2 Points to Ponder – Investment vs. Return

Investment vs. Return is not just about financial planning, it also addresses the impact of your educational investment and return on those dollars.   About a week ago there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, “Reid Hoffman: Searching for Breakout Ideas,” with great questions and answers.  One of my favorites was a question about how people see themselves in their careers.  Hoffman responded with several statements, but most importantly he addressed the need for people to invest in themselves.

It is no wonder that Tom Rath’s book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, has been on the best seller list every single week since it was published in 2007.  People have been out of work or lost in their search for a career path, or they are looking for ways to move forward in a time when there are new rules for employment and jobs look different.   That’s why it is important to pay attention when he addresses the fact that Talent x Investment = Strength.  This applies to students as well as those already in the workforce.

Investment vs. Return is now about investing in you for your own future return.   What can you do for yourself now to position your self better in the future?   What or how much are you willing to invest for a positive return?  This is a call to action.  What will you do?  For help with your plan……take action….click here.

4 Considerations to Evaluate Your Needs

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. ”  – Mark Twain

Whether you are a high school student or a college student, you are on a path that can provide enormous opportunity and create background experiences that set you up for success.  So, as part of the plan, begin by evaluating your needs.

As a student, there are four “needs” to consider when planning your summer.  Keep in mind, your plan may include parallel paths to meet these needs.

1. Financial Need – Do you need to make money for spending cash or are you in need of making money to be able to make expenses when you return to school?  Do you need to make money to pay for college?  If “financial need” is a primary concern for your summer, then getting started on your pursuit of summer employment is an immediate need given the competition that will be out there.

2. Experience Need – Experience presents itself in many forms.  It can be an internship, externship, or participation with an organization.  Internships may be with or without pay, but the big payoff is experience with a company that can build toward future employment with them or at least the benefit of learning what you do or don’t want to do in your future.  Participation with an organization may be in the form of an athletic team that helps you build skills and stats toward college or professional opportunities.  Either way, the experience is your primary need and may result in a great reference.

3. Volunteer Need – This one is of particular importance to high school students but should not be dismissed by the college student.  Volunteering speaks to your character.  Many high schools require community service as part of their graduation requirements.  Universities look at volunteerism as one element of consideration when admitting students.  Companies look at your community service as an outreach and a positive extension of their own business.  Assess your schedule and your need to increase volunteer capacity.

4. Education Need – Do you need to take summer courses?  Does your graduation date indicate that you are on track with completing your diploma or degree on-time?  Do you want to get ahead on your timeline?  Assessing your summer needs for education is something that needs to be done now so that you do not miss a course enrollment deadline.

Natural Abilities in Your Work

According to The Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2010, “Identifying one’s natural abilities is more than just an interest survey, and the value of knowing can have lifelong impact that creates opportunities for great satisfaction.”  The use of abilities in our daily work can make the difference between tolerating a job and loving a chosen career path.   Understanding our abilities helps us to use them more effectively and communicate them to others in a resume’ or interview.

The Resume’ – A successful resume’ is created to target a potential employer and specific job tasks for a posted position.   Natural abilities can be identified as strengths for that position and they are quantifiable.  They can be used to promote you as the best candidate.

The Interview – When the resume’ lands you an interview, your quantifiable abilities provide great examples of the kinds of things you do naturally and quickly.   They can be used as a predictor of future performance.   The winning interview success formula looks like this: situation + action = results.

After all, in a challenging job market, with highly competitive and qualified applicants, shouldn’t you do everything you can to stand out in the crowd!  What’s your evidence?

Applying Natural Abilities for High School and College Students

Over the last two weeks the blog postings have addressed identification of natural abilities and the fact that they are measurable.  When measured, they can help provide insight for determining career direction or ways in which we can develop greater balance in our lives through cultivation of our work environment, responsibilities, or perhaps musical talents or other areas of interest.

For high school students trying to narrow the selection of a college or for college students who are struggling with declaring a major, it is beneficial to create a plan and pay attention to natural abilities.  Here is an example:

Jenny, a high school senior is trying to make a decision between 3 schools she has received acceptances from for college.  She is undecided about a career path, loves to write, travel and read.  She also enjoys working with children and thought about becoming a teacher.  Her profile shows that she has strong Vocabulary, Concept Organization and Observation abilities.  She also has a strong Design Memory.  Working with Jenny, one of the schools she is considering is the University Of Missouri.  Looking more closely at the School of Journalism, there is great opportunity for her to explore her interests and her natural abilities for a great career outcome filled with lots of options.  Click here to see the example. 

Finding a right college fit and determining career direction shouldn’t be a shot in the dark.  Your college experience is an investment in your future, so it needs to be evaluated and balanced carefully like a financial portfolio.  Need help evaluating and balancing?  Contact me for more information.

Understanding Your Abilities – Part II

The more we understand about our natural abilities, the better we can make effective choices that lead us toward satisfying and rewarding careers and lives in general.  Since abilities can be measured, it only makes sense that once we know what those numbers look like, that we are able to apply them to our daily lives both on the job and in our personal time.   When natural abilities are measured using the Highlands Ability Battery, a series of 19 tasks yield results that measure 21 separate areas and address Personal Style, Driving Abilities, and Specialized Abilities.

Personal Style addresses your comfort in interacting with others.  It also involves the kind of environment that you find most satisfying, the way you replenish your energy level and the level of stress you may feel in certain environments.  It helps to identify the size of organization that you would feel most comfortable and productive.

Driving Abilities have a strong impact on all of us.  They can be measured and help us to understand how we solve problems and the number of problems we enjoy solving in our daily work lives.  They also help us to identify whether we should be considering career directions that are more abstract or hands-on in their orientation as well as our communication strengths and challenges.

Finally, the Specialized Abilities help us to better understand how we take in information. They also provide further information to validate career directions as well as enhance our performance through strategies for learning.

Want to learn more about Natural Abilities,  your specific Natural Abilities and your career path?  Do you need help with identifying and writing an effective Goal Plan?  Contact me at marla@marlabrady.com.

Understanding Your Abilities – Part I

Remember when you were in elementary school or even middle school and you had to do something you felt you were not good at performing?  You may have gotten that sinking feeling in your stomach and wished to disappear at that very moment.  Then there was the opposite when you were asked to do something and you could feel your chest swell with pride or excitement to get out there and do it because you knew you could nail it!  What we didn’t know was that by the time we were about 14 years of age, our Natural Abilities were being solidified within us.  Natural Abilities are those things we do easily and quickly.  They are not the things we have learned from our teachers or parents, but more the way in which we are hardwired.  Perhaps they are identifiable within our DNA.  While that is yet to be learned, there are some things we do know about our Natural Abilities.

Through a well documented process and years of research, it is possible to measure Natural Abilities like measuring intelligence.  However, unlike an IQ score that defines a level of intelligence, measures of Natural Abilities can assist in defining career paths that would lend themselves to an individual’s most satisfying outcome based on strengths and compatibilities of varied abilities.  Understanding your abilities can mean the difference between loving what you do in your chosen career path, and wondering why you ever chose that path.

When abilities are measured we can learn more about the environment that an individual would find most satisfying for work, the type of problem solver that person is and the occupations that lend themselves well in that capacity.  We also uncover the type of learning channels that would allow them to take in information most effectively and how to capitalize on that knowledge.  Finally, we learn the most effective communication style for them and the career paths that fit most comfortably.

While no single assessment should ever be used to definitively tell anyone what to do in their life’s endeavors, there are key indicators that can make the journey a lot more fun and satisfying.  Want to have your abilities measured?  Contact me.

3 Things to “Bring to the Table”

Everything we do creates the bank of experiences that we bring to the table of our work environment or an interview for a job.  Those part time jobs as a kid help us to learn the kinds of things we enjoy and find satisfying or the things we do to have spending money and hope we never have to do them again in our lifetime.  That same concept goes for jobs during college and at times even into our adult lives.  It becomes even more apparent when a job market is as difficult as the one we are in now, but it will not last forever.  The up side is to understand that we can learn from these experiences and take them forward to the “Table”.

When you consider what you bring to the table, for an organization, company or firm, consider bringing these three:

Desire – What is your interest or passion for working with the organization?  What have you done in the past that would bring value to that company or firm?  What do you hope to gain through working with them?

Problem Solver – What is your problem solving style and how can that bring benefit to the organization?  How have you demonstrated that style in the past?

Positive Spirit – No one likes to work with negative individuals and there is a distinct difference between being a “devil’s advocate” on an issue and always being the “downer”.  How will your spirit or energy be perceived during an interview?  What does your body language say about the real you?

Reflecting on your Desire, Problem Solving and Positive Spirit can help you to evaluate what you bring to the table.  As interviews take on a more authentic process for screening candidates, it has become more important than ever that you spend time understanding what you have to offer and how that has been demonstrated in the past.



Change and the Fear Factor

I always laugh when people reference the old saying, “There are only two sure things in life, death and taxes.”  I laugh because I believe there is a third given, and that is Change.  The funny thing about Change is it can make people as uncomfortable as talking about death or taxes.  The “Fear Factor” of Change is remarkable.

Change occurs naturally.  Whether it occurs because of transitions in life like high school to college or college to the work force or because you get married, have children move to a bigger house, change happens.  Change happens when you get a new boss or maybe because you become the boss.  Whatever the reason, Change happens and when it does it can create Fear.  You see, it’s not because we don’t have the skills or abilities to enter into that new position or state of being, it is because it is the Unknown and as creatures of habit we get comfortable.  When we are pushed outside of our comfort zone and into the unknown realm of Change, we get nervous or even scared.

So how do you combat the fear factor of Change?  Set goals.  Write them down.  Create a plan.  Take action to achieve.  You see, committing a goal to paper creates a sense of accountability and empowerment.  It takes the fear of Change and refocuses on a purpose.

What action will you take to confront the fear factor of Change?  Need help?  Contact me.

Three Goal Considerations

I’ve always been a goal driven individual.  Even as far back as being in the third grade I can remember wanting to be a teacher.  I played school in elementary, joined Future Teachers of America in high school and eventually got a bachelors degree in elementary and exceptional student education.  One goal led to the next and here I am today with a doctorate degree and life path that has opened more doors than I ever dreamed.  Goals work.

What goals have you set for yourself?  If you haven’t, here are three things to consider:

1. Goals give us a well defined purpose – “You need a plan to build a house.  To build a life, it is even more important to have a plan or goal.”  –  Zig Ziglar.

2. Goals foster our desire and keep us focused – “Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something.  It’s our goal in life to find it and to keep it lit.”  –  Mary Lou Retton

3. Goals provide a sense of achievement when accomplished – “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

What do you want to do?  What is your passion?  What is your plan to get there?  Need Help?  Click here to contact me.

Addressing Trends of Need

Throughout the year I try to address topics that are pertinent to the trends of people with whom I work while addressing issues that I think are important in general to all who are looking at career decisions.  There are two comments and a question I want to address as we enter the week of Thanksgiving.

Comment #1 – Community Service is an important part of the “Total Student Package” that I talk about, but it is also an important part of our strength as a nation.  I want to say thank you to all of the students who are giving back to their communities through volunteer efforts at food banks, shelters, camps, food drives, community clean ups, or the multitude of other forms of community service.  Thank you as well to all who give back and address the needs of others.

Comment #2 – Thank you for the many ways in which you have supported my Blog and employed me to work with you or your student to define a college or career path.  I am honored to have the opportunity and grateful for your trust.

Question – In an effort to address your trend of needs as I plan the topics ahead in 2012, what questions do you have that you would like me to address through a blog? Click here to submit your questions.