Pay Attention and Focus

Most of us know …… multi-tasking doesn’t work.  When we multi-task, we get less done and the quality of what we do finish is just not very good.

Then, why is it that we’re all caught multi-tasking on a regular basis?

Daniel Goleman’s new book not only reminds us that we need to Focus, he tells us the three ways we can focus to excel when others can’t.


Make The Connection: Part 2 Interviewing Like A Pro

I recently helped an executive with a very special set of skills get an interview for “the perfect job.”  I was excited for the candidate because she had exactly what the company was looking for…a hard-to-find set of skills and the “right” personality for the team.

When I didn’t hear how the interview went, I called my connection and asked what happened.  The response, “there just wasn’t a connection.”  Such sad news!

Once you have convinced a potential employer that you can do the job, it becomes about meshing styles/values/personalities.  Usually that is what an interview is all about: are you going to love the job and can you get along. Especially at your level!

Have you ever had an interview where you’ve done your research on the company, prepped your answers iStock_000007772776Smallto all the behavioral connections and talked to past employees about the critical parts of the job…..only to have an interview that just didn’t go well?  I think we all have.

The key is to do all your research and then…..relax enough to show the real you! Show your confidence, enthusiasm, your willingness to listen, your strengths, and your sense of humor.   In essence, connect with the people you’re meeting with!

This takes practice but we both know you iStock_000011063367Smallcan do this.  As you practice for your next great opportunity, use these interviewing tips to focus on the right things.

Be the standout candidate because you connected!

Essential Career Management Skills Part 1: Getting An Interview

Since the economic downtown of 2008, I have spent an increasing amount of time talking to people about how to find their next promotion/job.

Since you’ve been successful in the past, you may not have had to ever look for a job. Somehow, your next opportunity found you!

However, you need to be ready for this “new” world. Making the most of your career opportunities is essential in today’s competitive environment. Branding yourself and creating an active network of professionals will require effort. But you will feel even more successful when you are living up to your potential!

Here are some resources for making sure you are ready make the most of your strengths:

Do you have a “Killer Resume?” Does it show off your strengths without going beyond facts? One book I often recommend for discovering your strengths is Strength Finders. This book includes an online assessment to help you define your strengths.

Does your resume look modern? Highlight your measurable accomplishments? Are you using an email address that is appropriate? Yes, we recently received an email from an executive who was using an email name “studmuffin”!!! Using emails from your cable company or aol may suggest that you aren’t up to date with the current work environment.

One book that I think does a great job of showing you “successful” resumes, by job, is Knock ’em Dead Resumes.

Next step, have you reviewed your network to see where there might be gaps? LinkedIn has a nice visual tool to help you see your contacts within their network. Here’s my network map. But remember, this isn’t your entire network. Don’t forget about associations, religious groups, friends and family that may not be on LinkedIn.


Here is where many people lose steam. Have you shared your goals with your network? Have you gone on an informational interview to learn from other executives? Did you remember to get referral names from each person you met AND FOLLOW UP WITH THEM? Keeping in touch with your network on a planned and purposeful basis is necessary. Offering them a copy of an article they might find interesting or a piece of information you think they might like is even more valuable. Providing value will result in you receiving more value.

When you find a position that you would like to apply for, make sure you tell them why you are perfect for the job. Don’t expect anyone to “figure it out” from your past experience. You don’t want to be left wondering why you didn’t get hired.

Next time… to interview like a pro:-)

What it takes to be a leader….in the United States, France or Iraq

I recently had the opportunity to hear Bernard Bourigeaud, founder and former CEO of Atos Origin, speak about the qualities that he believes are most important for leaders to have.  I smiled when he said that he “only cares about three things: integrity, loyalty and courage.”

Is your resume important?  Of course it is!  You can’t even get an interview without the right skills to do the job AND the ability to communicate those skills on paper.

However, the more accomplished you become, the more your values and behavior are used to set you apart from other qualified executives.

Bourigeaud, who is from France, also values the ability of his leaders to influence others.  In fact, he attributes part of his own success to understanding that influence begins behind the scenes with each stakeholder, not just at the deciding board meeting.  Many of these same lessons can be seen in action on the battle field.

Retired brigadier general Thomas Kolditz, in his book “In Extremis Leadership,” shows how extreme life-and-death situations can offer profound lessons for leaders in any setting.  One of these lessons, whether learned in Iraq or your boardroom, is to be candid. In difficult times, people gravitate to authentic leaders and authentic leaders are honest….and encourage those around them to be honest in return.

When I heard Kolditz speak a couple of years ago, I shared many of these lessons with friends.  Here are two of my favorite points from his talk that I’m sharing with you from a small handwritten note that I have carried with me the past two years:

  • Stamina is earned and sanity is a byproduct.  Fitness matters and prepares clients for mental fitness.
  • Dangerous situations never last long…development comes from reflection afterwards and visualization in advance.

The moderator at the event two years ago was Marshall Goldsmith, a recognized expert in global leadership.  Goldsmith’s book, “Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It,” had just been released.

Goldsmith believes that we develop leadership qualities from effort and practice.  However, he warned that our default reaction in life is not to experience happiness or meaning.  It is to experience inertia. Therefore,  we need to create an environment supportive of our efforts in order to realize our full potential as leaders and to be happy.

So, I’ll leave you with these thoughts.

Go forth and practice integrity, loyalty, courage, influence and honesty!  And I’m pretty sure you’ll find you have your Mojo, too!

I think you’ll agree that this story about UB’s friend Reggie Sanders does exactly that!

Showing Your Leadership By Voting

As we near Election Day, here is a recent study conducted by UB’s School of Management SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, Jerry Newman, that you might find interesting.

We often talk about “what makes a leader.”  Students in our Executive and Professional MBA programs focus on skills in emotional intelligence that are evident in star performers.  Many of these same skills are the focus of the full-time MBA program’s LeaderCORE program, a unique leadership certification for UB MBAs.

Professor Newman conducted a nationwide survey of 250 professors specializing in American politics and the presidency. He asked them to rate the two presidential candidates using the 10 leadership dimensions that are at the heart of LeaderCORE™ .  And here are the results:

No matter who you support, the important thing is that you exercise your duty as a leader and vote on Tuesday, November 6th.

Developing Stars in Business

I recently heard an old story about mid-term grades being given back to students in their first undergraduate accounting course.

The professor said to the class, “Those of you who scored badly on the midterm should not be accounting majors.  Those of you that got a ‘C’ can expect to do well in the course, if you work hard for the rest of the semester. Those of you who did well on this exam should become accounting majors.”

This story was told to me by someone who did well on the exam and realized she enjoyed accounting.  So, she took the professor’s advice.  Today, that student is a successful banker.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our professional development decisions were as clear as that professor’s words?  Taking charge of our own development is often the last thing we think of.  However, given the competitive environment, within your organization and outside, self-directed development is essential.

To support the professionals in our EMBA and PMBA programs, a course on Emotional Intelligence guides professionals through self-directed learning and improving their Emotional Intelligence.  The best MBA programs require rigorous study of specific business topics.  However, emotional intelligence is what will give individuals the ability to support their path to business “stardom”.

Through a 360 assessment, students’ strengths and weaknesses are evaluated and personal learning plans are developed.

So what exactly is Emotional Intelligence? I believe it’s what sets great leaders apart. According to author Daniel Goleman, “Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

There are 6 core competencies of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, self-control, confidence, empathy, and influence.

Within our programs at UB, our goal is to develop stars. Hearing testimonials from some of our alums, I think it’s safe to say that we do:

Donna McKinney, Class of 2009, is a senior business advisor for Kaleida Health. “Working in health and human services, it’s all about emotional intelligence in every decision you make. You need to know how your decisions are going to affect other people and how they are going to respond,” she says.

Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, Class of 2007, is president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara. “As a result of EI, I learned how to better motivate and communicate with people who have profiles and leadership styles that are different than my own,” she says. ” I have a greater awareness of how other people operate.”

How would you describe your ability to be emotionally intelligent? Take part in our LinkedIn poll and we’ll share information on how to develop yourself in the areas you are most interested in.

High Performance Professionals

It’s that time of year!  “Back To School” efforts are in full swing.  New notebooks and clothes are being purchased.  MBA classes have even started for the working professionals at the University at Buffalo. However, you and I know that in order to stay competitive, each of us needs to create a a virtual school for ourselves…and we need to learn year round.

Earlier this summer,  a colleague and I were given the opportunity to attend High Performance Academy, conducted by Brendon Burchard in Silicon Valley (  Burchard, a bestselling author and motivational speaker, is considered an expert in marketing and his training is in high demand across the country.  What an amazing speaker and what an experience! Sometimes we need to be recharged.  Upon returning from my trip, I felt invigorated and re-energized.  We spent a lot of time focusing on how to move away from reaching goals and how to embrace the more important goal of being a consistent high performer.  Now I’d like to pose the question to you. How would YOU describe yourself? Do you:

  • Remain open and observant to what is happening in the present but you SPEAK and ACT based on what you want to happen in the future?
  • Look for ways to challenge yourself? Do you focus on the journey, not just the destination or goal?
  • Actively develop your connections to others?
  • Take charge of your own progress and ask for help when you need it?
  • Create meaningful moments by thanking, praising, and recognizing those around you?

If so, then you most likely create clarity, courage, productivity and influence all around you. And according to Burchard, this makes you a high performer which leads to success in all aspects of your life. If you feel you need to generate more energy to be a high performer now, what small changes could you make to your personal and professional life so that you become that star performer?

Until next time…..