Entrepreneurship

25 Wacky Interview Questions That Work

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Via Entrepreneur By Laura Entis

The best interview questions provide insight into a potential hire’s thought process, critical thinking skills and overall personality, instead of just a rehearsed list of achievements accomplished and lessons learned.

Rate-your-company startup Glassdoor recently compiled a list of the top 25 oddball questions that businesses like Yahoo, Airbnb and UrbanOutfitters routinely ask interviewees.

“It’s helpful for both job seekers and employers to familiarize themselves with the downright weird interview questions that are being used to identify great candidates,” says Scott Dobroski, Glassdoor’s community expert.

From the employer’s side, Dobroski says, unexpected questions are a good tactic for forcing job candidates to think on their feet.

And for potential hires? It’s a chance to think outside the box because a bad response is often the expected response. One of Dobroski’s favorite questions on the list this year comes from the American Heart Association, which asks interviewees: What is the color of money?

“The worst answer you can give is either,’ I don’t know,’ or ‘Green,'” he says. “It’s OK to answer a question with a question, or ask for a clarification.” For example, “‘Are you talking about the color of money in the UK? India? In Bitcoins?’ In this case, there’s obviously not one correct reply.”

Here are 25 oddball questions that companies are asking to freshen up the interview process.

1. “If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?” — The Zappos Family, Customer Loyalty Team Member interview.

2. “How lucky are you and why?” — Airbnb, Content Manager interview.

3. “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?” — Apple, Specialist interview.

4. “If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?” — Red Frog Events, Event Coordinator interview.

5. “Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?” — Dell, Account Manager interview.

6. “If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?” —Yahoo, Search Quality Analyst interview.

7. “If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?” — Bed Bath & Beyond, Sales Associate interview.

8. “Do you believe in Bigfoot?” — Norwegian Cruise Line, Casino Marketing Coordinator interview.

9.”Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?” — Xerox, Client Manager interview.

10.”What is your least favorite thing about humanity?” — ZocDoc, Operations Associate interview.

11. “How would you use Yelp to find the number of businesses in the U.S.?” — Factual, Software Engineer interview.

12. “How honest are you?” — Allied Telesis, Executive Assistant interview.

13. “How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the U.S. each year?” — Goldman Sachs, Programmer Analyst interview.

14. “Can you instruct someone how to make an origami ‘cootie catcher’ with just words?”  — LivingSocial, Consumer Advocate interview.

15.”If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children?” — McKinsey & Company, Associate interview.

16. “You’re a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?” — Urban Outfitters Sales Associate interview.

17. “How does the internet work?” — Akamai, Director interview.

18. “If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?” –SinglePlatform, Inside Sales Consultant interview.

19. “What’s the color of money?” — American Heart Association, Project Manager interview.

20. “What was the last gift you gave someone?” — Gallup, Data Analyst interview.

21. “What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?” — Applebee’s, Bartender/Neighborhood Expert Server interview.

22. “How many snow shovels sold in the U.S. last year?” — TASER, Leadership Development Program interview.

23. “It’s Thursday; we’re staffing you on a telecommunications project in Calgary, Canada on Monday. Your flight and hotel are booked; your visa is ready. What are the top five things you do before you leave?” — ThoughtWorks, Junior Consultant interview.

24. “Describe to me the process and benefits of wearing a seatbelt.” — Active Network, Client Applications Specialist interview.

25. “Have you ever been on a boat?” — Applied Systems, Graphic Designer interview.

Do You Have the Entrepreneurial ‘X Factor?’

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Do You Have the Entrepreneurial 'X Factor?'

Image credit: Shutterstock

Via Entrepreneur, by Steve Musick

There’s a mysterious “X factor” shared by entrepreneurs around the world. Fledgling entrepreneurs reach for it, while the successful seem to wear it effortlessly. But what is this elusive entrepreneurial element? Is it a learned skill, or is it genetic? Can entrepreneurship be taught, or is it something that’s just in your blood?

The truth is that while many skills shared by great entrepreneurs can be learned, two elements are traits that entrepreneurs are born with.

The traits entrepreneurs possess

In my experience, the entrepreneurial “X factor” comes down to a dichotomy of two innate traits. The first being creativity, which is the ability to discover and develop viable new business ideas. The second is intuition, or the gift of knowing who will benefit from a new idea and how to sell them the idea.

These two elements work in tandem: They lend the uncanny ability to see around corners and create true vision. If you don’t have these two elements, you will most likely not succeed as an entrepreneur. That doesn’t mean you can’t run a successful business, but it will not be a truly entrepreneurial venture.

And even if you did win the genetic lottery, for this powerful duo to be used to their full potential, they must be harnessed with four other learned skills.

1. People skills. Understanding how to build and inspire a team could be an entire concentration of study within academia. The art of getting people to do what you want them to do requires a lot of practice and many failed attempts before getting it right.

2. Ability to focus resources. Often, entrepreneurial ventures suffer from organizational ADD. Symptoms include the inability to focus on critical details necessary for project completion and the pursuit of rabbit trails. A successful entrepreneur must learn the logic behind building a business and realize when they’re over-innovating to the point of wasting resources.

3. Financial skills. Some entrepreneurs operate with such an intuitive sense of direction that their organization grows from the sheer inertia of powerful ideas. But at some point, somebody needs to know how to balance the books for operational sustainability.

4. Orchestration capabilities: Coordinating all of a business’s moving parts is the essence of management, a skill taught in universities across the country.

These four skills are garnered through hard work, practice and persistence. They are just as crucial to an entrepreneur’s success as the “X factor,” and they can be learned over time.

Packing the Essentials

The essential genetic traits of an entrepreneur — creativity and intuition — are what separate the truly entrepreneurial from the average business owner. These traits make for a mind full of big ideas combined with an understanding of the people who can benefit from those big ideas. This is the foundation of any great business.

Nevertheless, an organization cannot survive on DNA alone. It must be complemented by skills that are learned and cultivated over time. In the end, the “X factor” is not an end-all, be-all trait that gives entrepreneurs a golden ticket to success. Without hard work, business savvy and the ability to manage people, even the most creative and intuitive will fail.

Seth Godin on the 3 Essential Skills Every Entrepreneur Should Cultivate

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Via Entrepreneur. 

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got your hustle on. You don’t work normal hours, every day is spent on your business and you’re doing all you can to make it go. You know how to work hard, but there are other skills that great entrepreneurs need too. In Seth Godin’s new book The Icarus Deception (Portfolio, 2013) he shares three essential skills every great entrepreneur needs.

1. Quiet your lizard brain.
Whether you know it or not, we all have what Godin refers to as a lizard brain. He says, “The lizard is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump called the amygdala near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive.”

 

Godin has written a lot about this in previous books including Linchpin and Poke the Box and cites author Steven Pressfield for further explanation — “As Pressfield describes it, the lizard brain is the resistance. The resistance is the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise. The resistance is writer’s block and putting jitters and every project that ever shipped late because people couldn’t stay on the same page long enough to get something out the door. The resistance grows in strength as we get closer to shipping, as we get closer to an insight, as we get closer to the truth of what we really want. That’s because the lizard hates change and achievement and risk,” Godin says in The Icarus Deception.

Quieting the lizard brain is a constant struggle for entrepreneurs. It is a skill that needs to be developed. But as we tune into the frequency of what we feel is the right decision and tune out the lizard brain we will be able to truly test our business plans and hypothesis.

2. Think like an artist.
Most of us put ourselves in one of three categories. Godin breaks it down into being either the chef, cook or bottle washer. Chefs run the show, they hire and fire, make plans and big decisions for their subordinates. Chefs have all the power. Cooks are the executors; they get it done. Bottle washers are often disrespected. They are the grunts on the front line in the trenches doing the dirty work. Which one are you at this particular day and time?

In The Icarus Deception, Godin challenges us to think beyond the norm and become artists.

“It’s not art if the world (or at least a tiny portion of it) isn’t transformed in some way. And it’s not art if it’s not generous. And most of all, it’s not art if there’s no risk. The risk isn’t the risk of financial ruin (though that might be part of it). No, the risk is the risk of rejection. Of puzzlement. Of stasis. Art requires the artist to care, and to care enough to do something when he knows it might not work.”

Thinking like an artist instead of like chefs, cooks and bottle washers opens up a whole new world of possibilities for change, progress and success.

3. Connect the disconnected.
Connecting people on the surface might feel like old-school networking events where everyone just exchanges business cards. Godin writes about “The Connected Economy” and explains that the era where we needed to care about catering to the masses is gone. It’s about connecting people who are disconnected — then connection becomes a function of art. The opportunity in the Connection Economy is about finding the problem (where are people disconnected).

This is an essential skill that might require significant effort, he says:

“How much connection did you just make? That’s one way to measure whether or not the work you did made a difference. When you make a daring comment at a meeting, when you produce a video or app or an idea that spreads, when more people visit your farm stand because they can’t get enough of the way you engage…Boring and safe rarely lead to connection. Connection happens when humility asserts itself.”

25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

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By james Stephenson Via Entrepreneur

Regardless of your definition of success, there are, oddly enough, a great number of common characteristics that are shared by successful businesspeople. You can place a check beside each characteristic that you feel that you possess. This way, you can see how you stack up. Even if you don’t have all of these characteristics, don’t fret. Most can be learned with practice and by developing a winning attitude, especially if you set goals and apply yourself, through strategic planning, to reach those goals in incremental and measurable stages.

The Home Business Musts
Like any activity you pursue, there are certain musts that are required to be successful in a chosen activity. To legally operate a vehicle on public roadways, one must have a driver’s license; to excel in sports, one must train and practice; to retire comfortably, one must become an informed investor and actively invest for retirement. If your goal is success in business, then the formula is no different. There are certain musts that have to be fully developed, implemented and managed for your business to succeed. There are many business musts, but this article contains I believe to be some of the more important musts that are required to start, operate and grow a profitable home business.

1. Do what you enjoy.
What you get out of your business in the form of personal satisfaction, financial gain, stability and enjoyment will be the sum of what you put into your business. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, in all likelihood it’s safe to assume that will be reflected in the success of your business–or subsequent lack of success. In fact, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, chances are you won’t succeed.

2. Take what you do seriously.
You cannot expect to be effective and successful in business unless you truly believe in your business and in the goods and services that you sell. Far too many home business owners fail to take their own businesses seriously enough, getting easily sidetracked and not staying motivated and keeping their noses to the grindstone. They also fall prey to naysayers who don’t take them seriously because they don’t work from an office building, office park, storefront, or factory. Little do these skeptics, who rain on the home business owner’s parade, know is that the number of people working from home, and making very good annual incomes, has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.

3. Plan everything.
Planning every aspect of your home business is not only a must, but also builds habits that every home business owner should develop, implement, and maintain. The act of business planning is so important because it requires you to analyze each business situation, research and compile data, and make conclusions based mainly on the facts as revealed through the research. Business planning also serves a second function, which is having your goals and how you will achieve them, on paper. You can use the plan that you create both as map to take you from point A to Z and as a yardstick to measure the success of each individual plan or segment within the plan.

4. Manage money wisely.
The lifeblood of any business enterprise is cash flow. You need it to buy inventory, pay for services, promote and market your business, repair and replace tools and equipment, and pay yourself so that you can continue to work. Therefore, all home business owners must become wise money managers to ensure that the cash keeps flowing and the bills get paid. There are two aspects to wise money management.

  1. The money you receive from clients in exchange for your goods and services you provide (income)
  2. The money you spend on inventory, supplies, wages and other items required to keep your business operating. (expenses)

5. Ask for the sale.
A home business entrepreneur must always remember that marketing, advertising, or promotional activities are completely worthless, regardless of how clever, expensive, or perfectly targeted they are, unless one simple thing is accomplished–ask for the sale. This is not to say that being a great salesperson, advertising copywriting whiz or a public relations specialist isn’t a tremendous asset to your business. However, all of these skills will be for naught if you do not actively ask people to buy what you are selling.

6. Remember it’s all about the customer.
Your home business is not about the products or services that you sell. Your home business is not about the prices that you charge for your goods and services. Your home business is not about your competition and how to beat them. Your business is all about your customers, or clients, period. After all, your customers are the people that will ultimately decide if your business goes boom or bust. Everything you do in business must be customer focused, including your policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising and promotional campaigns and website. In addition, you must know who your customers are inside out and upside down.

7. Become a shameless self-promoter (without becoming obnoxious).
One of the greatest myths about personal or business success is that eventually your business, personal abilities, products or services will get discovered and be embraced by the masses that will beat a path to your door to buy what you are selling. But how can this happen if no one knows who you are, what you sell and why they should be buying?

Self-promotion is one of the most beneficial, yet most underutilized, marketing tools that the majority of home business owners have at their immediate disposal.

8. Project a positive business image.
You have but a passing moment to make a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business. Home business owners must go out of their way and make a conscious effort to always project the most professional business image possible. The majority of home business owners do not have the advantage of elaborate offices or elegant storefronts and showrooms to wow prospects and impress customers. Instead, they must rely on imagination, creativity and attention to the smallest detail when creating and maintaining a professional image for their home business.

9. Get to know your customers.
One of the biggest features and often the most significant competitive edge the home based entrepreneur has over the larger competitors is the he can offer personalized attention. Call it high-tech backlash if you will, but customers are sick and tired of hearing that their information is somewhere in the computer and must be retrieved, or told to push a dozen digits to finally get to the right department only to end up with voice mail–from which they never receive a return phone call.

The home business owner can actually answer phone calls, get to know customers, provide personal attention and win over repeat business by doing so. It’s a researched fact that most business (80 percent) will come from repeat customers rather than new customers. Therefore, along with trying to draw newcomers, the more you can do to woo your regular customers, the better off you will be in the long run and personalized attention is very much appreciated and remembered in the modern high tech world.

10. Level the playing field with technology.
You should avoid getting overly caught up in the high-tech world, but you should also know how to take advantage of using it. One of the most amazing aspects of the internet is that a one or two person business operating from a basement can have a superior website to a $50 million company, and nobody knows the difference. Make sure you’re keeping up with the high-tech world as it suits your needs.. The best technology is that which helps you, not that which impresses your neighbors.

11. Build a top-notch business team.
No one person can build a successful business alone. It’s a task that requires a team that is as committed as you to the business and its success. Your business team may include family members, friends, suppliers, business alliances, employees, sub-contractors, industry and business associations, local government and the community. Of course the most important team members will be your customers or clients. Any or all may have a say in how your business will function and a stake in your business future.

12. Become known as an expert.
When you have a problem that needs to be solved, do you seek just anyone’s advice or do you seek an expert in the field to help solve your particular problem? Obviously, you want the most accurate information and assistance that you can get. You naturally seek an expert to help solve your problem. You call a plumber when the hot water tank leaks, a real estate agent when it’s time to sell your home or a dentist when you have a toothache. Therefore, it only stands to reason that the more you become known for your expertise in your business, the more people will seek you out to tap into your expertise, creating more selling and referral opportunities. In effect, becoming known as an expert is another style of prospecting for new business, just in reverse. Instead of finding new and qualified people to sell to, these people seek you out for your expertise.

13. Create a competitive advantage.
A home business must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition. This is nothing more than a fancy way of asking the vital question, “Why will people choose to do business with you or purchase your product or service instead of doing business with a competitor and buying his product or service?” In other words, what one aspect or combination of aspects is going to separate your business from your competition? Will it be better service, a longer warranty, better selection, longer business hours, more flexible payment options, lowest price, personalized service, better customer service, better return and exchange policies or a combination of several of these?

14. Invest in yourself.
Top entrepreneurs buy and read business and marketing books, magazines, reports, journals, newsletters, websites and industry publications, knowing that these resources will improve their understanding of business and marketing functions and skills. They join business associations and clubs, and they network with other skilled business people to learn their secrets of success and help define their own goals and objectives. Top entrepreneurs attend business and marketing seminars, workshops and training courses, even if they have already mastered the subject matter of the event. They do this because they know that education is an ongoing process. There are usually ways to do things better, in less time, with less effort. In short, top entrepreneurs never stop investing in the most powerful, effective and best business and marketing tool at their immediate disposal–themselves.

15. Be accessible.
We’re living in a time when we all expect our fast food lunch at the drive-thru window to be ready in mere minutes, our dry cleaning to be ready for pick-up on the same day, our money to be available at the cash machine and our pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free. You see the pattern developing–you must make it as easy as you can for people to do business with you, regardless of the home business you operate.

You must remain cognizant of the fact that few people will work hard, go out of their way, or be inconvenienced just for the privilege of giving you their hard-earned money. The shoe is always on the other foot. Making it easy for people to do business with you means that you must be accessible and knowledgeable about your products and services. You must be able to provide customers with what they want, when they want it.

16. Build a rock-solid reputation.
A good reputation is unquestionably one of the home business owner’s most tangible and marketable assets. You can’t simply buy a good reputation; it’s something that you earn by honoring your promises. If you promise to have the merchandise in the customer’s hands by Wednesday, you have no excuse not to have it there. If you offer to repair something, you need to make good on your offer. Consistency in what you offer is the other key factor. If you cannot come through with the same level of service (and products) for clients on a regular basis, they have no reason to trust you . . . and without trust, you won’t have a good reputation.

17. Sell benefits.
Pushing product features is for inexperienced or wannabe entrepreneurs. Selling the benefits associated with owning and using the products and services you carry is what sales professionals worldwide focus on to create buying excitement and to sell, sell more, and sell more frequently to their customers. Your advertising, sales presentations, printed marketing materials, product packaging, website, newsletters, trade show exhibit and signage are vital. Every time and every medium used to communicate with your target audience must always be selling the benefits associated with owning your product or using your service.

18. Get involved.
Always go out of your way to get involved in the community that supports your business. You can do this in many ways, such as pitching in to help local charities or the food bank, becoming involved in organizing community events, and getting involved in local politics. You can join associations and clubs that concentrate on programs and policies designed to improve the local community. It’s a fact that people like to do business with people they know, like and respect, and with people who do things to help them as members of the community.

19. Grab attention.
Small-business owners cannot waste time, money and energy on promotional activities aimed at building awareness solely through long-term, repeated exposure. If you do, chances are you will go broke long before this goal is accomplished. Instead, every promotional activity you engage in, must put money back in your pocket so that you can continue to grab more attention and grow your business.

20. Master the art of negotiations.
The ability to negotiate effectively is unquestionably a skill that every home business owner must make every effort to master. It’s perhaps second in importance only to asking for the sale in terms of home business musts. In business, negotiation skills are used daily. Always remember that mastering the art of negotiation means that your skills are so finely tuned that you can always orchestrate a win-win situation. These win-win arrangements mean that everyone involved feels they have won, which is really the basis for building long-term and profitable business relationships.

21. Design Your workspace for success.
Carefully plan and design your home office workspace to ensure maximum personal performance and productivity and, if necessary, to project professionalism for visiting clients. If at all possible, resist the temptation to turn a corner of the living room or your bedroom into your office. Ideally, you’ll want a separate room with a door that closes to keep business activities in and family members out, at least during prime business and revenue generating hours of the day. A den, spare bedroom, basement or converted garage are all ideal candidates for your new home office. If this is not possible, you’ll have to find a means of converting a room with a partition or simply find hours to do the bulk of your work when nobody else is home.

22. Get and stay organized.
The key to staying organized is not about which type of file you have or whether you keep a stack or two of papers on your desk, but it’s about managing your business. It’s about having systems in place to do things. Therefore, you wan to establish a routine by which you can accomplish as much as possible in a given workday, whether that’s three hours for a part-time business or seven or nine hours as a full-timer. In fact, you should develop systems and routines for just about every single business activity. Small things such as creating a to-do list at the end of each business day, or for the week, will help keep you on top of important tasks to tackle. Creating a single calendar to work from, not multiple sets for individual tasks or jobs, will also ensure that jobs are completed on schedule and appointments kept. Incorporating family and personal activities into your work calendar is also critical so that you work and plan from a single calendar.

23. Take time off.
The temptation to work around the clock is very real for some home business owners. After all, you don’t have a manager telling you it’s time to go home because they can’t afford the overtime pay. Every person working from home must take time to establish a regular work schedule that includes time to stretch your legs and take lunch breaks, plus some days off and scheduled vacations. Create the schedule as soon as you have made the commitment to start a home business. Of course, your schedule will have to be flexible. You should, therefore, not fill every possible hour in the day. Give yourself a backup hour or two. All work and no play makes you burn out very fast and grumpy customer service is not what people want.

24. Limit the number of hats you wear.
It’s difficult for most business owners not to take a hands-on approach. They try to do as much as possible and tackle as many tasks as possible in their business. The ability to multitask, in fact, is a common trait shared by successful entrepreneurs. However, once in a while you have to stand back and look beyond today to determine what’s in the best interest of your business and yourself over the long run. Most highly successful entrepreneurs will tell you that from the time they started out, they knew what they were good at and what tasks to delegate to others.

25. Follow-up constantly.
Constant contact, follow-up, and follow-through with customers, prospects, and business alliances should be the mantra of every home business owner, new or established. Constant and consistent follow-up enables you to turn prospects into customers, increase the value of each sale and buying frequency from existing customers, and build stronger business relationships with suppliers and your core business team. Follow-up is especially important with your existing customer base, as the real work begins after the sale. It’s easy to sell one product or service, but it takes work to retain customers and keep them coming back.

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”: I Transformed Myself Into a Fact Finder

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By Lou A. via LinkedIn.

In 1990, I discovered Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and was transformed.

Now I didn’t wake up the next day and become a more effective person. Hell no. Instead I discovered I wasn’t a very effective person. Then something worse happened. Even when I tried to incorporate some of the seven habits into my style, my less effective habits got in the way. However, I quickly discovered that none of this mattered. It wasn’t about me becoming highly effective; it was about my candidates.

Since I was a full-time recruiter when I first read the book, I quickly realized I could become a better recruiter and assessor of talent by looking for these habits in the people I presented to my hiring manager clients for open jobs. This was the transformation. Some of my hiring manager clients even became better interviewers when I suggested they also focus on these seven core traits.

Late last year I wrote a post that got some good press, a million reads, and offered a way to measure the seven habits during the interview. It even got a Bloomberg TV mention (the post, not me). It was audaciously, but correctly, titled, The Most Important Interview Question of All Time. The technique involves spending 15-20 minutes digging into each of the candidate’s most significant accomplishments. After doing this for 3-4 different accomplishments, the person’s trend of performance and impact over time is revealed. (A full description of the process is included in my book, “The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired.”) As noted, the real skill in using this question is the associated fact-finding involved. After obtaining a complete word picture of the candidate’s major accomplishments, they’re compared to the performance requirements of the job to determine if the candidate is a fit or not.

By looking for Covey’s seven habits as part of the fact-finding, it’s easier to separate those who are a reasonable fit and those who are exceptional. Here’s a quick summary on how this can be done for each of the seven habits using the most significant accomplishment question (MSA).

Be Proactive. Take the initiative. Don’t wait for things to happen. Make them happen.

As candidates describe their major accomplishments, have them describe where they took the initiative, went the extra mile, exceeded expectations, and did more than required. Patterns emerge revealing the types of work the person finds innately satisfying and motivating. Map this to the performance-based job description to determine best fit.

Begin with the End in Mind. Define the outcomes before you create the process.

When I have a candidate describe a major accomplishment, I always ask how the person developed the plan, how they managed against the plan and if they were successful. The best people always begin any major activity with a thorough plan giving full consideration to all of the various alternatives.

Put First Things First. Prioritize what’s important, not just react to what’s urgent.

Find out how people multi-task, getting specific examples and details for each MSA. As part of this, determine how the candidate prioritized different activities and how the person balanced competing objectives. Collectively this is all part of the decision-making process.

Think Win-Win. Consider the impact on all of the stakeholders; how the person deals with superiors, subordinates and peers; and how the person deals with conflict.

Ignore the generic “I’m a real people person.” Instead dig into how the candidate develops team-based consensus. Get specific examples of when the person persuaded people in other functions, including higher-ranking managers, executives, vendors and customers. Thinking win-win is not about capitulating, but about persuading and convincing others, and being persuaded and convinced.

Seek First to Understand, and Then Be Understood. Don’t offer solutions or assume your approach is the best. Understand the problem first.

One of the core MSA questions is: “Can you describe the biggest problem or challenge you’ve ever handled?” As part of the fact-finding, it’s important to find out how the person figured out the root cause of the problem and the process the person used to put together a solution. To best understand this habit, focus on how the candidate reached out to others, modified his or her approach, and achieved group consensus.

Synergize. This is team skills on steroids: working with, influencing, coaching and developing people.

Rather than focusing on personality traits to assess team skills, it’s better to find out the types of teams the candidate has been assigned to, participate in, and lead. Those who can “synergize” are typically assigned to important cross-functional project teams far more often than their less “synergistic” peers. During the fact-finding, ask who was on the teams, the person’s role, and why the person was assigned to the team. If these teams are growing in size and importance over time, you’ve found someone who can synergize.

Sharpen the Saw. Constant self-improvement is how a person remains current and relevant.

Ask people how they’ve become better. Be very concerned if they have not taken any proactive self-development action. On the other hand, keep a very open mind to someone who has done something exceptional when they were underemployed or unemployed. These are the diamonds that others have failed to recognize or hire.

Job-seekers should own these habits, and interviewers should focus on them. If you’re into the seven habits, you’ll discover I changed the definitions a bit — but you should appreciate the switch especially if you begin with the end in mind, seek first to understand and then be understood, and think win-win. Collectively, that’s how you sharpen your own saw. Quite frankly, that’s why Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is transformational.

3 Words That Create Instant Credibility

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Being a know-it-all is a great way to make people question your common sense.

Speaking - Closeup of lips

By Geoffrey James.

Via Inc.

When it comes to credibility-building, the three most powerful words in the English language are: “I don’t know.”

Many salespeople and most managers think that they’ll lose credibility if they admit ignorance, especially about something about which they “ought” to know. However, the exact opposite is the case.

Admitting ignorance makes everything else you say more credible. Admitting ignorance marks you as a person who’s not afraid to speak the truth, even when that truth might reflect poorly on you.

Needless to say, the “I don’t know” should be followed by a plan to discover the information that’s required, if the issue is truly important. And you WILL be judged on whether you deliver on that promise.

But here’s the thing: people dislike a know-it-all. They can often sense, at a gut level, when they’re being BSed. Even if they’re taken in, when they find out (as usually happens) that they’ve been BSed, they never trust the BSer again.

How to Be Funny at the Office

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By Scott Adams, Via Inc

I’m fairly confident that I’m pretty hilarious. But how do I make sure I’m as funny as I think I am?

If you really need to know how funny you are, you could test your hilarity with someone who doesn’t depend on you for a paycheck. But that might not turn out the way you hoped. This is one of the many, many instances in which ignorance is your friend. As things stand, your subordinates laugh like inebriated chimps at everything they hope is meant as a joke. That artificial approval makes you feel like a superstar, and it makes your subordinates happy, because fake laughing is easier than working. It’s a perfect system. I wouldn’t peel back the layers on that onion.

I would like to showcase my sense of humor at the office. What are the best opportunities for doing so? I’m guessing downsizing announcements are not ideal.

There’s no better time for humor than when you’re criticizing a subordinate. Humor can lighten the mood in what might otherwise be a tense situation. When you criticize subordinates in a boring and normal way, you end up with crying, shouting, and sometimes violence. But if you whimsically compare your ineffective subordinate to a nutless squirrel with a learning problem, the situation quickly turns
to laughs, hugging, and-;with a little luck-;inappropriate touching.

Is it better to be funny about stuff that’s specific to the workplace, or can I be more broadly humorous? I have material I worked up for Toastmasters last year that most people here haven’t heard.

People prefer humor they can relate to. For example, if you tell a funny story about the time your personal chef fell off your yacht and you let him drown because you didn’t feel like going back, your employees will find that relatable. At least from the chef’s point of view.

I worry about making a joke that might offend somebody. How can I be both hysterical and politically correct?

It’s perfectly acceptable to tell offensive jokes at work, as long as you add to the end of each one, “Ha ha! It’s OK, because I dated one in college,” or “Ha ha! It’s OK, because I tried it once at summer camp.” That covers most bases.

I am, by nature, a strategic thinker. How can I think strategically about deploying my humor?

That is an excellent question, because humor without strategy is like a pair of mittens with no user manual. It’s all trial and error and tears. That’s how accidents happen.

Humor can’t be randomly sprayed into the universe with no thought of an endgame. Humor requires a strategy that connects your wittiness with your long-term goals. For example, one long-term goal might involve trying to appear somewhat human, for reasons that are not immediately obvious. Or maybe you like to use humor to belittle subordinates so you can enjoy the warm glow of your own arrogance. There are plenty of good reasons for a CEO to be funny. You just need to pick one.

How can I be sure my employees are laughing with me, not at me?

You don’t need to live in doubt. The best strategy is to laugh at them first. As soon as you deliver your punch line, point to the weakest nearby person and yell “LOSER!” then laugh as if there are kittens in your underpants. I don’t know exactly what your employees will be doing at that point, but it probably won’t involve laughing.

How to Optimize Social Media to Kick Start Your Career

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How to Optimize Social Media to Kick Start Your Career

 

Written by Lindsey Harper Mac

College freshmen can’t help but feel a bit of trepidation when they follow their Twitter feed these days.

News of economic uncertainty and the attendant bleak jobs outlook are re-tweeted with ferocity across every networking site in existence. The irony accompanying this no-doubt troubling news is that the very modes of sharing bad news with students and others are experiencing their own period of unprecedented expansion. An embedded part of the online learning that makes up a huge part of today’s coursework, online social collaboration provides tomorrow’s executives with powerful marketing lessons. Played well, the very social media skills possessed by today’s university student, regardless if they are 18 or 35, might lead to that first good job even in tough times.

Linkedin

Moving beyond the ubiquitous advice for college students to open a LinkedIn account—advice that is not widely adopted—students with an eye beyond the graduation party simply need to start their career networking on this social media option long before they realize why it’s indispensable. Most useful are strategies for how to actually build relationships—and your reputation/brand—on LinkedIn. Here are several:

1. Give More than You Take

First, build from connections for which you’ve provided some value. If you’ve developed a good relationship with a professor, especially one in your chosen field in whose class you’ve performed well, start there. Club and organization sponsors who know you as a reliable member are good first choices as well. Not-for-profit service organizations are also good sources for adding to your network as they can vouch for your contributions, attitude and work ethic. Don’t simply ask for a connection because someone owns a business or has an “in” at a company you’re following. By building a network early on, you’ll likely have an earned contact that can refer you to an important connection.

2. Choose Wisely

Linkedin is not Facebook. Enough said.

3. Be a Gardener

Career networking on Linkedin is an iterative refining process. Your first year should include seeking career advice and information helpful for defining your search. Use this to weed out connections that take up time, but don’t add value to your ultimate goal.

Blog

While time is something (diligent) students have in short supply, maintaining a career-oriented blog can actually better utilize those brief shots of time among studying, sleeping and socializing. Promoted on other social networking activities, a blog that shows your growth in skill and knowledge pertinent to your career goals can provide a symbiotic boost in attracting the attention of helpful contacts.

Facebook

There’s no doubt that with 800 million users and counting, Facebook can’t be ignored as an important source for identifying resources that will help you find that first great job. It can also be a quick way to get doors permanently closed for you without you even knowing they existed. Focusing on the positive though, creating a professional-pursuits-only Facebook page, linked to your exclusively-career-oriented e-mail address, can augment your array of platform tools to get you noticed for the right reasons as you pull away from the pack looking for that one job you’re earning as you learn.

Jesus’ Three Step Formula for Overcoming Discouragement

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Via Natasha Golinsky 

During my morning devotion time this week I was spending time in the Bible’s book of Luke chapter eight. Having been a Christian my entire life, I have heard this parable of the sower preached countless times and (to be honest) was intending to speed over it so that I could I could get into “something new”.  As I was reading; however, something interesting caught my attention. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this scripture, here it is from the Good News Translation.

Luke 8:5 Once there was a man who went out to sow grain. As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some of it fell on rocky ground, and when the plants sprouted, they dried up because the soil had no moisture. 7 Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up with the plants and choked them. 8 And some seeds fell in good soil; the plants grew and bore grain, one hundred grains each.

11 This is what the parable means: the seed is the word of God. 12 The seeds that fell along the path stand for those who hear; but the Devil comes and takes the message away from their hearts in order to keep them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who hear the message and receive it gladly. But it does not sink deep into them; they believe only for a while but when the time of testing comes, they fall away. 14 The seeds that fell among thorn bushes stand for those who hear; but the worries and riches and pleasures of this life crowd in and choke them, and their fruit never ripens. 15 The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit.

Let me tell you why these verses had caught my eye.  Earlier in the week I had received an email from a client of mine who is currently in Ghana helping locals learn sustainable farming methods. Although he was happy to be there and to be of service, I could tell he was stressed and frustrated by the slow pace at which things were happening. Having lived in a third world country myself for a year over 10 years ago, I could totally relate to the challenges of wanting to getting things done quickly in a culture that was accustomed to taking its’ time.

waiting

As I read this piece of scripture I thought about my client and what Jesus has to say about what it takes to bear good fruit. There my client was working long, trying days in effort to help out yet facing obstacle after obstacle in the process. From experience in a similar situation I knew that he felt like he was doing the work God had called him to do but was admittedly battling the temptation to give up and give in. (I think we’ve all been there as leaders of our organizations.) What I caught from Luke that morning is what Jesus says in verse 15:

The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit.

Being a coach (and knowing a good success tip when I see one), I interpreted this verse as a three step formula that we can all go to when we want to remember what it really takes to prevail over the discouragements we face as we seek to grow our impact as leaders.

  1. Hear the message.   When you understand what God has called you to do there is not much else you need to think about. Where He gives the vision, He promises to also give the provision. Stay flexible and be open to His wisdom and His voice to guide the order of the items on your to-do list for the day.
  2. Retain it in a good and obedient heart. It’s easy to be inspired when things are going good but what about when things are going bad? What then? The challenge for any Christian is to actually believe what we say we believe and not just give it lip service. Draw strength from His word when the weeds of life try to choke you.
  3. Persist until they bear fruit. Sometimes fruit doesn’t grow right away. Sometimes in life we are in seasons of planting and other times we are in seasons of harvest – sometimes we’re in both at the same time. I love how the Word says here to persist. The growth process won’t be easy but by sticking to it, you will see success.
  4. [My addition to the list] Repeat. 

Next time you’re feeling like you want to pull your hair out because things are not happening fast enough, remember this formula: Hear it. Hold it. Have at it. Repeat. God knows exactly what He’s doing (even if it doesn’t make sense to us sometimes) and our part is to stay plugged into His Word and allow Him to work through us.

7 Valuable Lessons From 7 Memorable Bosses

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Via Inc

Every boss–good or bad–can teach you something, whether it’s what to do or what to avoid at all costs. Here are just a few lessons from some managers who helped us along our life journeys.

1. Take time to ponder.

Donny Williams taught a young Chester this one day. He told him to go back to his office and just sit and think about the business: Where are we, where are we headed, and how can we get there faster? You might think of quiet time as almost impossible in a busy, connected life, but the best leaders take time to reflect and plan.

2. Enjoy the journey.

Glen Nelson has been a huge influence on both of us. When we started our own firm three years ago, this talented editor reminded us over and over to let go of past emotions and enjoy the journey. He’s right: the present is an exciting time if you are, well, present.

3. Put family first.

It’s easy to get so focused on work that you seem absent at home. Thankfully we both married well and our wives keep pulling us back to what matters most: our loved ones. They are the bosses of our home lives, and we are very lucky Heidi and Jennifer haven’t fired us.

4. Run from bad guys.

We learned this lesson from a boss of ours we’ll just call Voldemort. (Okay, admittedly, he wasn’t really a hairless demon from the underworld who tried to kill us repeatedly. This guy had a full head of hair.) We’d always believed people were basically good inside, but Voldemort proved us wrong. We stayed too long with this manager and it caused more mental pain to us and our families than we could have imagined. The lesson: The bad bosses won’t change, so get away fast.

5. Some people won’t ‘get’ you.

Years ago, after meeting our boss at time, one of our friends, sports executive Scott O’Neil, took us aside and said, “He doesn’t get you and he never will.” It was the most startling and yet honest thing anyone had ever said to us. Scott explained that while we all have strengths, there are often naysayers around who try to drag everyone else down. If they are too powerful to ignore, then it’s time to get out of Dodge.

6. Love what you do.

Before Chester left to live in Italy for two years, his Italian teacher Chris Skeem gave him one instruction: Love everything Italian. Chester did, and it made learning the language and embracing the culture so much easier. “While things were very different in Italy, I had chosen to love everything Italian so every challenge was a wonderful learning adventure,” says Chester.

7. Bet on character.

We were lucky enough to have Kent Murdock as a CEO for many years, and he believed in hiring for character over background or education. In betting on our characters, he gave us free reign to “make noise,” as he called it, and we made sure to never disappoint him. You get what you hire for, and employees with character are never a bad thing to have.