that 66% of students helped a fellow student named “Eric” because he thanked them in advance for reviewing his cover letter.

Instead of just saying “thank you” to your peers–and even receptionists and maintenance–you can be proactive and ask for feedback to receive some much-deserved gratitude. Definitely don’t ask again if a person you have previously asked is determined to make you feel unappreciated, or if they are continually condemning you or your team.

8. Take a Breather

It’s incredibly easy to get burned out during the workday. That’s why you need to take a minute and breath before moving on to your next task. Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness at Work, informs Business Insider that “without some breathing space in the face of constant demands, we won’t be creative, competent, or cheerful.” She also adds that by not taking a break, “we won’t get along with others as well, and we won’t take criticism without the possibility of imploding. It is a must to control the level of our daily stress.”

My friend and marketing expert Liv Longley states that employees also need to take time off to recharge from the stress of work. In fact, taking a vacation not only relieves stress and recharges us, it can also improve our overall health and make us more productive at work.

9. Eat Healthy and Stay Hydrated

According to Shirly Weiss, a certified holistic health and nutritional counselor and consulting expert for the Balance Team, “maintaining a good diet and keeping yourself properly hydrated throughout your workday can really make a big difference in your energy level and attitude.”

Instead of hitting the vending machine for lunch, have meals that involve yogurt, asparagus, honey, cherry tomatoes. Eating foods that keep your blood sugar within a normal range will stop headaches and fatigue, as well as help you concentrate better.

10. Get Organized

Chrystal Doucette suggests on Chron.com that having an organized workplace will help you be better prepared and work more efficiently. It can also improve your happiness since a “clean desk makes the work environment seem less hectic and stressful.” In short, you have enough stress with work, so avoid the additional stress that clutter and scrambling for lost items will cause.

11. Don’t Multitask

Despite the myth, multitasking isn’t effective. Clifford Nass, a psychology professor at Stanford University claims that multitasking “wastes more time than it saves.” He also states that it decreases concentration and creativity.

Instead of getting overwhelmed by the amount of work you’re trying to juggle through multitasking, focus on one task at a time. Many do well with a simple checklist to accomplish this.

12. Accept People for Who They Are

You can’t change who people are. Instead of letting their personalities or actions affect you, take a step back. You could try techniques like counting to 10 before responding to them, avoiding finger-pointing, and maintaining a professional attitude. There are many fantastic books on this subject as well.

13. Move Around

Whether it’s finding the time to take a walk outside, run up and down the stairs on your break, stretch, or do a 10-minute exercise, moving around throughout the workday has a number of beneficial effects–even if you already exercise and eat healthy.

As Lifehacker points out, sitting all day and working on a computer can lead to health concerns like weight gain, heart disease, eye strain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

In short, when you feel better, you’ll be in a better place mood-wise as well.

14. Reward Yourself

Whether it’s by going out to dinner with your significant other, purchasing a new gadget, enjoying a piece of candy, or giving yourself a pat on the back, (the politician applause), find the time to reward yourself after you’ve completed a project or had a fruitful day.

You can even take that a step further and prime yourself to be happy. Research has found that doctors who prepared themselves to be happy were able to reach a diagnosis twice as fast as their colleagues.

15. Reflect on the Day

Why are you working so hard? You can answer that question by reflecting on the day and recalling something that was positive. When you record these moments in your notebook, smartphone, tablet, etc., you’ll have a reminder of why your work matters to you. You can refer to these statements of positive reflection whenever you need a boost.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Rules for Successful Networking

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There’s more to networking than just showing up

startupcollective

This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Networking. Everyone does it — but how do you really win at it? Although Woody Allen was credited with saying that “showing up is 80 percent of life,” it’s that final 20 percent that really makes the difference. That is, it’s about how you show up.

Whether it’s the overzealous networker who tries to give everyone his card but has no clear direction of what he’s doing, or the wallflower who doesn’t meet a single person even after showing up, so many people network incorrectly that it actually works against them. With that said, here are a few easy-to-use basics to help you win the networking game.

Meet People Through Other People

The best way to meet people is through referrals. Stick around people you already know who know the people you want to meet. By being introduced through them or joining their conversations, you’ll likely receive a warm introduction to the person you really want. You’ll see this same effect on LinkedIn through their online introduction tool, or through joining the right circle at an event with somebody you know.

It’s Not About You

Although you’re trying to meet a new partner, developer or customer, you’re not going to get ahead with that kind of attitude. This is because everybody else thinks the same way, which is why they’re at the event. It’s worthwhile to go against the grain instead. If you can’t connect for yourself, think about how you can make connections for others. Listen to what people’s needs are and try to make a connection for them, even if it doesn’t benefit you. They’ll remember you the next time around and reciprocate — that’s how you utilize the power of networking.

Get Out of Your League

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and hang out with people out of your league. I went to private executive events before I was even an executive, and when I was half the age of others in the room. No matter who you are, you can find a way to relate to people as long as you’re confident, carry yourself well and are not trying to sell yourself.

Spending time with people who are a step ahead will push you to become better, whether it’s through the advice they offer or the level at which they operate.

Don’t Sell, But Have a Good Elevator Pitch

The worst networkers try to sell or otherwise push their needs onto others. Whether it’s someone looking for a job or selling their services, they rub people the wrong way. People don’t like to be sold to — they like to buy. In order to get them to want to buy into whatever it is you’re doing, or be interested in helping you, a relatable story or connection is a must. Strike up a conversation; it will make building a connection much easier and they are more likely to trust you. Do you have a common friend? Did you work at the same company? Find common ground early in the conversation.

And when they ask you what you do, make sure you have a short-and-sweet pitch to summarize yourself. This is called an elevator pitch, and should be 30 seconds or less. I always try to make sure it’s simple and relatable to everybody, but it does change from time to time depending on the audience. If I can construct my elevator pitch to be more relatable to a specific person, I’ll pitch it that way.

Make Them Come to You

Why go to networking events hoping to meet people when you can make them all come to you? Try holding a niche networking event around your industry that will attract the type of people you’re trying to meet. Everyone will either know or want to meet the host — you — and you can influence who will actually show up. It beats going to some random event hoping you meet the right people. Not to mention that you’re likely to have a lot of acquaintances there already, allowing you to more easily meet people through them.

For example, if you’re trying to meet potential customers for your new app that serves restaurant business owners, build an event around the grand opening of a new restaurant. Sponsor the event and invite people from the industry, offering them complimentary food and wine tastings. Think, if I were this person, what would make me want to go to the event? Build your event around that compelling need.

Conclusion

So there you have it: a few basic rules you can follow to win at networking. Remember, the goal is about building relationships — the network — and a good network will pay major returns in the form of new customers, partners and opportunities. Get out there and meet people, but make sure you’re meeting people the right way. And don’t forget that in networking, it’s that last 20 percent of effort that really counts.

TIME Careers & Workplace

It Only Takes 5 Minutes to Become a Morning Person

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Seriously, try these tips and see for yourself

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

How you start your day sets the context and your mindset for the rest of the day.

Yet, most people start the day with procrastination by hitting the snooze button, telling their subconscious that they don’t even have the self-discipline to get out of bed in the morning, let alone do what’s necessary to be happy, healthy and successful.

Stand-up comedian Demetri Martin’s humorous take on the subject sums it up well: Hitting the snooze button in the morning doesn’t even make sense. It’s like saying, “I hate getting up in the morning so I do it over and over and over again.”

When the alarm clocks starts beeping in the morning, consider it to be akin to life’s first gift to us. It’s the gift of time to dedicate to creating the life you want and working toward your goals and dreams while the rest of the world is asleep.

If it weren’t for the following strategy, I’d still be snoozing through my alarm clock every morning and clinging to my old limiting belief, claiming that I was not a morning person.

How do you give yourself the motivation to rise up early and create an extraordinary day, when your wakeup motivation level is only a 1 or 2 on a scale of 1 to 10?

Follow this five-step strategy, which is so incredibly simple and easy to do, you’ll have no excuse to forgo being an early bird and win the day.

Related: How to Become More of a Morning Person (Infographic)

Step #1: Set intentions before bed.

Your first thought in the morning might be the same as the last one you had before you went to bed. Many people have nights, whether it’s Christmas Eve or the prelude to a vacation, when they can hardly fall asleep because they’re so excited about waking up the next morning. Then as soon as the alarm clock sounds, they open theigr eyes with enthusiasm to skip out of bed and embrace the day.

On the other hand, if your last thought before bed is something like “Oh man, I can’t believe I have to get up in six hours; I’m going to be exhausted,” then your first thought when the alarm sounds is likely, “Oh my gosh, has it already been six hours? I just want to keep sleeping!”

So the key is to consciously decide the next-day’s intentions every night to actively and mindfully create a positive expectation for the next morn.

Related: Take Back Your Mornings (Infographic)

Step #2: Move the alarm clock across the room.

If you haven’t done so already, move the alarm clock as far away from the bed as possible. This forces you to rise from bed and engage in movement. I find that movement can energize me. But if you keep your alarm within arm’s reach, you’re likely to hit the snooze button every time.

Step #3: Brush your teeth.

Give your body time to wake up. After turning off your alarm clock, go directly to the bathroom sink to brush your teeth and maybe splash some warm (or cold) water on your face. Simple activities like these can increase your wakeup motivation level from a 1 or a 2 to a 3 or 4.

Step #4: Drink a full glass of water.

This is crucial. After six or eight hours without water, you may be mildly dehydrated, which can cause fatigue. Often when people feel tired what they really need is more water, not more sleep.

When you drink a glass of water and hydrate yourself, your wakeup motivation level goes from a 3 or a 4 to a 5 or 6.

Step #5: Get dressed in your workout clothes.

Dress in your exercise clothes, so you’re ready to leave your bedroom. Some people prefer to start their day by jumping into the shower. But I believe people should earn a morning shower by first breaking a sweat.

In my experience, morning exercise helps me maximize my potential by putting me in a peak mental, physical and emotional state to win the day.

Related: Take Back Your Mornings (Infographic)

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the 10 Best Business Books of 2014

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These 10 business books were the real eye-openers for entrepreneurs in the year 2014

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Every year, I select 10 books that, IMHO, provided the most value to their readers. Some of these may already be on your radar, but others you might have missed. Enjoy!

1. How to Be a Power Connector

Author: Judy Robinett

Subtitle: The 5 50 100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network Into Profits

Why I like it: As somebody who is often overwhelmed by people who want to “connect” with me, Robinett’s system of differentiating between levels of contact was truly a revelation. It’s one of those books I wish I’d been able to read two decades ago.

Best quote: “For you to become a master of strategic relationship, you need to do more than just connect, care, and add value (although those elements are the most basic requirements of any relationship). You need to 1) pinpoint the relationships you will pursue and nurture; 2) reach beyond just friends, family, and profession and build a wide network of connections; 3) use a system for adding value to those contacts regularly; and 3) become the connector between connections–the person who can help people reach a resource they would never know about and could never reach if it weren’t for you.”

2. The Ambitious Woman

Author: Esther Spina

Subtitle: What It Takes and Why You Want to Be One

Why I like it: Unlike last year’s Lean In, this book is written from the viewpoint of a successful woman who didn’t ride the fast track to high-tech riches. Spina is a self-made woman who succeeded at commissioned sales, which is probably the world’s most difficult job.

Best quote: “If you want to be successful, then you must choose to do what ambitious people do. How about the stay-at-home mom who knows how to handle her kids and keeps her home running smoothly–she’s successful. What about the woman who can balance her career and family–she’s successful. The woman who is determined to earn her degree, the woman who is a visionary and is making her dream a reality, the woman who is consistent in character and the way she lives life–they are all successful. Why? Because they are Ambitious Women.”

3. Money: Master the Game

Author: Anthony Robbins

Subtitle: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

Why I like it: I’ve been a fan of Robbin’s for many years, since it was during one of his seminars that I decided to quit my corporate job and become a full-time writer. I’ve had the opportunity to meet him personally and discovered that, unlike his slightly scary stage persona, in person he’s actually low key and easy to talk to. In any case, it’s been a while since Robbins has written a new book, and this one is particularly relevant for people struggling through today’s difficult economic times.

Best quote: “The secret to wealth is simple: Find a way to do more for others than anyone else does. Become more valuable. Do more. Give more. Be more. Serve more. And you will have the opportunity to earn more–whether you own the best food truck in Austin, Texas, or you’re the top salesperson at your company or even the founder of Instagram.”

4. The Gen Z Effect

Authors: Tom Koulopoulos and Dan Keldsen

Subtitle: The Six Forces Shaping the Future of Business

Why I like it: This book’s thesis is that technology, rather than separating the generations, actually brings them closer and that this is part of a larger shift in how people think about business and life. It’s an easy read but has depth, so that you learn a great deal and, more important, start seeing things in a different way.

Best quote: “The generational divides have stood in our way for so long, undermining our ability to innovate in what is quickly becoming a post-generational world. Post-generational thinking requires that we not only change our individual perceptions of the boundaries between generations, but also build organizations that can do the same.”

5. Scrum

Author: Jeff Sutherland

Subtitle: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Why I like it: I get really tired of people insisting that to get more done you have to spend more hours doing it. That’s simply not true. You want to work smarter rather than harder, and this book gives you some real-world techniques for making this happen.

Best quote: “Traditionally, management wants two things on any project: control and predictability. This leads to vast numbers of documents and graphs and charts … Months of effort go into planning every detail, so there will be no mistakes, no cost overruns, and things will be delivered on schedule. The problem is that the rosy scenario never actually unfolds … Every project involves discovery of problems and bursts of inspiration. Trying to restrict any human endeavor of any scope to color-coded charts and graphs is foolish and doomed to failure. It’s not how people work, and it’s not how projects progress. It’s not how ideas reach fruition or how great things are made.”

6. The Soft Edge

Author: Rich Karlgaard

Subtitle: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success

Why I like it: In my view, companies spend far too much time worrying about the “hard” stuff, like finances and technology, and not enough about the “soft” stuff, like how people feel about what they’re doing and where they’re working. This book shows how that “soft edge” is not only as important as the “hard” edges but arguably more important.

Best quote: “Innovation in companies is very much like a healthy immune response in living organisms. People who enjoy long-term health don’t have episodic bursts of health. They are healthy nearly all the time. Their immune systems routinely fight off most threats. Can the same be true of companies? The analogy fits. In great companies, innovation is a natural response to threats.”

7. The Carpenter

Author: Jon Gordon

Subtitle: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All

Why I like it: Unless you’ve had your head stuck in the sand, you’ve probably run across the numerous best-selling books by Gordon. I like all of his work, and his new book, The Carpenter, is truly a must-read. It is an engaging parable of a high-powered entrepreneur who recaptures his sense of purpose through working with (and learning from) a blue-collar artisan.

Best Quote:

  • I vow to stay positive in the face of negativity;
  • When I am surrounded by pessimism, I will choose optimism;
  • When I feel fear, I will choose faith;
  • When I want to hate, I will choose love;
  • When I want to be bitter, I will choose to get better;
  • When I experience a challenge, I will look for an opportunity to learn and grow;
  • When I experience a setback, I will be resilient;
  • When I meet failure, I will fail forward, toward future success;
  • With vision, hope, and faith, I will never give up and will always move forward toward my destiny;
  • I believe my best days are ahead of me, not behind me;
  • I believe I’m here for a reason and my purpose is greater than my challenges;
  • I believe that being positive not only makes me better, it make everyone around me better;
  • So today and every day I will be positive and strive to make a positive impact on the world.

8. Scaling Up Excellence

Authors: Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao

Subtitle: Getting to More Without Settling for Less

Why I like it: Entrepreneurs naturally want their company to grow and be more successful. However, many of them discover that once they’re successful as a startup, it’s very difficult to “level up” into a larger company. This book explains the specific challenges that entrepreneurs face, and therefore should be required reading.

Best quote: “Savvy leaders know that just bombarding employees with a quick PowerPoint presentation, a few days of training, or an inspirational speech won’t cut it if they want to spread some goodness from the few to the many. Certainly, there are junctures in every scaling effort when it is wise to choose the easier path or secure a quick victory. Yet as we dug into case after case, and study after study, we saw that every allegedly easy and speedy scaling success turned out to be one we just hadn’t understood very well. Scaling requires grinding it out, and pressing each person, team, group, division, or organization to make one small change after another in what they believe, feel, or do.”

9. Creativity, Inc.

Authors: Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Subtitle: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Why I like it: By examining Pixar and its relationship to Steve Jobs and the team of people he recruited, this book makes clear that creativity must be built into the corporate culture and is not an attribute of its leadership alone.

Best quote: “The best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know–not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur. I believe that managers must loosen the controls, not tighten them. They must accept risk; they must trust the people they work with and strive to clear the path for them; and always, they must pay attention to and engage with anything that creates fear. Moreover, successful leaders embrace the reality that their models may be wrong or incomplete. Only when we admit what we don’t know can we ever hope to learn it.”

10. Business Without the Bullsh*t

Author: Me (plus the readers of this blog)

Subtitle: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know

Why I like it: Readers kept telling me they needed a “survival guide” to the corporate world, so I wrote this book. Many of the readers of my blog contributed to the writing by reviewing early chapters. Since I’m obviously biased, here’s what some others have said about this book.

Best quote: “Conventional wisdom is that business is complicated and its principles difficult to master. However, while every industry and every profession requires specific expertise, the business of business tends to be rather simple. However, the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of management consultants, industry analysts, and corporate trainers depends on keeping things complex–because, after all, once you realize the business is simple, why would you hire them? Beyond your own area of expertise, all you need to be truly successful in the business world is a handful of secrets and shortcuts. And that’s what Business Without the Bullsh*t is all about.”

MONEY sex discrimination

Everything Working Women Need to Know About Pregnancy Discrimination

U.S. Supreme Court Peggy Young UPS
Raimund Koch—Getty Images

The high court is hearing arguments on Wednesday on a case in which a UPS worker was forced to take unpaid leave when she got pregnant. Here's what every woman should know about this case and her rights in the workplace.

Any woman in the vicinity of her child-bearing years will want to pay attention to a case that’s being heard by the Supreme Court today.

The high court’s findings on Young v. United Parcel Service should address the gray areas of what workplace protections are guaranteed for pregnant women.

The least you need to know:

What’s the case about, anyway?

The plaintiff in the case is Peggy Young of Lorton, Va., who had worked as a delivery truck driver for UPS.

As part of her job description, she needed to be able to lift packages weighing up to 70 pounds. But when she got pregnant, her midwife wrote her a note that said she should not lift more than 20 pounds.

Young asked for a temporary “light-duty” assignment, but the company’s occupational health manager determined that she was ineligible.

Young says the division manager then told her she was “too much of a liability,” and she was not allowed to return to work until after she had given birth. So Young had to take an extended unpaid leave of absence, which caused her to lose her health coverage.

Wasn’t that discrimination?

That’s the question the court has to answer.

In 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act which clarifies that discrimination against pregnant women is a form of sex discrimination. That means your employer can’t fire you or deny you job benefits because you’re pregnant, you might become pregnant, you’ve given birth, or you have any related medical problems. Your employer has to treat you the same as people who are not pregnant but similar in their ability to work.

To prove sex discrimination, however, Young needed to show four things.

First, that she was a woman. Second, that she was qualified for the job, or the job benefit. Third, her employer denied her the job or benefit she wanted. And fourth, a similarly situated man received the job or benefit that she wanted.

The fourth presents a particular challenge: Since men can’t get pregnant, which men are in a similar situation?

Young says UPS did give some other workers—employees who were injured on the job or had their drivers’ licenses were temporarily revoked—the light duty she wanted. Therefore, Young says UPS owed her the same accommodations.

However, lower courts disagreed with Young.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reasoned that UPS’s policy was “pregnancy-blind.” UPS wouldn’t have offered light duty assignments to, say, a man who threw his back out by lifting his kid or a woman who injured herself during a volunteer firefighter shift. Since UPS didn’t give all its temporarily-disabled workers light duty, the court found that UPS didn’t have to give light duty to Young.

Many women’s groups, health providers, labor advocates and even pro-life activists strongly disagreed with that ruling.

“If at some point during her pregnancy, a pregnant worker needs a minor adjustment to her job duties in order to continue doing her job safely, the employer has an obligation to provide that,” says Liz Watson, director of Workplace Justice for Women at the National Women’s Law Center.

What happens next?

Young appealed. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case Wednesday and issue a ruling sometime before the end of this term, in late June.

But in a “friend of the court” brief, the Justice Department argues that it might be a moot point.

In 2008, Congress passed a law amending the Americans with Disabilities Act that should make it even easier for pregnant women to qualify for accommodations like the one Young sought. Now, injuries that temporarily limit your ability to lift, stand, or bend should also qualify you for accommodations under the ADA.

And UPS has already reversed its policy. “While UPS’s denial of [Young’s] accommodation request was lawful at the time it was made (and thus cannot give rise to a claim for damages), pregnant UPS employees will prospectively be eligible for light-duty assignments,” the company’s brief says.

In the meantime, what are my rights if I’m pregnant or plan to become pregnant?

You are afforded the same protections as Young through the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. So you can’t be fired or denied benefits. Also, depending upon the size of the company, you may be entitled by law to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Additionally, under Obamacare, employers are required to allow mothers reasonable break time and a private space to express breast milk, Watson says.

I think an employer violated my rights. What can I do?

You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to file a complaint, Watson says.

You’ll have more company than you might expect: From 1997 to 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received over 74,000 complaints of pregnancy discrimination.

You can also contact your state’s fair employment practice agency. Some states and municipalities have even stronger protections for pregnant women in the workplace. In the past 18 months, Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, West Virginia, Philadelphia, New York City, Providence and Pittsburg have all passed new laws, Watson says.

Or call a lawyer. “We unfortunately speak to women a lot who have suffered pregnancy discrimination,” Watson says. “What happened to Peggy Young, being forced off the job because she brought in a doctor’s note, is happening to women all across the country.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Things Supremely Confident People Never Do

Businesswoman at flipchart leading meeting in conference room
Getty Images

Having good networking and speaking skills are key, as others’ impressions of you will in turn influence how they feel about your product or company

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to bleed confidence. Starting something on your own takes tenacity, faith and determination to make it work. To have a business that makes it past the first 18 months, these qualities of poor leaders are certainly going to be on your list of things to avoid:

1. Second guess themselves and their employees

True confidence comes from being able to trust your team and yourself. Make sure your hiring process is long enough to find and keep the right people, as this can make or break your company. Many employers are now offering pre-cations or hiring employees for an initial first project to make sure they are a good fit before hiring them full time.

Offering a fun and secure work environment with great benefits, profit sharing and new technology can let employees know you appreciate them while also helping them become more emotionally invested in the future of the company.

Related: Ever Notice the Similarities Between Toxic Business Leaders and Politicians?

If you find yourself second guessing yourself or your employees, take the time to fix it before your confidence becomes too shaken.

2. Compromise their priorities

When you are building a business, great employees are key, but many entrepreneurs get so tied up in making their business work that they forget about what else in their lives are important to them. Building a business is their main concern, but relationships with friends and family can slip through the cracks if they don’t make it a priority to schedule time for them.

This also goes for hobbies and “self-care” time: meditation, exercise, reading and other things done for enjoyment (even if it’s just browsing on ESPN or some other news site for a few hours) deserve to be scheduled just as much as work projects or meetings. It has been shown that hobbies make people more happy than money, according to the Portland Psychotherapy Clinic. Confidence is boosted when stress is reduced through hobbies and time with loved ones.

3. Refuse to learn new skills

The confident and successful entrepreneur has to adapt to their business’s current needs. While you may need a programmer or designer to make website changes, it may not be in the budget, or they might stuck working on a different project. Instances like this require the confident entrepreneur to put aside any trepidation at learning something new, such as coding or graphic design. Websites such as Skillshare, Lynda, CodeAcademy, UniversalClass and Treehouse (or local community colleges) can help entrepreneurs learn new skills without a high monetary cost.

4. Focus on external validation

It can be endlessly satisfying to hear positive feedback from the media or others about your company or products, but confident entrepreneurs and companies shouldn’t take it less (or more) seriously than negative feedback.

Focusing on internal goals and ideas is what built the company in the first place, so while external feedback is a great way to improve a product, it shouldn’t have the power to completely overhaul how you work or ruin your day. Too many business owners focus on what others are thinking and it ends up impeding their creative process, which in turn causes their products to suffer.

Related: 6 Skills Remarkable Leaders Execute Better

5. Worry about competitors

There’s a difference between worrying about competitors and knowing what they are up to. It’s smart to see what products and services are available in your current market, but just like external validation, if you get caught up in trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” it doesn’t leave much room for actually outpacing your competition.

If you want to stay on top, think of all the ways the customers in your market aren’t being served, and focus on solving that need.

6. Avoid networking and public speaking

When it comes to finding out industry needs, it’s a cold, hard truth for introverts and other shy people that being able to communicate confidently and well is key to building a business.

For most entrepreneurs, having good networking and speaking skills are key, as others’ impressions of you will in turn influence how they feel about your product or company. If you aren’t good at networking or speaking, try joining Toastmasters or attending free events by your local chamber of commerce.

7. Be ignorant of trends or current events

There’s a quiet confidence that comes from staying up to date with the latest technology, national and international news and other trends that are popular in mainstream culture. Society has a huge effect on businesses, no matter the industry or niche, and knowing what’s popular now can help influence and improve products and businesses.

While it’s important to look to the future to solve upcoming needs, current trends can help predict what’s happening next. Subscribe to blogs and websites such as CNN, The New York Times, Wired and Reddit to see what is new and part of current pop culture.

Whether you are networking in a room filled with potential customers or working with your trusted employees on a new, innovative product, confident entrepreneurship means trusting in your brand, business and yourself.

Related: 4 Blunders That Can Damage Your Executive Presence

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