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Fri 20 December 2019
Jon, a tall, strong, lumbering man was recently hired to cut down trees for a wood-burning energy company. On Jon’s first day, he cut down 8 trees (a pretty impressive amount). On his second day, he cut down 6 trees (still pretty good). On his third day, he cut down 5, on his fourth day 4, and by the end of the week he could only cut down 2 trees.


Jon went to his boss, Steve, and said: “I apologize but I must be getting weaker.”  


Steve replied, “When is the last time you sharpened your ax?”


Jon responded, “I haven’t had time to sharpen my ax because I have been so busy cutting down trees.”


You may be thinking to yourself, “obviously Jon needs to just sharpen his ax and he’ll be able to cut down as many trees as he did on day 1.”


But is it really that obvious? When is the last time you sharpened your ax? The ax is a metaphor for time management in this story. It is really easy to judge and know the “right answer” for how everyone else should manage their time, yet, many of us wonder why we are never able to complete our own to-do lists.


Stories are engaging and become more real to us the more they relate to our lives. So while not everyone reading this blog may be a tree cutter, you can definitely relate to the trials and tribulations of getting everything done on your to-do lists.


You might be thinking to yourself “well I already take the time to create a to-do list so I am good.”


Merely creating a to-do list is not enough to properly manage your time. If it were then getting everything on your to-do list complete wouldn’t be an issue and you wouldn’t have read this far. We know that when a to-do list is too long, it can cause us to drown and feel like we are under a never-ending pool of things to complete. We create solace with never completing our to-do list and justify never completing the list.


But what if, instead of just creating a to-do list, you instead create a story around every task on your to-do list? Just like the story about Jon the tree cutter engaged you enough to read this far, having a story around every task on your to-do list helps you stay engaged on the tasks you need to get done.


Not only do stories help you stay engaged, but they help you prioritize your tasks as well. If you create a narrative for your day or your week or your month (or even year!), you can create a path to success.


Sure, you may want that promotion (award, ribbon, raise, acknowledgment from peers and supervisors, family progress, or anything else you define success as) at the end of the year and sure, you may have thought of some milestones (i.e. tasks on your to-do list) that will help you achieve those outcomes, but what is your narrative for how all those tasks will get done? What sacrifices are you willing to take to make your story happen?


When you create a story for yourself, you create a picture for what you can realistically achieve. Since you are the only person who knows what you are truly capable of, you know that your story will be feasible since YOU wrote it!


So stop reading this article, go to your to-do list, and begin writing a story about each task. You will realize that your to-do lists turn into already-done lists quicker than you ever imagined.


And if you were curious, Jon ended up sharpening his ax by sharpening his mind and realizing that burning wood is a very unsustainable way of producing energy. Jon created a story for himself and enacted windmills all over his community and is powering his town sustainably.
Fri 13 December 2019
Increasing your likelihood of implementing a successful mentorship program at your university becomes much greater when you understand the desires of your students (mentees) and alumni (mentors). By fully understanding the wants and needs of both parties, you can create a mentorship program that works for everyone (and not just for the sake of saying you have a mentorship program).


Students:

  1. To learn from somebody they can see themselves in

This ties into the work in the Journal of Vocational Behaviors in which we learn that students need to be able to see themselves and relate to their mentors to fully gain the most out of that mentor. If a mentor cannot relate to the same or similar struggles that the student is facing, the student will not identify the successes of the mentor as something the student can achieve. This includes race, gender, age, GPA and any other obstacle (real or perceived) the student is facing. For example, if you are a parent, significant other, or close friend and make a suggestion to your child, partner, or friend (respectively), that suggestion will likely not be internalized by the person you are speaking to because they know you more intimately and perceive the subtle differences between you and them as not relatable. Vice versa, a total stranger could make that same suggestion you gave to your child, partner, or friend and your child, partner, or friend could implement it instantly. Why? Because what they did know about that stranger they believed related to them. For a student to engage in mentorship, they must be able to see themselves in their mentor.

2. To not be told what to do

Students are seeking to learn voluntarily, not forcibly. If a student feels forced or coerced to be a mentee, they are likely to reject or do the minimum to achieve satisfaction from the party forcing them to be a mentee. Students have similar responses to required vs. elective courses.

3. To gain career opportunities

Students need to know that the work they are doing in school and with meeting mentors is leading toward something. It is important for them to believe that the relationship is worth something, and not just simply another person they know. The biggest fear in this case, however, is that the student can solely value the job, and sometimes not form a true relationship. Students need to know that job opportunities can come from mentorship, but rarely come if their sole purpose for getting mentored is getting a job. Fortunately for the students, this ties in nicely with how the mentor often perceives the relationship, and what they want.


Mentors:

  1. To pay it forward

If you think this sounds wishy-washy or doesn’t make sense to you then you are probably not suited to be a mentor. Fortunately, there are many people that love the idea of giving time to a student and helping them grow as a person. Dale Carnegie once said,


“Talk to someone about themselves and they will talk to you for hours.”


Being a mentor provides alumni with the opportunity to be philanthropic without spending money, and helping students with a topic they are an expert in.

2. To stay “in the know” with events and activities at their alma mater

Keeping your alumni involved with your school goes beyond the competitiveness of your athletic programs. Sure alumni receive newsletters about what is going on around campus from the perspective of the administration, but alumni want to know what students think because they were students. Being a mentor allows alumni to stay involved with what is going on around campus and updated on the students’ thoughts about it.

3. To provide opportunities

There is nothing more satisfying to a mentor than knowing that he/she paved the way for a student to succeed. This goes beyond helping a student get a job. This includes providing recommendations, key insights, and job shadows. If the perspective of the mentor saves a student time, money, or energy then that mentor has done a great job. There is no greater feeling than believing you made a positive impact on somebody else’s life. For a mentor, having a student that is eager to learn (and not desperate for a job) goes a long way towards encouraging a mentor to provide opportunities to students.


With these insights into the desires of mentors and mentees, you can begin building a strategy for ensuring positive and beneficial connections.

Fri 29 November 2019
The Gallup Purdue Great Jobs, Great Lives report has shed light that mentorship is clearly vital and necessary to the development of college students. According to this report,


“Graduates who felt ‘supported’ during college (that professors cared, professors made them excited about learning, and had a mentor) are nearly three times as likely to be thriving than those who didn’t feel supported.”


Students who were mentored in college also had higher levels of work engagement than students who were not mentored.


Since this report was published, many universities and departments have attempted to implement their own internal mentor program. Getting mentors, providing the proper content, matching the right students with the right mentors, and establishing a plan for the mentorship to continue is difficult in and of itself, and many schools have struggled with properly implementing it. Getting students involved with the program is one of the most important parts of a mentorship program, and it is more often the most neglected part. In interviews with multiple schools that have attempted to implement their own internal mentorship programs, nearly all of them expressed a struggle to engage students to become mentees.


This may seem somewhat odd, considering all of the benefits that students clearly receive from having a mentor, but this is what has been happening with many mentorship programs. To help understand why this is the case, here are a few reasons why student mentees don’t immediately pounce at many mentorship programs.

  1. The students have no clue that it exists

In interviews with a few hundred students at one of the largest universities in the US, we learned that the majority of students didn’t know that their school offers free health services, content on how librarians can help them and interlibrary loans, library journal subscriptions, writing centers, mental health services and international/domestic peer programs. All of these programs are extremely beneficial and available to students (and are consistently available at many large institutions and have been for years), but the students aren’t aware of their existence. Some universities have even made required projects that forced the use of these services, advertised these services on school buses, and brought guest speakers to speak about these services and students still don’t acknowledge their existence.

2. Mentorship is posed as a career development opportunity as opposed to an educational opportunity

Many mentorships blossom into job offers and work relationships. However, these further opportunities typically did not occur because students perceived that mentorship as leading into a job. They come from students genuinely enjoying the company and advice of their mentor, and wanting to continue their relationship with the mentor. Students put on a façade of professionalism when they are presented with an interview-like opportunity and feel like they have to not “look dumb” or seem like they are keeping up with everything a professional is saying so as to make themselves as hirable as possible. This is the exact opposite of what a mentorship should be. Students should have the goal of asking as many questions as one can in order to learn the most and grow as a person. Mentors seek vulnerability in a student mentee. Mentors don’t expect an 18-22 year old to know every facet of their career (that is why the student is the mentee!). Vulnerability is desirable because a student who asks questions and shows a willingness to learn is much more hirable than a student who doesn’t ask any questions.


Furthermore, if students are informed that mentorship is a career development opportunity, students that have job offers or believe they have a job lined up won’t pursue mentorships. Vice versa, it creates an environment where only students desperate for a job will want to be mentored and will act in a way referenced in the previous paragraph. This outcome is not valuable for the mentor or the student, and more often than not will leave all parties involved feeling extremely dissatisfied.

3. The fear of missing out

A student doesn’t want to be the only person doing something that everyone isn’t doing. On the contrary, students want to keep up with whatever their peers are doing. Therefore, to get a mentorship program to work at a university, it has to become popular to do. Students cannot perceive themselves as exclusive or too good to be mentored or else it won’t catch on with other students. Getting the initial students to become mentees is difficult because schools are posing students with a relatively scary proposition: go have a conversation with a stranger about your career. Many students struggle to know what they want in a career entering their senior year, let alone freshman to junior years. For a student, having a conversation with a stranger can be nerve-wracking in and of itself, combined with talking to a professional about career paths when the student himself maybe hasn’t considered career paths can be a lot.


Overall, creating a mentorship program within a university is difficult. To properly engage students in a mentorship program there needs to be a clear and proven plan to inform the students, portray mentorship as mentorship and not career development, and have a strategy for popularizing mentorship. This article hopefully can serve as a reference to help others with some of the struggles faced when attempting to grow a mentorship program.

Fri 22 November 2019
The educational landscape is changing. Universities are adding more courses and degree fields to help prepare students for the perpetually changing professional world.


Purdue and Gallup recently collaborated on a report titled Great Jobs, Great Lives and found that “Graduates who felt “supported” during college (that professors cared, professors made them excited about learning, and had a mentor) are nearly three times as likely to be thriving than those who didn’t feel supported.” 


Having professors that care and professors that made students excited about learning are things that can be monitored by universities internally. Having a mentor, on the other hand, is something that occurs outside of the classroom.


What is mentorship?


Mentorship is the relationship between a pupil and a professional in which the mentee gains knowledge, while the mentor gains the opportunity to pay it forward and give back some of his/her knowledge to someone who will appreciate it.


 Why is it important? 


Mentorship is vitally important to the development of college students because it provides them with a basis for building a realistic expectation for their professional careers.


Mentorship is important to mentors because it provides them with an opportunity to teach, detail their experiences, and talk about themselves. Dale Carnegie said it best “Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.”


How can it be implemented in universities?


Mentorship absolutely can be implemented in the college setting. In order to properly implement a mentor system in a university, there are some key pieces of information that need to be kept in mind:

  1. Alumni love the idea of being mentors. When interviewed, a university alumni association informed me that they were able to get over 9,000 alumni to be mentors.
  2. Assuming that all students are prepared to say they want a mentor is a misconception. In the same alumni association with over 9,000 alumni mentors, they were only able to facilitate 100 mentor/mentee connections over a 5 year period.
  3. Just matching a student with any mentor that has the same or similar career as the path the student aspires does not guarantee a successful relationship. There is much more to a successful mentor relationship beyond just matching students’ career ambitions with mentors’ experience.
  4. Students cannot think of mentorship as a job interview. If they do then the relationship cannot thrive because students are not their true, authentic selves when they believe there is an incentive.

 While working with a university’s business school we had them take our 360 degree assessment in which students ranked themselves and their peers on soft skill characteristics like listening skills, communication skills, leadership skills, etc. When the students were told that the report was for feedback purposes only, they ranked their peers much lower on the skills. Yet, when the students were told that their report of their peers (and their peers’ reports of them) would affect their grades, students ranked their peers much higher on the skills.


 Keeping this information in mind when establishing a mentor program at your university is vitally important to achieving your program’s goals.


Therefore, mentorship can be successfully implemented in the university setting if:

  1. The mentors are kept engaged.
  2. The students involve themselves with getting mentors and understand how to build those relationships.
  3. A system is in place to fully understand both the mentors and the students and connect them according to the latest research from experts on the subject.
  4. Students are provided with resources to teach them that a mentorship is not a job interview and that they should be themselves when meeting with their mentors.

Mentorship is beginning to permeate through the university setting as it has been successfully implemented in many companies through internal mentorship (i.e. senior leaders connecting with junior associates). Mentorship in college will not only help individual students learn from mentors but more importantly, help lead society towards careers they are passionate about.


 Will your university be able to implement mentorship successfully?

Fri 15 November 2019
Having a successful mentor/mentee relationship is not easy. There are many factors that play into the relationship between somebody willing to learn and somebody willing to teach.


For career mentorship, one of the most important factors is how both the mentor and mentee view their respective careers.


Typically, there are three ways that people view their vocations. To some, they consider their vocation a job to make money and go home. To others, they think of their vocation as a career where they can grow and develop while still having opportunities outside of work for their personal interests. To the rest, they consider their vocation a calling where they believe that the work they are doing is their life’s work.


The orientation one has about their work is not right or wrong. Furthermore, the same person can have different orientations around different work. For example, if you are working at a company that rotates you from project to project every period, you may find one project career work, another project a job, and another project your calling.


The orientation one has about their vocation is extremely important for mentorship. If a student aspires to pursue a career in marketing and thinks of it as his calling, it would make no sense to connect that student with a marketing professional that considers it her job.


It would leave the mentor thinking that the student has unrealistic expectations for a career in marketing and the mentee feeling jaded and potentially consider changing his career path.


This is just one of many factors that play into pairing the right mentor with the right mentee. If a student is left to their own devices when choosing a mentor, and the only information the student has are mentor names and titles, then their results from this mentor experience are completely random.


The goal of every mentor/mentee experience is to make sure that both the mentee and mentor are left satisfied. Mentors want to feel like what they are saying is being heard and valued by the mentee while mentees want to feel as if what they are learning is relevant to what they can achieve in their career.


Ultimately, if the factors that go into satisfying a mentor and a mentee are fulfilled, a successful mentorship relationship can bring incredible satisfaction to both parties involved and develop into a lifelong bond.

Fri 1 November 2019
Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” This sentiment that Mr. Twain held remains true to this day, but can be very difficult to uphold.


For college students thinking about life after graduation, it is very easy to fall into the trap of settling for the safety net of the first job offer they receive after school. This is not to say that the first job offer that a student receives through their career development process is not of their highest ambitions. However, with the conditioning that a typical college student faces from his parents, friends, professors, and the media, it is easy to understand how students can find themselves afraid to pursue their true dreams.
 

  1. The conditioning is bullshit


Conditioning in this sense is the feeling that one must take an action because an external stimulus is influencing that behavior. Some examples of this include pursuing a career only because it relates to your major, not pursuing a career because you didn’t have a high GPA, not considering a company because it doesn’t come to your university to recruit, or not pursuing a company because you don’t feel like you are good enough or have the appropriate credentials.


I was running an Ambition In Motion workshop where we recommend companies to students that align with their strengths, interests, and work environment desires. When one of the students was informing the group of his recommended companies he said:


“All of my recommended companies are amazing but I don’t think they are realistic for me.”


I followed up to him by asking, “Why not?”


He then proceeded to list off all of the conditioning he has received throughout his collegiate years. He didn’t have a high enough GPA. The company didn’t recruit at Indiana University. He didn’t have any connections to anyone at the company.


In response I told him, “Dream big! You are just as human as every other college student that is about to graduate. You don’t have to lower your aspirations because of what other people around you have told you. Your dreams are just as valid as anyone else’s. Through Ambition In Motion, you will learn how to build relationships with professionals at your recommended companies. Who knows what will occur from there, but if you don’t put yourself out there, you will relegate yourself to settling for whatever job offer comes to you.”
 

2. Your dreams and goals are valid

 
When it comes to deciding your career, don’t be afraid to think big! Almost every college student has a similar amount of career experience, give or take an internship or two. That is to say, not that much.


Sure, some universities have more companies recruiting at their career fairs and career development offices. This doesn’t guarantee students at those universities jobs at those companies. It also doesn’t mean students outside of those universities are precluded from those jobs. It just means that students, regardless of their universities, are on an even playing field when it comes to pursuing their dream jobs. Everyone is capable of getting their dream job if they put themselves out there and build relationships with people at their desired companies.


3. Careers are not predetermined

 
If your career was predetermined by your degree, university, GPA, or other conditioning factors, why would we even apply to jobs? To put it another way (and to keep with the season of March Madness), if the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament had a predetermined winner, why would we fill out brackets?


Mr. Twain’s belief about not surrounding yourself with people that belittle your dreams and goals is very important advice that every college student should keep in mind. College students should surround themselves with people that support their goals and ambitions.


Limiting beliefs are only limiting if you believe them. Dream big and pursue the career and life that you would be jealous of.

Fri 1 November 2019
Initial publishing in Forbes.

One of the most important ingredients to career success today is building powerful support relationships with helpful mentors and sponsors. These are individuals with whom you develop mutually-beneficial relationships that can open critical doors for you, offer helpful guidance, and share strategies that will catapult you forward in your life and career.


But just how do we find these mentors and sponsors? I’m asked this question virtually every week by young professionals and seasoned ones as well. I’ve found that there are productive ways to build mentoring relationships, and unsuccessful approaches that fail to generate the results you hope for.


To explore more about this topic, I connected recently with Garrett Mintz who knows a great deal about the life-changing power of mentors. Mintz is the founder of Ambition In Motion which focuses on kickstarting mentorships that help build fulfilling careers. Mintz’s vision is a world where the vast majority of people are excited to go to work and feel that their expectations meet reality when they are at work. His focus is on helping companies build intentional mentor programs within their organizations. Mintz and I recently co-delivered a one-hour training program on How To Network In An Authentic, Genuine Way To Find Great Mentors


Mintz shares below about his own life transformation from teen drug dealer to business founder, and how to build successful mentorship relationships:


Kathy Caprino:
What is Ambition In Motion and why did you found this organization?

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Garrett Mintz:
At Ambition In Motion, we believe that there are two key stakeholders in achieving a mission of fulfilling work for professionals: employers and employees. If we can help employers gain a better understanding of their people and culture and provide them with simple steps on how to manage their people in a way that works with that culture, we can help them increase engagement and retention.


And if we can help employees increase their professional drives and goals throughout their lives, we can put them in the best position to be engaged and fulfilled at work.


Caprino:
How did you get involved in this work? What was your path to this?


Mintz:
I got involved with Ambition In Motion because I recognized that there was a huge problem with the way people view their work that prevents them from experiencing success. When I was a sophomore at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, I kept noticing so many of my older friends were in prestigious-sounding jobs and were paid really well, but they hated their work. They kept referring to work as “going back to the grind” or that they were “dreading Monday” and I thought to myself, is all of this “success” a façade? Is it impossible for people to be excited about their work?


In addition, I got involved in this direction because I’ve lived personally and witnessed how having mentors in our lives can transform us.


As a bit of backstory, from age 15-19, I engaged in dealing drugs. At the end of my freshman year, I was arrested in an undercover operation by the Indiana University Police Department. I received 5 felony distribution charges and was expelled from school. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.


Before that experience, I believed that success would come through my attending college, getting good grades, and landing a great job, and somewhere along those lines I would “find myself”. Well, nobody that I had ever known (whom I considered successful) was a drug dealer, so I either had to accept being a failure or redefine my definition of success.


I chose the latter and have never looked back. After getting in trouble, I enrolled in a program called At The Crossroads which exposed me to the power of mentorship, both personally and professionally. I then landed my first internship after sitting next to a man on an airplane who wanted to take a chance on me and hire me (even after hearing about my past) because of the strong impression I made on him.


After completing At The Crossroads, I got extremely lucky. My felonies were dropped to a misdemeanor conviction, I was re-enrolled at Indiana University, and I was accepted to the Kelley School of Business.


I had lost everything but found a way to get back on track, and on the way back I learned that it is all about the journey, not the destination.


My first step on this path to launching Ambition in Motion was facilitating mentorship between students and alumni so then I could help students gain the confidence to challenge their preconceived notions about how they viewed work. I focused on helping them identify, through educating themselves, a new path in which their expectations for fulfilling work could meet reality.


Caprino:
What have you learned from facilitating all of the mentorships that you have? 


Mintz:
First, and probably most surprising, is that there is very little correlation between successful mentorship and career interest alone.


Just to be clear, successful mentorship in my view is where the student and mentor find the relationship productive and successful. The mentorships I connect young people with involve at least three conversations over a three-month period and the individuals often stay in touch after the formal program is over. The student or young professional achieves his/her goal by the end of the period, and overall they find the relationship engaging and mutually beneficial.


So many mentor programs are setup where there is a big list of professionals from which the student is required to choose a mentor. Most students choose people who are in jobs they desire or certainly fields they aspire to enter. The challenge with this approach is that even if your dream job is to be a financial analyst at JP Morgan Chase, and you connect with a financial analyst at JP Morgan Chase to be your mentor, this isn’t a guarantee for successful mentorship.


What I’ve learned is that when you can find a mentor who is aligned with your desired work orientation, the likelihood of a successful mentorship relationship is greater, even when the fields of the mentor and mentee are very different because you both have shared motivations as it pertains to work. 


From our team’s research, work orientation is about how you view work and what you wish to get from it. The three dimensions of work orientation that we’ve uncovered are:


Viewing work as a job:
High focus on how your work can afford you the life you want to live outside of work


Viewing work as a career:
High focus on professional growth


Viewing work as a calling:
High focus on personal/professional mission alignment


Few people are firmly in just one dimension of this spectrum and few people have the same work orientation throughout their lives (because your work orientation can change based on the task you are working on and your stage in life).


We hypothesize that a big reason for less than satisfying results in a mentorship relationship is that mentors are going to mentor based onwhat they would have wanted to know when they were a student. If work orientation is not in alignment between mentor and mentee, it doesn’t really matter if the mentor works at a student’s dream company. The relationship likely isn’t going to work out or deliver successful outcomes for the mentee.


Caprino:
How can we find great mentors, and then become great mentees?


Mintz:
The first step to finding a great mentor is being open to the idea of having a mentor. Getting a mentor doesn’t mean that you are weak or that you are incapable. In fact, it says the opposite. It shows that you have more to learn and that you are open to learning.


Unfortunately, vulnerability gets a bad reputation (I believe the direct translation of vulnerability in sign language means “weak in the knees”), but I would argue that vulnerability is the component that is most likely to attract mentors. People want to see those who have or are facing tough times succeed. It helps others relate and it also goes counter-culture to the notion that “everything has to be going fantastically well when speaking with others.”


This is part of the reason why I share my story of my drug dealing past with people. It makes it easier for others to relate to me. When an individual can see someone who’s dealt with very hard times and found a way to overcome those challenges, that is when the drive for mentorship thrives.


We become great mentees when we nourish these relationships by having regular conversations and continuously sharing our vulnerable spots and our commitment to growing.


Caprino:
Can this information apply beyond mentorship?


Mintz:
Absolutely! In fact, after we started noticing the trend of successful mentorship being tied to aligning work orientation, we thought to ourselves “could this lead to increased retention and engagement at work?” and this is what we are working on now.


If we can help employers gain a better understanding of their people and culture through helping employees identify their desired work orientation, then provide employees with simple steps to manage their people in a way that aligns with their orientation, we can help them increase engagement and retention. And by helping employees gain a deeper understanding of their own professional drives and goals throughout their lives, we can help put them in the best position to be engaged and fulfilled at work.


Caprino:
How have you seen company culture fit in with doing work we love and will thrive in?


Mintz:
Company culture is not ping pong tables and meditation rooms. Company culture is how you experience the work you are doing and the people you are doing it with. When it comes to work orientation, there is not one right or wrong orientation. Some people I have spoken with mention that they only want people on their team who view their work as a “calling.” But I would argue that having a diverse workforce is essential to a thriving company culture.


For example, people who view their work as a calling are typically most resistant to corporate change and people who view their work as a job are most receptive to corporate change. If you understand what motivates your people, you can manage them in ways that make them feel valued.


On the flip side, as employees, if we can feel like our company cares about the things we care about, we are much more likely to be engaged. If you don’t like the way your coworkers, managers and leaders view work, that is probably a sign that it’s time to look for a different employer.


In short, whether it’s in landing great mentors who can support your growth, or pursuing great jobs at organizations you would be excited to join, understand what matters to you most and what you value in terms of fulfilling work, and keep those values a top priority in all you do.


For more information, visit ambition-in-motion.com.

Fri 25 October 2019
The martial artist, actor, filmmaker, and philosopher, Bruce Lee, was one of the most prominent figures in the world throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s. Lee was not only extremely successful at each of these endeavors, but also pursued each endeavor in his own special way. Lee was best known for his martial arts, and rumor has it that he had to slow down his moves so that the camera could catch all of his movements while filming his movies. Lee once said “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”


 Lee’s sentiment about being yourself is something everyone should keep in mind. Straining yourself to be somebody you are not creates immense amounts of unneeded stress. This is especially true for college students pursuing their careers.


  1. You are not a machine that needs to fit the specs of what you think an employer wants.


Feeling like you have to fit in this box of what you think an employer wants based on the feedback you have received from your university, peers, parents, and society is completely understandable. There is a lot of pressure to get a career that satisfies the expectations of your parents, family friends, peers, and society…and then yourself.


For college students pursuing their careers, thinking that you can be yourself and get a job can be a difficult notion to grasp, as getting a job can be quite difficult. It is easy to assume that catering your personality to what you think an employer wants would make you more hirable.


But if you are able to land a job because you have catered your personality to what you think the employer wants, how long can you maintain that personality? How will being this different affect your relationship with your coworkers?


2. Putting on an alternate personality for your career will not last nor be satisfying.


Portraying a persona of somebody that you are not is difficult to maintain, and will not be sustainable in the long run. More importantly, it is not enjoyable. What most college students do not understand is that an employer would rather hire somebody that can enjoy their work and thrive than somebody that is straining themselves to try and fit the mold that they think the employer wants. This is because employers know that happy employees tend to be more engaged and stay longer than those who are unhappy.


How awesome would it be if a company would hire your for who you are? This does not have to be a situation reserved for the extremely lucky. If you are yourself in the interview process, you can feel free to be yourself when you work. Similar to dating, if you put on this façade during the first few dates that you will do all of these marvelous things as a relationship partner that you won’t actually do or want to do, it will lead to dissatisfaction for both you and your partner. On top of that, your partner may not even want all of these marvelous promises that you have made and not continue the relationship.


Wouldn’t it be unfortunate to not get a job offer from a company because the personality you portrayed was not what they were looking for but instead the company was seeking someone more similar to your natural personality?


How important is it to be yourself during the interview process and in your career? Extremely important!


When you feel free to be yourself, express yourself, and have faith in yourself in your career, you can begin to develop a level of comfortability on the job that breeds confidence. Comfortability and confidence are major aspects to building proficiency and happiness in your career.


Ultimately, choose a career that you can be yourself in. Nobody can be you better than you can.

Fri 18 October 2019
When dining at a restaurant, what happens when your expectations don’t meet reality? Presuming you were expecting to enjoy your meal, if your expectation is not fulfilled with what you experienced, you will likely not dine at that restaurant again. In contrast, what happens when expectation DOES meet reality? You enjoy your food, and will probably continue eating at that restaurant in the future.


What happens when employees’ expectations of their careers don’t meet reality? They leave.


For college students, possessing a realistic expectation of their career at a company is extremely difficult because they have never worked in the corporate world before. Sure, many college students have had internships and part time jobs before, but it is not the same as being in a full-time career.


There are many things that college students can do to gain a more realistic expectation of the factors affecting their careers. This blog will cover one of the most important factors affecting the expectations of their careers: MONEY.


When it comes to choosing a career from a list of job offers, many people resort to a mindset of “choose the job that pays the most!” This is not a bad instinct by any means. But is that job paying its employees enough to fulfill their expectations of the type of lifestyles they envisioned for themselves after college? If not, even the highest paying career is not enough to satisfy these employees’ expectations.


What can college students do to have a more realistic expectation of their lifestyle and how much money they should make after college?


They can begin by looking at their current lifestyle. If college students have accustomed themselves to a spend-heavy lifestyle in college (or vice versa and not spend much at all), they will likely live a similar lifestyle when they enter their careers. This is because students have grown accustomed to their lifestyles. Even if their parents, student loans, or scholarships covered the tab on many of the expenses that they are going to have to pay for now, students (and all people for that matter) have a difficult time changing their habits. To prove this point, checkout the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Broke which details the amount of former professional athletes that could not change their lifestyles after retiring and are now bankrupt.


Fortunately for college students, there is an awesome cost of living calculator on Nerdwallet which details the cost of living change from one city to another. By using this website college students are able to calculate their annual living, food, entertainment, and transportation expenses currently. They then can get a really good idea of how much they will spend annually on their lifestyles after college by comparing it to the costs associated with other cities where they wish to live. College students then have to factor in taxes and the amount of money they want to save annually in order to derive the minimum starting salary they need to achieve to live the current lifestyle they are living.


What if the minimum starting salary a student needs to have exceeds the amount of money they have been offered in their job offers?


There are 2 options at this juncture. Either the student needs to find job offers for more money, or he needs to realign his expectations of his lifestyle to meet a more realistic expectation.


By knowing what their minimum necessary starting salary should be, students can then concentrate on all other factors of the career when considering job offers. For example, if you discover that your minimum necessary starting salary is $50,000 (for a specific city) and you have offers for $52,000, $54,000, and $60,000, you can evaluate and compare every other facet of the career (nice employees, opportunities for growth, good location, a culture that seems to fit your personality, etc.) to choose the offer that fits you best among these other factors because you can know that your expected lifestyle will be fulfilled.


By performing this task while in college, students can save themselves a lot of heartache, stress, and time.


When expectation meets reality, satisfaction occurs.

Fri 11 October 2019
In 1914, electricians were noticing a rift in the career advancement of themselves vs. their peers. Some electricians were given easier jobs and greater job prospects because they were friends with managers, owners, and/or other people in power. These electricians were not given these opportunities because of their electrical prowess, but rather because of their relationship with those that mattered.  In May of 1914, The Electrical Worker published that electricians were adopting the phrase “it’s not what you know that counts so much, as who you know!”


This rift the electricians were feeling begged the questions: How do we get to know the right people? Who are the right people? Will people give me any time if they know nothing about me? Are my only connections my family connections?


These questions are just as relevant today as they were in 1914. Tony Robbins has said that “70% of every experience a person will have will come from his/her network”. I don’t know if this information is factually proven, but it seems to make sense and back up the claim that “it’s not what you know that counts so much, as who you know!”


For a professional entering a new industry, a recent college graduate entering the working world, or anyone that is seeking to have more relationships, building a network can be difficult. If you are a person who is seeking to meet new people, it is easy to ask yourself “what do I have to offer?” Without any knowledge, connections, and resources, it is easy to write yourself off as somebody that has nothing to offer.


What you may not realize is that you have a ton to offer in terms of your time and willingness to listen.


PEOPLE LOVE TO TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES!


By seeking to understand another person’s story, you are showing them respect and empathy towards the decisions that person has made in his/her life. Essentially, by listening to another person talk about themselves, you make them feel valued because you care about what they are saying and it is deeply personal to them. No amount of money, connections, or knowledge can make a person feel as great as having someone take the time to listen to them.


Another thing you may not realize is that no matter how famous, wealthy, or powerful a person is, you are not annoying until you receive a response. Thus, be persistent as “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” This could mean sending multiple emails, phone calls, showing up at their place of work, or even writing a handwritten letter.


The people you should be reaching out to are the people in positions that you aspire to be. Jim Rohn once said that “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” If you aspire to be in a leadership position at a company, you should be spending time with people who are currently leaders at the company.


After you know the right people, who those people are, and have taken the time to listen to them, you can then easily transition to being understood. The key to being understood is to clearly and concisely convey what you are interested in doing. You can typically count on the 5 to 1 rule. What this means is that you have to give somebody roughly 5 times as much active listening as they will actively listen to you. So if you have taken 15 minutes to listen to somebody’s story and talk about himself, he will give you roughly 3 minutes of actively listening to what you have to say. Therefore, be concise and clear about what you are interested in.


However, there is a trick to the 5 to 1 rule that can give you more active listening time. If you ask questions to the person you are connecting with on the topic of what you are interested in, you are showing that person respect. By asking questions, you are conveying that you care about what they have to say and value their response. At the same time, you are actively engaging them to think about a response to your question as opposed to just listening to you.


Ultimately, by asking the right questions and conveying your interests clearly and concisely, you are making it possible for that person to recommend other people to you. This is how a network grows.


Whether you are a professional entering a new industry, a recent college graduate entering the working world, or anyone that is seeking to have more relationships, these are some tips to getting your foot in the door. Strictly relying on your friends and family’s relationships for connections is a lot of eggs to put in one basket. Also, since it takes significantly more effort to build relationships on your own vs. via friends/family, you will likely value relationships you built on your own more than those you received from friends/family.  


“It’s not what you know that counts so much, as who you know!” is very true today. However, there are many ways to get to know the right people. Utilizing family connections can be extremely valuable, but the ability to build relationships on your own is paramount to expanding your network.