Sunday, December 25, 2011

An Unexpected Gift at Work

I must admit, I love tendering job offers.  Match-making a talented candidate to a position where they will add value and contribute to the success of their new organization?  It's a win-win, all upside.  And I get to not only broker the transaction, but also deliver the glad tidings to both candidates and hiring authorities of "yes, they want you for the job" and "yes, they want to come work for you." It's like basking in the glow when you witness (or contribute to) the birth of a child.  My friend Pete is right:  I am a Career Yente.

During the last few years as The Great Recession malingered, the glad tidings were few and far between:  everyone, candidates and hiring authorities alike, were either unable, afraid or both to commit to making many job matches at all. Additionally, hiring authorities learned the sad and difficult task of laying talented people off instead of hiring and retaining them for growth. So last December 31st, as the year ended and the cold weather deepened, I tendered a job offer that gladdened both me and the candidate.  It was not only the job match made:  it also represented the collective envisioned faith that 2011 would signal a shift, a veritable thaw in the economic and vocational winter that had spanned years, not just seasons.

This week, as we celebrated the return of the light during the Winter Solstice, there are small signs of that much-needed shift towards a thaw.  The consumers are shopping again, with or without your approval / agreement:  the net result is that it helps the economy.  The unemployment rate locally keeps dropping.  Anecdotally speaking, a number of my colleagues are hiring, and finding some jobs hard to fill.  Other colleagues are getting new jobs / promotions; or fanning the momentum of their new businesses / practices as entrepreneurs; or both.  For the first time in 3 years, my husband Joel's business was busy during the holiday season.  Spending money on custom picture-framing is a singing canary in the economic coal mine.  There are definitely signs of movement underneath the economic permafrost.

And one year later, an unexpected gift at work from that candidate who received and accepted that job offer on the eve of 2011.  It was meant as a note to accompany a small yet thoughtful holiday gift; however, the note, excerpted here, was the real gift:

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to join this great team! Of all of the organizations I've worked for, and all of the positions I've had, (this) is really the most rewarding and best fit I've experienced.  Thanks for all that you do!

I wish for you, dear friends and colleagues, the same abundant gifts now and into the future, at your work.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Best Practice: Holiday Joy at Work

I attended the best office holiday party of my career last week, with over 100 people in attendance.  Here's why:
  • An energetic and organized committee;
  • Frequent reminders / communications 3 weeks prior to the event;
  • It was potluck lunch:  the variety and quality of the food was fabulous, it was truly a feast (and no cost to the organization except the time used for the party, as we all prepared and brought the food, with minimal cost to us as individuals);
  • 3 hours were set aside for the event; plenty of plates, cups and utensils;
  • The party was held in a large training room, festooned with tinsel, bows and poinsettias brought from home and desks;
  • Jeffrey Jene, a talented friend of a friend, graciously stopped by and got the party started with our laughter and wonder at his great magic and comedy routine;
  • The laughter then reach a shared and hilarious crescendo with a White Elephant Trivia Swap, which was supplied by party-goers' recycled / unwanted presents brought from home:  in order to obtain and open a present, you were required to answer a holiday trivia question.  Again, no cost to the organization or the attendees.
The White Elephant Trivia Swap was 2 hours of nonstop laughter, impromptu stand-up comedy and heretofore unknown fierce competition.

The Jewish kids in the room did not know the Hebrew month when Hanukkah always occurs (Kislev) and clearly need to go back for some remedial Hebrew school lessons.

It became clear to many of us in the room that we were frankly unfamiliar with the history / rituals of our respective holidays.

For some reason, I was able to extract the obscure fact from some dusty crevice of my mind that the first artificial tree was made out of goose feathers.  Other attendees had similar flashes as well.

And when a certain number of recycled presents were revealed, then the stealing began.  I love White Elephant Swaps for several reasons:  satisfying the "one person's trash is another person's treasure" curiosity; learning how competitive (or not) people really are; and how there's always one item that everyone in the room wants.

This party's item was a $10 toy Ferris wheel from Wal-Mart that moved and featured tiny pretty multi-colored lights when turned on.  That Ferris wheel must have changed hands 30 times.  The competitive stealing and accompanying laughter was priceless.  And it didn't end after the party:  one attendee who lost out at the Ferris wheel at the party's 11th hour had a memento picture taken of themselves proudly holding the Ferris wheel.

Even more priceless was the shared experience of deep and genuine laughter sustained over good food during the holiday season at work.  All of these factors can coexist and converge joyfully, they are not mutually exclusive.  Especially how our morale soared and carried us for the rest of the week.  What a great holiday gift.

Happy holidays to you and yours:  and at work.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Two Entrepreneurs Stood Up for Each Other's Success This Week

I have been a member of Professional Women's Network (PWN), an intimate and powerful Mastermind / Board of Directors group for nearly 17 years; and I have been proud to serve as President for the last two years.

Two of our members, Jill, an M.D.  and Georgia, a Integrated Care Nurse Practitioner / Nutritionist who both count many of us as their patients, proposed Drue, the owner / designer of an Albany, New York-based jewelery store, as one of our newest members last year.  Since I love both entrepreneurs and jewelry, Drue had me at hello.

Drue has been an engaged and generous member of our group since she first joined:  a wealth of experience, a healthy network and great business advice.  A few months ago, she had us over for dinner at the store after hours, gave us the grand tour including her impressive design studio, and cleaned all of our jewelry.  Definitely a fun / fine addition to our group.

This past week, Drue invited us all to her Holiday Open House:  here's how the invitation read:

Holiday Open House

Thursday December 8th 5pm - 9 pm
First 50 receive a holiday gift bag!

(That's Drue's Great Dane Slater, by the way.)

The food at the party was provided by Jill's husband Tony, a wonderful restauranteur and caterer.  Many of my friends and colleagues were there, socializing and shopping.  I gratefully received my gift bag and saw a small bottle of wine peeping out.  How sweet, I thought.  It was even sweeter when I opened the bag the next day:  Drue had also included 4 gift certificates, including one to her store and one to Tony's restaurant.  And a piece of Krause's dark chocolate to boot, which made my son Noah very happy.  I had never experienced that kind of generosity from a retail store before (much less a small business like Drue's store); it was overwhelming.

Yesterday, I tucked Drue's gift certificate and some cash in my pocket, and headed over to her store.  I had my eye on a pair of silver Officina Bernardi hoops at Thursday's holiday party, and Drue's generosity sealed my decision.

When I entered the store, I made a beeline for the case with the earrings.  I saw that Drue was busy with an engaged couple choosing wedding bands.  Drue waved to me.  I was peering in the case when a familiar voice asked me what pieces I'd like to see in the case.  I looked up, startled.  It was Jill, my doctor and fellow PWNer.  We both laughed.  "What are you doing here?"  I asked.  Jill smiled.  "Both of Drue's salespeople are out today, so Drue called me this morning and asked me to help her in the store today.  You're the 8th patient of mine that's come into the store today."  

I loved it.  First the business / marketing cross-pollination at the Thursday Holiday Party between Drue's and Tony's businesses; and now Jill happily helping customers with trays of Drue's beautiful baubles.  Now that's where the rubber meets the road in standing up for each other's success.  

After the initial chuckle, I was not surprised to see Jill helping Drue out.  Jill, among several talents which include Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees, is also an accomplished waitperson, proud of her ability to balance up to six plates of food at one time when she helps out at Tony's restaurant during peak periods.  Jill was raised by her father and mother, who owned a small chain of successful drugstores, to do whatever it takes to run a successful business.

Jill and I proceeded to play dress-up with a few pieces, and she and Drue (multi-tasking like a hummingbird around her store) helped me decide on a pair of earrings.  

I was hooked; I helped myself to a cup of fudge-flavored coffee from Drue's customer Keurig machine, and spent the rest of the afternoon watching Drue and Jill work together helping engaged couples and holiday shoppers, and making myself useful by keeping the cases fingerprint-free with the Windex and polishing cloth I had confiscated from the multi-tasking Drue.

And grateful to be part of a team of professionals / entrepreneurs who stand up for each other's success.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stand Up For Everyone's Success

What did you do this past week to stand up for everyone's success, including yours?  I'm no success savant, by the way:  I just instinctively pay forward what fuels and multiplies my own success.  Here's my list from last week, not meant to be inclusive:
  • I coached two talented professionals to recognize and organize their own native talents, which resulted in job offers for each of them;
  • I joyfully helped a friend spread the word about her wonderful clothing art textiles; I offered to do the same for a new product recently launched by a local company who was our neighbor when The Best Framing Company had a bricks-and-mortar storefront, as a thank-you for a recent kindness granted;
  • I helped a nonprofit maintain their HR compliance; 
  • I counseled two small business owners on two very different tricky HR questions;
  • I helped a third professional with résumé wording, which in turn helped a fourth professional;
  • I referred a client to my friend and colleague Lisa Jordan;
  • I made the case to promote an extremely talented young fifth professional;
  • I celebrated the launch of a talented colleague's new small business as a vocational / centering complement to their current mundane "day" job;
  • I polished the CV of another colleague in support of better representing their business in the Tech Valley community.

What was on your success list last week?  Share it here with us.

Moreover:  can you claim at least one (1) weekly success list win, in support of our mutual success and prosperity? Small wins absolutely add up! We all have that discretionary power to stand up for each other, we talented professionals / entrepreneurs, firmly and resolutely for our respective / mutual success, which can absolutely build success momentum for all of us.  Think of it as success gone viral!
In this season of giving, I wish for all of you the gift of standing up for everyone's success:  the gift that keeps on giving.