Category: Leadership

15 things I learned over 15 years! Advice I might give my 32 year old self.

July 27th, 2016

Who ever thinks about where they will be 15 years from now? Who really thinks about tomorrow? At 32, I put it all on the line and became the fourth generation in my family to take the entrepreneurial plunge – starting my first company, CBI Group.

I was asked to share a little bit about what I have learned over the last 15 years of running my own business, CBI Group and the Outside-In® Companies. Perhaps I can pass on some wisdom you might find useful, or a musing that you find entertaining? For me this is pretty darn cathartic! Write it down. Get it out. And keep pressing play and come back at it again tomorrow, right? That is what most entrepreneurs do best. As Churchill said, “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up.” These are my words to live by through thick and thin.

As I think back I get emotional. I have had servers stolen, office roofs collapse, 9/11 on my first day. I have had floods and fires on Super Bowl Sunday! Through all the good, bad and disaster, here goes 15 thoughts from reflecting on 15 years in business.

  1. Most business are not pink unicorn businesses. Few entrepreneurs have million dollar business ideas, let alone billion dollar ones. So think about it as you sip your Starbucks, while shopping using your Amazon Prime account to compare rates with Walmart. To be the next Facebook, you have to have a scalable idea, a really great brand promise that is very defendable, and be a very skilled leader/founder that knows how to scale. Most of us mere business mortals build our businesses and keep them for a long time. Progress, profit, growth, real break through impact and change come slowly! And not all businesses will sell, merge or be acquired. Day after day we run our companies.
  2. What is success, anyway? The funny thing about success is that it looks easy. And is often viewed that way with envy and jealousy. However, show me an overnight success and I guarantee you it is the exception to the rule. Success is a judgement, anyway. Success comes with hard work, luck, perseverance, and fortitude that few can stomach. I am at year 15. Success is all relative.
  3. The stages of growth are challenging. If you’re lucky to navigate the growth stages, to learn from them, and frankly survive your inevitable inability to adapt and change fast enough, you have learned this too. As leaders we must change our approach/style/focus and even our goals for each phase of growth. And no one tells you this when you start! I started this business with a flip cell phone, an 89 page business plan, and a card table desk in a friend’s office break room. (Thank you, Jim!) We grew, added staff and then one day nothing worked. We adjusted and changed and then we hit another growth wall. Years later, I am now better informed on what goes into next growth stage and the challenges that we will face as a company, and that I will face as a leader. The lucky ones get a chance to learn from their mistakes and live to fight another day. Some great insight on each phase of growth can be found at here.
  4. Just how often can I change my style and role, anyway? Day 1 I did everything… Sales, marketing, customer service, hiring, billing, taking out the trash, you name it. Where did all of these employees come from anyway? 15 years, three brands, thousands of employees and customers later… think of all those budgets, strategic plans, and years of promise and change? Today, I spend my days teaching and coaching leaders and employees in through making tough decisions for their business. Our values guide me in my work and help others to forge their own path and make their own decisions. Some days, I still sell, market, answer the phone, and take out the trash. BUT, I come back resolutely to our strategy. Where we are going? And why? And then I align everyone to the plan and to the current operational plans for the business this quarter. And my role will continue to involve — what will year 20 look like?
  5. Hiring more people is an entrepreneurial answer to just about everything. We get excited about growth and enjoy opening more offices, generating more sales and of course increasing headcount. BUT, I’ve learned what you really need to do is to solve problems with better scalable systems and technologies! That is where value and scaling can come into play.
  6. Define your why. Coming to work without a real purpose or perhaps to just make money is a hollow place to be. Customers, employees, and vendor/partners get excited when your business exists to serve the greater good. Why do you get out of bed? Defining that in your business attracts folks to your business and keeps them coming back.
  7. Go find someone who has solved the problem before. If you know me as stubborn, you would not be the only one. My biggest learn over the last five years is all around this point. For years I solved the problem with what I had, my way of thinking and my team. Instead? Go get the answer, find folks that have solved it before. Gather perspective. Then make your path forward with that information. So much time, energy, resources and money have been wasted on starting from scratch! This is a problem when you have a culture that prides itself on innovation and creativity. I’ve learned that simple is often more elegant.
  8. Not everyone is going on the ride with you. Or at least the whole ride. My dad, Alan Burkhard told me once, “Not even your mother made all 27 years with me in the business.” Life changes. Business needs change. Folks do different things, they move, change careers, get married and start businesses. Or they disagree with your thinking and business direction… and they leave you. Get used it! However, treat them like they will be with you forever. I had less then 2% turnover in core staff the first 7 years. Man, I used to brag about it. Then we changed business models and great legacy folks left me. My heart was broken at the time. No one goes on the ride with you the entire trip. Get used to it. I have.
  9. Make it really hard to get in your business. But easy to leave. This is a borrowed family mantra. But it works really well. In other words, hire slowly. But throw folks a party when they leave. Loyalty and allegiance are good things. Unless that is all that is left. And it happens. Staff and the jobs they are in do not remain a good fit for long. We are really lucky if your current duties align with your interest more then a few times a year. Work is cyclical and project based. Most businesses change everything fast. Try and stay aligned to the purpose. Try to keep your quarterly goals relevant as the business changes month to month. Do your quarterly or six month goals seem outdated when you go to review them? Welcome to the pace of change today. Agile employees, agile rolling forecasts, agile performance reviews or feedback sessions. Everything must be portable, flexible and easy to move. Including you.
  10. Be way more conservative and realistic. I have suffered from and am often overly optimistic. I am reformed at this point. But at 32, I could sell, I could talk fast,  and I could and did try to outwork others. So most of the time, I was lucky enough to outwork my optimism. But the truth is I have had to be much more honest around planning scenarios. Today, work cast scenario planning really matters to me. And I prefer realistic  and conservative thinking today. And it is hard this way. Running a business can be more fun when your a gambler who goes for it all of the time. No rules in the early years of the business is fun for others right? Until you fail big time. And I have. So, today I balance long-range strategy thinking (and dreaming) with a dose of reality.
  11. Have you really mastered being a leader? I hear it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master anything. Humbly, I am triple that in real world practice as a leader. And I still have so much to learn.
  12. I wish I did not wait so long to be direct. Tell the truth. Let folks know where they stand. Give them feedback. We all crave it. Stop hinting someone to death. Love them up or out. Your team deserves to be successful, challenged, and to be the best they can be for you. Or move folks on to their next successful place. That is a leader’s job – or at least one that cares about their people.
  13. Running a business is cyclical. Economic swings, job markets and times/politics change. I always felt I was too small a business to worry about how much market share I had. BUT, I wish I had learned earlier on that the market changes. And how I run the business needs to change with it. There are times to go for it, and times to be very conservative and play things tight to the vest.
  14. I had no idea I could be this patient. If I had to give my younger 32 year old self some advice it would be, “This is going to take a while. You’re going to need to sacrifice everything. Put it all on the line, everything, your house, your marriage, your key relationships… Younger self, are you ready for all of this? Time, patience, fortitude, moxie, perseverance. At times you go numb. At times you come to the office but take the day off mentally. But most days the world will not let you. Entrepreneurs need to be relevant and focused almost every day to make it. And that says nothing about success or making it big time!”
  15. Everything changes. Good days fade. Bad days take longer to go away. Business is terrific. Then change happens. Some years you grow and don’t make money. And in flat years you’re running a better company and the bottom line is sweet! Change keeps coming. Employees come and go. Customers are bought and sold, go bankrupt and move out of town. Customers’ needs and wants change. Multi-million dollar business lines dry up. New products grow up before your eyes and become your big bell winner, your future. Rookies become managers. Managers become senior leaders. I have learned that being a student of change is my one true advantage. Embrace it, drive it, and know status quo is deadly in the long run!

So my 32 year old self was full of himself. Glib and confident. Boundless and endless energy on reserve. Every problem in the business was one I created. I celebrated those early fiascos, they were fun to try and resolve. Everything was about the vision for what I wanted to build with that early team. We were going to reinvent and create a space in staffing and professional services. We vowed to make culture important (believe it or not when those words were foreign in most business’s large and small). I worked endlessly. For two years straight I worked every single day. My theory was an hour worked today is an hour I would get back when I exited the business. The exit plan was scheduled for year nine! Well, six years later I am still at it. Today it’s much more about the journey than the destination.

p.s. if you’re interested, here are my 10 musings from our 10th anniversary in 2011!

What is the purpose of a recruitment strategy?

May 25th, 2016

what-is-the-purpose-of-recruitment-strategyWhat is the purpose of a recruitment strategy? What is the point of any strategy? A strategy defines the big and important questions. Who, what, when, and why. Who is doing what by when? And why are they doing it? Your recruiting strategy hopefully creates an efficient use of company resources to provide the best talent your business needs to get the job done. Your strategy may even create a productive advantage in your marketplace!

So what’s the purpose? A recruitment strategy creates proactivity and clarity of purpose in your process of attracting and selecting talent for your business and aligns talent acquisition goals to the business goals.

A recruitment strategy starts with clearly understanding your company’s values in order to best define and understand the employee behaviors you want to attract. A recruitment strategy also clearly articulates a company’s purpose or vision for the future. A well executed recruitment strategy will also align employees to the specific behaviors that are encouraged in the company.

A recruitment strategy has the distinct purpose of deciding how talent will be identified and attracted to the business, how the employer brand will be marketed to talent and ultimately how candidates will be evaluated for employment.

Attracting talent relies on your recruiting brand. How will you position and describe your company and its brand in an authentic way? Where will you promote your company? This is where good job descriptions, score cards, job postings, recruitment technology, and recruitment partners come into play. Today, no one can be the best at their entire strategy.

Evaluation of talent is also a huge part of your recruitment strategy. Do you want your managers to talk with recruits about how they got into the business and oversell why you company is great? Or will you define the questions and role of your managers as you create hiring teams? Always define the team roles in evaluating talent. Set evaluation processes and standards to ensure talent is attracted and evaluated in a consistent way!

A recruitment strategy defines the following:

  • A solution to meet a business challenge: for example, need to hire 1500 employees to open a new plant in New York, or need to hire 75 sales people to expand into new regional territories
  • How you will find and attract talent
  • Your hiring process and how you will evaluate talent
  • How you will leverage the company business plan to highlight your employer brand promise. (Why us versus competitor!)
  • Budget for recruitment
  • Resource allocation – both internally and with partners who will help carry out strategy

Need help defining or have a gap in your recruiting strategy?


Why Managers are Failing to Hire – It’s not always HR’s Fault

May 4th, 2016

Often, managers keep C talent in roles too long. Here’s why networking can help.

First, it’s important to understand what today’s economy and labor market look like:

  1. There are a lot of job openings.
  2. Unemployment is low.
  3. 1 in 3 workers that is happy, however, they intend to change jobs.

Yes, we are now in a market where happy workers are moving around and ready for their next challenge!

In a candidate’s market, what do managers do about hiring for their team/department/division? I know what they do. Complain to Human Resources and to their boss that they are not seeing enough talent for their openings. I hear this everyday from customers. And we tell them the same thing every time. Failing managers count on others to find talent for their organizations. And then blame HR or Talent Acquisition teams.  

This is why failing managers keep average or below average talent. In survey after survey, managers admit they keep sub par talent because they have no one else to do the job. Which is another way of saying that they don’t intend to do that job either. They are simply happy with the notion that someone is doing the work. But the failing employees are not happy! The employees are missing time, or making mistakes, and causing havoc with the rest of the team. Aren’t leaders responsible for budgets, productivity and results? Of course.

how-to-hire-a-players-coverSo why not network to go from being an average or failing leader to one who networks and fills their own jobs? This is what I call keeping your sofa full. (Check out chapter 7 in How to Hire A Players by Eric Herrenkohl.)

Failing (C players) managers blame others and do nothing.

Winning Leaders (A players) get out out to meet talent at trade shows, industry events, chamber meetings, or at civic and social clubs. Leaders get out to build their network. To meet people. To offer help and create value. But they are always working on building their bench and know who their next hire is going to be!

Which type of leader are you?

What is Outside-In?

February 4th, 2016

Although Outside-In® is a regular topic in my blog, the definition tends to elude some readers. By definition, Outside-In® is when a business is customer-centered. It is a philosophy, a culture, a way of thinking that impacts the way a business and its employees operate. When you’re Outside-In®, you are always listening to your customers’ needs and wants for opportunities to improve, drive change, or try something new for your customers.

I know many leaders that pride themselves on focusing on the customer exclusively — kudos to them. But how many leaders truly turn outward first, then build a company that does the same? A leader’s focus on the customer does not necessarily translate into every employee. Outside-In® suggests that leaders don’t have to hold the customer’s wants and needs on their shoulders alone. In a world that is moving faster every day, isn’t it better to have everyone in the organization listening and reacting to customers, instead of just one or a few?

Outside-In® companies should and can run like one, big, constant focus group. Imagine a focus group that never ends, where employees get to ask the questions and observe the customers’ behavior. What if these observations were collected and cherished every day and that company decisions and plans were driven based on all the customer insights collected? In an eternal focus group, every employee sees the impact the company has on the customer and when that impact is negative or unproductive, each employee has the opportunity to recognize how the issue could be addressed.

Employee IdeasLast year, Comcast NBCUniversal awarded employee ideas in the company’s internal ‘Shark Tank’ competition, The Idea, which challenged employees (139,000+ globally) to come up with the next big idea to make the company better. Employees responded to challenge, submitting 200 submissions within two hours of the program’s announcement, and nearly 3,000 ideas in the end. All employees’ suggestions “for enhancing the customer experience or driving innovation and new business opportunities.” Maggie Suniewick, a Senior VP for the company and organizer of the competition shared, “We have so many talented and engaged employees with really good ideas — they just haven’t always known how to share them more broadly.” The Idea winner, Nathan Kalish agreed with executives inspiration behind the competition, “We have to look to employees and consumers to identify needs and challenges,” he says. “And if we want to adapt and grow, we need to respond.”

Google is another example of a company that not only rewards employees but also their customers who uncover vulnerabilities in Google’s system. Last year, Google rewarded Kamil Hismatullin who discovered that he could delete any YouTube video file in minutes. Instead of exploiting this information, he reported the code he used to Google, who fixed the issue within a few hours and gave him $5,000 as a thank you. And just this week it was reported how much Google paid the man who bought the domain back in October 2015. What would Google do if they no longer had!

There are lots of companies that practice the Outside-In® behavior of listening to customers to fix problems, make improvements and implement new ideas. And you don’t need to be a big company with a huge bank account like NBCUniversal or Google. Harvard Business Review notes one Japanese company Idemitsu, which gets more than a hundred ideas per employee each year without offering any bonuses. Imagine your company living with a customer-centric mindset 24/7! Wow, think of the money you could save. Or how much your company could make with new ideas?

New Year Leadership Planning Tips

January 6th, 2016

Outside-In® Chronicles: a throwback post, originally published five years ago in January 2010

2016 Leadership PlanningLeaders often ask me about how they can be a better leader tomorrow. What can they do right now to have impact on their business. I find the key is to know how to plan and approach leadership actions creatively. Still not sure what I mean? Leaders do stuff — they are in meetings, they make and take phone calls, they solve problems, etc. As a leader you could spend all day reacting to the world around you. In fact, it never stops coming. All day long the cell phone rings and the inbox fills up. Yet this is not leadership. And it’s certainly not planned, thoughtful leadership. Leadership planning is a way to have a real impact. To be proactive and creative in improving the lives of your employees and the productivity they can achieve.

No matter what industry you are in, you will inevitably have customers, employees, vendors and prospects in your day. The best way to plan? Let’s start by thinking about any employee. What do they need right now? A compliment?  Recognition? A tough talk? Someone to listen? Training? Your job is to eliminate barriers for your employees while holding them accountable, to remind people that they have something to learn, let them know you’re there to help and that you care.

Still not so sure what to do? Think about your customers next. Who can use a proactive call from you. Have you pulled the team together just to talk about a customer when there is not a problem? This is where the real opportunity lies.

  1. Leadership planning is scheduled time.
  2. Leadership planning involves critical thinking.
  3. Leadership planning can be exciting and creative if you know how.
  4. Leadership planning is a basic skill that can change your world. And your employees.

Do this homework assignment on a Sunday night.

  1. Take out a note pad. Right out your top to do’s for the week/Monday.
  2. Analyze the list. How much is recurring or just work to do?
  3. Make a list for an employee or special project.
  4. Think about them. What do they need from you to be more successful?
  5. Make plans.

Remember we all can get better, all of the time. And we will if our leaders can impact us in a meaningful way.

Need help to have real impact or want to share your ideas with others? Would love to hear more from you; we all have something to learn!

The Realities of the Current Labor Market. (plus a prediction)

November 4th, 2015

Contrast perceived advantages to working with small/medium firm versus a bohemoth. What is market information telling us?

The US unemployment rate is at 5.1 %; this is considered full employment for economic discussions. However, we have only been here for a couple months. In fact, at the beginning of this year we were at 5.7%, and this time last year we were at 5.8%. This is not a lot of time for workers to see a change in their job search outlook. Nor is it much time for employers to see and react to trends in turnover and hiring.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The realities of Oct/Nov 2015 if you’re a worker, is that it has not been “good” for very long at all. Not even long enough to notice any change really. And this unemployment rate a national statistic. Some regions are red hot and doing better like the mid-west or parts of the west. The east is much cooler in jobs-related reporting than other regions right now.

And if you’re in charge of hiring, every company story is different. Fewer companies are really-aggressively hiring right now. Business strategy drives talent plans. And many current talent plans were set during more conservative and modest business times, likely around the second half of last year. Big companies are not adding or are, in fact staying status quo with hiring plans this year. Small to mid-size companies on the other hand, are driving the growth. As is the rise of the contingent worker who is freelancing, temping, or contracting to greater and greater numbers, which (frankly) barely shows in government labor data.

Now for my predictions.

  • Managing labor costs in business will continue to be a critical focus. This means employers still want flexibility in their labor costs as a strategy. Enter in temps, contractors, independents and or outsourcing.
  • Companies will lower labor costs over time. IT is a great example — After years or decades of using contractors many organizations are seeking to lower costs by bringing more IT folks in-house. This will happen in any skill set over time.
  • We are entering an era of labor shortages. The War for Talent predicted the boomers exit from the workforce and it is happening everyday. Yet now, the exiting labor pool is causing a negative point of view on today’s labor numbers. The labor is leaving the workforce as predicted, albeit a little slower than anticipated. But it is happening and it will cause labor shortages. We simply want our labor shortage to be caused by marketplace growth versus a sharp reduction in supply!

The 2015 Outside-In Summer Reading List

August 5th, 2015

Sometimes I can’t find enough time to read the pile of “must reads” on my night stand. So I am careful to suggest that others add to their guilt (I might be projecting my own guilt!) by having even more book and article suggestions to tack on to their lists.

Books.Pile of book on desk.When I make time to read, however, I am able to set aside the events of the day and the many distractions from people and electronics and something amazing starts to happen. Ideas and thoughts seem to flow in a torrent! I hope you’re able to spark your learning in a similar fashion. Find the time. It reduces stress and allows you to chew on the problems of the day in a new and productive way. And as a CEO or business leader, you don’t have to read all business books to find inspiration. This year, the trend (Fortune & LA Times for example) is for CEOs to read non business books to inspire new ideas.

So whether you’re committing to regular reading or simply looking for something to do on that family camping trip or week at the beach, this August I have a few page turners to consider.

  1. Choose Yourself by James Altucher: James is an avid writer, blogger and many time entrepreneur. Choose Yourself defines today’s workplace realities and offers real world ideas on how to take control of your work and how you will forever define how you earn an income. Thought provoking!
  2. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Hampton Sides: This one grips you! A few weeks ago, I spent a week ignoring friends and family on the beach in Block Island and read this one. It’s a true story researched for years by Hampton, Outside Magazine and others. This is the greatest historical story you don’t know! Great lessons in leadership, sacrifice, and survival. Imagine trying to get to the North Pole in a wooden ship with no means of communication with the outside world!
  3. Delivering Happiness A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO In a business world where few have any real meaningful, sustainable business advantage, Delivering Happiness chronicles the dramatic rise of Zappos and how their culture drives everything and defines their success. And it is an entertaining read to boot! Not every success is immediate and over night. Success takes time, risk and perseverance.

I am always scanning for the next must read, I hear the Uncontainable, The Story of the Container Store by Kip Tindell is a must read… Next on the list? What books are on your list? Share away!

How to Retain Millennials

July 30th, 2015

Everyone seems to be curious about Millennials.Millennial-Workforce They are, after all taking over the workforce – in the next ten years they will comprise 75% of the global workforce (The Deloitte Millennial Survey). So, employers should take time to get to know millennials and what makes them tick.

One thing we know is that millennials are job hoppers. According to a survey by Pinpoint Market Research, 39% of participants aged 20-29, have already held 4-7 full-time jobs and 83% plan to stay at a single job for just two years, unless promoted. What is it that makes millennials move around so much? What do millennials value? Let’s look a little further into what Pinpoint found in their millennial survey to figure out how to retain millennials.

  1. Offer work/life balance: this seems to be one of the most important things that millennials seek from an employer. 88%, aged 20-29, said they seek a consistent work/life balance and 57% said they will leave a job if they aren’t getting it.
  2. Create opportunities to work from home: part of a work/life balance is the flexibility to work at home. 72% choose companies with work-from-home options.
  3. Don’t assume money is everything: if your retention plan is to throw money on the table when an employee seems unhappy, think again. 47% choose fewer hours over more pay and 60% choose “love of job” over money earned. Perhaps you should look at your workload expectations instead.
  4. Ensure your company is stable: millennials seek employment at stable companies – 88% say company stability is a top priority when considering employers.
  5. Focus on learning opportunities and career development: millennials want to work for an employer that fosters learning and development AND pays for it. 81% want companies to invest in their professional development and 83% want a clear path to promotion and will leave if they don’t get it. Here’s a few more statistics that really emphasize this one:
    • 83% want tuition reimbursement for education sought while employed
    • 78% want learning opportunities in leadership
    • 73% want to attend conferences, networking events and seminars

Based on the findings in this survey, millennials care about work/life balance, flexibility and career development. What will you do to retain millennial workers?

Outside-In® Chronicles: Summer Reading List

June 3rd, 2015

ID-100249568Summer reading is a part of the fabric that defines my free time as well as my summer vacation. The challenge is to decide how to recharge and rejuvenate with that precious time off. Do I really want to read an industry publication or study for that upcoming webinar to keep continuing education credits flowing? It’s not that I don’t like my industry or chosen profession, I just need space and time to decompress. The more space I can create or make more time to think, the more likely I am to find new ideas and thoughts that help with my day-to-day work!

However, sometimes it’s hard to get away without our smart phones tethered to our hand 24/7—we all have to find some compromise, right? The very device that lets you order pizza while on vacation or text the teenagers to find out when they will be home is the same piece of technology that pings every time there is a new email and some work issue that either ruins your vacation mood or requires immediate attention!

I once heard the pile of unread business magazines, articles, books, and white papers on your nightstand or work station referred to as the tower of guilt! I, for one, feel good when I take that pile of work and plow through it. Sometimes I read three or four books at the same time in rotation just to change topics for the sake of staying current. However, this is not the approach I like to take for summertime reading.

So if you’re trying too hard to work and want to recharge while coming back with a new perspective on your business, here are my top three must reads:
1. Anything by Gladwell. Malcom not only sees the world differently, but he does the research to back it up. Try The Tipping PointWhat the Dog Saw, or my all time favorite, The Outliers. If you want to think about your business place in a different way, try escaping to the world that Malcom creates!

2.  How to Win Friends and Influence People. So many smart people know something about their field of study or the technical aspects of their profession yet few invest in their relationships.  No books exists that is more time tested for helping you with tools and tips for great human relations skills!

3.  Zen and the Art of Happiness. Everyone gets down in the dumps from time to time. As Dale Carnegie is for great human relationships this book is for realigning your perspective on your daily life. Things happen to us each and everyday, it is what we do next that matters.

If you have a book that recharges and lifts your energy while helping you reflect and improve your business or your leadership persona please let us know!

Do You Choose to Act Like a Temporary Employee or an Entrepreneur?

May 14th, 2015

temporentreWhat would you do with yourself if you realized that the world of work has changed dramatically and that we have a choice to make? We are basically temps OR we are entrepreneurs that must choose ourselves. That is my interpretation of a wonderfully honest book by James Altucher called Choose Yourself!

We are temps in the sense that we go to work, do our jobs, and collect our paychecks. We don’t love what we do, however, we don’t even really know that there is another option. We don’t put a whole lot into our career when we act like a temporary employee. The career is simply a means to an end. I get paid and I am waiting for someone to tell me what to do and how to do it—that is the extent of the contract.

However, we are all, in essence, rented for a period of time (even though the job is not a true temporary position). Time is relative. If the average tenure of a public CEO is thirteen months, I could make the argument that it is a temporary assignment. It is our attitude, level of engagement, lack of drive to learn, and inability to grow or find ways to become more of an asset that often catch up with us. You act temporary and you don’t know any better!

Or maybe it’s not your fault at all and it’s simply the realities of today’s workplace that did it to you. No company or job is forever, right? The economy, markets, your company, and its industry, all play a key role. I think that is the point of the title of choosing yourself! You are responsible for you. No one else, let alone your current employer. You must own your skills and development and how you monetize what you are capable of! A job simply might not cut it anymore! Or perhaps it just part of you how monetize your time and capabilities?

Being an entrepreneur? Well, I think this is both literal and figurative. All of us must be resourceful, creative, hard working, productive, a risk taker, and a learner. We must find ways to create revenues for our employers and for ourselves on the side. This could be cottage industries, extra jobs, writing blogs or books. We are responsible for our own careers and for inventing ourselves!

The key to NOT being a temp? Act like an entrepreneur. Frankly, the book itself is full of implementable ways of choosing yourself and finding a way to own your income and your career. The magic is in being and thinking differently while you’re employed. Most businesses crave entrepreneurial thinking. Culture and external environment may dictate terms, but it starts within! I, for one, have supported many employees to become entrepreneurs. I have supported side projects and reviewed their cottage industry ideas. Quite frankly, I buy from them, too! This is how you choose yourself.

If cold calls don’t work, change your plans. If the product doesn’t sell, sell something else. If the meeting did not go well, then try again. This is what entrepreneurs do—and it is what great entrepreneurial employees do, too!

Want to meet great entrepreneurial employees? I have a few that get what it takes to chose for themselves! Mary Schaefer (left) is one of our Career Coaches at Barton Career Advisors, and Kelly Hocutt (right) is our Marketing Team Leader for the Outside-In® Companies.


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