Archive: May, 2018

Post from Transformation Tom- Wait Three Months…: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 29, 2018 - News
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Wait Three Months…

On what I remember was one of the most frustrating days I have ever had with a boss in my career, my wife had the gall to say, “Wait three months and one of you will be hired (into another role), fired, promoted, or demoted.” It was her way of giving me a lesson in patience. I had come home after another bad day with my boss. For many reasons, including differences in management styles, personalities, and personal goals, I just didn’t get along with this particular boss. The thought had seriously crossed my mind to leave the company.

As I had found through my research with employee retention, most people choose to leave their manager rather than leaving the company. My wife was right. I needed to hang in there and things would change. Things did happen quickly. My hated boss was ‘double’ promoted into a different position. I didn’t even think it was possible, but it happened. I could not have been happier for myself and for the fact that the person moved on. The new person who came in gave me a clean slate. He listened to my ideas and gave me opportunities to drive the business and grow.

We all know that promotions in companies do not always come quickly or easily. The message is not to sit around and wait for something to happen. Opportunities are few and far between before someone is tapped on the shoulder. The message of “wait three months” is also a call to action to build the relationship, even if it is damaged. Some of my most constructive conversations have come when I have directly said to someone, “I think we got off to a rough beginning. Do you mind if we start over,” or “I think there is some misunderstanding between us.” By making the first move in reaching out to smooth over a rough relationship, I have found that many people are receptive to at least listening. Many times, we had a good laugh together over the original situation as time went on.

The “three month” concept is a good reminder that time is always ticking forward and can work in your favor. Businesses are always changing and this concept shows that you can be part of the change. By exhibiting patience with a level head, and taking action to strengthen bonds and relationships, you will move forward to success in your overall career beyond those three months.

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

Do you know about Avanoo.com?  Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.

When Your Job is to Find a Job—and Yourself

Manage Your Time—Don’t Let It Manage You

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

 

 

Post from Transformation Tom- Understand that Winning Isn’t Everything—Losing Is: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 22, 2018 - News
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Understand that Winning Isn’t EverythingLosing Is

I have lost many things in the professional world. I have lost promotions. I have lost the next great position. I have lost confidence. I have lost my passion at times, and sometimes lost my way. The great news is that there have been very few times that I can remember when things did not work in my favor after a loss. If things did not work out as planned, I at least typically learned a valuable lesson. When I have lost, I have found myself building up my character, or something better has come along. The premise of this book is obviously my transformation based on key lessons during my professional career. This premise is based on many of my losses that really turned into wins—this book being one of them. You have two paths to take when you lose. You can get up and do something about it, or you can lick your wounds and do nothing.

I was asked to apply for a position that many thought I was qualified for in a call center. It was in a place where I had extended family close by, I was willing to relocate, and I had more than fifteen years of call center experience in quite a variety of roles. I was not an expert in the new field I would be entering, but I had taught myself all of the positions in the past and I was eager to learn a new one. The final candidates were narrowed down to three of us for two openings. Can you guess who was ranked number three?

The other two candidates had fifteen or more years in this particular business. I’m sure each of them was qualified for the job and would be great hires. I felt I could have had an advantage and could make a difference by sharing my diverse background, my experience from my other internal businesses, and my objectivity as an outsider to the business. The decision makers didn’t think so.

I was upset after learning I did not get the job, but, knew I had to do something positive about the experience. Instead of accepting the statement, “You didn’t get the job” at face value, I dug in deeper with the decision maker. I learned through his feedback that I needed to sell my diverse background, my experience level, and creative objectivity better during the interviews. I was told I could have also networked more effectively in preparation for the interview process, and prepared differently. The difference with this lesson was that I stayed on the phone and had a real conversation about what I needed to do better the next time. I was asking questions and genuinely felt good after the conversation, reassured that I had been well thought of throughout the process, but I had room to improve for the next time. What I was beginning to realize was that the “next time” was all around me if I kept my eyes wide open.

Three days later, I heard about a brand new position that was in the works to increase employee retention. I proactively went after it. I produced a clear plan of attack to address the issue, spoke to the appropriate people about my interest, and utilized my background to effectively sell the point that I could build bridges across multiple businesses to expand the impact of the work. I didn’t realize I would get to implement the feedback I had just received so quickly. I was given the job and taught a valuable lesson: certain things happen for a reason. I did have control of my career and could make a bigger impact to the overall company in my new role.

In another example, as an avid speech competitor with Toastmasters International, I have learned that competing helped to prepare me for the most stressful situations. The competitions also taught me how to clearly engage an audience for a short period of time, and showed me how to send a message that the audience would remember for a long time. I enjoy the challenge of these contests.

As I became more successful in the contests, I realized I needed to learn from my more-experienced fellow competitors. In addition to picking up many tips and learning how to broaden my style, I also learned to lose. Losing speech competitions was a great thing to push me to write a better speech, to prepare differently, and to get more people involved in the overall process by offering their input for the next competition. I knew I could always be better.

In the International Speech contest in the spring of 2010, I was the only competitor in my club who was available to continue in the next competition. I knew going in I would ‘win’ by default. I had practiced for over a month. You’ll notice that I didn’t say I prepared well for over a month. I practiced a speech that lacked a clear message for the audience. I finished in third place, out of three people. To increase the intensity of my loss, I found out that the second place finisher forgot he was in the competition until that day, and only practiced for forty-five minutes.

I was forced to re-write my speech. Apparently, the weekend of the next contest must have been a bad date, because only two of us were there. Again, the top two progressed on to the next level. I had no idea if the changes I made worked or if I moved on by default again. I was not going to leave it up to the unknown. I asked everyone I knew what they thought. I presented the speech to my club more times than they probably wanted. I gave the speech as a guest to a club in Florida while I was traveling on business. I invested time each day on my week-long vacation with the family to fine tune my message. I interjected myself into a company meeting to spend seven minutes giving the speech because there was a large gathering of people. Everyone had an opinion, and I listened to them all. I placed second in the next contest and moved on to the regional finals. The final competitive speech of the season went well, even though I did not win the competition. However, I did win by gaining valuable experience and lessons. By losing, I had won. I lost to some fantastic speakers who gave me the encouragement to continue to drive myself. I was a better speaker, a better networker, and a more confident individual because of this experience. All of these lessons would prove to pay off in future competitions and within the workplace.

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

Do you know about Avanoo.com?  Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.

When Your Job is to Find a Job—and Yourself

Manage Your Time—Don’t Let It Manage You

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

 

 

Post from Transformation Tom- Learn to Communicate Assertively: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 15, 2018 - News
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Learn to Communicate Assertively

Many people internalize their thoughts and feelings. These thoughts may build up over time and cause pent-up frustration in the wrong circumstances. Some negative thoughts may gain momentum and may impact the future effectiveness of what you are trying to accomplish, and even impact a relationship that is being established because of a misunderstanding that needed clarification.

As stated previously, I have a tendency to be an introverted individual and have been known to internalize feelings. I have often said, to myself, “I wish they wouldn’t do that,” or, “I wish they would stop…,” or, “I wish (fill in the blank).” I have had to make a concerted effort to push myself through these types of random thoughts, and make it a point to have a conversation, especially if I want to ensure that all parties involved are on the same page.

I was flying across the country on a last minute red-eye flight from California to New York. My originally scheduled flight had been cancelled due to foul weather. I’ll even toss in the fact that I had been bumped up to first class before the other flight was cancelled. Since I had to switch airlines and make same-day arrangements, most of my normal preferences, such as window seat and front of the airplane, were not available. Unfortunately, I was given a middle seat on an airline that seemed to have smaller seats than I was used to. I was not in the most pleasant of moods as I boarded the plane.

A young woman approximately twenty-five years old was sitting next to me, to my right towards the aisle. On a flight that takes over five hours and flying through the night, I was ready to go to sleep. The airline was gracious enough to give us covers for our eyes and the seatbacks had televisions to watch when we were not sleeping. I began to warm up to the idea of this flight; until I closed my eyes for the first time. The young woman beside me was visibly nervous. She was jittery, shaking, twirling her hair, and constantly bumping into me, waking me up out of my light sleep. For two hours, I peered over her way to see her fixated on the Weather Channel. Each time the satellite picture showed the snow building up in New York, her body shook intensely. These weather updates came every twenty minutes. After being startled by her multiple times, and building up a frustration of, “Wait until I go home and tell my wife how miserable this flight was,” I stopped myself. I took my eye cover off and my headset out, and asked her if she was all right. She said that she was nervous (no kidding). She feared she would miss her connection and be stranded in New York.

I started to calm myself down in an attempt to empathize with her situation. I began to have a conversation with her by asking more questions about her situation. I didn’t want to spark a conversation for the sake of conversation. I had a purpose. I wanted to sleep and she looked like she needed a Plan B in New York. I had to be creative, but assertive enough to get there.

I used a level head to creatively determine what needed to occur to calm her down and create a game plan for her. I couldn’t scream at her because I had a few hours left of the flight and I think the close proximity might cause a slight issue. I asked more direct questions, such as, “What is your biggest worry?” She mentioned she wasn’t able to contact her parents in Virginia, who were going to pick her up after her connection. I asked her what I could do to help her, including assisting once we landed. We decided that we would go to the customer service desk to switch flights and I allowed her to use my cell phone to call her parents.

I started to think that I had a long time before I got home in order to complain to my wife about my terrible flight experience. I had a four hour layover until my next flight, so what did I have to lose by helping someone who obviously needed it? During my interaction with the young woman, I had to explain to her that worrying would not solve any of the issues, but actions would. I also realistically told her what I had coming up the next day, including a long drive after my final destination, and I needed the sleep. I was taking assertive steps that would have been difficult for me to take just a couple of years before.

She began to understand both sides. The young woman was gracious and appreciative of the advice and the assistance. I couldn’t tell you how she did for the next few hours, because I slept like a baby. We landed and took care of the things she had been worrying about.

Communicating assertively does not mean you have to communicate aggressively. The message is to say what is on your mind at the time it is on your mind. It does not mean go ahead and scream and shout when emotions are high. It does mean maintain a level head and state the facts, including what’s in it for you and what’s in it for them.

In another example, I took on a new position. I became the organizer of an important meeting and I wanted to impress my new co-workers by doing a good job. During the middle of the meeting, one of the leaders began to call me “Skippy.” I thought it was odd the first time I heard it, but chose to ignore it. The second time I heard it, she was asking me to do something for her. I stopped, and gave a look that got an interesting reaction. I told her my name was Tom. I professionally asked her to call me by my name. She unprofessionally called me “Skippy” for a third time, and this time asked for the rest of the group to join in. Striving to get beyond the immature nature of the action, I simply responded again with a level head and said, “You can call me Tom, and if you want me to respond back, you can call me by my given name.” This conversation was not pleasant, but it was needed if I wanted to establish myself appropriately with everyone there, including the one attempting to label me with a nickname.

Again, we both had something to gain. I needed early respect in my new role and she needed things from me to have the meeting run well. We both got what we wanted, including clear expectations and a real conversation.

I look back on the many times I allowed examples like this to fester and put me in a bad mood. All those times when I was swearing in my head and fuming at the person or situation, I could have been attempting to resolve the situation. I now realize there were times I allowed unnecessary things to go on in the workplace by simply internalizing my feelings of, “I wish it would stop…,” but chose to do nothing about it. We should all be assertive when the need arises and watch problems get resolved. You may be surprised at the positive reception you get from the receiver of your message and you will appreciate your own ease in tension.

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

Do you know about Avanoo.com?  Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.

When Your Job is to Find a Job—and Yourself

Manage Your Time—Don’t Let It Manage You

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

 

 

Post from Transformation Tom: Send a Note to Say Thank You, and Mean It: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 8, 2018 - News
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Send a Note to Say Thank You, and Mean It

The typical email and instant message exchange at work ends with “thanks” or even “thx,” to which the receiver responds, “np” (no problem). People are appreciative of the assistance and support they receive, but it often feels so ineffective because of the overuse of one word: “thanks.” There seems to be no time or effort dedicated to it. Don’t get me wrong—I’m sure the people I help are appreciative of my efforts. However, the perception of that quick “thanks” because it is more muscle memory than genuine recognition may take away from the heartfelt feeling of that appreciation.

If an instant “thanks” response came within seconds from the person you helped, it probably even caused a little extra effort on your part to go back in and delete it. I have caused some debate at work when I’ve broached the subject that I have a large amount of “real” emails I need to get to in a day. The point is that I like to be efficient and don’t like to waste time. I don’t want to be misinterpreted, because I like a pat on the back as much as anyone. However, I don’t see the value of a message where someone took an extra six key strokes and hit send.

I have often struggled with addressing a lack of genuine sincerity of many of these quick and thankless “thanks” responses. My message is that if I do something for you in the course of my normal job responsibilities, I don’t need the thank you—I will do it for you anyway. It may be my job, or I want to just help out a teammate. That is good enough for me. If I am constantly helping you out specifically, and you want to invest the time to individually thank me with a phone call or heartfelt email, I would appreciate the gesture and take notice of the invested time you took to do it.

The genuine meaning comes when the receiver perceives the feeling behind the sender’s intentions to say thank you. When the sender adds a little note that mentions specifically what they thought was special from you, this little touch makes a world of difference. As a recipient, I feel more grateful for that type of note. As a sender of thank you notes, taking the small amount of time to handwrite one is also impactful. Likewise, adding a few sentences to an email or recognition note will add a smile to anyone’s day.

In any case, I won’t get into a contentious argument in the professional environment about the etiquette of all thank you delivery and methodology. I simply want to drive home the point to ensure that the recipient feels the effort that you put into thanking them.

Finally, the recognition should also be immediate. I have seen too many examples of formal recognition months after the event that triggered it. The instantaneous response shows you are paying attention—just have it be more than “thx.” I like to build time into my schedule once a week for about fifteen minutes to reflect upon the efforts of others to send notes based on recent performance. Try it—you will make someone’s day. You do not have to thank every person for every email that you received in your inbox during the week. Try to think of a memorable experience and genuinely thank the people who deserve it—I bet you will have a smile on your face, too.

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

Do you know about Avanoo.com?  Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.

When Your Job is to Find a Job—and Yourself

Manage Your Time—Don’t Let It Manage You

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

 

 

Post from Transformation Tom: Stop and Smell the Roses—or At Least Stop and Say Hi: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 1, 2018 - News
0

Stop and Smell the Rosesor At Least Stop and Say Hi

We constantly hear how busy or stressed people are. Personally, I think this topic in the workplace has overtaken the weather as the top subject matter at the water cooler. In my opinion, we have all the time in the world—it is a matter of our choice on how to use it. We are running around manically picking up documents off the printer, emailing something important, multitasking, and jumping on conference calls. I get it. We have business to take care of.

I am a naturally fast walker. I like to get to places in a straight line and typically do not deviate from my path to get to my destination. I wouldn’t say that I am always in a hurry, but I like to be efficient. The simple act of walking fast applied an unflattering label to me professionally. I was often accused of being unapproachable. Why? I was just going where I needed to be. I always seemed to give a quick smile, I thought.

What people see is all they have. They saw my eyes forward, the straight face saying, “I am on a mission.” The quick smile was not enough to elicit a response. For the most part, there usually was something to do or a place to get to, but not always a “mission.” I was unintentionally closing people out.

In all of our busy worlds, we have only a finite amount of time in each day. We must decide how to use that time. Some people like to get involved in social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), while some like to text message the person at the desk next to them. The use of electronics and the ease of virtual communication have negatively impacted our ability to even want to have a personal conversation with the people we spend a lot of time with at work. Even with the ease of electronic communications, we close people out when our faces are buried in our mobile device checking emails or simply giving a head nod to someone while a cell phone is glued to our ears.

Ask yourself the question, “Do I know the name of my co-worker’s spouse?” The message isn’t to drop everything you are doing and become inefficient at work just to get to know someone’s spouse’s name, kids, or pets. The message is to take a couple of minutes, when it makes sense, to establish a relationship with the people you work with. In some cases, it may be to re-establish a relationship with someone at a different personal level. In addition to just making someone feel valued and appreciated, the personal aspect of the job has huge benefits to the professional side.

When I managed the hardest working people in any company, the front line people who worked directly with our customers, I learned to make it a point at the beginning of every day and at the end of every day to tap the chairs of the people I worked with to say hello and thank them for their efforts. I had seen a few very well respected, senior leaders do this for years. I started doing it myself because I wanted the perception of floor presence. I kept doing it because I learned so much about people just by asking about their weekends, the ball game, or the dance recital. It created new questions and discussions for other days. I liked to surprise people with a question about their sons or daughters, or ask about a sick relative. I didn’t realize how much I was getting out of it, and how the people I worked with appreciated it.

The most important part was the thank you I wanted to provide them for coming in that day to take care of our customers. It seems like Management 101, but I must have missed that day of class. However, if it is fundamental management, then why was I one of the few people doing it in the management ranks? I actually put it on my calendar to walk on the floor at certain periods of time. The appointment pop-up in the midst of a typically busy day was a constant reminder that my success was directly tied to the people doing the hard work. People often thanked me for investing the short amount of time to do this. This observation also did not go unnoticed by them. Stop and smell the roses, and find the value of a simple greeting.

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

Do you know about Avanoo.com?  Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.

When Your Job is to Find a Job—and Yourself

Manage Your Time—Don’t Let It Manage You

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby