Archive | May, 2012

Don’t Wait. Be Happy Now.

28 May

We’ve been lied to all our lives. You know that, right?

We’ve been taught, through society, through movies, through our parents even, that things are always going to be better in the future.

From as early as elementary school, we look at the middle schoolers and think they’re so cool. We can’t wait to be just like them. So we spend our days dreaming of what it’ll be like to be in middle school, failing to understand that those are some of the most awkward years of our lives.

Later when we make it past those awkward years, we’re in high school. As freshmen we look at the seniors and can’t freaking wait to be the oldest. We can’t wait to go to prom, our senior trip, for graduation even.

Then we’re seniors and we go to prom, we go on our senior trip, we graduate. But by the time we get there, we’re too busy focusing on college acceptance letters to really enjoy those things that we looked forward to for so many years.  It passes by just like that.

It’s kind of sad.

In college we bitch and complain about the amount of work we have to do. We hate being in the library, studying. We look forward to graduation. We think that it’ll all be better when we have jobs, when we’re making money. We’ll be working hard, but at least we’ll be making money. Surely, this is when we’ll be happy…

Then we finally get jobs! Most of us, anyway. And when people ask us if we’re happy we say something like…”well, not right now, but I know that once I get a promotion, I’ll be happy…this is an entry level job  and I hate it, but I’ve got to start somewhere.”

Then we get promoted and we’re still not satisfied.

So tell me, when are we happy?

Once I make partner…

Once I have a house…

Once I find a husband…

Once I have kids, that’s when everything will be okay.

Once I travel to Europe…

Once I get my Masters degree…

Once I get my PhD…

Now let’s see…

I, personally, haven’t done any of those things. So what does that mean? Does that mean that the past 21 years of my life have been a total waste? Because that would really suck.

It’s no secret that people want to be happy. There are 505682894735 million books written on happiness, the secret of happiness, how to understand happiness so you can be happy, etc. etc. etc.

So why aren’t we?!

I have a huge problem with people who tell me not to worry, that I have all the time in the world ahead of me to do the things I want to do. I hate it because it makes me focus so much on the future that in doing so, I lose sight of what’s in the present.

I think this happens to a lot of people.

So if you want to do something, please do it.

If you want to change careers, please do so.

If you want to get your masters, go for it.

If you want to start a company, who’s stopping you?

Just do it NOW and love every second of it.

But  in doing all the things you want to do, make sure that you’re actually living your life. Make sure that every day you stop for a second and appreciate everything that you have because it’ll pass you by and you”ll miss it.

You can be happy now. Today, not tomorrow. Not five years from now.

Happiness doesn’t depend upon your next accomplishment. Because if you’re awesome, you’re always going to have another success ahead of you, another milestone to reach.

And really, it would be such a tragedy to have never enjoyed life because you spent all your time thinking about the future.

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Can You Blame Her?

25 May

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This girl is awesome. She’s definitely going places.

Even though this video is a little old already, it’s one of my favorites.

Her priorities are in order:

  1. Find work that’s meaningful
  2. Find a husband

As it should be.

You see, even at the age of five some people understand the importance of doing work that they love.

Be independent. Do things for yourself.

Find work that you love, even if other people think you’re crazy.

Then, everything else will fall into place.

Invest In Young Talent, It’s Worth It

23 May

I like money.

Not in the sense that I need a million dollars and not in the sense that I need to go shopping every day, but I do like shoes.

I’ll own these one day…

God, they’re gorgeous.

Okay, fine. I like to shop. But I do like to SAVE money more than I like to shop. I like to save a lot of it. This makes me happy.

Unfortunately, today’s economy is rather unpleasant and many people haven’t been able to save much money. So whenever I meet with my financial advisor, he tells me that I’m one of the lucky ones. He tells me that I have the luxury of saving now, from a young age, and that by the time I’m much older, I should be in a pretty good financial situation. My advisor tells me to buy stocks. He tells me to be aggressive.

Now while I know very little about stocks, I do understand the basic concept.

You buy them at a price. You sell them at a higher price. That’s how you make money.

So when you buy them for pennies and they end up being worth millions years later, that’s freaking awesome.

Well, that same concept applies to talent management.

Employers these days are missing out on great candidates as they continue making experience qualifications unrealistically high for recent grads. Like really, you don’t need three years of work experience to be an administrative assistant. You just don’t. But I won’t get into that right now.

Employers, here’s some advice that will allow you to attract and retain the best talent:

  1. Identify high potential candidates.
  2. Chase them aggressively.
  3. Then hire them.
  4. Then teach them.

Sure, they don’t have years and years of experience…How can they? THEY JUST GRADUATED!

But guess what? That’s great news for you! You know why?

Because you don’t have to pay them huge salaries to get the job done!

Give them that experience. Provide them with training. Allow them the opportunity to make something of their lives. That’s really all they want.

But before you feel like you’re doing these young professionals a favor by employing them, understand that it truly is a win-win situation for everyone involved. In regards to training, the more you teach your employees from a young age, the more they’ll know five years from now. The more they’ll be able to contribute in the future.

Think of your employees as retirement accounts. The more money or the more knowledge you put into them from an early age, the higher the likelihood that the payout will be large.

Fully embrace the idea of compound interest.

Buy your employees when they’re worth pennies and when they’re worth millions, they’ll contribute to your organization in BIG ways. Cultivate talent as early as possible. That’s how organizations become rich.

Invest in young talent, it’s worth it.

Everyone Needs a Vacation

21 May

This weekend I took a much needed vacation and traveled with my boyfriend to his hometown for a friend’s wedding.

This was the view from where we were staying…

It was really rather lovely.

I met a lot of people, got very few hours of sleep, and I had a great time getting to know a city that I had never visited before.

I needed this time away and I’m truly grateful for it because it allowed me some time to reflect on my life. On my passions. On my future.

As I wait for my flight, which continues being delayed, I wonder how this vacation has impacted me. So here are some things that I’ve learned…

1. Without family and friends, life sucks. I think that too often we take them for granted because we think that they’ll always be there. And for the most part they will be. But tomorrow is not promised. So regardless of how hard you need to work to make a living, make sure that you make the time to be with the people that you care about. The experiences that you have and the memories you make with them will be far more important than any e-mail you ever send.

2. When we’re working all the time it’s easy to lose sight of what we want out of life. It’s easy to get caught up in a routine, one that very often needs to be revisited. We tend to just go with it, never stopping to wonder whether or not the actions we’re presently taking are helping us move towards our goals. If your job is just a way to pass the time, it’s time to revisit your routine. What makes you want to get up in the morning? What do you want to accomplish?  What will it take to get there? Ask yourself these questions. Then answer them. Then do something about it.

3. Resentment and anger will kill you. At work there will always be disagreements. People are different, values are different, and as a result, problems ensue. But I don’t think that disagreements have to be a bad thing. I think that they can actually have a lot of value if people take the time to work through problems and issues as adults. Disagreements allow for different perspectives. Smart people understand how to use them to their advantage. However, what I’ve found through my experience is that people for the most part tend to hold grudges. Whether it’s in work or in life, at some point you’ll be hurt by someone. Maybe it’ll be your boss. Maybe it’ll be a coworker. Maybe it’ll be your husband. Perhaps your second cousin twice removed. Don’t react to that hurt by being forever angry and upset. This is not productive. Instead, try moving forward. It’s a much better use of your energy and it won’t kill you.

So perhaps it’s time for you to take a vacation. They’re nice and they give you some time to figure out what’s important to you.

Focus on the things that are important. Let go of the things that are not. That’s the difference between people who are successful and those who are not.

In Case You Forgot, We Can Change Things

16 May

Congratulations! You are not a tree!

Well obviously, but I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this…

You don’t like where you are in your career? Okay, so change it.

You don’t like your boyfriend? Okay, get a new one.

You don’t like the relationship you have with your staff? Fix it.

You don’t like the direction your company is heading in? Steer it in a new one.

Too often we fail to remember that we can change things.

Instead, we complain and we vent. We annoy people to death with our problems.

It seems that we’re great at pointing out all of the things that we’d like to change, yet we struggle with the understanding that we can do more than just complain.

So why don’t we change things?

Because we’re scared? Because we’re comfortable?

These are not good enough reasons.

Maybe it’s because we get to a point where we feel that we’re stuck?

Well guess what…

We’re NOT.

We’re not stuck. We can fix things and we can make things better. Nothing is permanent.

We’re not trees, and this is a good thing.

Young Women in the Workforce

11 May

So here’s the deal…

It’s rough being young and in the workforce.

But it appears that young WOMEN have it the hardest.

Why?

Because not only do we have to prove ourselves capable despite our age, but despite our gender too.

This is not okay.

I mean really, why is the notion that we’re young, intelligent women, so ridiculous? What do we have to do to gain respect from both our male and female colleagues?

It’s true that we’re young.

But we’re also hungry, ambitious, and yes, contrary to popular belief, many of us are smart.

Check out my full article featured in Urbane Sophisticate’s Women’s Issue——> here.

If you’re a young woman in the workforce, you may relate.

And if you’re not, you should still be aware of the hardships that we face.

Then, start taking us seriously.

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From Urbane Sophisticate’s Women’s Issue:

by: Kayla Cruz

I should have known that being a young woman in the workforce was not going to be easy. There were particularly obvious signs: my first, which I completely disregarded, took place my sophomore year in college. I remember sitting in class, making up an exam when my professor came up to me, a bit too close for comfort, and said, “You know, you’re going to have a hard time being taken seriously at work with legs like that.” I assure you he said that. Two years later, when interviewing for a new job, the hiring manager (who was a woman, for the record) looked at me, in my tailored Calvin Klein business dress, and said, “I’d like to hire you. But we’re going to have to put you in scrubs. I won’t have you walking around with those legs.”  That was my first career lesson: my legs are an issue.

It seems that Gen Y women entering the workforce today face a tremendous challenge in being taken seriously as professionals. Not only do we have to deal with negative stereotypes regarding our young age, but we also have to navigate the workforce as women and unfortunately, regardless of how far we’ve come, there are still some people that undermine our ability to take our careers seriously.

Most of us attend college for four years in hopes of landing our dream jobs upon graduating. We dream of making a difference, and becoming successful and powerful women, a goal we know that we’re perfectly capable of achieving. However, what we discover when we enter the workforce often does not meet up to these expectations. We find instead that most organizations are severely flawed in their infrastructures and make it nearly impossible for young women to attain the acknowledgement that they deserve. I know that for me, that was certainly the case.  I entered a male dominated workforce where I was perceived as an object of desire, incapable of possessing intellect. The understanding that I was a young and smart woman did not exist.

Nearly nothing I learned in college prepared me for what I encountered as a young woman in the workforce. During my first year as a professional, I faced sexual harassment on a daily basis. When men would approach me, it was hardly ever to talk about work, and it was never in a serious manner. They failed to respect me as an intellectual and that upset me. While I was flattered that men perceived me as desirable, what I wanted more than anything was to be acknowledged for my talents and the knowledge that I possessed.

This longing to be respected in our careers that we, as Generation Y, bring to the workforce is not a bad thing. However, when added to our naiveté, it makes us prime targets for sexual harassment, which I learned first hand. In this case, one that occurs way too often, a young woman becomes frustrated because no one seems to respect her work. Then comes along a male superior who assures her that he does see her value. He then takes a “special interest” in her and ensures that her career development is given high priority.  She is given new projects and challenging work and she is happy until said superior is calling her at 3 a.m. demanding her resignation because she failed to report to his apartment that evening. 

To add to this is the sad reality that a young woman is seldom able to take credit for her success. As she advances in her career, she is automatically perceived as “the girl that slept with her boss.”  It is seemingly unfathomable that a young woman may succeed based on her own hard work.  What people struggle to understand is that women are just as capable as men in the workforce.  Add to that factor a young age and it is nearly impossible to be taken seriously, to be perceived as anything other than an executive’s secretary. I don’t aspire to be a secretary. I want much more than that and I will spend my entire career making sure that I am known for my intellect and the outstanding work I produce, not just for my legs.

Being young in the workforce today is difficult. Generation Y is striving to make employers aware of the fact that they are capable of doing serious work, beyond the process of making copies and other clerical duties. They yearn for challenging work and want to be seen as equal teammates by their colleagues. It appears that young women have it the hardest. We have to prove ourselves capable despite our age and our gender. But why is the notion that we are young, intelligent women, so ridiculous? What do we have to do to gain respect from both our male and female colleagues? It is true that we are young, but we are also hungry, ambitious, and yes, contrary to popular belief, many of us are smart.

In Response to Stephens, on His Address to the Class of 2012

9 May

Dear Mr. Stephens,

I read your letter to the class of 2012. And while I graduated about two years ago, your letter was rather thought provoking.

To begin with, it’s not very nice of you to not congratulate those students that spent the last four years doing simply what society has told them they have to do. They went to elementary school, then middle school, then high school, and then they were told they have to go to college if they don’t want to starve and die, yes?

You state,

“through exertions that-let’s be honest-were probably less than heroic, most of you have spent the last few years getting inflated grades in useless subjects in order to obtained a debased degree”

So to that I ask, whose fault is this? Clearly we’re not the ones that put together the curriculum. The college system was not something we created. We were simply being advised by those before us and now many of us are dirt poor and in debt, perhaps for no reason.

As for our president, I can’t say that I voted for him. Because guess what? A lot of us still believe in the importance of working hard despite the the stigma that our generation has been given of being lazy and entitled.

Yes, many of us are, but there are others that are not. So please, I’d prefer it if you didn’t generalize.

But while we’re on this subject of entitlement, once again, I’m going to ask, whose fault is it? The sense of entitlement our society  seems to have adopted is simply a byproduct of policies implemented by previous presidents that many of you, in previous generations, “voted for with such enthusiasm”.

As I reflected on the other various issues that you have with us young workers, I’ll admit, many of the points you make are valid. Perhaps we are the least knowledgeable graduating class in history. But really, who’s teaching us?

Yes, I agree, our competition is global. But it’s not just the competition of us young workers, it’s your competition too. So we ALL better “shape up”.

You then go on to say that to read through our CVs

“is to be assaulted by endless Advertisements for Myself. Here you are, 21, or 22 years old, claiming to have accomplished feats in past summer internships or at your school newspaper that would be hard to credit in the biography of Walter Lippmann or Ernie Pyle”

Mr. Stephens, with all due respect, we HAVE to make even the most minute accomplishments seem of the utmost importance, because how else do we get jobs?! The requirements for entry-level jobs these days are absurd!

But yes, absolutely, I agree that there will always be a market for people that are capable of thinking for themselves.

I’d like to conclude this letter by saying that as of late, this conversation about young workers entering the workforce seems to be an “us against them” conversation.

I think that’s dumb.

Because rather than being a conversation of attacks against generations, it should be one of collaboration. We should be trying to figure out what we can  learn from one another. We should be trying to learn each of our strengths and weaknesses so that we can work together to better society and to help others.

So how about we ALL “tone down our egos” and “shape up our minds”?

What do you think? Let’s call it a truce?

Ruin the Curve For Everyone

9 May

Ruin the curve for everyone. Dare to be exceptional.

Raise the bar high and never apologize for it.

Check out my full post here at University Ave.

Study the Not So Average

7 May

Let me start off by saying that I’m a huge fan of these Ted Talks.

I saw this one today and thought I’d share.

Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think, Inc., researches and teaches about positive psychology.

Positive psychology… It seems to be a topic of great interest lately.

There are thousands of books teaching people things like how to be happy… how to make the best out of really crappy situations… that your attitude determines your success.

Well it does, but that’s not what I want to write about at the moment.

Achor makes many great points in his talk, but the one that I really loved was his emphasis on the fact that we need to stop focusing on the average (start the video at about 4 mins).

You see, when it comes to business and success, it’s no secret that some people and some companies are more successful than others.

When I think about what I want from life and what I want from my job, I realize that I want a lot. I want to be passionate about my work and I want to make a difference doing something that I love.

It bothers me, though, that when I express this, some people tell me that it’s unrealistic. They tell me that I’m an idealist, that work is work and that’s all it is.

And then I argue and I say it’s not true. I say that Steve Jobs was passionate about his work and a whole bunch of other crazy and successful people get paid to do what they love.

And then they say, fine, that may be true…but only a FEW people really get to do that. Those people are the exceptions. Those people are the outliers.

They then tell me that I’m NOT the exception and that I should therefore focus on finding a job that:

a. pays well

b. doesn’t make me feel like consuming a whole bottle of alcohol when I get home

That’s life and that’s what an average job is.

Well that’d be great… If I was okay with average.

The point that Achor makes in his talk is that rather than focusing on what is average, rather than encouraging everyone to live an average life, we should be learning from those people that HAVE been the exceptions. We should be studying them and figuring out what they did differently that made them so successful.

People like Steve Jobs and Oprah, yes, they’re probably the exceptions. I get that. But they OBVIOUSLY did something right. And so, if I choose to be passionate about my work, and if I desire to live a fulfilling life, I’m going to study people that achieved those goals. Because they’re my goals…those are the goals that I aspire to reach.

Think about it. If we only study the mediocre, what do we really learn? How to be mediocre? How lovely.

Achor makes it clear…

“If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.”

So let’s study the crazy ones. It’d be crazy for us not to.

Open Letter to Employers: Innovate or Die

2 May

I tend to get in trouble a lot. And it’s not because my life goal is to piss people off. It’s really not. It’s just that I’m the kind of person that challenges things.

I challenge processes, I challenge rules. I challenge behaviors. And I’ve found that a lot of times, people don’t like this. I ask questions. I push buttons. I ask how we can change things to make them better.

So lately, as I vent about my frustrations about the workplace, the responses I get are usually a combination of the following:

  • That’s just how it is
  • That’s life
  • We all have to go through that
  • Things will never change
  • That’s just how it is

And my response is always…

But does it HAVE to be?!?!

Do we just have to accept things as they are? Are we really that closed minded?

With the influx of this new generation of workers comes the availability of fresh perspectives and new ideas. Employers would be wise to listen to them. Not because everything they say will be right, but because perhaps SOME of their ideas will prove to be valuable.

I’ve said it approximately 57,683 times but here I’ll say it, annoyingly, again…

Organizations that will succeed in the years to come will be open to new ideas. They will fully embrace innovation.

Because without new ideas, without challenging outdated practices, how would we ever improve? How would we grow?

And that’s exactly one of the reasons why I have the utmost respect for the practice of research. Physicians are constantly finding new ways of doing things in an effort to improve the lives of their patients. It’s fascinating.

Some of their ideas are bold. But of course they are! They have to be! That’s the only way to move forward and to improve.

Too often people are told to leave things as they are, to just accept things.

“That’s just how things are…that’s life…”

These thoughts scare me.

Because that kind of thinking discourages innovation and therefore discourages the discovery of new and perhaps better ideas.

I mean, think about it. In the past, if you needed heart surgery, you’d have open heart surgery. Wonderful. Today, we have things like minimally invasive cardiac surgery. So for that, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you crazy doctor that said, “Hey, you know what? There must be a better way of doing this.”

Crazy doctor…you’re kind of awesome.

And what’s pretty cool is that this same innovative thought process can be applied to anything. Your HR team, education, management, healthcare, government practices, really…anything.

So employers, do everyone a favor. Do yourselves a favor.

Challenge the status quo. I dare you.

Because that’s how you’ll stand out in today’s economy. That’s how you’ll remain competitive. That’s how you’ll remain successful. And most importantly, that’s how you’ll make a difference.

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