What Is Your Body Saying During An Interview?

You might be saying all the right things. Your body might be betraying you.


Job interviews are stressful. What I know from personality behaviour is that when people are stressed, they start to show signs of it without being aware. As you prepare yourself for your next big job interview, here are some tips for not letting your body give you away and send the wrong signals to your potential employer.

In an article for Psychology Today, Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D., breaks down some of the dead giveaways of nerves, of white lying, and other body language signals into four areas: the head, torso, your legs and feet.

Of the head she says, “the parts of your face that reflect what psychologists call display rules play a vital role in letting others know exactly how you’re feeling and maybe even exactly what you’re thinking. The most important of these are the tiniest movements involving the muscles around your eyes and mouth, called “microexpressions.” One reason they are so important to understanding body language is that they can completely contradict the impression you’re trying to create by what you’re saying. You may want to hide the feelings of fear that you have when talking to someone you want to impress, but the little pulling back of the muscles around your mouth shows instead that you’re panicking on the inside (make a grimace now and you’ll know what I mean).”

The torso, she makes the point, contains your arms and hands. “I was once told,” she says, “by a very accomplished colleague that the best thing to do with your hands, while you’re sitting, is to gently hold them together in your lap. The folded hands keep you from over-gesticulating, another body language trap that can cause your feelings to spill out by the gallon. When you’re standing, you need to find a similarly neutral way of letting your hands rest comfortably either at your sides or on some other convenient resting place.”

Your legs can also give away signals you’d rather keep hidden. Closed legs and splayed legs both say different things, says Dr. Krauss Whitbourne, and “anxiety can translate very directly into an unconscious leg-shaking (or foot-tapping). People with jittery legs apparently burn off more calories, but there are better ways to work off those extra pounds, at least when you’re in public situations. Shaking your legs while sitting sends a giant message to everyone around you about your feelings of anxiety or irritation or both.”

“Your feet,” she says, “can get you into trouble with your body language all on their own. Tapping your toes is one way to show that you’re in a hurry and anxious to get moving. It’s a little way of signaling that you’re feeling time pressured.” As a seasoned interviewer, I can say that if you send signals you want to leave, it creates anxiety in others and makes you seem agitated, possibly impatient, and inattentive.

It’s a good idea to practice your interview before the interview with a friend if you can. They can help you become aware of these unconscious behaviours that could be sending the exact wrong signals you need in order to land that job. Or try videotaping yourself and you will see exactly how you are perceived and where you can make improvements. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to interviewing.

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How Do We Enable Greatness In People?

Great Wall of China Sunset


How many times have I heard stories in my coaching and recruiting career from people about being pushed down in their jobs by their leaders? Every single day.

Even over the last two days I have coached two different people who tell me discreetly about the anxiety and frustration of not being able to stretch their natural abilities or even the abilities they were supposedly hired for in the first place.

Have you ever been in the situation where a superior, your boss, your department leader, does everything she or he can do to push you down, hamper your growth, not even give you a ‘thank you’ for a job well done? All I can say is this is a phenomenon I hear about day after day. And it needs to stop because it hurts everyone, especially the company. Leaders like these might not even realize their own behaviour, a behaviour that’s often largely based on fear of being outshone. But it is true, as the late Steve Jobs said, great leaders surround themselves with people smarter than them, an idea, if taken to heart, can revolutionize companies. Why kill talent and the potential for exponential growth in energy, ideas, and competency? When people are recognized for their good work and skills, they will do even better work and lift you up, as a leader and a company. They can grow themselves and you in ways that will never happen if they aren’t enabled. If you water your plants in your office, why are you neglecting to feed your people?

Leaders have a lot of power over their people and teams. As a leader, you might not even realize how much power you have over the hearts and minds of those working for you and on your behalf. My experience in this regard is a simple experience: when you enable people, encourage them, recognize them, you can turn them from good to great, from star to superstar. Usually it doesn’t take much to power up your team by being the kind of leader who enables people. Anything else and you are disabling people in all sorts of ways, from making them speak up less for fear of their ideas being shot down, making them dread coming to work, filling them with anxiety when they do, and making them feel aimless and depressed. Over time, this works on anyone, and it’s toxic. If you have gone a long time in your job without being recognized, by being seen as a cost centre and not a profit centre, with your leaders not even really knowing what you do, you will slowly become less engaged and ultimately not feel good about your contributions, the company, or yourself.

Being given a chance is a big thing. Being recognized in the smallest ways is a big thing. There are so many talented people who get overlooked, or, to put it another way, don’t become truly great until they are looked at, seen, and appreciated for their talents. If you think people don’t need this, that they should just do their job, you are wrong. If you enable your people then it’s as though the talented person explodes with talent, energy and purpose. Everyone needs someone to believe in them. And shouldn’t this be the true value of any leader, that they believe in those she or he leads, and in leading them makes them feel like their contributions matter? Really great and smart leaders take this a step further and create leaders from within, empowering them and their skill sets.

Without the help of others who see you as part of a greater vision it’s hard to unleash your potential. Bureaucracies, they say, generally create mediocrities out of potential stars. It’s a phenomenon I see and hear about from my coaching clients all of the time.

Why is this? Or why do we structure our company realities in ways that push talent down, or under-appreciate the power of potential in everyone within organizations? Everyone is in the people business first and foremost. Yet we hire for positions and forget that people are more than their job descriptions; it’s not a natural way to think, and not the best way to let true genius flourish. Stop watering your plant for a week and see what happens.

I’m talking about empowering people in word and action. It’s almost that simple.

I was given a book recently that I probably wouldn’t ordinarily read, and I’m glad I did. It’s the most engrossing book I’ve read in awhile. Albert Speer’s Memoirs.

Albert Speer’s Memoirs is a warning and a page turner, and I highly recommend it as an important book for understanding WWII and leadership. In reading it I found this nugget of insight, also referred to by Speer’s biographer, Gitta Sereny. She put it this way: ”Speer didn’t become an architect until he met Adolf Hitler”, in other words, only when Speer was recognized for his talents, given the responsibility to lead and create the largest construction project the world had ever seen. It was then that Speer aspired to greatness in architecture. Before the war, he was a run-of-the-mill architect working on mundane, mediocre and forgettable projects. Unrecognized. Aimless. On his own, Speer was a competent architect, though obscure. When he was recognized for his genius and given free reign to bring his architectural vision to life, he did, and it was on a colossal scale that shocks with its magnitude and power even today.

How many times has this happened to you? Or how many times have you read or heard of stories of enablers or disablers in your work life? We find this happens in our personal relationships, too. My advice for leaders is to enable. My advice for careerists is look for enablers and don’t settle for less. You don’t want to spend your days twirling your hair or pen, wasting your talents under someone who doesn’t or won’t appreciate what you can do for them.

I would love to hear your similar stories and experiences and comments on this question. Write me here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Unicorns vs. Workhorses

Executive and Professional Recruiting
A recent article and study from the Harvard Business School suggests that too many companies “shoot for the stars” when they hire, forgetting business on the ground is done by workhorses.

The modern business use of the word ‘unicorn’ comes into the language from Silicon Valley, a term to describe a company whose valuation exceeds 1 billion dollars.
In the world of emerging businesses, with investors throwing cash at blockbuster companies such as the money losing Uber, the disgraced and defunct Theranos, and the struggling Snapchat, the universe of unicorns is not only small, they also, after heady ecstasy and promises, crash and burn or make excuses on investor calls for losing billions of dollars a quarter. The list of failed unicorns is a graveyard of hopes dashed. Meanwhile, with each passing month there are new unicorns on the horizon, apparently, fantastically glittering in the press and investor reports like their predecessors, until some shocking demise (often hidden along the way in financials) reveals that yet another unicorn is a fragile creature that wasn’t all it was made out to be.

So why do we so often look for unicorns in our organizations when it comes to hiring talent? Should we instead be looking at workhorses rather than dreaming for an ideal that’s not even real in the first place?

When it comes to any hiring philosophy that prefers stars over team players, unicorns over workhorses, you are putting your team and your company on a chase over the rainbow. What’s the reality? Everyone comes with a past work history, with some jobs being more difficult than others, each with their own unique challenges. No one has a red bow tied around them like some fantastic, new, and lilywhite unicorn arriving to save the day. Everyone has come through a history of work muck that has its day-to-day challenges that build towards experience and competency. A job history, for everyone, comes with a lot of mucking about while building resumes and companies along the way.

Do unicorns exist? No. Should we then keep chasing them like they do? No. It’s a fool’s errand. And here’s why.

Jim Heskett in an article for the Harvard School of Business references a book by Boris Groysberg, Ashish Nanda, and Nitin Nohria, titled The Risky Business of Hiring Stars, where the authors make the point that we chase stars because celebrity is baked into our culture; you might say it’s our main form of cultural and reputational currency today, where it wasn’t this way before the explosion of social media influence and the rise of social influencers. The authors say “… corporations and the media encourage stardom and discourage team work” and it’s “the expectation that some ‘miracle worker’ or ‘hot shot’ can come in and fix issues without the board facing the pain and agony of doing the hard work themselves.”

Heskett also notes “it’s about selling the dream that the star will add to the bottom line fast with new clients.” Rather than reward and promote the workhorses, companies troll the industry for reputational stars, pristine unicorns, instead of creating succession plans within their own companies. They instead go hunting for unicorns as a panacea to their problems.

“We chase stars,” say the authors, because we are fallible …Glamor always is enticing.”

This might be the reason a lot of companies defer to talent from larger markets instead of the talent they have in their home market. That glittery unicorn, that star, if she or he exists, always exists in another realm, better, bigger and more ideal in some larger city far away. Bringing these imaginary beasts into your company simply on the aura or sheen of being an apparent star somewhere else, is nowhere a guarantee these people will even fit with your organization and the personalities within your company. The likely fact is they won’t be with you for long.

In another article about executive portability and hiring the right engineers or IT professionals, the Harvard Business School also reports that to expect a ‘star’ engineer or programmer, for example, to make an immediate impact on productivity or creativity is completely false. Hiring more people into your company, no matter who they are, creates a J-curve of slowed down productivity well noted in the literature, simply because it takes anyone coming in from the outside into your organization time to learn your company, your systems, your technology, your clients, and your personnel. All of this takes time. The J-curve phenomenon happens every time you hire someone, especially true if you are hiring a lot of new people for new positions at once. There is a lag, a bogging down, a depression made in productivity that gets created when you add new people. You can expect productivity here not to be a catapult but a sinkhole that slowly fills back in until every new person gets on equal footing with the existing team. This is a good argument for training and nurturing advancement from within your current team, as you can avoid some of this lag in learning time you will face with bringing new people from the outside.

Every company should reach for the stars when it comes to their vision and goals. Just don’t expect that wishing on the stars, or the unicorns, will be the magical way to solve your business problems. Clydesdales bring beer to Bavaria without hardly breaking a sweat. Have done for hundreds of years. Heavy duty, reliable, steadily on the way, real. Instead of wishing on a star, it could be time to let the ponies inside your company loose to do what they do best, have done best for you along the way already, which is getting you where you’re going, step by step by step. Giddy up!

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Why Introverts Make Great Leaders

introverts and extroverts

The famed Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung was the first person to identify personality types into 16 personality frameworks. To over-simplify his detailed analysis of personality types, there are mainly two types of personalities, introverted and extroverted. The dimensions within these two inward and outward looking personalities matter a great deal as not all introverts and not all extroverts are the same, and introverted and extroverted personalities can overlap, with introverts having some extroverted qualities and vise-versa. But for the sake of this article, I want to dismiss some of the stereotypes that suggest that introverts are weaker leaders than extroverts, simply because they have an inward-looking mind.

Extroversion seems to imply, mistakenly, that extroverts are more open, better with people, more verbose and charming, and make better leaders. But extroversion also comes with less of an ability to empathize with people, see the deeper implications of decisions, bring critical and emotional thinking to the job, and build teams and cooperation across teams better than, arguably, an introverted person can.

All personalities have their value, genius, and blind spots. When faced with a candidate who is quieter, listens more than speaks, thinks about what they say before they say it, and keeps the global view of the organization in mind before they think about themselves, you might be interviewing an introvert. And these introverted qualities and characteristics have a lot of strength to add to an organization that might be dominated by the more outward and assertive extroverted type. Here are some reasons you should have more introverted types in leadership positions.

Introverts are just as adept at leading, and in some ways, they have an advantage over their extroverted counterparts. Here are some of the many leadership qualities of introverts that are often overlooked.

Introverts Are Motivated By Results, Not Personal Ambition

One of the biggest misconceptions about introverts is that they aren’t as motivated to succeed as extroverts. This is not true.

The introvert is simply wired differently. The reward system of the introverted brain system of thinking is triggered by different stimuli. Personal recognition and professional advancement means less than building and maintaining the team’s productivity, quality work, and teamwork.

Introverts Build More Meaningful Relationships

Because introverts are most motivated by quality and productivity, they can seem disconnected from other people, unfeeling, or unable or unwilling to build personal connections. This is the opposite of the inner reality for introverts. They have a rich, creative, compassionate inner life. They are just more able to remove themselves from the equation compared to extroverts.

While some introverts may not be openly conversational in large groups or find it easy in large gatherings to open up, they are all the while taking it in and thinking. Introverts are great at developing deeper, more meaningful connections with employees and clients in a one-on-one setting because they do genuinely care about and empathize with the needs of others. This genuine relationship-building makes an introverted leader more in tune with each member of the team than an extroverted leader.

The Next Shiny Object Doesn’t Distract an Introvert

Introverts see beyond the immediate environment. They might even be described sometimes as dreamy. They aren’t. They simply see beyond the surface and into deeper issues related to strategy, teams, and organizational planning. They are better able to tune out the noise and concentrate than their extroverted peers. They draw their energy from within, not from without, and therefore they can more easily focus on the task at hand without being distracted by loud voices, opinions, and hectic office deadlines.

The ability to stay focused amid distraction enhances the qualities that make introverts great leaders. Their motivation for quality and productivity means fewer missed deadlines, better team morale, and the ability to promote thinking and new ideas in the organization, as they are better listeners and delegators than their extroverted counterparts.

Introverts Are Strong Problem Solvers

Problem-solving is the basis of all good leaders. Introverts usually have thicker gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain for abstract thinking and decision making. This leads introverts to decide after giving it great thought and reflecting on creative ways to solve problems. Research has also found that introverts are less likely to make snap decisions.

Because quality work is always the goal for introverts, they don’t settle for mediocrity. An introverted leader will be more likely to listen to the thoughts and misgivings of team members than an extrovert. The introverted leader will want to ensure success by addressing concerns directly before moving forward. If a disagreement does arise, the lack of concern for their own social standing gives an introverted leader the advantage in addressing the issue for the good of the project, not for their own advancement or accolades. They will typically be the most honest in their assessments of situations and people, without involving their own feelings.

The best leaders aren’t always the loudest and most noticeable ones. The idea that introverts are lesser leaders than extroverts is a dangerous and misleading assumption to make. Any company would serve its own success well to allow more introverts to lead, even though the extroverts might loudly declaim their abilities. Introverts have abilities and ways of thinking that extroverts don’t have, and even have trouble understanding. Many CEO’s might be A-type extroverts, but there is another kind of CEO, the introverted CEO, who has abilities you won’t find in an extrovert. You need all kinds of people in your organization. More introverts at decision-making levels will give you balance. They won’t want the spotlight for themselves. They will rather showcase the business, your team and make goals for the organization that put you in the spotlight rather than themselves.

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6 Ways to Attract Better Talent to Your Company

Hive City with beesBest-practices from leading marketing and HR professionals in 2019


Everyone wants the best people. But, how do you attract them? It’s still a misperception that all one needs to do is write a job description and throw it on Indeed or post it to your social media. You might think or know that you work for an amazing company, but the number of people who might think this or know this might only include you, the CEO and a handful of other strong and vocal advocates. But, to the world at large, you are unknown. Even the largest companies in the world have this problem with brand awareness and perception. Leaders sometimes believe that their brand has a reputation better than it really is in the public mind. And many companies ignore the wise and true brand/advertising strategy that what matters most to strong brand engagement are brand messages that cut through the commonplace and clutter, and the frequency and reach of those engaging messages. Most company social media is woefully under populated to include only a few or a few hundred, or if you’re lucky, a few thousand followers. Using the strategies of advertising and marketing to improve your hunt for top prospects not only makes sense, it really should be at the forefront of your attraction strategy. If you are settling for putting out text-based ads, not promoting these properly, and not monitoring the growth you see through channel by promoting them properly, then you are losing, not winning.

The days of the yellow pages are long behind us. Today we are in the era of the ever-evolving yellow pages, where search takes rank, relevance matters, and difference matters to attracting the top talent to your brand and your company. I always remind our clients that it’s not all about you, but it is all about you, in the end. It’s a kind of arrogance to assume that people will be attracted to your company just because you have some brand awareness. If this brand awareness isn’t powerfully evocative of difference that resonates with prospects, you are only one of several possible segment leaders that seem equal to them in their mind. You might also have the unfortunate notoriety of having negative brand awareness, either through what you do or don’t do even when it comes to your hiring process.

After consulting media, advertising and HR experts over my career and seeing these things myself, I have created strategies for companies to attract better with bigger effect. I have put together these six ways to get more out of your recruiting efforts. Before you write that next job description and spam the known digital universe, read this.

Build A Strong Employer Brand.
Brands aren’t name recognition. Your brand is a collection of feelings, assumptions, and understandings in the mind of your customer or your next top prospect. The only control you have is to plant that understanding firmly in the minds of those you want to attract to your business. What’s in your head or in the boardroom is NOT the understanding of you that the marketplace has. If you do not have a good understanding of the public understanding of your brand in real time, you need to. Brands are built carefully, they require sustenance, and they require a seasoned hand to guide brand growth that is influential. You need a brand experience that to the customer or prospect is more valuable to them than your competitors’ brand, because, indeed, you are competing for the same talent. Just because you might be biggest absolutely does not mean you are the best or considered the best. You might have all kinds of problems with market perception that you don’t even know about because you drink the corporate Kool-Aid. If you don’t know what the outside world thinks of your brand, try a brand personality survey or a customer or employee satisfaction survey. And be honest. Honest information can help you fix brand perception problems that might be keeping you from hiring the next big talent.

An Office Vibe report says that more than 75 percent of professionals are passive candidates who aren’t looking for jobs but are open to opportunities. Building a strong brand reduces employee turnover by 28 percent, while attracting these passive candidates to your company over other companies. ProFound Productions can help you with these surveys and creating this new brand appeal, for example, giving you brand, marketing, video production, social media, SEO optimization and recruiting expertise all under one roof.

Move Quickly. I have written before about moving quickly and effectively and not waiting for a unicorn to wander in somewhere down the line. Your best candidates, if you use a professional recruiter, will be those that you see first, not last. Think about it as your draft day. Shortlist the best candidates brought forward, have an effective process, and get a decision made. The longer you wait, the longer the process, the more likely that the candidates will get cold feet and move on. They might even speak badly about your company to friends and family about your slow process that went nowhere. You are competing for the best so don’t treat the best like they are the third-string squad right from the start.

Write A Better Job Description. Be concise, tell candidates exactly what you are looking for, and exactly what’s in it for them to join you. Less is usually better so long as it’s descriptive. Too many job descriptions are too wordy, abstract, and undifferentiated. If you indeed have a “great company to work for” it’s better shown than said. Show don’t tell is an old advertising and movie-making mantra and you need to put this perspective into practice when you write that next job description. It’s why, at ProFound, we take time and care to write compelling job descriptions (the tell part) and create recruitment videos (the show part) while optimizing these assets for wide digital distribution. If you are only writing long job descriptions that could be written by any of your competitors, you aren’t’ standing out. If you aren’t optimizing these assets by way of digital marketing techniques, you can expect to have far fewer eyeballs on your next new job and you won’t attract some of the top talent you might have attracted if you took care to optimize your recruiting efforts.

Run A Job Fit And Personality Assessment. This is not only essential to fitting the right personality to the job, but it’s informative for you and the candidate about where their strengths and weaknesses are. Candidates find this enlightening and even fun to do as they find out things about themselves that they might not have known otherwise. Our job profiling tool provides you with candidate insights you can’t do without. Resume and gut can get you part way, but the assessment tools give you a full view of any candidate and how they will fit into your organization and the job at hand.

Run Better Two-Way Interviews
. A recent study by Leadership IQ reports that 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve unequivocal success. To blame? It’s not technical skills it’s their interpersonal skills that top the list for failure. This is precisely the reason to run a behavioral assessment as it will give you clear insights into personality and interpersonal skills that are hard to capture in the interview process.

The three-year study involved 5,247 hiring managers from 312 public, private, business and healthcare organizations. Together these managers hired over 20,000 employees. 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback; 23% because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions; 17% because they lack the motivation to excel; and 15% because their character isn’t fit for the job.

Take Control Of Your Social Networks And Reviews. This includes reviews on Google Storefront, Yellow Pages, Yelp, and forums like Better Business Bureau, Glassdoor, and others. Many people will go looking for what others say about you before they apply, and you can manage many of these reviews by being more active where people are looking for honest reviews. If you have a great company culture and treat people well, you can improve popular opinion from past employees. In other forums, such as Google Storefront or Yellow Pages, you can actively influence and promote a positive image that’s also real. If you don’t control the message, the messages people make up about you control you. So be in control of what’s being said or going to be seen about you in public places. In monitoring and managing your outbound marketing and recruiting efforts you will also arm yourself with useful information that can help you adjust, address or neutralize potential negativity or ambivalence.

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How To Rejuvenate Yourself During Your Job Search – And After…

sunset over lakeRejuvenating yourself is important throughout life and maybe the most important during periods of high stress that can take you off your regular good habits.

So, you finally found a new job…congratulations.
But it’s been 21 months of job searching for you, countless jobs, a few interviews, and little luck, meanwhile spending your severance, savings, and possibly the last of your energies. Even if it’s only been a two-month job search before you land the next thing, your sleep has suffered, your immunity is down, and your mental resolve has been shaken. Altogether, these things have a debilitating effect on our health and wellbeing. Job searching and job change have wreaked havoc on your health. It’s stressful to be between things as you watch your savings – and your hope – dwindle.

Even after you land that new job, after a moment of relief and happiness, you have new stresses coming all while you might be at your lowest in energy and financial wherewithal. You will be moving forward now into something new, but you still have work to do to repair and regain your health and equilibrium.

During unemployment, it’s common for stress to wear us down. Long, chronic stress will sap you no matter who you are, how much resilience you have or how strong you feel. Energies spent need to be regained again. You might find yourself getting sick more often; you might have insomnia you didn’t have before; you might have acquired a new bad eating habit that made you gain weight; you might be smoking or drinking more than usual to cope with anxiety, sleeplessness and stress. Hopefully, not worse than this, though it is common for people in job transition to become extremely depressed, sad, hopeless, and feel worthless.

There is no easy answer to protecting your general health against the unknown events life hands to us. It’s easy to feel happy and safe when we are securely employed, and to become another kind of person when we don’t have the security of that job. This can be especially true of men who identify themselves with what they do for a living more strongly than most women do. So, what can you do to help stay stable, healthy, and looking forward?

Just like in our day jobs, it takes work to take care of ourselves. This might not seem to be so when we are just getting the work done, meeting deadlines, working late to prove ourselves, but it is. And it’s especially true when life has shaken us up and forced us to try new paths. Keeping your stress down and maintaining a happy, forward-looking mind are important things to our ability to adjust to what life throws us.

There is no silver bullet solution to extreme change. But there are some basic and relatively inexpensive ways for you to get your balance back after a layoff or a job transition. Here are six that can help tired bodies and minds replenish deep energies again, if you give it time to work:

Do an Executive Workout. Sometimes known as a steam bath, a sauna, or even a whirlpool, deep relaxation is important. When you can hardly get up the energy to go for a walk, never mind a workout, an Executive Workout will help you relax deeply, stimulate your immune system, and help you sleep at night. Infrared saunas are supposed to be especially good for burning calories, sparking your immunity, and relaxing tired bodies and minds.

Shop Fresh. It’s easy to use a food delivery service and balloon your weight with bad fast food. But after your next Executive Workout, go for a “big shop” and fill your fridge with food that will power your immunity and mental health. Fruits and fresh vegetables are key to feeling better. Fish is excellent for brain health. Protein is a must. If you’ve been skipping breakfast or making coffee and having a donut for your breakfast, try switching that for a protein powder smoothie in the morning. Nothing needs to be added but the protein isolate and you can add anything to it that you like. There are common flavours like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry that are very tasty and very quick to make that will help power you through the day and help repair some of that damage stress has done to you over time.

Sleep. This is a hard one for a lot of people. A lot of people have trouble falling and staying asleep. You might have tried everything from sleeping pills to melatonin, but have you ever tried acupuncture for sleep? Or meditation before bed? Or simply some good white noise? A recent article says that white noise is a more effective sleep aid than sleeping pills or herbs. You might try white noise alongside an essential oils’ diffuser, using oils like lavender, bergamot, or sage to help your mind relax and tune out the ambient city noise many of us silently suffer under.

Reduce Your Screen Time. Reports say children are looking at computer screens no less than seven hours a day, likely more, and this is true for the modern working adult, too. No doubt in your jobs before and in your recent job searches, you’ve spent a lot of time at the computer, sifting through possibilities, re-writing resumes and cover letters, and fretting into a blue light. Stop these three hours before you go to bed. You’ll find your mind is much less cluttered with information and images and much more relaxed and ready for nightly repair. Instead, choose to read a good book that takes your mind away and tires your eyes.

Walk or Bike To Work. Instead of pulling into your same parking spot every day, when you do get that new job, walk or bike to work as much as you can. I have seen people drive six blocks to work only to park, work, drive home again and collapse. Walking can save you time and heartache on the road, while stimulating your mind and body in the morning and in the last hours of the afternoon. I know a lot of people live far from work, so driving is a must. So, for those folks, drive to work, but instead of sitting around at lunch, go for a lunchtime walk for 30 minutes. After a week of this you’ll start to feel different. After three to four weeks it will be a habit you really enjoy and won’t do without.

You Are Not What You Do for A Living. Find A Hobby. Many people, especially men, take their worth and identity from their work. When men lose their position for whatever reason, esteem and ego take an enormous hit. This is only because so many men take their value as people from their status and their job. This is a silent epidemic. If you have nothing in your life except your work, then your life will suffer. So, try separating your value as a person from what you do for a living. The best way? Find a hobby. I don’t mean miniature ship building (though it might be) but something you enjoy that has little or nothing to do with your day to day work. Hobbies, the experts say, are essential for our happiness, for releasing endorphins, and reducing stress responses. Health happens in baby steps. So, if you used to love reading books but haven’t in a while because you read so many online reports at work, try dipping into a new or favourite book again. Read two hours before bed. Even if it’s a few pages. What you used to love will come back when you give it time. Any kind of hobby will do so long as it’s something you enjoy doing. Even cooking some of that new fresh food you just bought.

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King William


It was snowing in slow big flakes at dusk when I popped out for a late coffee. There is a coffee shop within walking distance from my office. Because it wasn’t too cold and looked like good walking just before dark, I set out through the soft snow drifting down.

There weren’t too many people out, being late and snowing. Most were already home or in windowed restaurants, relaxing with friends and family.

As I walked to the corner to wait for the light, that’s when I met him.

He had long dark hair, a black beard, wearing a hoodie through which his hair framed his face like a bit of a wild man, like someone who wandered from the wilds right into the middle of downtown. At the light, as we both waited, he mused, “I’m dying for a cigarette.” I told him I was out for a coffee, that I didn’t smoke, but I’d help him out if I did. He said, “that’s ok”, and we walked across the street together. It was the first time I saw how he limped.

“I wiped out earlier today”, he said, looking down at his legs. “It’s a good thing my legs are made of steel.” It was the first time I looked down and saw his left thigh hollowed out like a shovel.

I thought he was joking about steel legs. “It’s slippery today,” I said. “Yeah”, he said.

“It took me three years to learn to walk again”, he said. That took me back. I asked him what happened and what he meant.

“I was the only survivor of a car crash in 1980, changed my life,” he said. “I broke over 700 bones in my body, shattered my femur, pretty much everything. I’m a double black belt, too”, he laughed with some grim irony but not feeling sorry for himself. “I was air lifted from the accident and that was that, my life changed. I used to build mobile homes before the accident, but that went away. All of my friends died. I was a passenger.” He shook his head to himself, remembering that fateful day.

I told him I was amazed that he was walking so well.

“Many people, if that happened to them, mighta just given up and stayed in that wheelchair for life,” I said. He thought about that a bit. “I guess”, he said quietly. We walked on together in silence after that for a block, with him thinking his own thoughts and me too. I walked a little slower because it was slippery, and he was walking at his own pace. I did marvel at how well he walked, with a minor limp. You’d never know the tragedy that befell him in 1980, nor the daily effort it took to learn to walk again.

He lived on the street, that much was obvious. He might have had a place to go that night, I don’t know. We didn’t talk about that and I didn’t pry. He and I walked on for a bit.

“I’m a block up,” he said, “I’m hoping to catch the bus.” I didn’t ask him where he was headed, not my business I thought to myself. He didn’t ask me for anything. The shop I was headed to was in the opposite direction of where he was headed.

“I need to head this way,” I said, pointing to my left. “Alright,” he said. I introduced myself for the first time by name after our two-block walk, just as we were parting ways. I shook his hand. In reply he said, “my name is William, King William. You’ll find me up by the Oilers games most nights.” With that, he headed east, and I headed west. For the rest of the walk that night and the next few days I wondered if his last name was King or William, or if in fact he really had become a king by overcoming so much with only himself to remake his world into something liveable and peaceful. That night King William showed me the spirit and power of a human being, as knocked down and about as he had been. He held himself high, spoke with pride, humility, humanity and kindness. If there are still kings among us, real ones exemplifying the best of us, then King William is one.

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It Takes A Village To Build A Business – Or A Career

Love her or hate her, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote a book a few years ago that took for its title the adage that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Fair enough. Though she lifted this from old wisdom and repackaged it, we can all see the sense in such a statement: A child isn’t just raised by her or his immediate family, they are raised, most properly, by the community of which they are a part. This is old African wisdom. Children aren’t raised in isolation by their parents, they are raised by their sisters and brothers, uncles and aunties, friends, and even the local community, which will include anyone who provides direction and life lessons in small and big ways. We see this in our fractured western society in the form of not for profits, or organizations and associations that foster the community and the basic good, from the fire department to the local grocer. We might have lost a lot of the sense of community in the last 50 years or so, with family breakdown and hollowed out cities that hardly act as community binding influences. Still, the idea is true. The kindness of strangers in a larger community, like the village, or now the mega city, matters to the development of all individuals who reside within the constructs we call community.

It used to be simpler, presumably. Which is the reason for the aphorism that it takes a village to raise a child. However, one of the problems in our system is we seem to either altogether ignore this concept or drop it once our children turn of age. After the age of 18 or 16, most people consider adulthood as a time to “make it on your own”. So, if it takes a village to raise a child, and children are our future, what are all of us? Are we the future? And if we are, why don’t we apply the village concept to all of us, ourselves, after the age of 18, through university, and into a job or an entrepreneurial enterprise? Why do we adopt these aphorisms as truisms, yet we drop them completely when the clock rounds on 18 years? Support, the reasoning should go, would be lifelong, not just for a time period.

So, once the baby is thrown out with the bath water around 16 or 18 years old, why do we leave everyone to their own devices? What happens to support in life or business after you are no longer a child? Why does it become every woman and man for herself or himself once we give up childish things?

It’s probably not accurate at all that children in the west are raised by a village anymore. It’s a nice idea that doesn’t really prove itself in the modern west. But the ultimate question is if we believe in this idea, which we should, being true and right, why don’t we extend this concept throughout life, at the most important growth times for any individual, which really is all the years past 18? There are associations and clubs and boards and education people can achieve, but invariably new ideas creep in, like “It’s a dog eat dog world out there”, “it’s every man for himself”, and we can only rely on ourselves to achieve what we want. Anyone who has looked for a career or started a business realizes the truth of being thrust into the world with limited guidance and support. I meet and coach so many people who, being adult, have no idea what they could do, should do, or where to go next. This, to me, speaks volumes about how we set people adrift after we decide they are ready for the world on their own.

But what is the world, really, if we are all individuals fighting against other individuals to get a job, start a business, or get that next contract?

We live in a million-population city, not unlike other cities of that size across the world. Having been partner in a privately-owned enterprise twice now in my career, I can say definitely that while people might speak of supporting entrepreneurs, or those looking to change careers or get a lift in their career, that the reality is much more harsh. People do not always support each other. Larger contracts go to larger markets (rationale: larger must mean better) and if you happen to stay in the community you love, if it’s not London, Los Angeles, Toronto, or Vancouver, then you may succumb to the belief that the larger communities foster greater talent. Sure, there are more people, but as it is in sport and life, there are only a few who can consistently take the puck or the ball across the goal line; there are stars in all markets. So, what can you do if you don’t live in New York City, but in some smaller, glorious place you call home?

I am in the business of change. And being a CEO and a long-time entrepreneur, we battle against these attitudes every day. We tell ourselves we support entrepreneurs, yet we defer to Google Campus for growth instead of investing more into our own technology companies. With the deference comes loss of talent, expensive rents, and the total loss of our data to shareholders and companies from other countries who promise us bliss, better, and more. What happens is the baby dies when you throw it out with the bathwater. If we don’t change the ways we support each other locally first, each of us will have a hard time growing a business or a career at home. It takes a village to raise a child. Yes. It also takes a village to raise a business or a career that creates a sense of power, belonging, and hope.

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red rooster illustration

The hardest thing to see is ourselves, and this is no less true when it comes to an interview. Most people enter an interview wanting to do their best, outshine the rest, and win the job. But are we sometimes self-sabotaging our job interview by not being totally aware of how we convey ourselves?

Under stressful situations we all compensate or adjust in ways we aren’t fully aware of. In the Harrison Job Fit and Personality reviews that we do on all candidates, everyone has their equilibrium, the way they normally act in the world; everyone also has adjusted behaviours, the ways they are able to flex their normal personality to adjust to stressful or new situations. We all have this. Part of my own Harrison Assessment shows that I am an incredibly patient and understanding person until I am “taken advantage of” repeatedly or under highly stressful conditions, at which time I will switch from my “normal” self to my “flip behavior” of being “harsh”, in the language of Harrison. All of us have these adjusted behaviours to deal with work and work stress. Usually people stay in their normal to normal-adjusted zones, but we all have our so-called breaking points where we act in ways we wouldn’t under normal circumstances.

Having run thousands of Harrison Assessments on many potential job candidates and leaders looking for development, I have seen these patterns of behaviour for everyone. No one is excluded from this, no one is above anyone else. Whether you are a CEO, a sales representative or a labourer, we all have innate personality traits that dictate how we perform and operate. In our recruitment projects and with our coaching, it helps us and our clients to understand individuals in greater depth so that we can find the best fit and positive connection for everyone. It goes well beyond personality fit and deep into the psychological adaptations we all make every day at the office. These assessments also help our clients understand team dynamics, as everyone in the team will respond in different ways to stress and the unknown. If you haven’t run a Harrison Assessment on your teams yet, I strongly advise that you do. Not only will you see your organization in more detail, Harrison will help you add the best new team members who enhance the existing teams by their own strengths and weaknesses. It will help you elevate your team aligning people to their roles and capitalizing on their strengths; the outcome being a strong team that maximizes corporate performance, outshines your competitors and increases staff engagement and culture.

In the process of finding the right people for an organization, there are always evaluations that happen in the room after the interview. Sometimes the comment comes back to me that they felt the candidate was “cocky” instead of confident, and cocky can be off-putting. You could say that cockiness is confidence without the confidence, or that’s how many people would judge it. Knowing what I know about pressure situations in interviews and on the job, it might be that this person is actually confident and not usually cocky but overcompensates for the fear of the unknown (will I get the job or not?).  The individual may show off in ways or says things in ways that make her or him sound arrogant rather than accomplished, pushy rather than assertive, and cocky instead of confident. I always give people the benefit of the doubt in those first interviews, they are crushingly stressful. And bear in mind that these candidates might have been looking for a job for awhile, have been rejected a lot, and might be frustrated, stressed, and anxious to get the job. The tale of the tape after the subjective interviews is the Harrison Assessment. The profiling is extremely accurate. So, if you are in doubt as to whether the candidate is humble or meek, confident or cocky, pleasant or abrasive, weighing your in-person experiences with the findings of the Harrison Assessment can put your mind at ease in many ways.

No one wants to come across poorly, but from my experience, interviewing is a skill that not all have mastered. People may come across poorly in interviews precisely because of the unnatural stress of the interview. Once the job is awarded, there are new stresses in the job to deal with, from learning systems, getting to know the team, fitting in and performing. The Harrison will show how a person will perform when pushed from their comfort zone. It is another data point in assessing talent and also for your role as an employer to coach and develop your people with a true understanding of their innate behavioral traits.

None of us can mind read, and it’s impossible to really know another person’s experience. My recommendation is to always try to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Try to remember, you were once on the other side of the table looking for that perfect job. And let compassion, understanding, and the Harrison Assessment be your guides.

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