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Who said business is not personal? It cannot get more personal

October 6, 2011 5 comments

I have always wondered why some people are more successful than other (I mean, most other) people. It is probably a combination of personal charm, smartness, a lot of hard-work, and some luck. But when it comes to leadership the qualities are probably the same, and it’s really less about what you do but more about who you are (as a person): passionate, visionary, engaging, motivating. Think about any leader around you. When a great leader speaks, you listen with all ears, you can’t wait to learn more, you are inspired to think, you can identify with his/her stories, and you want to follow, and you want to take actions.

Our Vice Chairman spoke at a town hall earlier this week on where we stand with our business today and what we will need to do in Q4 in order to meet our targets for 2011. He is a native British with a great deal of humor and personal charisma. When he was highlighting our significant sales performance back in April (best month of the year) he mentioned he “posted the chart on his bathroom door” and “his wife has the same chart tattooed on her back”. It was a joke obviously. Everyone laughed. But the important thing is, guaranteed, there is no way you will forget about this bar chart from April and it will haunt you and drive you for better performance for the rest of the year.

Personally I have always loved leaders who have this “sense of urgency”, which gets reflected in the way they think and the way they talk. I recently watched an interview with Meg Whitman, one of the Fortune top 50 most powerful women in business, the new CEO for HP, former CEO for eBay, and the candidate for Governor of California in 2009-2010, where she commented that politics is tougher than business because politics is very personal (think about personal attacks/no privacy etc). However she goes on to explain that when answering questions in politics, you get away with the so-called “political spin”, which is both expected and accepted by the public; however if you do the same with your employees in a business environment, you will be walked out of the door!

Read more…

What they won’t tell you about job hunting!

September 6, 2011 3 comments

Previously I wrote several articles on job hunting and career advancement but today I would like to share with you a couple of new insights that I have gathered over the past few months that particularly address HOW NOT TO FALL INTO THE TRAPS of so-called job hunting tips. You probably know many of these already, or you may be doing exactly the opposite of these, but it’s okay. These ideas should become common sense to you after you finish reading this piece, so bear with me.

 

  1. Recruiters are only helpful when they need you, not when you need them!

The No.1 myth about job hunting is that “headhunters are angels and they will help you to land your next dream job”. Not exactly. First you need to understand how they actually profit from their job. They don’t earn any money from you directly but if the firm decides to hire you then they get paid by the firm. Which means, they will ONLY WANT TO HELP YOU if they think (or better yet, are certain) that you have a very good chance of getting the job! So if you are desperately in need of a job or you don’t necessarily have a strong profile or you behave as if you are hesitant, insecure, and not-that-confident, then the recruiters have absolutely no incentive to help you get connected (it’s sad but that’s the hard truth). This is exactly why you will ALWAYS get the most headhunter calls when you are still at your CURRENT JOB. If you already have a job, which means you are hirable, it immediately makes you more attractive. Does that make sense?

So if you have quitted your previous job or that you just graduated from b-school, you should honestly focus your time, as much as you can, away from recruiters. The only exception is that, i.e. on your LinkedIn profile you have already exhibited a proven strong track record of consistent top performance at multiple big firms, then whether or not you are currently employed is less of an issue.

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Good Manager and more: 5 things you wanna see in your boss

April 6, 2011 6 comments

BEING AN ASSOCIATE is an awkward stage in your professional life; and I think you would agree with me on this. It’s like being a sophomore in college: All of a sudden you don’t receive as much attention as those excited-about-everything Freshmen anymore; at the same time you are still not “experienced” or “qualified” enough to apply to those internships/programs specifically designed for Junior and Seniors.

A couple of examples in line with this:

  • In Objective Settings you are expected to use language like “take a leadership role in this project”, but you should be very cautious with language like “managing the project or the team” – Right, if you (being an Associate) are managing the team, why do they need a Director?
  • The VP who used to be your supervisor now reports to the same boss as you do. But while the VP is participating in management training programs, you are left behind doing the VP’s job.
  • You are responsible for the quality of the work done by your Analyst but he/she doesn’t report to you, so most of the times, he/she doesn’t give a sh** of what you say or intend to have him/her do.
  • Let me STRESS that all the above don’t happen often at all in my own case, but nevertheless I guarantee you this is quite universal otherwise.

I consider myself as lucky to be on this assignment overseas. Read more…

Most Effective Tips on How to Write Follow up Emails

February 24, 2011 7 comments

Dear Danye,

I really want to hear your insights on how to follow up with people I just met with such as alumni or high profile people. After the first acquaintance, I usually don’t know what to say to them through email or phone since we barely see each other. At the same time, I’m afraid that too many emails of questions or holiday wishes would annoy them. But I want to make a good impression because I may need their help at some point. Would you please elaborate how you maintain the relationship with your contacts?

Thank you – N


Another great question from Ask Danye, you guys are really awesome awesome inspirations! And I want to reassure you that the very fact you are writing this email to me means you take initiatives and that you are on the right track: yes, you do need to reach out to people BEFORE you actually need help from them. And here’s how to do it:

  • Make it extremely easy for them
  • Keep it very short (the 3 steps)
  • Watch your tone (some do’s and don’ts)
  • Write it already

Make it extremely easy for them

Senior people are busy people, so if you want them to do just about anything in the world, you need to make it super easy for them. I recently coordinated with HR, Yale Alums at my firm, and Women Initiatives for an informational/networking/recruiting event with Smart Woman Securities, a women organization from Yale. I pushed very hard for the event to happen obviously since we don’t really recruit on campus, and there’s tons of coordination work. But I got affirmative response from EVERY SINGLE person I reached out to and everyone is super excited to help me, even Harvard alums!

Read more…

How to break into a conversation (and what to do when you cannot)

February 23, 2011 5 comments

Dear Danye,

Nice blog! Very informative and definitely helpful to me who is approaching graduation in a few months.

I read several articles of yours and wonder if you have talked about how to stand out in a conversation/info session where people are beyond talkative. I mean, I don’t think I’m a quiet person but I got frustrated at times when I couldn’t break into a conversation because they talk non-stop. Any tips to out-talk these people or be memorable in a good way (through talking etc)?

Thanks – K

I received the above message through Ask Danye a couple of days ago. Great great question, and probably quite a popular concern among many us young professionals and particularly women and internationals. So let me go through my thought process with you regarding this issue, and share some practical tips you can apply to your situation right away.

 

5 Practical Tips on BREAKING INTO A CONVERSATION

 

1. Understand your goals

It is important to understand, first of all, that you don’t always have to break into a conversation, especially if this very process gives you mental pressure. You should only focus on the situations when people are discussing important stuff (of course you need to decide what is important for you), and you should only even TRY to break into it when you actually have something important to say.  Read more…

10 Things I Learned about Managing Work Relationships (and Yourself)

February 18, 2011 3 comments

Let’s get started, and if you miss anything else on my blog, this is a MUST READ for 2011!

1. Success is a by-product.

Very few people start off their career knowing what they really want to do. But those who eventually become wildly successful are usually the ones who started off “having fun” with what they do. Having a genuine interest to “play with it” makes it so much easier for you to put passion and efforts into it, and gradually you build up your expertise along the way and naturally you become successful in due time.

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2. It’s all about reactions.

Sometimes it may have to do with luck, but it’s very rare and almost impossible that luck is always on your side. I know it’s been several years, but Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by Steve Jobs is a must read. You don’t need to get cancer yourself to realize what’s important in life.

Read more…

Are you satisfied with your job and what are you looking for?

February 8, 2011 4 comments

Apparently I was randomly selected from my college to participate in the 2010 National Survey of Recent College Graduates conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and in the email it specifies that they cannot substitute another person for me given the process. I was also told that this important national study is the only source of data on the post graduation plans and experiences of recent graduates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in natural sciences, social sciences, engineering, and health fields.

All sounds very interesting. But I want to direct your attention to one of the questions they asked me during the survey:

How much are you satisfied with your current job in the following respective aspects? And also, with a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the importance of each aspect to you?


In case you are one of those debating over several options, I want to list the 9 aspects below and my personal takeaways for each aspect, and to give you an idea of what questions you should ask yourself and your potential future colleagues, before making a decision on joining the firm/or switching to something else.

  • Salary
    • An entry level base of 65,000 vs. 70,000 may not be a big difference, but a base of 45,000 vs. 70,000 would much likely raise a bigger question mark.
    • How much is the rough increase every year?
    • What is the industry-level pay for this type of position? Is the pay scale above or below average? How about bonus level?

Read more…

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