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Jun

6

2017

How to Get Promoted: Impress Your Boss by Doing These 7 Things

Published by in category Daily, Management, Professional Development | Comments are closed

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I once made a really big hiring mistake.

After a series of promising interviews, I took on an intern whose level of professionalism, performance, and overall demeanor quickly took a turn for the worse. I discussed it with my supervisor, we agreed that it was in everyone’s best interests not to move forward with the internship.

However, when we sat her down to talk, she countered our concerns about her performance by saying, “But … I was driving all the way from [insert desolate location here] to get here every day.”

I recall staring at her blankly. Since when does the length of your commute warrant special praise? Boost your resume and join 30,000 marketers by getting inbound  marketing-certified for free from HubSpot. Get started here. 

We all wake up every morning, brush our teeth (hopefully), and make our way to work. However, the simple truth is that the act of “showing up” isn’t enough to propel career advancement. The most successful people earn the attention and respect of their bosses by proving they’re an asset to the team. So if you’ve ever entertained the thought of how to get promoted — or, at least, how to impress your boss — we’ve identified a few things every boss would love to see you doing.

How to Get Promoted With 7 Great Behaviors

1) Take ownership.

At HubSpot, we’ve been known to “fire” our best people.

No, that wasn’t a typo.

Here’s how it works: If you have a great idea — and you can prove that it actually delivers — you will be fired from your day job to own and grow that idea. After all, that’s what happened to HubSpot’s former VP of Sales, Pete Caputa. The story goes, according to CEO Brian Halligan speaking to Inc:

In 2008, one of our sales reps came to me with an idea that he believed could revolutionize HubSpot. At the time, we sold our software directly to consumers. But the rep, Pete Caputa, thought HubSpot should have a reseller channel in order to expand the business model. Basically, he wanted to sell our core product to third parties, who would then turn around and sell the product to their customers.”

Halligan was far from sold on the idea, but he decided to give Caputa an opportunity to prove himself. “If you want to do it so bad, start doing it nights and weekends and show us this will work,” he said.

Not long after accepting the challenge, Caputa was, in fact, encouraged to leave his day job here to grow what is now HubSpot’s Agency Partner Program.

Our point: Don’t be afraid to bring big ideas to the table. That’s the type of behavior that good bosses love to see because it illustrates your ability to solve problems for the business (and customers) on a high level. And while it’s easy to solve problems that specifically pertain to you and your reports, the goal is to identify and solve problems that influence the grand scheme of things. Think like a founder, and your boss will take note.

2) Support your colleagues.

Depending on your industry, getting ahead at work might sometimes feel like a dog-eat-dog type of situation. And while the old saying goes, “Nice guys finish last,” there is actually an opportunity for self-advancement through the act of helping others. Not to mention, if your boss catches you in the act, it can highlight your ability to be remarkably helpful: a trait almost every good boss cares about.

But don’t just take it from me. Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, also has something to say about it:

The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me. That is the real accolade.”

In this book, Grant dives into the idea that in the workplace, people can be divided into three categories: takers, matchers, and givers.

  • Takers are known to, well, take from other people.
  • Matchers are more apt to make even exchanges.
  • Givers separate themselves from the rest by doing good without expectations for reciprocation.

Grant goes on to provide examples of successful givers throughout history, such as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, venture capitalist David Hornik, and businessman Jon Huntsman, Sr. So do yourself a favor and dig into their accomplishments a bit — we have a hunch that it’ll inspire you to rethink the potential benefits of lending a helping hand.

3) Measure and report.

Not long ago, I swore I saw a notable actor from the TV show “Lost” on my flight.

I excitedly texted my friend to tell him, to which he replied, “Send pictures, or it didn’t happen.”

That request got me thinking about our innate desire to “see it to believe it.” If my own friend wouldn’t believe my claims without photo evidence, why would my boss simply take my word for it when it comes time to talk about my performance?

The simple truth: Most bosses are busy, leaving little time for them to investigate whether or not you’re accomplishing what you’re supposed to be accomplishing. If you’re not vocal (and visual) about your performance, you run the risk of going unnoticed. That’s why supervisors love to see employees who not only measure their efforts but also report on them. Clear, specific, goal-oriented reports serve as one of the most effective ways to communicate your progress and prove to your boss that you’re capable of taking on more.

In terms of what to include in these reports, focus on ROI. While vanity metrics like social media views might be worth noting for yourself, your boss wants to see how your efforts are specifically influencing the bottom line.

“Don’t just report on what you crossed off your to-do list, report on what those activities achieved. So often, young staff want to prove that they’re working,” explains HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson. “We know you’re working. We see it and are proud of you for it. Prove not that you’re working, but that what you are doing is working.”

4) Be proactive, not reactive.

“My kids will have chocolate dripping from their mouths, and I’ll say, ‘Did you just eat chocolate?'” Peter Bregman, author of Four Seconds, once recounted for HBR’s IdeaCast. “And they’ll be like, ‘No, I didn’t just eat chocolate.'”

What in the world does that have to do with impressing your boss? Well, it’s a silly, yet accurate example of how you sound when you’re being reactive — and maybe even a little defensive — rather than proactive. Not a situation you’d want to be caught in with your boss, right?

From a psychological perspective, we react to avoid punishment. It’s a direct result of the stimulation that our amygdala — a subcortical brain structure that is linked to both fear responses and pleasure — experiences when we’re caught off-guard. And while it’s unrealistic to assume that you’ll never be faced with a quick decision in front of your boss, proactive employees aim to control situations by causing things to happen, rather than waiting to respond after things happen.

What does that look like, though? Well, aside from taking steps to plan ahead and anticipate “what-ifs,” Bregman encourages people to pause for four seconds before responding to something. That way, you’re allowing yourself a moment to process the situation you’ve been faced with, which can help you strategically and intentionally choose the words that you’re going to say — instead of instinctively saying something that you don’t mean.

5) Make more with less.

Part of being a noteworthy employee is being able to adapt to the industry and company changes that, eventually, will come your way. Let’s say, for example, that your company runs into an unplanned expense, or an important member of the team unexpectedly gives her two weeks notice. That could certainly throw a wrench in your budget and bandwidth, couldn’t it?

Some employees might see these events as a huge setback — one that serves as an excuse for falling short on goals. But the most successful people find a way to do more with less — and the really successful people find a way to do better with less.

Take that hypothetical budgeting issue. If it forces you to reduce or reallocate funds for freelancers, don’t use it as an excuse to allow content production to come to a halt. Instead, consider what you can do to turn the situation around. Maybe you work toward creating one strong piece of content on your own, like an ebook, that can be repurposed as separate blog articles to fill your editorial calendar until the budget gets back to a healthy level. Or, what about reaching out to a co-marketing partner to join forces on a piece of content that benefits you both?

Another great way to demonstrate your ability to do more with less would be to scale back the average time of your meetings. According to the book Time Talent Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag & Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power, “the average organization spends 15% of its collective time in meetings.” That plays into the belief that simply working longer hours is comparable to doing more with less when really, it’s all about making better use of your time. Cutting your meeting time in half will force you to get to the point quicker — and leave you with extra time to allocate toward other projects and tasks.

Remember: Excuses don’t promote career advancement. Solutions do.

6) Welcome feedback.

I have a confession to make. I hate it when I don’t have the answer for something. I want to think I know everything — so when I’m faced with the reality that I don’t, admitting so is a bitter pill to swallow. But being able to do so is a big part of getting ahead.

That’s one reason why it can be so helpful to welcome third-party feedback when we need to know what we’re missing — like when you’ve worked on a long-term project, and you start to see any progress through rose-colored glasses. At that stage, it’s most helpful to invite an outsider in to poke holes in your approach. What’s working? What’s missing? What is needed to take this project from good to great?

According to Gallup, the most engaged employees are the ones who meet with their managers at least once a week — which suggests that both positive and negative feedback, as well as overall effective communication, plays an instrumental role in the way we perceive goals. Asking for that kind of time with your manager is a reasonable request, if you make it count. Make sure that you’re prepared to handle whatever feedback comes your way. While positive feedback is often pretty easy to accept, negative feedback can come as a challenge for many but is often the most valuable.

To ensure that you make the most out of constructive criticism, take note of the following tips:

  • Listen. Sure, it’s easy to tune someone out when you’re not particularly thrilled with what they are saying, but that doesn’t make it right. Give the person the respect she deserves by listening to what she has to say, before you interject.
  • Ask clarifying questions. If you don’t understand the point someone is trying to make, don’t hesitate to ask him to elaborate. Following up with questions will help to ensure that you both walk away on the same page.
  • Consider the source. All feedback is not created equal. While getting some honest feedback from a co-worker who knows little about your project may help you to identify weak spots, it’s important that you focus on the feedback coming from those to whom you report. In other words, give attention and energy where they’re due most.

7) Smile.

We hate to sound like a bunch of “Pollyannas,” but trust us: No supervisor wants to walk into an office and see a team of people that look like they are suffering through a dental appointment. Not only is it detrimental to company morale, but it also sends a signal that there’s something wrong with his management. If there is, that’s an important conversation to have — but not by going around looking like someone just asked you to spend the day watching paint dry.

At work (and at home), it’s important to try to focus on the positive, no matter what’s on your plate. According to a 2010 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, it pays to be positive — literally. Not only did it find that optimistically inclined MBA students have an easier time finding jobs compared to their peers, but also, they saw a 5-10% increase in the probability of being promoted over their pessimistic peers.

Note to Self: Keep On and Smile On

Research like the study cited above taps into the idea that success can correlate with an ability to stay positive, even when completing overwhelming tasks.

And really, those findings align with many of the behaviors we’ve covered here. Even when something happens at work to upset us, proactively addressing it is more likely to be productive than reactively sulking and wallowing in it.

It may sound cliche, but beneath most of these tips is the foundation of a good attitude. So the next time something at the office bums you out — or you’re searching for the best way to progress in your career — revisit this list to see what you can actively do about it.

What are your best tips on how to get promoted? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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May

31

2017

How to Communicate Effectively at Work With Your Boss

Published by in category Daily, Leadership, Management | Comments are closed

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Do you feel like you and your boss are on the same page most days of the week?

If you nodded “yes” emphatically, that’s fantastic. But many readers might have a different opinion. In fact, a recent HubSpot survey revealed that while 70% of executives might reflect positively on their team’s marketing strategy, only 50% of individual contributors agree.

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As a marketer, it’s imperative to communicate effectively with your boss to avoid this executive divide. I wanted to create communication rules that all marketers can follow, so I went straight to the source for some answers and talked to my own boss.

I interviewed Rick Kranz about effective communication with his marketing team. He has more than 30 years of business management experience and was more than willing to share his opinions with us. Read on for his thoughts and key takeaways about communication strategies between managers and employees.

8 Rules for Communicating With Your Boss

1) Start with the bottom line.

I asked Kranz what he thinks is the most effective way for your marketing team to talk to you.

Start with the bottom line. When you speak in hyperbole you end up telling a story that eventually gets to the bottom line. Start with, ‘we are getting 50 more leads and here is why…’ and avoid, ‘So I ran an email campaign and a PPC campaign and had HUGE success. We are now getting 50 more leads.’ When you start with the bottom line, I am in a position to then ask appropriate questions like, ‘How did that happen?’”

What does this mean?

Don’t beat around the bush. Your boss is a busy person and you need to respect that. Give her the point of your discussion first, then go backward if questions are proposed. This will keep your communication streamlined and focused.

2) Speak in numbers.

I asked Kranz if he prefers the bottom line to be in numerical or qualitative data, and if he prefers to hear about the bottom line or have a document or graph to guide the information.

I prefer numbers over words. A lot of CEOs are numbers-driven. Visual data is much quicker to digest, so if information can be visual, please make it so. If you give us a spreadsheet, we’re happy, but if you give us a paragraph to read, it can be left open to interpretation.”

What does this mean?

Numbers are powerful because they can communicate success (or problems) at a glance. Use them to your advantage when communicating with your boss — numerical data speaks for itself.

3) Schedule when you communicate with your boss.

Next, I asked Kranz if he prefers discussions with his marketing team to be scheduled in advance.

It’s best to schedule a meeting with me. That way, I can plan for our discussion and focus. You don’t want my mind to be elsewhere, and if our discussion isn’t scheduled, then you’re most likely going to end up interrupting my workload, which is inefficient for both of us.”

What does this mean?

We all can attest to the fact that writing back and forth via email can get messy, so try not to fill your boss’s inbox with email after email from you.

Instead, schedule meetings with your boss to avoid messy lines of email communication and walk-in office interruptions. This will help streamline your communications and save valuable time.

4) Establish the that you have certain “rights” to communication.

I asked Kranz if he limits the number of employees that he communicates with directly.

Right now, I speak directly with everyone at our agency because there is only a handful of us, and that’s how our business model works. At companies I have been a part of in the past, with more than 50 employees, I would scale down my communications to about seven people. There isn’t a rule for it, it was just more effective that way.”

What does this mean?

Do you have the right to speak with your boss? Of course — we all have that right. But that doesn’t always make for effective communication.

If you have concerns you want to address with your boss, but you’re not the main point of contact with her, you should bring your concerns to your direct supervisor. This person will address your concerns with you, or take it up the food chain to your boss.

5) Communicate the anticipated results and next steps of your plans to your boss.

Next, we chatted about how Kranz wants to discuss future plans and goals with employees.

Always be able to tell me where we are, where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there. If we’re at point B and you want to get us to point A, then tell me how you plan to do that, and what will happen once that step occurs. Communicate the results of your plan and what the next steps are that I can help you with.”

What does this mean?

Communicate your plans effectively by addressing what the plan is, what the results will be and what the next steps are. If you bring these talking points to the table, you’ll be organized, and your plan will be well spoken for.

6) Bring problems to your boss’s attention right away.

If a problem emerges, Kranz wants his team to bring it to him right away.

Come find me in person, because the problem needs to be addressed right away. Sending an email can delay my response time and doesn’t put us in a good position for a problem-solving discussion. Additionally, it’s smart to always bring at least one solution to the table. Never give me a problem without a solution, because then you’re just passing the buck.”

What does this mean?

Don’t skulk away when a problem pops up or a mistake occurs. Respond to it proactively, and don’t keep your boss in the dark. Communicate your own proposed solutions when you present the problem so you and your boss have a basis to start a problem-solving conversation.

7) There’s a right time and place to promote your achievements.

I asked Kranz how he prefers achievements and success be brought to his attention by direct reports.

In a successful business, things are going well on a regular basis. If someone were to tell you every time something good happened, you would have someone running into your office all the time, because good news makes your business run. In my opinion, a monthly review of results would be best. It’s easier to digest these results as a report, too. During the review of results, your achievements should be highlighted. Weekly meetings are another good place for everyone to discuss their recent achievements.”

What does this mean?

We all love to brag about what we do well, but there’s a time and place to do it. Your work will speak for itself if you’re bringing in the type of results your boss is looking for. Then, you can get on your podium and share your achievements when you present reports to your boss or allocate time for success stories at the end of a meeting.

8) All business-related topics are noteworthy.

Kranz doesn’t believe there are any topics that would hinder effective communication between an employee and his or her boss.

There’s nothing my team shouldn’t come to me with. We want to hear about how the team is working together and how your work environment is, so anything is open for discussion.”

What does this mean:

Speak to your boss about business topics that concern you, or any particular success-related stories. Communicating feedback on what is going on in your business environment is an effective way for your boss to see a full picture of the company from someone else’s perspective, so don’t hold back.

Communication Is a Two-Way Street

Effective communication with your boss starts with you. You need to approach it a certain way for the conversation to be as productive as possible, so you can minimize the divide between executive and individual contributor perceptions across companies. To learn more about the global state of marketing and sales industries, download the 2017 State of Inbound report today.

What are your strategies for communication effectively with your boss at work? Share with us in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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May

31

2017

7 Leadership Resources for Any Stage of Your Career

Published by in category Daily, Leadership, Management, Tactical | Comments are closed

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Learning some things in life is relatively straightforward. Take knitting, for example — that’s typically as simple as procuring some yarn and needles and searching for a how-to video on getting started. Sure, your work might look a little haphazard at first, but the steps are fairly intuitive.

Learning to lead others, on the other hand, isn’t so linear.

There’s always the option to pick up a leadership book or turn to articles on the topic to get started, but a start is all it will be. You’ve got to read, listen, ask questions, put things into practice, make mistakes, and course-correct — only then, you might be at a “good enough” level. New Call-to-action

But everyone has to start somewhere, and if you’re looking to embark on a leadership development path, you might also be looking for some of the best materials to help you along the journey. We’ve got you covered — below are some of our favorite podcasts, tools, tips, and resources to become a better leader.

7 Leadership Resources for Marketers

1) Podcasts

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Depending on the day, one method of consuming information might be better than another. If you take the train into work and the ride is quieter than usual one morning, for example, it might be a great day to catch up on a leadership book. But if you drive, and traffic is particularly bad, it’s probably better (not to mention, safer) to listen to a podcast episode about leadership than to read a book about it.

That’s one of the reasons why we consistently keep a few leadership podcasts downloaded and ready to listen to. Here are three of our favorites:

TED Radio Hour

Around here, we love a good TED talk. But trying to pick just one out of volumes of valuable presentations is as tricky as trying to pick one thing to watch on Netflix, am I right? That’s what makes the TED Radio Hour podcast so valuable. It takes some of the most intriguing TED talk topics — like big data, making our work more meaningful, or even forgiveness — and builds episodes based on them.

The Growth Show

Hosted by HubSpot’s VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson and CMO Kipp Bodnar, The Growth Show is an exploration of all things relating to business growth. Anderson and Bodnar take turns at the helm, welcoming guests to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of growth. From stories of epic failure to the even better recovery that followed it, Anderson and Bodnar interview guests who share some of the most intriguing organizational, cultural, conceptual, and team insights.

StartUp

As the name suggests, this product is a self-described “podcast about what it’s really like to get a business off the ground.” And no matter where you are in your career, there are still leadership lessons to be learned from entrepreneurs or beginners, especially if you need a back-to-basics reminder of how to get started. Plus, the topics — like balancing business and family life, or stories about inventors — are just plain interesting and provide solid fodder to get your wheels turning in the morning.

2) Public Speaking Help

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Public speaking isn’t exactly a requirement for being a strong leader, but as you progress in your career, it might become part of your job (think: presenting at large team meetings or to a board), and it’s a skill that can help set you apart from the pack.

But if public speaking sounds like a worse experience than undergoing a root canal, then there’s a chance you’ve wished for a formula to make it as simple as possible. That’s why we love speaking.io — it’s a near one-stop-shop for public speaking tips. Upon arriving at the site, it appears to be an unconventional resource collection for the five major steps of presenting:

  1. Plan out your talk.
  2. Design and build your slides.
  3. Prep for the big day.
  4. Deliver and do your thing.
  5. React and reflect on what just happened.

Plus, if you want newer, more detailed tips and information, the site also contains a blog with advice on things like using images, sharing presentations online, and dealing with nervousness.

3) Books (On the Stuff They Don’t Teach You in Business School)

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Sometimes, it feels like we have to master everything to be a leader. We have to learn how to manage projects, delegate tasks, and analyze outcomes. But then, there are the leadership lessons that don’t always get the biggest headlines, like learning to be empathetic, accountable, and how to embrace vulnerability.

That last one, while a scary word, is something that we’ve found some of the most exceptional leaders do. That’s why we love Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown. “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability,” she writes, “we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”

This book, in particular, dives into years of research on why vulnerability can be an asset to leaders. After all, taking risks requires some degree of becoming vulnerable, and strong leaders know when to take calculated risks. But that doesn’t just apply to work — Brown’s work also explores how that vulnerability can be an advantage in other areas of life.

4) The Radical Candor Framework

Think about the hardest piece of feedback you’ve ever gotten. Chances are, it was tough to hear, but you were ultimately better off because of it.

That’s exactly what happened to Kim Scott. After an important presentation, Scott’s boss, Sheryl Sandberg — yes, the one who wrote Lean In — had some feedback. Harsh feedback. The kind of feedback that stings. But because Scott knew that Sandberg was coming from a compassionate place when giving the feedback, Scott accepted it, moved on, and became better.

Scott took this pivotal interaction and used it to develop a framework for giving better feedback at work — the kind that embraces brutal honesty delivered with profound empathy. It’s worthy advice for leaders at any point in their respective careers.

Fun fact: We once had the pleasure of hosting Kim Scott on The Growth Show. If you’re interested in hearing more about her perspective on leadership, check out her episode below.

5) Real-time Feedback

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Speaking of feedback, did that last resource make you crave receiving some yourself? After all, authentic, constructive criticism is an excellent supplement to the advice doled out by books, blogs, podcasts, and frameworks. Enter CareerLark: a Slack bot that helps you seek out on-the-fly “micro-feedback” on the skills you want to improve.

Here’s how it works. In the example provided by CareerLark’s product explanation, an employee wants to get feedback on his weekly analytics updates. Using the Slack bot, he can ping his boss to get real-time feedback on how he’s doing. She’ll then receive a message like this one:

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From there, Monica can either answer using one of the emojis provided, or send a more detailed response, as per below:

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Micro-feedback in real-time? Great for your skill development — and, it can provide your boss with good practice in providing concise commentary.

6) Advice From Real People

Sometimes, using a Slack bot to get advice just doesn’t cut it. We all need feedback from a real human being, and on occasion, it can be the most enlightening to get it from someone outside your company or industry.

So when you’re looking to step outside your “bubble” for input, here are a few apps that can help.

Real Talk

By The Learning Partnership, a Canadian advocacy organization for public education, the Real Talk App (available on iOS and Android) provides “unfiltered” advice from a broad range of professionals at various career stages — everyone from sound designers to freelance creatives. These individuals answer questions that many of us have as we begin to explore different work options, like whether or not advanced education is worth the money, or how you can make a career change.

Officehours

Sometimes, it can be tough to figure out who to turn to for advice. That’s what makes apps like Officehours so valuable — this one, in particular, helps you find an expert (or “advisor”) for 10 minutes of free one-on-one advice.

The advisors appear to hold a broad range of expertise, from design to entrepreneurship, data science and more. Check out the video below to learn more:

Mara Mentor

If you’re a budding entrepreneur struggling to find a mentor in your industry, check out this tool — it was designed to provide an “exchange of ideas, guidance, learning and connecting with like-minded people.”

Not only does Mara Mentor (available for iOS and Android) offer a platform for connecting professionals and entrepreneurs with mentors, but also, it provides industry news and a digital networking platform that connects you with other entrepreneurs to share knowledge and experiences. Plus, it’s global — so no matter where you are, you can connect with others for professional support.

7) Online Courses

We’ll admit that many of the sources on this list largely pertain to management, communication, and finding a mentor. But that’s not that only way to advance or make changes in your career. Sometimes, it’s about becoming really, really good at a certain thing that your job requires — or something that the job you want requires. And for that to happen, you just need to hunker down and learn it.

An online course can be a great way to do that. Finding the right class depends on the skill you want to develop, but here are a few places we recommend for getting started, especially when it comes to marketing-related skills.

HubSpot Academy

If you want a deep dive into some of the most important aspects of marketing today, check out the HubSpot Academy. One of the most popular resources available there is our free Inbound Certification.

Designlab

Want to improve or sharpen your design skills? Check out Designlab. You’ll be given real assignments to build your knowledge — and a mentor to help you through each one.

Codeacademy

More free stuff? You bet. In fact, you can learn to code for free with Codecademy, which is a particularly helpful resource if you learn best by doing — lessons are taught by way of both instruction and hands-on experience.

Lynda

Okay, so this one isn’t free — subscriptions start at $19.99/month — but if there’s a professional skill you want to advance, chances are, Lynda has a course for it. Created by LinkedIn, it offers classes in everything from Excel, to audio production, to software development.

What’s Next?

So, let’s say you’ve taken full advantage of the resources above. You’ve learned a lot and even gained some introspection. But if you’re still stuck, fear not — we’ve all been there.

If you’re at a loss for what kinds of skills you want to develop, or if you’ve realized that you’re not sure you even want to be a leader in your particular field, then there’s a chance you just might not be sure what to do next. That’s why we created The Next Five: a free assessment that can help you identify the next step in your career.

And because many of us dread the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” — or simply can’t answer it — this resource comes with even more processes to come up with a response on your own time. Because the only thing better than general, yet valuable leadership resources, are those tailored to your specific situation.

What are some of the most helpful leadership resources you’ve found? Let us know in the comments.

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May

26

2017

8 Signs of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Published by in category Daily, Leadership, Management | Comments are closed

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We write a lot about artificial intelligence here at HubSpot. You might be excited about it, or slightly concerned that AI will take your job — and then take over the world.

And while AI is important and interesting, I’m going to ask you to put a pin in that so we can talk about another type of intelligence: emotional intelligence.

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Emotional intelligence doesn’t involve bots or machine learning, but it still could have a huge impact on your job, your success, and your happiness at work. By now, we all know that success isn’t just about what you know — it’s about how you work with the people around you, too. And whether this involves networking, an inter-departmental project, or managing direct reports, other people will have a huge impact on if you get your next promotion, new job, or have opportunities presented to you.

In this post, we’ll run through a quick review of emotional intelligence — what it is, why it’s important, and how to be an emotionally intelligent leader at work.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

The term was first defined in 1990 by two behavioral researchers named Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, and it was more broadly popularized by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

Emotional intelligence is defined as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.”

So, what does that actually mean, in plain English?

Emotional intelligence, or EQ (a play on intelligence quotient, or IQ), refers to your ability to handle emotions — your own, and those of others. It’s the ability to recognize and understand your emotions, having control over them, and help others do the same. And as you can imagine, these people skills can be just as important to professional (and personal) success as technical skills.

In fact, there’s actually no correlation between a high level of cognitive intelligence (IQ) and a high level of emotional intelligence (EQ). Psychologist Daniel Goleman thinks that the measurement of IQ is too restrictive and doesn’t accurately reflect if an individual will be successful, in their career or life in general.

Goleman and Dr. Richard Boyatzis created a framework of behavioral qualities that demonstrate EQ. In this post, we’ll explore 10 of these behaviors that leaders can use to show EQ and foster it in their teams.

8 Qualities That Demonstrate Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

1) Adaptability

Are you flexible to changes on your team and within your organization? Are you resilient when confronted with conflict and difficulty? Are you able to quickly manage the expectations and needs of both the people you report to and the direct reports on your team?

Adaptability is a key trait of emotionally intelligent leaders. Whether you’re dealing with a bad month of metrics, an interpersonal conflict between team members, or a company crisis that requires an all hands response, leaders need to be able to quickly react and respond to new and changing information. They also need to be able to respond to change with compassion and diplomacy — even if the changes might not be to their preference. Grudges, overly emotional reactions, and negative one-off complaints are unproductive, can contribute to low morale, and are generally signs of low EQ.

Leaders should set examples for emotionally intelligent adaptability by encouraging teams to present constructive feedback in team meetings or 1:1s. Leaders should also acknowledge pain points that come with change and encourage team members to brainstorm solutions and techniques for quick recovery.

2) Optimism

Are you able to motivate team members and people around you in the workplace? Can you change the mood with a joke or positive outlook on a tough situation? Are you able to help someone stuck in a negative mindset see a different perspective?

Just like adaptability, optimism is critical for leaders to motivate and uplift a team during tough times at work. Now, optimism doesn’t mean you’re relentlessly positive, no matter what. It means you can see the bigger picture of a difficult situation or bad mood to get perspective and keep moving forward — instead of getting bogged down in negativity.

Leaders should encourage team members to look at all sides of a problem to gain perspective, come up with creative solutions to challenges, and help point it out for them when they can’t do it themselves.

3) Initiative

Do you try to identify and solve problems before they arise? Do you volunteer to make things better for your peers and your team? Do you always follow up on conflicts and questions brought to you by team members? Do you not only complete the asks of your role, but look for ways to get even better results?

The ability — and eagerness — to take initiative is another sign of emotional intelligence in leadership. In fact, doing the bare minimum can sometimes be perceived as selfish — even if you are technically getting your job done every day.

Leaders with a high EQ seek out ways to improve and excel — and that includes helping team members take initiative, too. Leaders should identify and cultivate strengths in their team members and help them get to the point where they’re confident and capable enough to take initiative, too. Other examples include volunteering to take on additional work, team projects, or simply helping others complete tasks in the office.

4) Conflict Resolution

Do you moderate interpersonal conflict discretely and effectively? Do you help team members navigate disagreement or clashing priorities in a way that’s respectful to everyone involved? Do you advocate for your team to make sure members feel supported and heard?

Let’s face it — if you work on a team, conflict is bound to happen, even among the closest of colleagues. When that happens, leaders have to help come to solutions that make everyone involved feel heard, respected, and resolved.

Emotionally intelligent leaders should provide team members with plenty of opportunities to talk — in person, via phone or video call, or as a team — to resolve issues and air challenges before they devolve into unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Leaders should empower team members with conflict solutions, new processes, and more of that adaptability to prevent future problems before they arise. And sometimes, the greatest conflict resolution a leader can offer is letting a team member vent and get a problem off their chest.

5) Professional Development

Do you encourage team members to learn and cultivate new skills? Do you help team members identify strengths and target areas of improvement? Do you deliver constructive and actionable feedback? And when the time comes, do you advocate for team members to seek new opportunities, even if those opportunities aren’t working with you anymore?

As Saturday Night Live writer and actor Tina Fey once said, “in most cases, being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” She’s obviously a very emotionally intelligent leader, and we encourage leaders to take it a step further than that for best results.

Hire talented people and develop their skills and talents so they’re the best they can be — even if that potentially means losing them as a team member. Emotionally intelligent leaders can prioritize the development of others over their own desire to have the best team possible. These leaders should help employees identify talents, improve on strengths and weaknesses, and help team members take on new opportunities they might not without a leader’s encouragement.

6) Empathy

Do you put yourself in teammates’ shoes when addressing challenges and problems with them? Do you acknowledge others’ feelings and opinions and respond to them? Do you share your own emotions and worries with team members to help them feel understood?

Effective leaders must be empathetic in order to also be emotionally intelligent. Empathy means not just listening to team members, but making them feel heard and understood, too. Leaders should constantly seek to understand the perspective of their team members to effectively communicate changes, feedback, and news — both good and bad.

Empathetic leaders can deliver feedback in team members’ preferred method of communication, tailor meetings and communication according to different personalities and styles, and adapt their leadership style to what’s most effective for motivating and helping the larger group.

7) Trustworthiness

Do teammates confide in you? Do you know when to keep information confidential, and when to escalate it through the proper channels? Do teammates feel comfortable bringing concerns to you when they arise?

Trust isn’t just about keeping secrets your team members confide in you — it’s also about creating an environment of mutual trust where team members feel supported and comfortable.

Emotionally intelligent leaders should provide team members with multiple avenues for providing feedback, airing grievances, and voicing questions or concerns — without feeling vulnerable or wrong for doing so. They should encourage team members to support and rely on each other, work collaboratively, and share knowledge and skills for better team outcomes.

8) Self-Reflection

Do you analyze your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement on a regular basis? Do you engage with your direct reports and your supervisors to get 360-degree professional feedback? Do you set monthly, quarterly, or annual goals for improvement and personal development?

In addition to all of the above, one of the most meaningful ways leaders can cultivate their emotional intelligence to drive better team outcomes is to pause and reflect on themselves. It can be challenging to critique yourself, which is where collaborative feedback comes in. Emotionally intelligent leaders constantly seek feedback from peers and other leaders to analyze and strategize how to constantly improve — in meetings, 1:1s, and by seeking to learn from other sources.

These are only eight examples of emotional intelligence in leadership, but focusing on these traits will help leaders cultivate emotional intelligence in team members to help them be as productive and successful as possible. For more information on improving and cultivating emotional intelligence in leadership, download HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah’s ebook here.

What signs of emotional intelligence do you value? Share with us in the comments below.

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May

16

2017

Introverts vs. Extroverts: Leadership Challenges & How to Solve Them

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There are a variety of tests and surveys you can take to learn about your personality traits and assess your strengths and weaknesses as they fit in the workplace. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the DiSC Profile, and the Big Five are a few that come to mind — we even use DiSC here at HubSpot.

These tests and their subsequent results often hinge upon the different traits and habits of introverts versus extroverts. 

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These personality traits are more commonly associated with your personal life, but introversion and extroversion impact how you interact with everyone — including your coworkers. In fact, identifying whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert could help you be a better leader, too. 

All leaders have their own distinctive styles and methods for motivating and empowering teams, and while none of them are right or wrong, some can be adjusted to make team work environments as productive and successful as possible. In this post, we’ll dive into the exact differences between introverts and extroverts, and how they can solve common leadership challenges their personality types might face.

Introvert vs. Extrovert Definitions

Introverts are people who gain and recharge mental energy by being in quieter, less stimulating environments. Extroverts are the opposite: They gain and recharge their energy by being around other people in more stimulating environments.

Quiet Revolution co-founder and author Susan Cain says introverts “listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation.” She described the difference between introversion and extroversion using an example: After spending three hours at a friend’s birthday party, would you be more inclined to go home for the night and decompress, or keep the party going? The science behind the difference between introverts and extroverts lies in our nervous systems. One big difference has to do with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that induces reward-seeking behavior. When dopamine production increases in your brain, both introverts and extroverts become more talkative and more alert to people in their surroundings. And as it turns out, dopamine is more active in the brains of extroverts. For introverts, acetylcholine is the preferred neurotransmitter — one that gives people pleasure when they reflect inward and take a lot of time to think deeply or focus intensely on just one thing.

So, introverts aren’t necessarily shy, and extroverts aren’t necessarily party animals — the different types simply derive more pleasure from different levels of external stimuli. (And it’s important to note that there’s a spectrum of introversion and extroversion, and it’s possible to be an ambivert — a person who has habits and tendencies of both introverts and extroverts.)

Challenges can arise in the workplace because individuals with extroverted tendencies — such as a willingness to speak up — might be promoted first or get more attention from executives — especially in fast-paced business environments. But there are challenges that can come up when introverts are leaders, too.

How Introverted Leaders Can Improve

The Challenge: 

I asked Cain about her thoughts on how introversion can hinder leaders at this year’s Simmons Leadership Conference. “For introverted leaders, the temptation is to keep their heads down and focused; the challenge can be to interact with their teams as frequently and enthusiastically as their team members would like.”

The Solution:

Introverted leaders should determine effective ways to interact and communicate with their team members that are comfortable for both introverts and extroverts. Some suggestions include:

  1. Schedule weekly 1:1 meetings with team members so you can prepare in advance for giving feedback and discussing work.
  2. Host “Office Hours” for team members who want to chat in person outside of regularly scheduled meetings.
  3. Overcommunicate instructions and contextual information you might not share as openly in a team meeting.
  4. Use communication and team collaboration tools — like Slack, Asana, and Trello — to keep avenues of communication about ongoing projects and initiatives open without having to hold a meeting.
  5. Schedule meetings with a clear agenda for all team members invited.
  6. Encourage team members (and yourself) to prepare for team meetings in advance so everyone can contribute to the discussion. Introverts might need more time to read, write, and prepare notes for a meeting to feel empowered to speak on the fly, so encourage your team to read any pre-meeting materials and set aside time to prepare.
  7. Determine how different team members like to give and receive feedback — and whether it’s in person or via email, challenge yourself to tailor your feedback to its recipient.
  8. Explicitly communicate praise, either in person or via email, so team members feel appreciated. Where extroverts might prefer to be praised in a team meeting, introverts might prefer to receive praise in a 1:1 meeting.

How Extroverted Leaders Can Improve

The Challenge:

Cain also reflected that extroverted leaders can encounter obstacles of their own. “For extroverted leaders, the challenge is to let other people contribute ideas,” Cain says. “A study by Wharton professor Adam Grant found that introverted leaders of proactive teams produced better results than extroverted leaders did because they were more likely to encourage others’ input, while extroverted leaders were more apt to put their own stamp on things.”

The Solution:

Extroverted leaders need to balance different personalities on their team to make sure they motivate and encourage their team to excel without being so enthusiastic that they shut others down. Some ideas include:

  1. Host meetings that incorporate aspects that let both introverts and extroverts shine. For example, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos starts all meetings with the group silently reading prep materials together for the first 20-30 minutes. Then, the meeting evolves into a discussion without a set agenda. These two pieces let both groups prepare in the manner most comfortable for them.
  2. Rethink brainstorming. As it turns out, brainstorming alone can produce a greater quantity of good ideas than discussing in a group. Cain suggests a hybrid brainstorm wherein participants come up with ideas alone and come together in a meeting to share and improve upon them.
  3. Keep meetings as small as possible so everyone feels comfortable speaking up.
  4. Allow team members to prepare as much as possible. And if that’s not possible, offer the opportunity to provide feedback and additional thoughts in a follow-up meeting or email.
  5. Listen twice as much as you speak in meetings to avoid dominating the conversation.
  6. Identify visibility opportunities for team members that work for their personality types.
  7. Champion and advocate for more introverted employees who might not identify those opportunities as readily.
  8. Challenge introverted employees to practice skills they’re not as comfortable with in private settings. Encourage extroverted employees to practice those skills in a meeting or a more visible setting.

Listen Up

The most valuable leadership advice we can offer, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, is to be honest about your leadership style. Don’t be afraid to openly and transparently tell your team members about your personality traits. Tell them about your style, they’ll tell you about theirs, and you can all work together to communicate and work effectively.

For more ideas for making the workplace conducive to introverts’ and extroverts’ success, check out more leadership content on ThinkGrowth.org, our Medium publication.

What are your suggestions for making the workplace inclusive for all personality types? Share with us in the comments below.

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Oct

20

2016

Are You a Good Boss? [Flowchart]

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Earlier this year, I wrote about a little thing called “imposter syndrome.” It refers to the feeling we get when, no matter how much we’ve achieved, we feel like we don’t belong or don’t deserve to be in a position of leadership.

About 70% of us will experience it at some point, especially the bosses among us. No wonder why so many of us constantly ask if we stack up. And how do you measure that, anyway?

It turns out, we’re probably overthinking it. Sometimes, a simple question-and-answer flowchart can help us with that introspection, and answer the question, “Am I a good boss?”

You’re in luck. The folks over at Headway Capital have created such a flowchart, chock full of important questions to ask about your leadership style, priorities, and more. Check out the infographic below to see how you measure up as a boss — and where there might be room for improvement. (P.S. Love infographics but struggle with design? Download our free infographic templates here).


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Sep

2

2016

6 Negotiation Strategies Every Marketer Should Know

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There’s a reason why we love TV courtroom dramas. Beyond the shocking objections and confessions, it seems like there’s constant screentime for strong, powerful arguments.

As marketers, that last part is especially exciting. Whether we know it or not, we are unabashed nerds for all things negotiation — and it’s a skill that all of us should master.

That could be why we’re drawn to a well-written, televised version of a compelling argument. We love seeing people making a case for what they believe in, and wish we could do it as well ourselves, like when we’re trying to negotiate a budget allocation or a project.

But with the right strategies and skills, you can learn to negotiate. It’s practical, valuable knowledge that can be applied almost anywhere — especially in the marketing realm.

Why Do Marketers Need to Negotiate?

When I speak with marketers, it seems like there’s always something that has to be negotiated. A lot of the time, it’s the allocation of resources — budget, new hires, or time.

There are other marketing-specific times when negotiation is necessary, though. Maybe you’re working out a co-marketing agreement. Or maybe you’re trying to make a case for your own ideas.

Regardless, being prepared for these conversations is key. A big part of that is confidence — after all, 19% of folks don’t negotiate because they’re afraid of looking too pushy. We get it. Negotiating is kind of scary, especially when you’re new to it.

But arriving to these discussions with the right expectations and information can make them a little less intimidating. We picked six techniques that can be applied in a broad range of negotiations — at work, or wherever else.

6 Negotiation Techniques Every Marketer Should Know

1) Focus on interests, not positions.

In the context of negotiation, there’s a big difference between focusing on interests and focusing on positions. While interests refer to an outcome that will benefit you, positions refer to your stance on a particular issue.

Co-marketing, as we noted above, is a place where this concept plays out quite a bit. Let’s say a small business is trying to partner with one that has a larger reach.

  • The smaller company might think, “We want our names attached to yours.”
  • The larger might say, “Well, we already reach the same audience. What’s in it for us?”

Those are the positions of each company: “You should partner with us,” versus “We don’t need you.”

That’s where the smaller company has to think about the underlying interests of the larger one and how they might, in fact, need each other. 

“Larger companies may have a large reach, but what do they not have?” asks HubSpot’s Manager of Content Marketing Strategy, Lisa Toner. “Do they not have resources to create really great content for their audience?”

That could be an interest of the larger business: Gaining resources to create things like compelling design or apps. “It’s all about the pitch, and if you can offer an experience [your opponent] or their customers would welcome,” Toner says, “without them having to do the work.”

But determining these interests requires research and creativity, Toner says. And she’s not alone — in the book Negotiating Rationally, Max H. Bazerman and Margaret A. Neale note that “creative solutions can be found by redefining the conflict for each side, identifying their underlying interests, and brainstorming for a wide variety of potential solutions.”

So while your opponent might have a different position on the surface, you might actually have interests in common. Knowing what those are can help you frame the conversation in a way that sets you both up for success.

2) Have “if-then” scenarios — and a backup plan.

When you enter a negotiation, it’s valuable to have different scenarios and alternatives in mind. In business school, we were taught to frame these with an “If-Then Matrix”: A table with rows of “if”s — the things we wanted, but the opponent might say no to. Those were followed by columns of “then”s — the items that would become non-negotiable if the client refused the “if.”

Having options in mind can help to mitigate some of the fear that comes with negotiating. For one, it clarifies your priorities: A recent survey showed that 56% of women won’t negotiate a job offer because they don’t know what to ask for, which implies that a lot of people — male and female — haven’t considered what’s most important to them.

Maybe work-life balance matters more to you than salary. In that case, if your employer says no to your payment requirements, then flexible hours might become non-negotiable.

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Do this with all of the “if”s that matter most to you. If flexible hours are also met with resistance, then what will your sticking points be?

And that’s where we also need to consider the BATNA — or, best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Sometimes, no matter how prepared you are for a negotiation, you might not reach an agreement. Then what? 

You’ll need to know the answer to that question before you even enter the conversation — that’s your BATNA. In fact, have multiple alternatives in mind — the more options you have, the less likely you are to feel completely helpless if your negotiation results in a stalemate.

An “If-Then” matrix can be helpful here, too. Know which factors will be at play if you don’t reach an agreement, and what the implications will be for your customers, your company, your team, and yourself. Don’t focus on defeat — focus on what you can do, and the actionable items that come with it. 

Remember: Negotiation isn’t an all-or-nothing process. Think about your interests, then determine your options based on the ones that are most important to you.

3) Use creativity to your advantage.

When it comes to negotiation, creativity is key. 

In one study of MBA students, participants were divided into two groups for different workshops — one that focused on systematic problem solving, and the other on solutions that directed students to “have fun,” “refrain from criticizing your ideas,” and “look for new possibilities.”

Each group then had negotiate a budget allocation. The students that underwent the creative training — the one that emphasized unconventional ideas and outcomes — executed the task better than the one that went through a more traditional workshop.

Studies like that show the value of creativity in generating unique alternative solutions and possibilities, and that is a lesson that you should think about when creating your negotiation agenda. You see, if an agenda resembles an itemized list with strict topics like budget and personnel, it tends to put the focus on positions, like “I need 35% of the budget,” or “I need 10 employees reallocated to our team.” But it doesn’t address why those needs exist — the interests behind them.

To combat that, try to focus on more open-ended things like goals and concerns. In that case, you’re leading with the why — the underlying interests that are at the root of each side’s position.

Maybe your opponent is concerned that her team can’t handle its growing workload, and that’s why she wants to add 10 people. With that perspective, her interest isn’t really about personnel allocation, as much as it’s about preventing her employees from burning out. That opens the door to discussing more creative solutions.  

4) Think about what matters most to your opponent.

I know what you’re thinking. “We know. Focus on interests. We get it!”

It’s true. Understanding your opponent’s priorities can more quickly uncover those underlying interests that I keep harping at. And yes — they’ll also help you align their interests with yours, and determine mutually beneficial outcomes.

But thinking about what matters most to your opponent can also give you an idea of what kind of questions he might ask. And you can prepare responses for those questions, gathering the data to support your answers in advance.

That will also help you figure out which questions you want to ask during the negotiation. When my colleague, Juliana Nicholson, was writing an ebook, she really wanted to include a certain organization as a case study. But they were hesitant to be featured, she said, because they were “very sensitive to how we framed them.”

At the same time, she told me, they “really wanted the exposure.” Knowing that was important to them helped Nicholson figure out the best questions to put them at ease, and gave them a sense of control in the process — questions like, “Can we use your real name and logo, so that we can link back to your site and drive traffic there?”

Notice how she cited a benefit in her question. She was asking for permission to do something — to use real identifiers of the organization, instead of a pseudonym — while immediately noting the positive outcomes of doing so.

And by posing it as a question, instead of stating it as a fact — “Doing X will result in Y” — Nicholson gave her opponent a sense of control over the process. Because she knew how much that mattered to them, she was able to phrase her questions in a way that addressed their interests in both control and exposure.

So don’t be afraid to relinquish a little bit of jurisdiction during a negotiation, especially when it comes to your opponent’s priorities.

5) Understand cultural elements — and how other cultures negotiate.

When you enter a negotiation, you’ll want to set the stage for a positive, proactive discussion. It goes without saying, then, that you probably don’t want to offend your opponent.

But accidentally offending your counterparts might be easier than you’d expect, especially if you’re negotiating with international peers. And that’s becoming more and more likely in business. HubSpot, for example, has offices in five different countries — that definitely shapes the way we do business.

It wouldn’t hurt to brush up on the business etiquette of your opponent’s native country. Here are some categories to consider when preparing for an international negotiation.

Physical Cues

In researching other cultures, I’ve learned that there are things I do naturally and unconsciously — like elaborately moving my arms when I talk — that would offend my colleagues in other countries. So in addition to doing my intellectual homework, I would have to physically prepare for a negotiation for my Chinese counterparts, and practice sitting still during a conversation.

My colleague, Leslie Ye, breaks down some do’s and don’ts on physical behavior in each country here

Silence

In the U.S., we often joke about the discomfort of an awkward silence. So it makes sense that other cultures — like Japan — use silence with the “hope the other side will speak,” writes University of Hawaii Professor John Barkai, and end up revealing something valuable, for the sake of saying anything at all.

But instead of letting the silence get awkward, use it to reflect. And if you do decide to speak first, take advantage of the quiet to think carefully about what you’re going to say.

Punctuality

Being on time is one of those things that starkly varies according to country. Just look at this guide to international business etiquette from my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich — how many countries have punctuality listed as important?

It’s important to know when you’ll be expected to be on time, and when you can anticipate the opposite from your counterpart. In France, for example, “you’re considered ‘on time’ if you’re 10 minutes late,” writes Kolowich.

Knowing how each culture treats timeliness will help you plan for and keep your negotiation efficient — and leave out the element of surprise if your guests arrive later than the scheduled start time.

6) Prepare your team.

You are so totally prepared for this negotiation. Great! What about the people sitting next to you at the table?

Even if you’re the one doing all of the talking, prepare any colleagues who will be present for the negotiation. Transparency is crucial here — your team should be briefed on any information that might arise during the negotiation, and privy to the same cultural and behavioral context that you’ve researched.

When your team has information, it gives them the opportunity to add their own valuable insights. When we become deeply ingrained in an issue, it can be difficult to look at it objectively. So make sure your team is equipped with the same armory you have — their perspective of it is an asset.

When it comes to preparing for any meeting, there are a few basic things you can do to prepare your team that also apply here.

  • Set clear ground rules: Make sure your team actually understands what the problem is here, and what the most desired proposed solutions are. Also make sure they know when it’s okay to contribute to the discussion, and what they should avoid bringing up.
  • Discuss non-negotiables: Your colleagues should be aware of the If-Thens. Prepare them with a list of things for which your side is absolutely unable to compromise — and let them know how to handle those objections.
  • Let them ask questions: Now is the time to clear up any uncertainties. If your team is caught off-guard, it will probably show. That can make your side look unprepared, which lends power to your opponent.

Ready to get started?

If you do all of these fabulous things to prepare — homework, research, introspection, and planning for less-than-desirable outcomes — then please, feel good about the conversation you’re about to have. We have a tendency to expect the worst (I know I do, anyway), and sometimes, numbers are the only thing that make us feel better.

So know this:

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Negotiating is kind of scary. But even if the worst case scenario actually plays out, by following these steps, you’ll be covered with a backup plan.

You’ve got this. And we’re always here to help as much as we can. Do you have a negotiation question, or story? Share it in the comments.

Marketing Ideas to Generate Business

Sep

2

2016

Are You Actually a Good Listener? [Flowchart]

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When you listen to someone speak, are you really listening to them … or are you listening to the voice in your head?

Hearing someone and listening to someone are two very different things. It’s all too common for people to wait for their turn to speak or think about what to say next instead of truly listening to someone. 

But being a good listener is a sign of emotional intelligence and social awareness. It means really, truly paying attention to what people are saying — and it’s a skill that’ll set you apart in both your professional and personal life. The good news is, becoming a good listener isn’t all that difficult — it just takes some practice (and self-awareness).

So, what do you think: Are you really a good listener? Quiz yourself by following the flowchart below from CT Business Travel. Then, keep reading for nine helpful tips for improving your listening skills.

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Aug

25

2016

How to Attract, Hire & Train the Best Marketers for Your Team [Free Ebook]

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Hiring marketers for your company is not an easy job. Ironically, a lot of it is actually about marketing to potential candidates. But the best marketer’s out there know when they’re being marketed to, and are therefore tuning out the old-school recruiting noise.

Those copy-pasted job descriptions filled with buzzwords and new challenges aren’t going to suffice anymore, which is why HubSpot Academy and Udemy for Business teamed up to bring you: How to Hire and Train Marketing All-Stars.

In this ebook, you’ll learn how to focus on career context to attract your target candidates, as well as how to spot future marketing all-stars who will be able to make their mark on your company.

By the end of this ebook, you’ll know:

  • How to reach your target candidates.
  • How to spot future marketing all-stars.
  • The inbound recruiting framework.
  • How to deliver on your promise with career training.
  • A new model for career training.

Download your copy of How to Hire and Train Marketing All-Stars now.

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Aug

11

2016

7 Ways to Build Credibility When You’re a New Leader

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Not too long ago, my alma mater asked me to give a talk about “what comes next” after business school. I was to address a group of MBA candidates about the discomfort of figuring out what to do with this fabulous new degree, and how to embrace the path to leadership. And in the process of preparing for it, I came across some pretty dismal statistics about the workplace.

Among other fun facts, I learned:

“Jeez,” I thought. “I’m not about to paint the best picture of the future, am I?”

But I kept looking. Instead of searching for more data on dissatisfied employees, I turned my attention to the ones who reported being engaged, happy, and confident at work. I wanted my audience to know that this positive reality existed, and I wanted to find out which factors contributed to it. And more often than not, it seemed, an employee’s satisfaction — high or low — could be traced back to his or her leaders. Download our leadership guide for actionable tips and advice from HubSpot's  Dharmesh Shah.

So what makes those numbers strong? What creates trust, engagement, and confidence within the workplace? We asked a few people — ranging from record executives to business school professors — who have learned a thing or two about leadership, and came up with a list of ways that new leaders can build credibility. (To learn more, check out our free guide to leadership.)

7 Ways to Build Credibility When You’re a New Leader

1) Actively listen.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not surprised to learn that we only remember 25% to 50% of what we hear. I mean, I can only listen to my mother’s story about the deer eating her hydrangeas so many times, right?

But at work, tuning people out can be dangerous, especially when you’re managing them. You might miss important feedback, directions, or updates. Even worse? If your team thinks you’re not hearing them, they won’t confide in you. That can diminish the chances that they’ll turn to you when they have questions or need help, which in turn prevents them from producing their best work. That’s a top management faux pas: Not helping your team succeed.

That’s why it’s so important to learn how to actively listen, especially in the early stages of building credibility and earning trust as a leader. It’s not an easy task at first — especially when we’re constantly overloaded with information and stimuli — but it can be learned with a few good habits. (HubSpot’s VP of Sales, Pete Caputa, writes more about that here.)

When colleagues are speaking to you, keep distractions minimized or at bay; try moving the conversation away from anything that might cause your attention to stray, like your computer or mobile devices. And don’t be afraid to do whatever’s necessary to make sure you heard the person correctly, even if it means repeating back to them what you think you heard.

2) Get to the point.

Not only do we only retain about half of what we hear, but now, studies say that humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish. So when you speak to your team, cut to the chase — you want them to remember the important parts.

The Brandon Hall Group listed what I like to call the “CSS” of verbal communication:

  • Clearly
  • Simply
  • Succinctly

The first, “clearly,” is particularly important — according to a recent Wrike work management survey, 37% of employees blamed “unclear priorities” for decreased productivity. So don’t water down your message with a lot of big words or details to prove your competence; not only does that detract from your confidence as a leader, which we’ll get to later, but it’ll undercut focus from your main takeaways.

But while you’re keeping things brief, make sure your team knows that you’re also receptive to questions and feedback. Only 20% of employees say that their managers take action when concerns are voiced, so when you invite input, you’re setting yourself apart as a leader.

3) Be consistent.

When I asked my friend Dessa — rapper extraordinaire and President of Doomtree Records — what her career has taught her about leadership, she said something that really resonated with me.

“Do what you say you’ll do.”

It seems simple in theory, right? But imagine this scenario: Being goal-oriented, you’ve taught yourself to eradicate the word “no” from your vocabulary. So you start off by saying “yes” to everything — more than any one person can actually take on — until you realize you’ve completely over-committed and can’t deliver on everything you agreed to. Been there? I have.

If you go from always saying “yes” to being so overwhelmed with commitments that you snap at new requests, it creates a major inconsistency in your leadership style. It makes your temperament look unpredictable, which can really stress out your team and make people less inclined to approach you. In fact, a recent study showed that employees actually prefer a manager who’s consistently mean over one with erratic behavior.

“One of the most important things for leaders to think about is consistency,” James Harder, Director of Communications at Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, told me. “If your messaging is consistent, it gives you more credibility. That is true with any phase of marketing, or for that matter, communication.”

So before you make a promise, be sure to ask yourself, “Is this a priority? Can I really take this on right now?” Knowing when to say “no” will create a balanced sense of priority among your team, and on your own to-do list.

4) Get to know as many people as possible.

When I asked Harvard Business School Leadership professor Ethan Bernstein for his thoughts on leadership credibility, he summed it up with one line: It’s “built by doing, enabling, and recognizing great work.”

So while you’re likely in a position of leadership because of your own achievements, it’s important to acknowledge that people around you do good work, too.

Why is that?

Well, to start, employee recognition goes a long way — 70% of employees in North America say that receiving recognition is “effective,” for example, when it comes to their engagement.

But by going beyond the parameters of your own team, you’re better able to recognize the far-reaching talent throughout your organization. That creates an opportunity to “design mutually beneficial partnerships” — another leadership lesson that Dessa says she’s picked up — which can accomplish a few things.

Reaching out to more people within your organization sends the message that you’re open to different perspectives. Since that kind of behavior shows that you’re looking beyond your own self-interest, it can build credibility. At HubSpot, for example, we follow the philosophy of solving for the customer first. So when our leaders are able to seek out multiple perspectives and talents within the company, it ultimately leads to more people improving and creating new solutions.

No wonder McKinsey identifies “seeking different perspectives” as a leadership best practice. It can lead to the beneficial partnerships that Dessa was talking about: The ones that reach across different departments to work toward a common goal.

5) Seek out speaking opportunities.

Remember all those lessons on the best ways to speak with your team? For those who don’t love addressing groups to begin with (and don’t worry — you’re in good company), effective communication might require a little extra effort.

That’s why my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich, suggests that leaders go out of their way to find speaking opportunities. “Not only will it get your name out there,” which is always a good way to build credibility, she says, but “it’ll give you good practice. The more advanced you become in your career, the more you will be expected to speak.”

So how do you go about finding these opportunities? First, check out our CMO’s guide to becoming a better speaker. Then — once again — start with the people around you.

“I got my first few speaking gigs by emailing someone on my PR team,” Kolowich says. “I asked how I might be able to find events that could be a good fit.” As a result, she ended up being booked for several talks.

If you do reach out to your company’s PR department, just make sure to be specific. Identify your area of expertise, the geographical location(s) where you’d like to speak, and the types of events that interest you the most: Workshops, conferences, etc. And even if your organization doesn’t have a PR rep, these are the details you’ll need when looking for opportunities on your own.

6) Trust the training.

Corporate training gets such a bad rap, doesn’t it? When we think of it, many of us have visions of things like trust falls and kitschy name-games. But look beyond the stereotypes. Training has changed, and it can be highly valuable.

Most companies — 83% of them, in fact — have said how important it is for all leaders to receive some sort of training. But only 5% of employers actually have it. So while it might be easy to roll your eyes at the idea of training, think of it this way: Your company is part of the small percentage employers who actually care enough to invest in leadership development. (You are valued!)

That’s true no matter where you are in your career. Even if you’ve been with your company for years, writes HubSpot Principal Marketing Strategist Sam Mallikarjunan, “it’s probably been a while since you went through new hire training.” And because many of the people reporting to you have gone through this process recently, you might want to experience it, too.

When you have something like that in common with your team, it can heighten your ability to relate and empathize, which helps to improve credibility — leaders with empathy show a 40% higher overall performance than those without.

7) Have trust in yourself.

When I first started at HubSpot and felt a little nervous about my new role, someone suggested that I try Googling “new job anxiety.” I immediately felt better, if for no other reason than my fears seemed to be more common than I thought.

For a lot of us, a big part of this stress can be traced to something called “imposter syndrome”: The sense that, no matter how much we’ve achieved, we don’t belong in a leadership position or deserve the success of having gotten there. A whopping 70% of us — especially particularly ambitious folks — will endure that feeling at some point in our careers.

But if we don’t even lend ourselves any credibility, how can we expect to build it within our teams? Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has discussed this phenomenon quite a bit. In her TED Talk, she even referenced the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” approach.

By “faking it,” Cuddy isn’t suggesting that you lie about your credentials. Instead, she’s encouraging the idea of doing what scares you the most — like public speaking, as we discussed above — and internally reciting whatever mantra you need to in order to make it happen (for example, “I am a rock star”). When you repeatedly face these fears, she says, you’ll get to a point where you realize — and believe — that you do, in fact, belong in this position of leadership.

When you think about it, confidence = credibility. Merriam Webster defines the former as “the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true,” and the latter as “the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest.” So believe in your team, believe in the training, and believe in yourself — the sooner you can, the sooner you’ll be on your way to building credibility as a leader.

free ebook: leadership lessons

Jul

29

2016

How to Deliver Negative Feedback & Why It Matters [Infographic]

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Most managers dread giving negative feedback almost as much as employees dread hearing it. It’s uncomfortable to tell someone they’re not performing well at something.

But the truth is, your employees want to learn and grow — and they’ll only learn and grow when the work and skills that need improvement are given some course correction. Giving them no feedback hurts more than it helps: 70% of employees say getting no feedback at all makes them feel disengaged.

It’s all about how you give that negative feedback. If you prepare and deliver it the right ways, then it can actually make your employees feel more engaged at work. In other words, tough love might work after all.

Check out the infographic below from Resourceful Manager to learn more about why bad feedback is better than none, and how you can deliver it in a positive way.

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learn how to build an inbound marketing team

Jul

28

2016

21 Things Recruiters Absolutely Hate About Your Resume

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I’ll never forget one of my first job interviews out of college.

I was applying for a marketing position at a technology company. (No, not HubSpot.) Because my college major had nothing to do with marketing or technology, I’d written “Relevant coursework: Statistics” in the education section of my resume in an effort to draw a connection.

When I came in to interview, everything was going great — until I met with one of the company’s VPs. He sat down, turned my resume over on the table in front of him, scribbled down an advanced statistics question, and pushed it across the table to me.

Crap.

Let’s just say it’d been a while since I brushed up on my statistics. I ended up reasoning my way through the problem, but it wasn’t a piece of cake — and I was stressed as heck. I learned an important lesson that day: Never put something on your resume you can’t back up 100%. That, my friends, is just one of the many things recruiters hate to see on resumes. Download these marketing resume templates to make your job hunt easier. 

Every recruiter has their own list of things they don’t like to see on resumes, and you never know who’s going to see yours. That’s why it’s important to avoid all the most common resume mistakes.

I spoke with some of the top recruiters here at HubSpot to find out the top 21 things recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to see on your resume. Needless to say, you may want to bookmark this one …

21 Things Recruiters Absolutely Hate About Your Resume

1) When you send it in a Google Doc, and then don’t grant proper permissions.

Before you send your resume to a recruiter, you need to convert it to a format that allows all recipients to read it as intended.

Ideally, this means converting it into a PDF format so none of the original formatting or spacing is lost in translation. You can convert a Microsoft Word document into a PDF by choosing File > Save as Adobe PDF.

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If you have to send your resume over as a Google Doc, at least grant the recipient proper permissions to view it by clicking “Share” in the top-right corner of your Google Doc, entering in the email address of the people you want to include, and choosing “Can view” from the dropdown menu.

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Or, you can let anyone read it by clicking that “Share” button and then choosing “Get shareable link” at the top. Then, choose “can view” from the dropdown menu and send that link to the recruiter.

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We recommend a PDF format, though. It’s much more professional.

2) When your email address is “soccergrl0721@yahoo.com.”

There’s a lot you can tell about a person from their email address … and you don’t want this to be how the recruiters find out you like soccer. Outdated names can be a red flag, especially for tech-savvy companies. In the same vein, if you’re still using a Hotmail, Comcast, Yahoo!, or AOL email address, it’s time to upgrade.

If you need to, set up a separate email for your job hunt that’s some iteration of your name. It’s easy enough to create a new Gmail account for free. If you’re interviewing for a technical job, you might consider using or creating an email address associated with your own custom domain to show you know more than the average person about the web and technology.

3) When you mention the wrong company. (Oops.)

Of course, no one ever means to address the wrong company in their resume. But if you’re including your intentions as a candidate somewhere on your resume (which we don’t recommend, by the way; see #10), then you need to get it right.

“It’s unfortunate when a candidate has a good resume or cover letter, but don’t proofread and put in the wrong company information,” says Emily MacIntyre, Senior Marketing Recruiter here at HubSpot.

Getting this right goes beyond proofreading; it means paying attention to the details of the transaction. Customizing your resumes to different companies is expected, but you need to make sure you’re sending the right resumes to the right companies. One tip is to save your different resumes with the company name in the title, like Kolowich-Resume-HubSpot.

4) When you get a little too creative with your fonts.

Recruiters are going to notice the font and formatting of your resume before they even start reading it — which is why it’s important to choose a font that’s easily readable and professional.

The most common resume font is Times New Roman, in size 12-point font and black. It’s a serif font, which tend to look more professional because they have what’s called “tails” on the letters. These tails make the letter look less block-like than sans serif fonts.

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Image Credit: Kensington Design

Serif fonts other than Times New Roman that are great for resumes include Georgia, Bell MT, Goudy Old Style, and Garamond. If you really want to use a sans serif font, try Arial, Tahoma, Century Gothic, or Lucida Sans. Check out this infographic for some more guidance on what makes a good resume font.

Oh, and only use one font. Using two fonts looks a little messy and unprofessional — and, worse, it can even look unintentional.

The only exception here is for designers. “I’ve seen some really wild, creative, and awesome resumes from designers, and since that’s their craft, I encourage that,” says Sean Marsters, Senior Product Recruiter at HubSpot.

5) When your high school is still on there.

Unless you’re in high school or college, you can leave your high school off of your resume, says Marsters. He says that college graduates with minimal experience might be able to get away with it, but to most recruiters, it ends up looking like filler information.

The only exception here? If you connected with someone through your high school alumni network. In this case, you’d only want to include it in a resume that you send directly to that person. Otherwise, it could be seen as filler information.

Pro Tip: Three to five years after college or graduate school graduation, you can actually move your “Education” section to the bottom of your resume. Again, the only time you wouldn’t want to do this is if you connected with someone through an alumni network, or if you know an executive there also went to your school.

6) When you have two degrees, but only one GPA.

If you have a college degree and a graduate degree, don’t only list the one GPA you’re proud of. This calls into question why you’ve only listed one GPA, and so obviously left the other one out, explains HubSpot’s Recruiting Team Lead Dave Fernandez.

The benchmark for being able to remove GPA from your resume altogether is five to seven years after graduation, which is when candidates tend have a solid track record of employment, says Andrew Quinn, VP of Learning and Development at HubSpot.

“But if you did well in school but had lackluster job prospects following graduation because of, say, a bad economy, you could definitely leave it on longer.” It goes both ways, he explained: If you had great jobs and accomplishments following graduation but didn’t have a good GPA, consider removing your GPA earlier. Just don’t remove one and not the other if you have multiple degrees.

7) When you list every piece of technology you’ve ever touched, seen, heard, smelt.

In the technology industry, it’s very common for recruiters to see candidates listing out experience with all the technology they’ve ever heard of. But unless you’ve cut and edited videos extensively, you can’t really put “Final Cut Pro” on your resume.

“Unless you’re confident in your skill set and experience in that area, don’t add technology just to add fodder,” says Marsters.

Same goes with languages you speak, or your college classes. “College students shouldn’t feel the need to list out every single class they took at school. In fact, you don’t need to add any classes — but it’s OK if you want to list a few important ones relevant to the job you’re applying for.”

Pro Tip: Unless you can hold your own in an interview on the subjects you’re listing, leave them out.

8) When you’re “Proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.”

Almost every single candidate feels the need to include this phrase on their resume — but recruiters hate to see it. Basic proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite is assumed for college graduates these days.

“Unless you can run pivot tables, VLOOKUPs, and complex data modeling out of Excel, then don’t include proficiency in Excel on your resume,” says Marsters. “Writing a 500-word essay in Word and sorting a column in alphabetical order in Excel does not count as proficiency in those systems.”

Pro Tip: If you want the Excel chops to be able to include it on your resume, here are the 10 best resources for learning Excel online.

9) When the formatting is all over the place.

Formatting speaks to the way candidates collect their thoughts and organize their ideas. As Quinn explains it, “A candidate’s resume is their ad to me. How are they structuring this ad so I get a clear picture of what they’re capable of?”

There are a few key things every candidate should check off the list before sending in a resume:

  • Is your formatting consistent across all positions? For example, if you’re bolding job titles, are all job titles bolded?
  • Are your margins even?
  • Are all items properly aligned? For example, if you’ve right-aligned dates, are they all lining up in tandem with one another?

Formatting consistency is another reason we recommend you send your resume as a PDF. (See #1.)

10) When you start off with a generalized summary.

Unless a company specifically asks for a summary at the top of your resume (which is doubtful), you really shouldn’t include one, says MacIntyre. They’re too easy to screw up — this is a place where candidates have put the name of the wrong company. Plus, they usually come off sounding stuffy and insincere.

Instead, lean in to a “Key Skills” section either at the top or bottom of your resume, in column format, that highlights the top six to nine skills applicable to the role you’re applying for. Be sure to change these skills for each job — and remember, leave out Microsoft Office Suite unless you’re truly proficient.

Pro Tip: Although you should leave this section off your resume, you should write something in the “Summary” section of your LinkedIn profile. Use this section to write out specific skills and achievements, link to your portfolio or blog, and talk about awards you’ve won or projects you’ve worked on. The information and skills on here should be applicable to where you’re headed in your career, not irrelevant past skills.

11) When you use the pronouns “I” or “my.”

Resumes are not the time to be using pronouns like “I” or “my,” says MacIntyre. However, you should still use first-person, not the third-person, when conjugating your verbs.

This is tricky to explain. Here’s how I think about it: Don’t use the word “I” in your resume, but assume the word “I” when you conjugate your verbs to ensure they’re in the first-person. So if you want to write that you develop promotional materials in your current role, write “Develop promotional materials,” as in “I develop promotional materials” — but without using the pronoun “I.”

  • Correct: “Develop promotional materials.”
  • Incorrect: “Develops promotional materials.”

12) When your verb tenses are wrong.

Speaking of verb conjugation … make sure all of your verb tenses are in the past tense for past positions, and in the present tense for current positions. Verb tense is evidence of attention to detail, which is important for any job — especially if you’re applying to a job where attention to detail matters, says Quinn.

Using the same example as above, here’s how I’d write out that responsibility on a resume if it were my current position versus a past position:

  • Current position: “Develop promotional materials.”
  • Past position: “Developed promotional materials.”

The exception here is if you’re talking about something that you did in your current position that “ended” in some way. For example, you’d use the past tense to write “Earned a spot in President’s Club for achieving XYZ” because it’s something you did that had a finite ending.

13) When you list your responsibilities, but not your accomplishments.

Sure, it’s helpful for candidates to list out what they were responsible for doing in their job. But it’s way more interesting to learn the results the candidates actually drove — and putting down more responsibilities than accomplishments is a red flag.

Here’s a great example: “Instead of writing ‘Handled all monetary transactions,’ write ‘Increased revenue by X% year-over-year, resulting in promotion to Senior Account Manager and entrustment with enterprise-level deals,'” says Fernandez. “The latter is much more telling.”

Include goals and metrics that recruiters can use to compare you against other candidates. List out the cool stuff you did in every position, and then choose the best four or five and turn them into bullet points like these:

  • Drove 37% improvement in newsletter clickthrough rates by rewriting sales copy.
  • Grew ecommerce sales 23% in just 6 months by redesigning and A/B testing all landing pages.

(For more examples of actionable data points, download these free resume templates.)

14) When you list outdated or irrelevant experience.

A resume isn’t a place where you just tack on a new section every time you add a new job or volunteer opportunity. You should be picky about which roles, skills, experiences, and accomplishments you include — all based on the role you’re applying for.

So unless you’re applying for a job that requires lifeguarding skills, you can leave out your summer lifeguarding job from college. If you’re further down your career path, list the more recent roles you’ve had that complement the job you’re applying for.

The only exception here is if you’re still in college, or you’re a recent college graduate with limited experience and you need to “fill out” your resume a little bit. In that case, don’t just write that you were responsible for monitoring the waters for people in need of saving; glean relevant skills, such as learning how to resolve challenging, ambiguous situations.

15) When there are large chunks of text.

It takes hiring managers all of six seconds to scan your resume before deciding whether they’re interested in you. If they see large chunks of text that aren’t broken up by bullet points, it’ll turn them off big time. Who likes reading large chunks of text?

It’s the same reason bloggers use headers, bullet points, and other formatting tricks to break up long blog posts. It all comes down to making it easier for people to like reading your stuff.

Make sure you’re using bullet points to list out your accomplishments underneath each position, and limit them to five or six bullet points per post. The order of your bullet points matters, too: Put the most important, relevant, and impressive ones first.

16) When it’s ridden with buzzwords and meaningless clichés.

So you’re a hardworking team player with exceptional problem-solving skills? That’s cool, but … what does that actually mean? Anyone could write this on their resume. (And believe me, they do.) It’s meaningless. You need to give solid examples that are sincere, BS-free, and backed by evidence.

For example, let’s say the job you’re applying for is asking for someone with a strong knowledge of the marketing lifecycle. Use your resume as an opportunity to showcase this — but don’t just write, “Developed a strong knowledge of the marketing lifecycle.” Write “Developed a strong knowledge of the marketing lifecycle and consumer journey through researching and writing in-depth articles on topics including SEO, content marketing, email marketing, branding, social media, and more.”

Same goes for corporate buzzwords: Leave them out. Sweep your resume for annoying jargon and business babble, and replace these phrases with clearly articulated ones that make it clear to the recruiter what you did and how you did it.

17) When you don’t explain your gaps.

Most of you know already that gaps in employment are red flags to recruiters — but that’s only true when you don’t explain them.

If you took longer than six months off of work, you may want to explain the gap on your resume — perhaps in italics or parenthesis. “Travelled abroad.” “Took time off for family.” “Took time off for personal reasons.” They just want to see a rational explanation — that you were doing something productive with your time, not just hanging out watching Netflix. 

If you’d rather leave your resume for the meat of your relevant experiences, you choose to address a gap by including a note in your cover letter or in the email you send to the hiring manager that your resume is attached to: “You’ll notice that there is a year-long gap between X and Y jobs. I’m more than happy to explain that further.”

Either way, be honest about it. If you’re upfront, you’ll seem trustworthy instead of fishy.

18) When it’s inconsistent with your LinkedIn profile.

If a recruiter is interested in your resume, chances are, they’ll look at your LinkedIn profile alongside it to learn more about you — and check for discrepancies. Make sure you’re updating your LinkedIn profile at the same time you’re updating your resume. The two don’t have to be identical, but they do have to be consistent. 

Pro Tip: Don’t want to tip off your current colleagues that you’re on the hunt for a new job? To make sure your LinkedIn profile edits aren’t broadcast to your network, log in and move your cursor over “Profile” at the top of your homepage, then select “Edit Profile.” Find the box on the right-hand side of your profile that says “Notify your network?” and toggle the button so it says “No.”

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19) When you get a little too crazy with the formatting.

Standing out from the crowd is a good thing, especially when you’re competing with hundreds, even thousands of applicants with a single piece of paper. But there is such thing as getting too crazy with the formatting. While recruiters have seen some really cool resumes — particularly from designers — sending a resume that strays far away from the normal resume format is a risk.

“If you stray too far from normal formatting, it can be hard to read and understand your resume,” warns MacIntyre. “Don’t get so creative with infographic-style resumes that the information becomes difficult to digest.”

If you’re willing to take the risk, gut check with a friend before you send your work in. But if you opt for a regularly formatted resume, that’s perfectly OK. There are a few, subtle ways to make it stand out from looking like literally everybody else’s. 

“You could stand in line at a college career fair and see 200 resumes in a row that all look the exact same,” says Marsters. “Recruiters don’t want to see word clouds or calligraphy, but it doesn’t hurt to find subtle ways to stand out from the crowd,” says Marsters. “Start by staying away from the top three options when punching ‘resume format’ into Google.”

(P.S. If you’re working on a marketing resume specifically, then use these free templates to get you started.)

20) When it’s basically a novel.

Remember how nobody likes to read a ton of text? Recruiters don’t want to flip through multiple pages to read about your experiences. A good rule of thumb is to limit your resume to one page for every ten years of experience. Chances are, recruiters won’t even get to page two — but if you absolutely must bleed onto another page, then definitely don’t exceed two.

If you’re having trouble cutting your resume down, think about tip #13 and make sure any outdated or irrelevant work experience is cut. You might also consider cutting your education section if you’re more than five years out of college or have a lot of solid, relevant experience.

21) When you pair it with unprofessional email copy.

There are a lot of jobs out there that ask people to apply via email. But think about how many emails those recruiters get. Do you think they actually open the resumes in every single one of those emails?

Not a chance. What you write in that email will make a huge difference in whether or not the person you send it to actually opens your resume and gives you a shot. That’s why you have to spend time crafting an email that’s concise, professional, and makes you sound appropriately enthusiastic about the position.

Your subject line should make it totally clear what the content of your email is — something like “Application: Content Writer”.

As for the email itself, clearly state the position name and team you’re applying for. Write 1–3 sentences explaining why you think you’re good for the position and why you’re excited about the role. Then, end with something like, “I’ve attached my resume in case you’d like to learn more about my background and experiences. Feel free to contact me by email or phone [give phone number here] with any questions. Thanks for taking the time to read my application.”

And finally, don’t forget to name your resume attachment something clear and professional, like Kolowich-Resume-HubSpot.

If you’ve gotten this far and your resume is clear of all these things, then you’re ready to send it in. Good luck with your search! (P.S. We’re hiring.)

What do you absolutely hate seeing on a resume? Share with us in the comments.

10 free marketing resume templates

Jul

21

2016

How to Say ‘No’ To Your Boss

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Technically, your boss owns your professional time. That means it’s perfectly within her rights to reprioritize what you’re working on if she thinks doing so is the best thing for the team.

But even good bosses can have a hard time understanding what’s being sacrificed when they assign new tasks and projects. And if you continuously allow your boss to pile new things on your plate, you’ll eventually find yourself delaying other work or not getting it done at all. In the end, that reflects poorly on you — and that’s not fair.

Saying “no” to your boss can be intimidating, but there are plenty of cases where it’s a totally appropriate thing to do. The key is learning how to say no in a way that’s tactful and helps your boss find an alternative solution.

This is a skill that’ll serve you well in every stage of your career. Being able to say “no” to the right things in the right ways will end up saving you a whole lot of time and pain.

So the next time your boss asks you to increase your workload, take on a task you think is a bad idea, or work outside of your normal hours … how do you know whether it’s an okay time to say “no”? And what’s the best way to decline?

When Is It Okay to Say ‘No’ to Your Boss?

There are some situations when it’s okay to say no to your boss, and some situations when it’s not. The first question you should ask yourself is: What situation are you in when the request comes in?

For example, if you’re within the first six months of a brand new job, you need to be more of a “yes-man” (or woman) than not in order to establish yourself as a hardworking, motivated, and competent team player. Putting in extra time and effort when you’re proving yourself to a new team is, frankly, what’s expected of you in a new role. Same goes if you’ve just received poor feedback or a bad evaluation at work and need to spend some time proving yourself again.

Finally, if you’ve recently said “no” to a request from your boss, you’ll want to think more carefully about this new one so you don’t come across as a naysayer.

But if you’ve proven yourself by being a high performer and a valuable coworker, then you can set some limits.

How to Say ‘No’ To Your Boss

Let’s walk through a few tips for setting yourself up to say no to your boss in a way that’s diplomatic and acceptable.

1) Respond right away, even if it’s just to ask for more time.

When that request comes in over email or in a virtual chat, it can be easy to “hide out” and pretend you didn’t see it until you have a well-formulated response. (Unless your boss uses the HubSpot Sales Chrome extension, that is. It notifies you when someone opens your emails.)

As tempting as it might be, don’t wait to respond until you have a rebuttal prepared. The more communicative you are from the get-go, the more trustworthy and professional you’ll appear — putting you in a better position to negotiate later.

But what should you say in that initial response?

If you take only one thing away from this article, this is it: Saying no to your boss doesn’t mean actually saying the word “no.”

While something like “No, sorry, I don’t have time right now” might seem like a totally legitimate response to you, an instantaneous “no” can not only be off-putting, but it could also signify to your boss that you’re having trouble prioritizing and executing on your work.

For the sake of your relationship with your boss and your integrity as an employee, you’ll need to tread more carefully than that. So instead, here’s what you might write in that initial response:

Validate their request.

Instead of just saying “no,” Leadership Development Expert Kirstin Lynde suggests responding first with words of affirmation.

“As soon as you get the request, you might say something like, ‘I understand why this is an important thing to get done,'” she told me. “Or, if you don’t think that, you might say, ‘I think I see what you mean.'”

This validates the request and shows your boss you’re listening without necessarily assigning you as the point person for the task.

Ask questions.

Once you’ve affirmed their request, Lynde suggests that you get curious.

“Ask questions. Say, ‘It would be helpful to understand a little bit more about what you’re thinking — about timing, the amount of attention you want me to give to this, and so on,'” she suggests. “You may have a totally different concept than your boss does of how long it’ll take and which skills will be needed.”

The answers to these questions will give you more context for you to frame your pushback around (or might reveal to you that you can take the project on after all, negating the “no” entirely).

Ask for a little bit of time if you need it.

If you need to, buy yourself some time to evaluate the request and whether or not you can actually do it. You might say something like, “May I have a half a day to think this through and see where it fits alongside my other priorities?” Unless it’s super urgent, a good boss is likely to honor that request.

2) List out why you need or want to say ‘no.’

Once you’ve established that you’ve received the request and bought yourself some time, use it to thoughtfully evaluate whether — and why — you need to decline.

Is it because you have a looming deadline on an important project? Or do you disagree with the strategy? Is it because you consider whatever’s being asked of you unethical? Or is it because you’re days away from a big vacation and you simply don’t have the availability to take on anything new just now?

As you brainstorm, write down these answers. They’ll come in handy later when you’re formulating a response to your boss.

3) Put yourself in your boss’ shoes.

Empathy can be a powerful tool when attempting to persuade. By considering the situation from your boss’ perspective, you’ll be able to frame a much more compelling argument later.

Ask yourselves questions like:

  • Why is your boss asking you to do this?
  • What business purpose does it serve?
  • If you declined the request, what would happen?

By considering the situation from her point of view as well as your own, you’ll be able to more easily come up with a solution that is agreeable to both parties — whether it’s executing on the proposed plan, or putting a different one forward.

4) Come up with an alternative solution.

If you’re still leaning toward a “no,” your strongest argument will include an alternative way to solve the problem. Your boss will appreciate the concern and effort you put into helping her find some way to get the task done, even if you’re not the one doing it.

For example, you might ask to postpone the task until some of your other priorities are finished, or possibly come back with a list of coworkers who might be up for the task. Have any colleagues who might be interested in growing their career through projects like this, or whose background is a better fit? That’s a great way to show you’re paying attention to and are interested in your peers’ professional development.

5) Ask your boss to help you reprioritize.

If not having enough time to complete the task is your main concern, ask your boss to help you reprioritize. This will give her a better understanding of what you have on your plate and what you’d have to give up by taking on a new task or project, while also giving her a chance to share her two cents on what’s important.

You might say something like, “In taking this on, I want to make sure I don’t drop the ball on other priorities. Would you mind helping me sort out my current projects and figure out where this fits in?”

Then, set up a meeting and share what you’re working on, how long it’s taking, and what you’d have to delay or stop doing if you were to take on the new project. To prepare, type our your notes neatly and clearly in a document you can share with your boss to show you’ve put time and effort into collaborating on a mutually beneficial solution.

If all goes well, you’ll end the meeting with permission to move around your priorities in a way both of you are happy with.

6) Choose your words carefully.

During this conversation, frame your responses in a way that makes it clear you’re thinking and concerned about the company’s interests — and choose your wording carefully.

“Most [good bosses] say they’re willing to listen to sound reasoning to find a solution,” says Diane Amundson, a workplace communications consultant. “It’s all about how you frame and phrase it.”

Here are some tips to help you get your ideas across effectively:

  • Acknowledge her idea. Your boss will be more open to listening to an alternative solution or hearing a “no” if you’ve first validated her suggestion.
  • Be direct, but tactful. This is a key business skill that’ll serve you well in every stage of your career.
  • Avoid negative excuses, like “It’s not my turn”; “I did it last time”; “I wouldn’t know where to begin to do that.”
  • Use positive phrasing. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this project because I have too much other work,” try something like, “I know this project is important for hitting our number this month, and I have a few ideas about how to reorganize the workload.”
  • Show you’re resourceful by doing your research and presenting other ideas.
  • Don’t get defensive. Position your message in a neutral, rational way. For example, you might say, “I understand your perspective, and here’s another way to think about the situation.”
  • Show you care about the team’s goals. You and your boss share a higher purpose: to accomplish your team and company goals. Acknowledge that you’re in it together, and frame your suggestions as ways to help that goal.

7) Be communicative.

Don’t wait too long before scheduling a conversation with your boss or letting her know that you won’t be able to carry out her request. If your boss sees you’ve left a conversation open-ended, she might think she’s being blown off.

The more communicative you are, the more trustworthy and professional you come across. Plus, keeping her in the loop will help you and her figure out an alternative solution with time to spare.

Pushing back on a request from your boss can be intimidating — especially if your boss is the kind of person who’s constantly sending you new ideas and pushing projects onto you unexpectedly.

But in the end, being honest about what you can and cannot accomplish is much better than setting yourself up for failure.

What other advice can you add about saying “no” to your boss? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below.

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Jul

13

2016

The 9 Worst Resume Mistakes You Can Make & How to Avoid Them [Infographic]

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Crafting a standout resume requires a whole lot of work.

Not only do you have to write the darn thing, but you also have to check (and double-check) for typos, even out your margins, make sure you’re not repeating the same action verb ten times … the list goes on.

While there are a lot of little things you’ll want to check before sending your resume to a recruiter, some are more important than others.

Download our 10 free marketing resume templates here.

In the name of prioritization, check out the infographic below from StandoutCV for a list of nine of the resume mistakes you definitely don’t want to make the next time you apply for a job — and how to avoid them.

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10 free marketing resume templates

Jul

1

2016

How to Determine the Best Office Layout for Your Team [Flowchart]

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As businesses grow and add new people to their team, they often face the challenge of having to move to a new office space.

But there’s a lot that goes into that decision. What kind of office space suits your team and team culture best? How can you set up a space that encourages productivity and invites growth?

There are three main types of office spaces: conventional, virtual or remote, and shared space. Which of these suits you and your team best will depend on how many people work there, how often they collaborate, the IT equipment your team uses, and more. 

To help you get started in your search for an office space that works for you, check out the infographic below from Make It Cheaper. First, you’ll follow a flowchart to determine which of the three office spaces make the most sense for your business. Then, you can read up on the details of each one. (For even more ideas, read this blog post on seven innovative ways companies are changing the workplace.)

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Jun

28

2016

How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Career Path

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A couple of my teammates recently launched a tool called The Next Five to help people navigate through those times in their career where they’re feeling kind of stuck. You know, when you’re just not sure what the next step is on your career path.

And while we may think about this stuff from time to time — and maybe even sheepishly practice holding those conversations in the car on the way to work — I don’t think we often verbalize our thoughts on where we want our career paths to go (presuming we actually know the answer to that question).

So I did a little research to see how often people are actually talking with their managers about the next steps on their career paths. It’s pretty hard to find any good data on it (if you know of any, please send my way). But I did find this: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average tenure for today’s worker is 4.4 years. If you focus on just younger employees, that number halves.

What’s more, 91% of workers born between 1977 and 1997 report going into new jobs with the intent of staying less than three years.

While it sure seems like a jumpy career path is normal, there’s more to be said about the importance of these career discussions. To help you get the conversation started, let’s take a closer look at why they matter and how you can get the most out of them.

Why Do Career Path Conversations Even Matter?

Some workplaces look at job-hopping as a phenomenon we just need to accept in this day and age. And they’re probably right … to an extent. I don’t think many industries should expect to return to a time when people stayed at companies for decades. But we might be able to find more longevity out of our roles than we do right now.

Quite frankly, job-hopping sucks for more than just the organization that has to rehire and retrain someone every couple years — it sucks for the employee, too. Yes, maybe they get promotions and raises — in fact, it’s not an uncommon way to make your way up the career ladder. But it also means taking a risk, adjusting to a new team and a new manager — possibly finding out one or both of those are a poor fit — and figuring out the nuances of a workplace and job that you could end up hating.

Worst case scenario? You end up out of work at the end of all that, and you’re back on the interview circuit.

So I think it behooves all of us to have these conversations about what we want our career paths to look like with ourselves, and our managers. It helps us get closer to the work and life we want, and it helps clue our managers in on how to give it to us.

What Elements Make Up an Effective Career Path Conversation?

I’m gonna put my money where my mouth is and talk about my own experiences with these conversations.

I’ve had career path conversations with many bosses — the last formal one was around March — but I’ve also held them with people on my team. Both have been awkward … sometimes. But both have been totally normal and non-cringe-inducing just as often.

When I look back at all those conversations at a macro-level, the good ones (whether they were about my career or my teammates’) all came down to three elements:

  • Relationship
  • Timing
  • Forethought

1) Relationship

Technically, this shouldn’t matter. You should be able to have productive career path conversations no matter the manager-employee relationship. But it would be naive to think the relationship you have with your boss doesn’t play into how well these conversations go. That’s not to say the closer you two are, the better the conversations go — sometimes the closer you are, the harder it is to have frank conversations.

But the better you know each other, and the more ease you have talking with one another, the more likely you’ll have already sorted out communication styles that work. You’ll just know how to get from point A to point B with less pain and awkwardness, because you’ve done it before.

It also gives you the ability to “read the room,” so to speak. You can tell if something you said is being poorly received or misunderstood. Those soft skills matter when you’re talking about career paths because they can accidentally veer into uncomfortable territory and leave people feeling insecure if the communication is off.

If you don’t already have a strong working relationship, it doesn’t preclude you from pulling off a successful conversation. It just makes the next two items — timing and forethought — all the more important.

It also might help to run a few practice rounds with someone so you can make sure you’re clearly verbalizing what you intend. My colleague Katherine Boyarsky does this and can’t recommend it enough: “Have a mantra that you can repeat in your head during the conversation that helps center you if you go off on a tangent,” she explains.

Aim to be very clear, direct, and forthright with what you’re looking to do without putting the other party on the defensive. (And check out this article for some general tips on how to be less awkward with your boss. Trust me, you won’t regret it.)

2) Timing

There have been a few career conversations I’ve had in the past that were ill-timed. It didn’t turn them into an utter disaster, but they just didn’t seem to stick. The most common instances where the timing has been off in my experience have been:

  • My boss didn’t know I wanted to have the conversation/I sprung the conversation on a team member in our 1:1. When it comes to talking about your career path, you can’t expect great results from a conversation in which half the people in the room are unprepared. Give everyone some time to think about this. After all, it’s a massive topic that has a lot of moving parts to consider.
  • We tacked it on to the end of a meeting but didn’t have enough time to finish the conversation. Because your career path is such a massive topic, allot enough time to do it justice. I think career discussions are best when they take place over a series of conversations, so it’s alright if you just have a quick thought once in a while. But if you haven’t had this talk with your boss or employee yet (or it’s been a while), make a separate meeting dedicated to this, and only this.
  • I could tell my boss was distracted due to other sources of stress. This is where that “reading the room” I mentioned earlier comes into play. Even if you’ve pre-planned a career path meeting, sometimes things come up that distract one or both of the participants. If you’re picking up on some body language — or spoken language — that indicates distraction, reschedule the meeting.

3) Forethought

A lot of this post so far has been a 50/50 thing — managers and employees should both be held accountable for this career path stuff. But when it comes to forethought, this lies largely on the employees’ shoulders. We need to think about what we want to do in our career. No one can tell us the answer to: “What do you want to do in five years?

Sure, your manager, a mentor, or your family and friends can all talk you through that stuff, but it does come down to you to take ownership over the direction in which you want your career to go.

So, put some forethought into the ways your career path could take shape before broaching the subject with your manager. Some people tend to have really clear career goals, while others are a little more … floaty. That’s fine. If you find yourself in the “floaty” camp, here’s are a couple things to think about to get your brain going:

First, it’s okay to not know what you want from your career at all times. I tend to bucket my life in quadrants:

  • Relationships (friends, family, love)
  • Career (skill development, promotions, satisfaction from the work I’m doing)
  • Hobbies (beach bumming, ghost stuff)
  • Health (exercise, cooking, happiness, clean home)

Typically, not all of those areas of my life are banging on all cylinders at once. When life is going great, usually three — maybe only two — are rocking and rolling while the rest are in stasis for a bit. Sometimes, that thing that’s in stasis is your career. And that’s fine. You don’t need to be thinking about your career path all the time. But if you feel a general ennui, it might be that too many of those areas of your life are lagging — and one could very possibly be your career.

If that’s the case, ask yourself this …

What does the team look like today, versus a year from now?

First, think about this question hypothetically — assessing gaps that will need to be filled down the line, and aligning them with company goals. Then, talk to other leaders in the company and on your team about where they see the team going in a year, and what kinds of goals people might focus on in the future.

This is where your manager can help you, and where I have seen really successful (and non-awkward) career path conversations begin. If you can get a sense of what the organization’s needs will be over the next 12 months, you can start to see which of those needs you’re interested in helping fulfill — because even if your dream job is X, there’s not much anyone can do for you if the company’s investments are in Y.

Finally, remember that career progress comes from a lot of different places, and that progress is indicated by a lot of different things. It comes from skill development, networking, and aligning with projects that advance both personal and company goals. And all of that takes time.

If we want to benchmark our progress, we need to look at more than just promotions. Instead, we need to focus on whether we’re developing new skills, being given more responsibility and autonomy,putting ourselves in mildly uncomfortable situations that help us get better at stuff (hello, public speaking), working with new people in the organization, being asked for our opinion more often, or being pulled into meetings with people we respect and admire.

These are all really good signs of progress that are hard to formalize, but indicate you’re taking the right steps to get your career on the path you’re aiming for.

What Would an Expert Say About All of This?

I’m glad you asked.

That was all based on my experience — holding career path conversations with team members, and with my own manager. But let’s ask an actual HR professional who has spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff.

I talked to our Senior HR Business Partner Brianna Manning, and asked her for the advice she would give someone who was struggling to hold productive conversations about career advancement. She echoed two of the sentiments we’ve already talked about — preparation, and giving a heads up that you want to have this conversation. One point in particular Manning shared regarding preparation is the importance of establishing career trajectory dialogue from the beginning of your relationship together:

If your manager is well aware of what direction you want to take your career, they can purposefully plan on assignments and projects that help set you in the right direction. In fact, if you want to follow your manager’s path, specifically, you should be direct and let them know that. Ask them to lunch to talk through their challenges, and learn what kinds of projects they took on to help get the skills they needed for the role.”

If you feel unsure of how to start that conversation because you don’t have that solid relationship yet, she provided some sample language that helps make it less intimidating:

Try opening with something like ‘I learned about this really great resource to help us make the most of our 1:1s and layer in some career development focus — would you be open to trying it?’ or ‘I want to make sure we bake in time for communication around career development in our 1:1s, can we set aside five minutes for that on the agenda on a weekly basis?'”

But Manning hit on one other important point in initiating these conversations I would be remiss to gloss over: You have to build trust and credibility to have productive career conversations.

It’s really difficult for your manager to focus on your career path if you aren’t succeeding in your current role. Make sure you’ve got a handle on your responsibilities before setting your sights on the next thing. In some cases, it might be wiser to focus on the “now” of your career path rather than the next turn down the road. As Manning put it:

If you demonstrate that you always deliver on current responsibilities, and always try to go the extra mile, you’ll build credibility and trust around your own personal brand. This will open doors for you. Just remember that it all takes time. It can’t happen overnight.”

She emphasized that credibility also comes from owning the follow-through on those career conversations. If your manager has opened up some doors for you, make sure you own your progression by nailing those stretch assignments, introductions, or whatever it is you’ve been given an opportunity to shine doing.

What Should You Expect to Get From These Career Path Conversations?

If you’re expecting a specific result out of one conversation, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You wouldn’t expect your manager to come in and dump a promotion on your lap, so you shouldn’t expect to solve your career destiny in one swoop.

In order for those doors to open, all relevant parties must be envisioning you in a certain role for a few months, at least.

I would say the best results typically come from people that think about their career path often, and have frequent — whether formal or informal — conversations about it.

Most of all, those with the most interesting paths tend to just keep an open mind about the different, jagged, very weird ways we all make our way through our careers.

Need help doing a little soul-searching? Take a few minutes to check out The Next Five.

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Jun

24

2016

How to Appear Confident, Even When You’re Not [Infographic]

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You know the saying, “Fake it ’til you make it”?

It turns out that doing things that make you appear confident — even if you don’t actually feel confident  — can affect how others see you, and can ultimately have a big impact on your success. It can also affect the chemicals in your brain to make you actually feel more confident when all is said and done.

Think about the last time you felt unsure of yourself. Perhaps you were about to give a presentation in front of a group of people; or maybe you were feeling really awkward at a networking event where you knew no one. (Terrifying, I know.)

In these instances, there are a couple of handy things you can do to make it look like you’re feeling confident. And when you come off as confident, authentic, comfortable, and enthusiastic, you’ll come off as smarter, more passionate, and more likeable.

Check out the infographic below from Vegas Extreme Skydiving for tips on how to appear confident. Use them the next time you’re feeling unsure of yourself, whether you’re trying something new, forging new relationships, or taking new risks.

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Jun

1

2016

7 Ways Leaders Can Inspire Innovation Across Teams

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Innovation in the workplace poses a unique challenge: Growth requires your employees to take risks, yet chasing unproven ideas can often mean fundamentally risking your job.

While many companies find success confining innovation to specific departments or innovation labs, this can often limit the flow of ideas and constrain the development of new products.

When it comes to tackling innovation, leaders must carefully build a culture that tolerates change and provides the freedom to explore big ideas. To help you get started, check out the seven tips below. 

7 Ways Leaders Can Inspire Innovation Across Teams

1) Find your tolerance for growth.

Let’s hit the obvious truth first: Not all companies are built for explosive growth.

While enterprise leaders (and employees) may envy the nimble, adaptable cultures of early stage companies, legacy structures and processes provide tremendous value for many corporations. Unfortunately, strict frameworks can end up stifling innovation rather than fostering it.

To combat this, leaders of all types need to fully understand their growth journey and what it takes to get there. To do so, it’s helpful to have CEOs and boards collaborate to establish a tolerance for growth and create cadences for employees to work within.

Remember: The push for innovation should be tailored to the needs of each particular company and team, not on the performance of a competitor.

2) Craft the right story.

The case for innovation can be made from the C-suite, but employees will drive it forward — and they’ll need a reason to create and chase new ideas.

Inspiring innovation requires a compelling story that resonates across every department in your company. That story starts with company values that reflect a dedication to innovation and real-world impact.

Effective storytelling means giving your managers and staff a big problem to solve, not simply pushing little innovation projects here and there. For example, GE Healthcare pushes the narrative that everything its people do and build is to make the world a healthier, better place. And this notion is reflected across all of their accounts, assets, and efforts:

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Once you have a big idea or problem to fall in love with, your innovation projects can be productized. This larger structure offers a way to create strong leaders and gives managers context to approve and encourage new ideas.

3) Rethink your team structures.

Speaking of managers, they’re often the group most likely to derail any cultural shift — particularly one that requires taking risks. While the C-suite might have a tolerance for risk, entrenched management and salespeople may have a much different comfort zone. To break through the management firewall, you need to either incentivize risk, or simply rethink your overall structure.

Nearly four years ago, my digital agency — 352 Inc. — radically altered our team structures and processes. In doing so, we built cross-functional web development teams (designers, developers, and strategists collaborating on a single client project to completion) and adopted a lean startup methodology across the company. While the process was key, we also eliminated most of our management hierarchy — turning project managers into servant leaders.

This shift fully empowered our teams to communicate directly with clients, manage relationships, and build a solution that best fit the needs of the project. By removing the barriers to employee-owned innovation, we’ve seen higher quality work, happier clients, and more productive teams.

4) Measure employees on value-based metrics.

Unfortunately, you can’t expect employees to pursue innovation just because you’ve said it’s important to the business. For innovation to stick across the company, it needs to be a job requirement rather than a suggestion.

While your story should encourage employee buy-in, performance reviews should include a focus on innovation. Employees should be measured and rewarded for the risks they take — even if they don’t necessarily pan out.

Once you have these metrics in place, you’ll need to provide a way for staff to truly pursue innovation. This leads me to my next point …

5) Structure innovation time for maximum impact.

Just like finding your tolerance for growth, most companies will need to find a way to give employees structured time to focus on creating actual, working products.

At 352, we’ve embraced hackathons as a good way to create and validate new product ideas. During our hackathons, we encourage employees to build a functioning product with a marketing plan and launch strategy in just three days. Finished products are judged by industry leaders and their peers within the company for market viability and utility.

In the past two years, we’ve launched three of these products into their own businesses, rewarding employees with ownership in the ideas they build.

The lesson? While brainstorming and whiteboarding have their place in the innovation process, be sure that your teams actually have time to turn those ideas into a reality. 

6) Look outside your own walls.

Even the most nimble organizations can suffer from red tape, compliance requirements, and legacy workflows. And while a large IT structure has obvious benefits, it can also constrain and slow innovation. Luckily, external innovation partners — like startups and agencies — can focus on a single problem and quickly develop a solution.

In 2014, an internal Cox Automotive startup group approached us to help build a web app that allowed anonymous negotiation for a new car purchase. Rather than struggling through internal development red tape, we rapidly built the product with cutting-edge, open-source technology.

Once we’d validated the product with actual end-users, we worked alongside their internal IT team to build compliance standards and infrastructure requirements. This flexibility to work outside the typical chain of command allowed the opportunity for the app to find product/market fit and grow with actual customers much quicker than an internal innovation team could achieve.

7) Celebrate and encourage learning.

The celebration of failure is in vogue throughout Silicon Valley, but that’s often shortsighted. It’s vital to be entrepreneurial, but innovators that come from more traditional industries can quickly fail themselves out of a job unless they focus on the lessons that failure brings.

A culture of learning fast, rather than failing fast, will ultimately drive sustainable innovation. 

Getting Started

At the end of the day, inspiring a culture of change and innovation requires strong storytelling, employee empowerment, and a willingness to look outside your organization to find answers.

Innovation won’t happen overnight, but it will have long-term impact when managed well by visionary leaders.

What do you do to encourage innovation in the workplace? Share you thoughts in the comments below.

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May

27

2016

9 Resources to Help You Become a Better Leader

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Some things in life are relatively straightforward to learn. 

Want to knit a scarf? Head the local craft store, pick up a book, and get to work. Sure, your gauge might be all over the place and your transitions between balls of yarn might be haphazard, but you’ll still end up with something good enough to keep you warm during the winter. 

Learning to lead others isn’t so linear. 

Sure, you can pick up a book to get you started, but that’s all it will be — a start. You’ve got to read, and listen, and ask questions, and make mistakes, and course-correct, and then you might be at a “good enough” level. 

If you’re on that leadership development path and looking for some more materials to help you along that journey, we’ve got you covered. Below are some of our favorite podcasts, tools, tips, and resources to become a better leader. 

9 Resources to Help You Become a Better Leader

1) Bill Walton on The Growth Show

Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you can learn something from Bill Walton. The NBA legend worked alongside two of the most prominent leaders in basketball: John Wooden, his basketball coach at UCLA, and Larry Bird, his teammate on the Celtics. In this episode of HubSpot’s podcast, The Growth Show, you’ll hear more on what made those leaders so special — and apply those insights to your own career.

2) Speaking.io

While public speaking isn’t a requirement for being a strong leader, it certainly can help you differentiate yourself at work. Whether you’ve got to nail a presentation in front of a room of execs or you’re worried about presenting an idea to your manager in your next 1:1, knowing how to frame your idea and effectively communicate it to your audience is incredibly important. 

This resource is a near one-stop-shop for public speaking tips. Check it out to get advice on everything from developing your idea, to designing your slides, to actually delivering your presentation. 

3) Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown

Though it can be tempting to feel like you have to master everything to be a leader, the most exceptional leaders embrace their vulnerability — and use it to their advantage. 

If you’re struggling with being vulnerable with your team, look no further than Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. In the book, Brené Brown dives into a decade of research to unveil the power of vulnerability, and gives tips on how you can open up more in your own life.

4) The Radical Candor Framework

Think about the hardest piece of feedback you’ve ever gotten. Chances are, it was rough to receive … but you were better in the end for it. 

That’s exactly what happened to Kim Scott. After an important presentation, Scott’s boss, Sheryl Sandberg — yes, that Sheryl — had some feedback. Harsh feedback. The kind of feedback that stings. But because Scott knew that Sandberg was coming from a compassionate place when giving the feedback, Scott accepted it, moved on, and became better.

Scott took this pivotal interaction and used it to develop a framework for giving better feedback at work. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, I’d highly suggest taking the time to read her framework.

(We also had the pleasure of having Kim Scott on The Growth Show. If you’re interested in hearing more about her perspective on leadership, listen to her episode below.)

5) CareerLark

Speaking of feedback: While you’re putting all the advice from all of these books, blogs, podcasts, and frameworks into practice, don’t you wish someone would give you feedback on how you’re doing? 

Enter CareerLark, a Slack bot that helps you seek out on-the-fly advice on skills you’re most interested in improving.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say the skill you’d like to get better at is public speaking. You could use CareerLark to ping your boss after your next big presentation to get real-time feedback on how it went — all through Slack. 

Micro-feedback in real-time? Great for your skill development (and great practice for your boss, too). 

6) Advice From Real People

Sometimes, getting feedback from someone who isn’t in your company or industry can be the most enlightening. If you’re looking to step outside your bubble, here are a few apps to help: 

  • RealTalk: This app features interviews and advice from real people in tons of different industries. Learn what it’s really like to be in a job — it could help you better benchmark your own experiences and uncover new ways of thinking. 
  • Advice.vc: Even if you’re not in a startup, turning to a venture capitalist (VC) for advice could get you through the trickier situations at work. For $20 (which gets donated to charity, not pocketed), ask a VC expert about a problem you’re facing, and get help finding a solution.
  • Glassbreakers: If you’re a woman struggling to find a mentor in your industry, check out this tool. It’ll match you with another brilliant woman in your space who could give you great advice about developing your leadership skills.

7) Online Courses

So far, the leadership resources largely have to do with management and communication … but that’s not the only way to level up in your career. 

Sometimes, it’s about becoming really, really good at a certain part of your job (or a skill that you want to be part of your job one day). For that to happen, you just need to hunker down and learn it. 

An online course can be a great way to do just that. While where you find an online class differs greatly by the skill you’re looking to develop, here are a few places I’d recommend checking out if you want to improve your marketing-related skills:

  • Inbound Certification: If you want a deep dive into some of the most important aspects of marketing today, check out our free certification. 
  • Design Lab: Want to up your design skills? Check out Design Labs. You’ll be given real assignments to build your knowledge — and a mentor to help you through each one.
  • Codecademy: Learn to code — for free — at Codecademy. This is especially helpful if you’re the type of person who learns best through lots of hands-on experience.
  • Lynda’s Excel Courses: If you’re interested in advancing your data analysis skills, you’re gonna have to learn how to use Excel. Period. Check out Lynda’s Excel courses for more help. 

8) Industry-Specific Slack Communities

Many of us are on Slack all day to communicate with our coworkers, but there are lots of opportunities to use the platform to connect and learn from folks outside our company. In fact, many industries have Slack groups you can join to talk about the latest trends and get advice on problems you’re facing. (Or lurk in the background like I do to absorb as much information as possible.)

To find a community to join, I’d recommend checking out these two resources: 

9) The Next Five 

Maybe the resources above haven’t appealed to you. Maybe you’re at a loss for what kind of skills you want to develop. Maybe you’re not even convinced you want to be a leader in your field at all … but you aren’t sure what to do next. 

If you’re already doing a little soul searching, you should take a few minutes to check out The Next Five. It’s a free assessment that can help you identify the next step in your career.

Bonus: Your “diagnosis” will come with looooots more resources to help you make meaningful progress toward that new goal. (Because the only thing better than nine leadership resources is tailored resources to your specific situation … am I right?)

What are some of the most helpful leadership resources you’ve come across? Share your favorites in the comments. 

May

24

2016

Why Emotional Well-Being Matters at Work [Infographic]

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There’s a common misconception about happiness in the workplace. It goes like this: Great work leads to big success, which leads to happiness.

Sounds like it should work out that way, right?

Turns out that model for happiness is totally backwards. Happiness isn’t a destination; it’s a starting point — one that enables positive outcomes at work. When employees are happy first, they tend to work harder and be more productive. At the same time, the companies happy employees work for tend to see less turnover, higher revenue, and smoother operations overall.

To help illustrate the research behind why emotional well-being matters at work, the folks at Happify created the infographic below. Check it out to learn why companies should care about employees’ emotional well-being, what they can do about it, what employees can do about it, and where money fits in to the equation.

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