Leverage Failure for Future Career Success

Even though I have a lot of finance and accounting experience, it’s not my favorite thing to do. I admit that I enjoyed the money that I earned in this field, but I never had a real passion for it. I’m a firm believer in working to your strengths, so when the opportunity came for me to work in Project/Program Management, I gracefully exited the world of finance. Or so I thought. In my most current role, I am responsible for the L&D budget. This means that I have to set the budget and track each income and expense item for the program. Pretty straightforward, except that I would much rather plan, facilitate, strategize and build people.

For the most part, I was on top of the budget, but a major item slipped through the cracks and caused me to report significantly more income than the program had actually made. There were actually two mistakes here. The first, and perhaps the lesser of the two, was the administrative error that caused the miscalculation. In my final reconciliation before submitting my Board report, something didn’t seem right, but I ignored that instinct. This was the major mistake. I knew enough about budgeting to know that a 30% variance from forecast shouldn’t be ignored – but the numbers were saying something else. Errors like this can be big a problem when your program is self-funded, so I should have been checking not only once, but twice and possibly three times.

I had a moment, or maybe a day of panic and frustration because of this failure. Unless you have someone’s life in your hands, no mistake is fatal. I wasn’t happy with it, but I was determined to learn from it. Here’s what I learned about failure in this instance.

I) Own the mistake

Rather than make excuses for your error, the best thing to do is to own it.

  • Acknowledge that you made the mistake.
  • Don’t shift blame.

My mistake was pretty major. The error was entirely mine and it shouldn’t have happened. Based on this incorrect information, we could have spent money that we didn’t even have. Thankfully, we caught it in time.

You may have failed at something, but that doesn’t make you a failure. Mistakes don’t have to be fatal and they don’t have to define you unless you allow them to. Admittedly, the consequences of this error were unpleasant. I had to tell my boss that we hadn’t performed as well as we had thought and the financials had to be completely amended to adjust for the missed item.

II) Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned is a Project Management Best Practice. The idea here is that knowledge can be gained from every experience – good or bad. After you’ve acknowledged your part in the mishap, now’s the time to start looking at what exactly went wrong.

  • Do you need more training in a particular area?
  • Were you lacking information to make a complete decision?
  • Did you have proper systems in place?
  • Were you overwhelmed by your workload?

After some careful examination, you should be able to get to the source of the error. For me, the error was an administrative one. I hadn’t put a system of checks and balances in place that would flag me when an item was overlooked. I relied on my memory, and we all know how that can go. By documenting your lessons learned, you can gain a deeper understanding of what happened. It also serves as a historical document for someone else doing your job.

III) Make Adjustments

Once you know why something went wrong, you can more readily work on ways to prevent it from reoccurring. As mentioned earlier, Project Managers work most effectively when we can apply Best Practices. This means that we don’t reinvent the wheel unless we absolutely have to. One of our Best Practices is the Monitor & Control of processes. There are templates and procedures in place that help to reduce the occurrence of human error.

If you use failure to leverage future success, no opportunity will ever be a wasted one.

I had become siloed in my thinking, wrongly believing that Project Management and Finance were two completely separate worlds when there is, in fact, a lot of overlap between the two. When I framed budgeting in reference to Monitoring & Controlling, a language I was more fluent in, it created a system that I more readily embraced.

IV) Move On

Don’t let one mistake define you or derail your career momentum. After the dust settled, I emailed my boss to let her know how the error happened and what I would do to prevent it from happening in the future. Even though she didn’t ask me to, I increased my level of accountability and reported back much more frequently. I created a few simple templates that would ensure no item was missed and saw my reporting accuracy improve significantly. We laugh about this mishap now that it’s in the past.

Failure isn’t fatal

Looking back, I am grateful not for the failure, but for the learning that came out of it. I learned that there were areas that I needed to develop in myself in order to become better at my job. As a result, I took a few budgeting and finance courses to ensure that I could do this part of my job to the best of my ability. I also took an SQL course that taught me how to build databases. I started applying an old time-management trick I learned early on in my career. Do the thing you like least first thing in your day. When audit time rolls around, I close my office door and set aside time each morning to focus completely on finances. This ensures that I’m fresh when I’m looking at those numbers and that I’m also free from distractions.

Success > Failure

Here’s where the success comes in. Since I took the time to re-work my finance processes so that they were much more accurate, I now have more time to focus on the aspects of my job that I really enjoy. I still have to do my projections and reconcile spreadsheets, but I have much more confidence in their accuracy. My SQL training has allowed me to build functional databases that are more accurate than what I had been using. If I hadn’t made the error, I would still be spending extra time on that part of my job.

We all make mistakes and we all fail at times. The outcome is entirely dependent on what you do with it. If you use failure to leverage future success, no opportunity will ever be a wasted one.

 

10 ways to use your network to find work

Consider these two statistics about finding work.

  • “85 percent of jobs are filled through networking”
  • “Only about 5% are jobs are filled through job boards”

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Tweet: Find out how you can use your personal and professional networks to find work. https://ctt.ec/9jNaI+

Job hunting can be a fulltime job in itself. After months of sending out resumes and filling out online applications without a callback, you might feel like giving up. Don’t despair, however. You might just be directing your resources to the wrong places. What often happens is people put most of their effort into the avenue that provides the lowest returns (job boards in this case). If you really want to maximize your job search efforts, it’s time to start using your network for all it’s worth. The chances of finding a job using your network are much greater than just utilizing job boards to find work.

Your network is your goldmine

People think that networking is about working a room or having to schmooze with upper management, so they’re immediately turned off by it. While it is necessary to attend networking events and approach people you don’t know (See # 10), many networking activities involve connecting with people you’re already familiar with. Authentic networking relationships involve give-and-take with the end goal of both parties gaining something.

  1. Don’t be afraid to reach out – This is probably the most difficult hurdle to get over. Asking other people if they know of any job openings is not always an easy thing to do. This is especially true if you’re currently working and want to keep your job search private. This is an important hurdle to clear because this is one of the most effective ways to get a real handle on the jobs that are available, along with first-hand knowledge about who you should contact.
  2. Keep your resume up-to-date – Think of your resume as your calling card. It’s a quick way for you to introduce yourself and make a good impression. It certainly isn’t as effective as a face-to-face impression, but a well-presented and well-planned resume can get your foot in the door. I’ve seen resumes that are so out-of-date that you don’t know who you’re speaking to. Other resumes are unappealing in their format. They may be too long (try not to go past 2 pages) or use fonts that are hard to read, or they might just be poorly designed. Always have a copy of your resume saved on a USB stick, on hardcopy and in the Cloud in the event that you’re called upon to send one at a moments notice.
  3. Be open to different possibilities – You may have your sights set on a particular position at a certain level of responsibility. The reality, however, is that there are more people vying for fewer positions. If you find that the opportunities for certain positions are drying up, it might be time to consider another possibility. Ask other people you know about the profession they’re working in. They can give you insight that you otherwise might not have gotten. Perhaps you have to make a lateral move, or even a downward move to get your foot in the door. If your end goal is to find a job, then this is still a success. It’s not easy to change careers, but there are many resources to help career-changers through these transitions and you just might find that this new avenue is exactly what you wanted.
  4. Don’t burn bridges – When you leave a job, it’s always advisable to depart on good terms. Try to avoid office drama as much as possible. It also pays to maintain connections with key decision-makers in the event that you have to make a return. Keeping your name fresh in their minds will prevent you from having to re-tell your story again in the future.
  5. Work on your elevator pitch –  When attending networking events, it pays to prepare your introduction or elevator pitch in advance. It’s similar to the interview question “Tell me about yourself.” Practice it in front of a mirror until it becomes second nature and rolls off our lips with ease. A good elevator pitch includes who you are, what you’re known for and the service you can offer. My pitch would sound something like “My name is Gail and I am Project Management Professional. I am known for planning projects that come in under budget, on time and in scope. Come to me if you need direction on starting a project or if you need to get an existing project un-stalled.”
  6. Ask friends for job referrals – Once you know what jobs are out there and if you’re in the running for one, don’t be afraid to ask your friend to put in a good word for you. Recruiters and HR essentially go into hiring blind. They can hope that people are giving accurate and honest information but even with background and reference checks, they might not always get the complete picture. The first-hand referral from a trusted source can put a recruiter’s mind at ease and also save a lot of time in the search process. Many companies also provide a cash incentive for employees who refer a successful hire, so this definitely a win-win for everyone involved.
  7. Use Linkedin – Don’t think of Linkedin as just the Facebook for job seekers. It’s much more than that. It can be an extremely powerful networking tool. I’ve had a recruiter reach out to me because she saw that a former co-worker of mine (listed among my connections) was working in a certain industry. She was recruiting for a position that required a very specific skill set, and she could see from my friend’s profile that she would be a great fit. She asked me to put the two of them in touch and this networking connection resulted in a new job for my friend that paid more money and was a step up the ladder.
  8. Do pro bono work  – Think of pro-bono work as a donation of your professional services to an organization that wouldn’t normally be able to afford them. Pro bono isn’t just reserved for legal services anymore. Organizations such as Taproot and CatchaFire connect a variety of professionals with pro bono opportunities. It’s a great way to build experience because you’re actually working in your area of expertise (just for free). Most times, you’re donating your services to a cause you believe in strongly so the amount of passion and effort you put in will be seen by the organization and they will most likely keep you in mind if a paid opportunity opens up.
  9. Volunteer for charitable and community events – Volunteering for a cause you believe in is a good practice because it helps your community, is a way of giving to people in need and it benefits you as well. Often times, volunteer efforts continue for a period of time and this gives the team time to get to know each other. Being connected by a common cause creates trust and as a result, makes people more likely recommend or refer you to a position. Additionally, volunteering for an organization gives you insight into company happenings (ie job openings).
  10. Attend industry-specific events – Even if you hate to network, you should attend at least one industry-specific event a year, such as a conference or a networking luncheon. They’re one of the best ways to stay on top of industry trends, and they also keep you aware of the top people in your field. If you want to get the most out of these events, then you need to add networking to the mix. Having so many people from your field in one place increases your odds of finding someone who needs your specific set of skills.

Networking has gotten some bad press, but it’s time for that to change. Networking is best when it comes from authentic relationships that can be leveraged to the benefit of all parties involved.

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How I lost 6.5 lbs in 1 month eating these 10 foods everyday.

My doctor told me I needed to lose 15 pounds after my last well-woman checkup. It didn’t come as a surprise because my clothes weren’t fitting right and I was feeling sluggish. I thought about going back to the gym, but that wasn’t a solution at that point in my life. Work was requiring me to be at the office 12 hours some days, so a gym membership would most likely have gone to waste. I don’t enjoy drinking shakes or eating pre-packaged/processed food so my meal plan would have to include a variety of real foods that were rich in nutrients and good sources of energy.

Food sensitivities

It’s important to know how foods affect you physically and mentally. Over the years, I’ve come to know the foods that are really bad for me. Processed sugar, gluten (yes, I’m actually gluten intolerant) and soy are foods that I need to avoid because they cause adverse reactions such as cystic acne, severe bloating, migraine headaches and of course, weight gain. Even with these restrictions, I was able to put together a varied selection of foods that were satisfying and healthy.

Why it worked

I wasn’t looking to “lose 5 pounds overnight” or by using any gimmick. Most times, if you lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, you gain it back, with a little extra. I wanted my weight loss to be permanent and healthy. With that in mind, here is why I think this plan worked.

  1. Effective preparation was key. I did all my meal prep on Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening. This involved cutting up vegetables, marinating the meat and preparing enough for three days worth of meals.
  2. There was enough variety to prevent boredom. I had lots of options for recipes and the foods worked well together in a variety of different ways.
  3. I had a good selection of stand-alone foods that made for easy snacking. Yogurt, nuts, apples and even avocado slices were great to snack on when hunger set it.
  4. Foods were nutrient dense which meant they fed my body what it needed and helped me to feel full throughout the day.
  5. Most of the foods were high in protein and fiber. Protein helps to build and repair tissue, which was important because I wasn’t working out. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and helps with regularity.
  6. Most importantly, I enjoyed the food. It didn’t feel like a diet and I never felt like I was torturing or depriving myself. I didn’t cut out treats completely either. On one occasion, I ate a slice of cake at an office celebration.

The Fabulous Foods

1. Chicken4

2. Avocado3

3. Beans5

4. Apples2

5. Nuts1

6. Spinach8

7. Sweet Potato9

8. Yogurt10

9. Eggs6

10. Salmon7

The Results

Even though this was a happy accident, I was thrilled about the results. Breaking down the numbers, my weight loss looked like this.

  • I lost .22 lbs each day.
  • It would take me 2 and 1/3 months to lose my doctor-directed 15 lbs.
  • If the trend continued for an entire year, it would total 78 lbs of weight lost.

I lost the weight in November 2016, so when the Christmas season was upon us, I actually gained back almost 3 pounds of the weight I had lost. For me, it wasn’t realistic to only eat these foods while attending Christmas parties, client dinners and everything else that goes along with the holiday season.

UPDATE: I started the eating plan again the second week of February and I lost two pounds in the first week. Since I already know that this works for me, I’ve committed to continuing until I’ve lost 15 pounds. After that, I will probably add some more foods and experiment a little bit more.

Talk to me!

Do you have any weight-loss secrets that worked for you? Are there any sure-fire recipes that you fall back on when you have to drop the pounds. Be sure to comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

PS – Stay tuned for delicious recipes including these 10 ingredients!

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Self-Care is about You

Self-care, an often neglected practice, is the care that is provided by you, for you. It can take on many forms, but at its core is a commitment to invest in your own health and well-being. As women, we give to many people around us. If we fail to give back to ourselves, we will eventually run out of resources to pour into others. That’s when burnout, frustration, and stress start to manifest in our lives.

Millenial females at risk

Stress is higher among women than men, and Millenials experience the highest stress among the generations. This leaves female millennials at risk. High levels of stress can lead to health ailments, psychological problems, and relationship struggles. Left unmanaged, stress can be fatal. Taking time to invest in a healthier lifestyle can reduce the amount of stress and improve overall well-being.

Self-care is not selfish

If we don’t care for ourselves, every other relationship we have will suffer and we as women, put great value in our relationships. Self-care will look different for each person. I don’t really enjoy shopping, so that type of activity doesn’t energize me, but for someone else, a trip to the mall might be just what they need to recharge. Take time to know yourself and listen to that inner voice telling you what she needs.

Self-care ideas

Get sufficient sleep – Sleep deprivation is a leading source of stress, so be sure to get enough sleep every night. Power naps are great for reducing stress too.

Healthy eating – Nutrient dense foods help your body fight against disease and strengthen it against the effects of stress.

Physical fitness – Working out helps to produce endorphins, chemicals in the brain that make you feel happy.

Prayer/meditation – Prayer and meditation can be a source of comfort and help to change one’s perspective.

Reading – A good book can be more than an escape. Reading is said to relax the body and calm the mind.

Spend time with friends – Studies have shown that spending time with friends can help people to fight disease and cope with stressful situations.

Take a long bath – Some of the benefits of warm baths are pain relief, lower blood pressure and overall relaxation.

Unplug from gadgets – Technostress (the stress that comes from working with computers and other gadgets) is a relatively new form of stress. It can cause headaches, anxiety and physical problems (carpal tunnel, back pain). Unplug from your gadgets every so often to help your body reset itself.

Go for a walk at lunch – Too many of us work through our lunches and don’t take the break that we’re entitled to. Even a short 15-minute walk over lunch can significantly increase productivity.

Get a pet – Not only are pets lots of fun, they help to reduce stress by releasing feel-good hormones and lowering heart rate.

Go shopping – Buy those shoes you’ve been looking at for weeks. Treating yourself to a well-deserved gift is a sure-fire way to reduce stress.

Being intentional and strategic about taking care of yourself is essential to your well-being. Start treating this practice as a necessity, rather than a luxury and start enjoying the benefits.

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Create A Recruiter-Friendly Resume

The majority of recruiters use Applicant Tracking Systems (“ATS”) that search resumes for keywords, automatically discarding all resumes that do not meet specified keyword criteria and forwarding those that do to the requesting recruiter. They require the resume to be created using a standard application like Word or PDF, or created using online entry to their database. Even if they don’t immediately use an ATS, the recruiter will scan resumes for keywords.

A recruiter typically spends about 10 seconds on each resume, so if you don’t grab their attention at the top of the first page of your resume, you are toast. Standing out from the crowd has just become that much more difficult. Remember that a resume is just a door opener to getting that interview.

Here are five edits to create a recruiter friendly resume.

1. Refocus your formal resume.

Most resumes are boring and generally focus on data irrelevant to your objective of being selected for an interview. So a resume should be one or two pages at the most, with the first page a big push for attention.

A recruiter wants to know your skills, and the benefits you will bring to their organisation. That is where the focus of the first page should be. You should attract his interest quickly.

Before each application, review your resume and create a resume specific to that application highlighting just what a great fit your skills and experience are for the post. The summary in particular should have the keywords from the job advert for the ATS to find.

2. Make your resume short and standout:

· Use sections. Have about 4 sections – Summary, Personal Details, Employment History, any other relevant stuff.

· The ATS will prefer a standard font like Arial or Helvetica. Comic Sans and other funky fonts are a no-no.

· Align left to make it more easily and quickly read by the recruiter.

· Use bullets, italics, bold and capitals to highlight material. Draw the recruiters eye to important key facts about your skills and experience.

· Take keywords from the job advert. This helps ATS software select your resume.

3. Use a snappy summary.

· This is probably the most important section, and key to you getting to the interview. Put all the important stuff relevant to the job application near the start in a short snappy summary.

Set out a summary of your application, precisely tailored to show how your skills and experience meet the requirements as set out in the job spec. Use keywords from the job spec. Use power words. Some people use the same text as they use in the covering letter.

4. Precision and numbers.

Recruiters like numbers and figures. It gives them a better grasp of what they are reading. “Reduced wasteful expenditure by 15%” is far better than “Reduced wasteful expenditure significantly”.

5. Check, check and check again.

· Check your writing with Grammarly or Language Tool, use a professional resume edit service. Sloppy grammar and bad spelling will have your resume thrown out immediately. Do not under any circumstances use SMS speak.

· Have someone else read your resume. A second pair of eyes can often see things that you don’t.

This article was prepared by CraftResumes Community.

Trends | Inverted Umbrella (Product Review)

I can predict th2453915505_97797be1c8_ze weather based on when I get my hair done. I’m almost as reliable as the Farmer’s Almanac these days. Inevitably, as soon as I walk out of the salon, a downpour starts. That’s $100 worth of glam down the drain. If you live in a place that gets a lot of rain, you probably have a cupboard full of frizz control styling products and a closet full of broken umbrellas.

I have probably purchased 50 umbrellas in my lifetime – ranging in price from $5 to $75 – and most of them have ended up in the trash. In my search for a sturdy and reliable umbrella, I came across the Double Layer Inverted Umbrella.

Product Features

Durability

Unlike those other flimsy umbrellas, this one is durable and windproof. It is designed with fiberglass ribs, sturdy aluminum alloy, and a double layer canopy to prevent it from flipping inside out.

Inverted Closing Design

Another unique feature about this product is that it turns inside out when you close it. This prevents that water that’s collected on the outside of the umbrella from dripping onto the floor. This inversion feature ensures that drivers stay dry getting in and out of the car as the water is collected on the inside of the umbrella.

C-Shape Handle

Have you ever tried to carry a purse, hold a toddler’s hand along with three bags of groceries while carrying an umbrella? It’s almost impossible. The designers of this umbrella have thought of that as well. The C-shape design allows you to carry the umbrella hands-free by crossing the handle over your arm, essentially giving you a free hand.

Convenient Storage

I’m not superstitious, but I don’t like having to leave an open, wet umbrella out to dry. The inverted umbrella can stand up on its own, so its perfect for those times when you have nowhere to store your umbrella.

Verdict

The Double Layer Inverted Umbrella ranges in price from $18.99 to $50 at various online retailers. There’s no need to pay the higher price for this product because of its availability, but even if you paid a little more, you would still save money from not having to replace several broken umbrellas over the course of time. I paid $18.99 for mine on Amazon.

The inverted folding is my favorite feature of this umbrella. My office stays dry after I close it and I like that I don’t have to leave my umbrella open to dry. I haven’t had the chance to use it on a very windy day, but judging from the sturdiness of the umbrella, I’m confident it can withstand strong winds.

I can honestly say that I’m confident enough to bring this umbrella to my next hair appointment.

Step in Love – What’s my role anyway?

c20b48b28d4a456527e076df80bc4d20I’m a mild Tiger-Mom who happens to be from the Caribbean so my kids have to deal with high expectations. Sorry, it’s in my blood. Actually, I’m not sorry at all. I expect them to aim for high grades, work hard at activities that they choose and never live with a sense of entitlement. I have a hard time lowering my expectations…except when it comes to myself. (More on that in another post)

I grew up in this type of environment, so it’s all I know. My bio-daughter is used to it as well. She is the classic overachiever and seems to thrive when she is challenged. My stepdaughter is also brilliant, insanely athletic and very creative but being pushed doesn’t motivate her. It actually stifles her. She needs more nurturing. I realized when she came to live with us, I had taken on the role of “Governess”. For those of you who don’t know what this means, think back to The Sound of Music and the oldest daughter, Liesl repeatedly saying “I don’t need a governess!” A governess is an educated woman who teaches children in a private household. I helped my stepdaughter skip a grade and end the year with A’s and B’s. I’ve  taught her how to do a back walk-over. I thought I was giving her the things she wanted and needed but the connection never seemed to deepen.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vtq9t08ktU&w=560&h=315]

My stepdaughter’s favorite scene from the Sound of Music – ENJOY!

It would have been easy to focus on everything I was doing for her and blame her for this lack of connection, but I knew I was the problem. Just as Liesl never embraced Maria until she became ‘Mother’, my stepdaughter would never really connect until I moved away from the governing/ruling role into the mothering/nurturing role. She was setting the pace and I needed to follow. Our disconnect came from a place of her not feeling like I loved her the same way as her sister, my “real” daughter.

I still teach her things and push her to get good grades, but I also hug her more, laugh with her more and be a mother to her, because that’s what she needs and that’s the role I am privileged to play in her life.

Photo Credit –  Pinterest