Are you really a “people person”?

When I coach and counsel job seekers, I am often confronted with the age-old term “people person”. What is that exactly? I have a friend who is an HR professional. He tells me they use the tag line “Oh good. If you are a people person, we can pay you five people a week. Will that be OK?”

But seriously folks. Most of us know where that concept came from. Originally when someone said they were a “people person” it meant they could deal with others in a positive way. It also likely meant they liked doing that.  Do you think people really do that anymore?

I fear the truth is we have lost some of the drive, desire, and ability to truly relate with people. Oh of course some of us are really good at it. But I don’t see where we teach that anymore. Instead, it seems young people are being encouraged to get better with computers and automated interfaces, but they do not get the same encouragement when faced with facing a live specimen.

Let’s rally together and do something different. If you struggle with making new friends, try baby steps first. Try simply saying hello to someone at the grocery store. Wave to a neighbor you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Let’s try to be a “people person”.

Challenging People

When was the last time you dealt with a “challenging personality”? We all have our stories about the store clerk or the person ahead of us in the checkout lane or the co-worker in the cube next door. We regale ourselves in telling these stories on and on when the audience is right.

Or do you have the ability to “challenge people” in a positive way? Can you see something amiss and graciously, politely suggest another thought pattern or approach to the situation? Can you do this in a way that people appreciate and value? The ability to help someone make a small life change is a true gift. Yet I think it is a skill we all can learn and sharpen.

Job Loss is Tough

Recently speaking to my group at JMS, we were visiting the idea of trying to stay focused and positive while dealing with career transition. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald (he should know given his life struggles) –“Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over.”

Sometime we just may have to start over. Things don’t go as planned; life happens. The best plans just don’t work out (I had an entire industry collapse around my ears, while holding the bag on a small privately held enterprise). So the cards dictate a new start; not a “do over”. Lord knows I would never do over what I did before.

No, it’s important to learn something from the life lesson and focus on a new beginning. Set a new course. Many great leaders have done nothing more but stay confident, stay bold, stay dedicated to the core values you believe.

It’s HOT Here

OK maybe global warming is on the rebound. At least in the greater Houston area, we are experiencing hotter than usual days with no rain whatsoever. As we say here in Texas, “even the jackrabbits are carrying canteens”.

I’ve been trying to act like none of this is happening though. I’ve been doing yard work (fired the yard guy to save a penny), playing golf in sunlight (more like the heat lamp at a fast food joint), and otherwise moving about despite the record high temperatures. Yes, I’ve lost a few pounds doing so, maybe even over-metabolized some vital organs, who knows. But it makes for a challenging aspect of these latest days.

Living in denial of this heat is sort of like saying the financial crisis is really not happening in the US. But the question is what can one person really do about it? Obviously our elected leaders think they have some ideas. Ok really? Maybe we can turn them loose on the whole global warming thing once they mop up this fiscal spill on aisle three. At least that what seems to be the approach; “let’s mop a little here, and a little more over there”. Oh yeah and “spade ready” is important too. Last time I heard the idea of spade ready was when my old dog died. Is that where the country is today?

I don’t think so. My friends are trying to be resilient, faithful, and hopeful. Kind of like enduring a blistering heat wave. Keep drinking the water and take a few showers to cool off now and then. Otherwise keep doing what you have to do. It takes too much energy to complain. I choose to keep pushing ahead, heat and all.

May Musings

Dear blog trackers, sorry for no new content recently. I’ve been incredibly busy with developing some new guides and seminar topic ideas. But that aside, how you been?

How is your relationship development going? Have you made any new, meaningful contacts since we last spoke? NO? Shame on you. I’d say I’ve made at least 5. I am not trying to brag. Rather I am trying to build the case for getting busy with getting out there.

The old schoolyard adage about “if you want a friend, be a friend” is so true. Yesterday I was speaking with one of my newest contacts who turns out to be part psychologist (no, that’s not like being a little Irish, which I am). The point is, she was commenting on one of the fastest cures for mild depression is getting out and giving to others rather than taking for yourself. Per my new friend, when we focus on the giving of ourselves to others, we get further away from the burdens that may be overwhelming us right now.

Maybe this isn’t rocket surgery, but it is surely a dose of a great idea that can make a big difference.

More later on the big three life questions 1) Who am I? 2) Why am I here? and 3) Where am I going?

Quality Relationships

The age old wisdom we heard when we were kids and the same stuff we tell our kids ‘if you want a friend, be a friend’ is all the more compelling today. Why? The conditions of the current job market and the business climate that has impacted those jobs both cry out for a change. I counsel people every day to consider their efforts at building a personal network. Employment experts tell us that networking is THE way to get your next job. So, how does someone go about building that network.

It takes RELATIONSHIP. People help people they know and trust. Therefore, it is incumbent on each of us to carefully, yet boldly go forward and try to become the connection that someone is interested and willing to have in their circle of influence.

“If you need a contact, be a contact”.

Sharpening the Saw

I like Steven Covey’s 7th habit, sharpening the saw. At first I had trouble getting the word picture, but that was long ago. Since then I have become a voracious reader. I find this expands the mind and keeps the age-creep from setting in. Anyway, some of my most recent main courses have been Jeffrey Gitomer’s”Little Black Book” (about connecting your network) and Keith Ferrazzi’s “Never Eat Alone”.

The reason these are in the spotlight for me is that I have been talking to my JMS group about their efforts to better connect with the people who can influence their job search success. I found it very interesting that Ferrazzi actually stated he never goes to a dedicated “networking” event. Why?  Because these events get filled with job seekers and people of no influence. Can someone say “DUH?”

So, where does that leave us? Well, the common thread between these two writers suggests we need to focus on target contacting versus large group.

More on that soon.

30-Second Info-Bomb

Job seekers usually get introduced to the famous “30-second commercial”. The logic is that you need a solid, to-the-point intro pitch in the event you meet someone of importance with whom you would like to connect. Further we are told that people only have 10 to 20 seconds to make a good first impression. So these worlds collide.

I have some personal issues with the canned 30-second info-bomb. First, look at the math above. You plan on thirty seconds, but first impressions get made BEFORE that time is up. OOOOPS.

Next, I’ve watched too many well-meaning job seekers get so hung up on the delivery of the perfectly choreographed and staged 30 second spiel that it becomes almost robotic. Picture any B-movie robot character with arms flaying shouting “Hi my name is Zeldorb, I am a model X93B cyborg from Romulak. I am capable of mass destruction at 300 yards with no collateral damage. etc, etc”

People don’t like this at all. Rather, we need to think in terms of making a simple emotional connection when we first introduce ourselves. And I am not talking about the weather or the color of that cool car in the parking lot. I am talking about genuine connection with the listener.  “Hi, my name is Doug. How do you like this event so far? What have you seen here that has impressed you?”

Ask them more about themselves to get the connection started. But of course, don’t pry or probe. Merely open a few doors.

Sales Minded job Search – Revisited

Last week while speaking at a conference, one attendee took me to task when I talked about having a sales minded approach to your job search and your interview. Where the discussion went then is not important right now, but I confess it made me think a bit. OK…time’s up. No, I am not changing my opinion. Yet the point does deserve some clarification.

When I say “sales minded” I am not talking about snake oil or used cars on corner lots. I am talking about high trust relationship selling where the presenter (the job seeker) leads the buyer (the hiring manager) into a “buy” decision. People don’t like being sold to, but they LOVE buying. 

This comes from making a solid connection with rapport, establishing a good understanding of the buyer’s need and your solution/value proposition. Then, as any good high dollar sales pro can do, LISTEN more for the rest of the need. Listen twice as hard  as you speak; easy to do since we are equipped with two ears and one mouth.


Long week, but great week. I had the good fortune of meeting with members of the PMI Houston organization during their annual conference at the GRB in Houston. This was a super group of folks. I met people from all walks of the certified project management world.

After three very intense days of workshops, panels, groups, and breakouts, it seems the attendees went home with renewed energy.

Topics of my two days of speaking centered on networking and interviewing skills; lots of debate and reaction to the key topics (this is a good thing). I often feel it is difficult to cover so much ground in so little time as is afforded by these seminar-type formats. Nonetheless we soldiered on! I hope folks got the key points:

  1. Networking requires giving first by getting involved.
  2. Interviewing needs to be a sales oriented transaction, but it should be a high trust sales effort, not a used car approach.

BTW, goodbye to April. We shall miss you until next year.