An NFL Running Back has less than one second to determine the best route for him to run. In this split second of chaos he must hastily choose a plan of action. He takes it all in, 11 men on the opposing side are trying their best to stop him. Even though he has 10 other men on his side, the running backs decision making and effort will make or break the play.
I was watching highlights of some of my favorite runners the other day, the legends of the game such as Barry Sanders, Leveon Bell, Jamal Lewis, Marshawn Lynch, etc. And I realized in all of their dazzling array of skills, there are a few lessons to be learned from them about how we approach our life and career.
Make Decisive and Determined Actions
In conclusion, the main skill we can take from a runner is that he is adaptable, and shockingly fast at his adaptation. He has no time for error and executes his move without hesitation. Obstacles are the norm for a running back. They go over them, through them, past them. Keep the running back in mind next time you find yourself faced with a difficult problem in your life or career. Remember to trust your instinct, always keep moving and fighting, make decisions and act on them relentlessly.
Jonathan King, Co-founder
The other day, I must admit, I was jealous. It all started while listening to friend talk about a possible promotion. Internally, I had mixed emotions: I was happy for my friend, but I kept thinking, “What about me?” After some reflection, I realized that I was not jealous of the potential position, but rather jealous of my friend’s confidence; they knew what the next steps were in their career path and I did not. So, I thought: “What am I chasing? What are the next steps for my career?” A new focus allowed me to view the future of my career in a whole new light.
Now, I ask you: Are you chasing after a particular career path? A next expected step? A dream of your parents'? A paycheck? Recognition? Fame? Societal expectations? Or are you just sticking to what is safe and familiar with no risk involved?
We all are chasing something. By having your career path outlined, you have taken your first step towards giving your path direction and purpose. However, let me suggest that you outline it in pencil and in not pen. As we gain more experience, our ideas and dreams can change. So, do not be afraid to erase or modify the outline to fit your needs.
It is possible that when you reach your original goal, you may realize the packaging is deceiving, the day-to-day operations are not suited for you, or your goal was simply based on someone else's expectations and not your own. If you remain flexible and open to new opportunities, you will be able to overcome this disappointment, and steer yourself in a new direction. For example, the moment I realized that I did not want the job my friend was being offered, I was able to release myself from the disappointment that weighed me down and clung to the opportunities around me.
What are you chasing? If you do not already know, find out! However, be warned! Set your sights on the right goals for you. And it does not stop there. Once you know what you are chasing, figure out why you are chasing it. Be ready to answer these questions to a potential employer, but more importantly to yourself. Then, start running.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
In my job I look through hundreds of resumes a week, and also communicate by text, email, or phone call with a large quantity of those candidates. In essence, I am the first line that a candidate must get through in order to obtain a position with my company. Below are some of the tips I have to help you in your career search, and getting past that first line or what I like to call, getting past the gatekeeper.
The first thing you will need in finding a job is to have a quality resume. A resume is usually the first glimpse a hiring manager or recruiter will have of you so much like first impressions, you want your resume to be good.
First, you need to build a template resume. This is the resume you will have with your main headlines such as work history, education, technical skills, dates of employment etc. This is a generic template; so, with your work history do not go into detail yet about what you did there, just put the workplace and your title. Once you have created your template resume, save it; then, when you have a specific job in mind, you can edit the document to cater to the job. The most important thing to remember about a resume is that you must tailor the resume to reflect the relevant details of your job history or education to the job that you are applying for. For instance:
If I wanted to apply for a job at XYZ company for a position as a “Community Marketing Specialist” I would want my resume to reflect that role. Let's say you just graduated college. That means the hiring manager will most likely not care at all if you put down “team member” at McDonald's. Is that good experience? Yes, but it won’t get you that job. However, if you were a president of any clubs, or led any community service projects, or maybe you pitched ideas to the city chamber of commerce for one of your classes etc., those community leadership experiences would be great things to highlight. Of course, it is important to list your McDonald's job because HR likes to know you can hold down a position, but don’t stress it. Stress the community activities, as those actually relate to the job.
Now, this means you will be creating several resumes. Literally for every job you apply for, make a relevant resume. It takes time, but it is worth it. (Remember your template resume can save you some of that time.) Look thoroughly through the job description, find the most key elements to the description and reflect them in your resume. Does the job call for someone with experience in business analytics? If you have that skill, highlight it, spell it out, and put it in the forefront. If the job calls for someone who is knowledgeable in a particular program, highlight that as well. Remember to be truthful, yet highlight your relevant skills. It’s amazing how many times I have spoken to candidates who had a particular skill, but had not included it on their resume; it was not until I picked up the phone and asked them, that I learned of this skill. The problem is, you can't afford to wait to be called. Most employers will reject your resume unless everything is spelled out for them.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when building your resume:
1) What is different or intriguing about you?
Recruiters do not want to read your life story, but if you have any cool interests or skills unrelated to the job, it can be intriguing. For instance, I came across an applicant who was not the best match, but I ended up calling them because they had served 5 years in the Peace Corps. It turns out that their experience overseas stood out and was very applicable to the position I was seeking to fill.
2) Is your resume visible online?
Don’t just post your resume on one website. Utilize as many job board sites as you can; for example: monster.com, careerbuilder.com, and indeed.com. Some recruiters only work on one job board, so spreading out your resume’s between sites will help you get more visibility.
3) Are you applying for positions for which you are qualified?
Make sure that your qualifications closely match the position. If you have 2 years of experience in marketing and the job description calls for 4 years, go ahead and apply. But, if the job description is for a registered nurse, and you are a medical assistant, don’t waste your time.
4) Is there anything grammatically incorrect or inadvertently funny about your resume?
If your resume is rampant with grammatical errors, no one will pass it on to HR. At the same time, make sure there isn’t anything humorous about your resume. You might get noticed if you have “ball care coordinator” as your current job title ("Ball" as the name of the company and "Care Coordinator" as the job title).
5) Are you highlighting the important skills on your resume?
Recruiters and HR managers spend a great deal of time looking at resume’s, which means they scan them very quickly. Therefore, you want the important things to be noticeable; for example, list the most relevant skills first.
These tips are designed to get your resume noticed and passed from the gatekeeper to the hiring manager or recruiter. In my next post, we will discuss the next steps in this process.
Jonathan King, Co-founder
Have you ever tried doing anything different than what the people around you would perceive as the norm for you? Perhaps it would be a new hairstyle, clothing choice, hobby, etc. Perhaps it was met with some enthusiasm, but more often than not, it was most likely met with looks of disapproval. Many times those who are closest to us can be the biggest obstacles to our success. Many times our biggest dreams and aspirations are broken upon the walls that our closest friends and family hold up. Perhaps you have an idea for an entrepreneurial venture that you have been thinking of for some time and want to finally tell someone about it. Many times that person, not purposefully will doubt the idea or down play it, and in so doing, douse the fire that you had for it.
The challenge that must be met is that no matter how out of your comfort zone, no matter other people doubt you, and no matter all the negative energy around you, if you truly want to make something happen and reach for success above the ordinary rat race, you must block them out. How can you do that?
1. Put blinders on. Sometimes you may have to stop associating with those negative individuals for a time.
2. Talk to like-minded people. Make sure to surround yourself with successful people and dreamers like yourself. People who make positivity a way of life.
3. Remember people think differently. Remind yourself that other people do not think like you, they are not trying to doubt you, or make you feel down, but are trying to help in their own way.
4. Relentlessly pursue your goal. Don't let anything or anyone get in the way of accomplishing your goal.
In the movie “Troy” there is a scene that, although rather cheesy, illustrates a good point. The great warrior Achilles is called to go meet the champion fighter of another army. Before he goes out to meet the challenge a young man speaks to Achilles. He tells Achilles details of how massive and strong the enemy champion is, and finally tells him that he would not want to fight the champion. Achilles calmly looks down at the young man and replies “that is why no one will remember your name.”
As previously stated, although cheesy, it makes sense. Someone who shies away from challenge and adversity, someone who does not press their goals, will not be successful. Rise up to your goals and challenges, and make sure to block out those who do not see your vision.
Jonathan King, Co-founder
Once I graduated with my undergraduate degree, i wrestled with what my next educational steps would be. Should I jump straight into a Master’s program, or should I try and gain work experience first and work on my Master’s degree later? Of course, I also thought about the fact that, after I gained work experience, I might not need to get a Master’s degree at all — depending on the career I chose. I sought out many sources of information and returned with many different answers.
In today’s world, we are blessed with great resources. Sometimes, however, all of the information clouds our heads and makes decisions even more difficult. As the cost of graduate school increases, potential students wrestle with knowing if going into debt will be worth it. One option I did not consider is foregoing a Master’s program and instead taking MOOC (Massive Open On-line Courses). Over the past few years MOOC have become an option for students who are looking for a lower cost option than pursuing an MBA. Currently MOOC focus primarily on business courses, but in the future I would expect these types of courses to expand into other fields as well. Before we go any farther, let me define exactly what MOOC are.
MOOC are open educational resources that are available through top colleges such as Stanford, Harvard, MIT, CalTech, and others. MOOC are also available through education companies such as Udacity, Coursera, and eDX. The courses are often able to be taken at your own pace, and often include a certificate of completion. Most courses are free or offered at a low cost. One person at the forefront of this change in education is Laurie Pickard. Laurie is the owner of the website NoPayMBA.com, and has been featured in numerous publications (including Entrepreneur and Fortune magazines). Laurie was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about MOOC and how they have impacted the current education climate.
1. Why do you think MOOC has become more of an option for students the last few years vs. traditional MBA'a?
“I think people are recognizing that it is possible to learn valuable skills outside of universities. I do think universities have a real role to play — they're the ones creating these courses, after all — but especially for people who already have university degrees and are already working, it makes sense to learn in a just-in-time fashion, taking courses as they are relevant and putting the skills into practice immediately on the job.”
2. I think one of the fears of going the MOOC route is that an employer will not take you seriously if you do not have a "real" degree. How would you help calm those fears, and how does an employee prove to a hiring manager their MOOC work is valid?
“I think it's all about marketing yourself, telling a compelling story, and giving the hiring manager the ability to see for themselves what you are able to do. I created the portfolio feature on my site for precisely this purpose. If you just list a bunch of course titles at the bottom of your resume, that's not a great strategy for having employers take your MOOC education seriously. But if you have strong, relevant work experience and can demonstrate how you used MOOCs to build on your previous education, and importantly how you used the new skills (even if it wasn't for a paid assignment), then you make a very good case that you should be hired partly on the strength of your MOOC education.”
3. Where do you see the future of education going in the next 5-10 years?
“I think we'll see an explosion of certification options, which may make things confusing at first - things like microdegrees, open badges, and other non-degree credentials, which are already becoming more common. I think we'll start to see some of these credentials emerge as leaders in terms of employer perception and preference. I also think we'll start to see more employers using MOOCs for in-house training of their employees. And I think more hybrid programs like ASU's partnership with edX will emerge, programs where you can do at least some of your university education via MOOC.”
While the practicality — and even validity — of taking MOOC instead of going the traditional route is still up for debate, it is definitely another option to look at when you are deciding whether or not an MBA is right for you. Especially as Laurie pointed out — it can be a great option for employees already working but wanting to develop more expertise and set themselves apart from their coworkers.
When deciding on your next step regarding education, the most important thing to remember is that becoming truly educated is up to you as an individual. Whether you go to a prestigious college, take MOOC, or don’t pursue a formal degree at all, you can still become educated. It all depends on your level of commitment to learning.
Please take a look at Laurie’s website if you are interested in finding out more about the No-pay MBA, and tell her thanks for contributing to our article on her Facebook page!
Matthew King, Co-Founder
In Greek mythology, a character named Sisyphus was once a powerful king. He was evil, however, and was therefore punished by the gods to carry and roll a boulder up a hill. The catch was this: every time he succeeded in this arduous feat and sat the boulder on top of the hill, the boulder would, without fail, roll back down the mountain. Sisyphus was condemned to an eternal struggle of brawn against rock. Life can feel like this at times. Sometimes we can feel as though our fate is that of Sisyphus. We may not have conniving gods cooking up devious rock-rolling punishments for us, but monotony in life can be a very real thing. Work, eat, sleep, and repeat the next day… and the next, and the next…Our eternal struggle, our boulder. We feel that our work and our repetitive days are profiting little, just like Sisyphus. Our drudgery feels like vain repetition and nothing more.
Although we can feel that our job is repetitive and monotonous, this is looking on the negative side of things. Much of our life will play out based on our attitude. Our attitude should not regress into the mindset that our job is just a meaningless tedium. Unlike Sisyphus, there is a point to all the repetition of our work. Although you may feel that you are painstakingly appeasing the work gods for their enjoyment, your work does have purpose for several reasons.
1. While Sisyphus was being punished, you are being paid. Even if you have a job that is the same, day in and day out, be grateful that you are being compensated for that work. Work diligently in that capacity so that you can further your ambitions.
Tip: Look for ways to make improvements in your current job. Could policies and procedures be put in place to make it more efficient? If the job is arduous, take the initiative to find ways to make it interesting. This ability will set you apart in your current and future positions.
2. There is no progress in the tale of Sisyphus, nor is there growth. Sisyphus learned nothing from his toil, he gained nothing, nothing was produced, and nothing completed. You can and should be learning in your work. You will also complete projects, or fulfill a certain amount of products. You likely have some way to measure your productivity. In this way, you can see what you have produced, learn how to be better, and grow in turn. Also, your work is not a hill that throws everything you do back down its side. Think of your work more along the lines of a road with checkpoints interspersed along its winding route.
Tip: Keep detailed notes on what projects/work you are completing. When your evaluation or new job opportunities come up, you can use these examples to highlight your expertise.
3. Sisyphus could never leave. No matter the rough day we have at work, we don’t have to stay there at all times. We have the ability to leave our jobs at the end of the day. We have lives outside of our work lives. Our time is not constrained and limited to our work, and we are not chained. Rather, while our lives do involve work, they also involve friends, music, movies, and laughter.
Tip: As much as possible, don't bring your work home. Create a definite barrier between your work time and your family/leisure time. Establish a short ritual after work that will help you create a mental separation from your work and personal life. This could be a few moments of meditation or breathing, saying a quick prayer, or listening to a song. Anything can work that will signal to your brain that now is the time to forget about work and focus on friends/family.
If you are stuck in a work life that feels like Sisyphus, what can you do to get out of that situation? Grit your teeth, throw your power into your rock and hurl it up the cliff. Get recognized at your job. Use your creativity to find ways to be more efficient. Learn something at your work so well that you become the expert. Move up the chain, or move out and find a new chain! Don’t surround yourself with others who revel in the misery of Sisyphean attitudes. Surround yourself with people of positive, game-changing attitude. If there aren’t any people like that around, then immerse yourself in blogs like this one! Find podcasts, inspiring books, and other materials. Don’t wait for your work to give you meaning; instead, give meaning to your work.
Jonathan King, Co-founder
We are only a few weeks away from school starting up again. One of the goals of high school is beginning to get an idea of what you may be interested in doing for a career. Looking back on my high school days there are three things I wish I had done that would have helped me decide on a career. I want to share those with you in hopes of giving some ideas on clarifying how you want to spend the majority of your adult life.
1) Join a speech or debate team. Regardless of the career you ultimately choose, every job requires good communication. In my experience, even high-ranking officials in companies are poor communicators, and this gives you a chance to differentiate yourself. Learn how to give presentations to large and small groups, how to put together a presentation quickly and how to use technology to enhance your communication.
2) Intern and job shadow as much as possible. Any chance you have to narrow down the list of careers you want to have/not have is a good idea. Decide on a few places you would potentially like to work and try to set up an internship or job shadowing with them. There are paid and unpaid internships, but even if you get an unpaid on it will be worth it if it helps you narrow down your career.
3) Find a mentor. Is there someone you know who you admire as having a successful career? It doesn't necessarily have to be in the same field you are interested in, but they are successful in what they do. Ask them if they would be willing to help you narrow down the list of careers in which you are interested. They may also have some connections that will help you land an internship. Most successful people want to help others on their path to success, so don’t be afraid to ask for their assistance.
These three ideas can also be applied at the college level, but I recommend that you start earlier if possible. While they are simple ideas, I believe their impact on your future can be profound. So get started and good luck!
Matthew King, Co-founder
Share what you wish you had known in high school about your career in the "comments" section below.
There is a pitcher named Randy Choate who plays for the St. Louis Cardinals. Choate is not a big name player; most people who follow baseball probably would not recognize his name. He is not a powerhouse pitcher: the likes of Kershaw, Bumgarner, Sale, or Gray. He doesn’t have a high-speed fastball, or a massive curveball, but he is an essential part of the pitching team.
Choate is a left-handed specialist. He will literally come into a game to get one left-handed hitter out and immediately leave the game. He has an unorthodox left-handed pitch; his side arm hides the ball and surprises left-handed hitters. Choate has a small, yet important workload. Choate has made himself the expert in his field. This pitcher’s job is simply to get the power hitter out. Though he may play as little as five minutes per outing, he gets paid handsomely. So, even a pitcher who does not have any striking athletic ability, has developed the skills to make himself an important part of the team.
When at work, look for things or aspects of the job itself you enjoy. Study them. Become the absolute authority on that subject or topic. Become the expert. Not only will this give you job security, it could lead to doors being opened for you in other areas, promotions, speaking engagements, etc. For instance, my social science professor wrote a book about rice for his doctorate program; he studied the effect that rice has on global trade. Now, instead of working only at a small school in Indiana, he travels around the world lecturing on the subject of rice. He took something he was passionate about, became an expert in the field, and currently, makes more money speaking than he does teaching.
So find your niche. Find something on which you can become the authority. Make yourself indispensable to your organization. You never know…rather than promoting the company you work for, you may begin promoting yourself.
As young men we often have a dream and vision of how great our life will be when we have our career or business up and running. We can see the “open” sign on the door, we can feel the cash running through our fingers, we can hear the accolades of our peers as our career and business grow and succeed. But what do we do when we wake up every morning to go punch the time clock for someone else or are stuck in a job we don't like and the reality of our own goals seem far away? Below you will find some successful actions that will help you prepare yourself for the day your dreams come calling.
Grow in your surroundings. Depending on what business you are in now, try and get as much knowledge from each department as you can because you may have to be ALL the departments for awhile in your new company so spend some quality time with Accounting, HR, and IT to get as much knowledge from them as you can. Especially if you have friends in those areas they can be valuable assets in getting to know the ins and outs of those areas of the business. Also, if the opportunity presents itself, volunteer for projects that will let you have more interactions with different departments than you normally would interact with so that you can have as much time to learn from them as possible.
Become more educated. Many companies provide educational opportunities for their employees such as webinars, white papers, attending trade shows, and obtaining certain certifications to their employees. If where you work is one of those jump at every chance to participate in them! These are free ways for you to expand your knowledge into different areas than you may be familiar with. Don’t pass them up! Even if your company does not provide these opportunities look for local business clubs for networking opportunities and to run your ideas by, and grab some good business books to read as well.
Watch your managers. How do they make decisions? how do they talk to/treat their employees? how do they react under pressure? How do their employees react to their methods? If you open your own business, or move into a management position YOU will be the manager, you have to know what are effective management techniques and what are not. Make a list of things your managers do that work and that you should emulate, and things they do that are not effective. When the chance presents itself take the lead on projects and try and implement some of the successful actions of your managers. When you are on your own and their are tough times looking back on your success will be a good reminder that you CAN be successful.
Finalize and review your plans. Continue your research.While you are still drawing a steady paycheck is the time to solidify how and when you want to start your business or move to a new company. Make sure you have all your finances, personnel, infrastructure, etc ready to go. Now is your chance to be as sure as possible that you are ready to go and that as much as is in your hands, you can succeed.
Relax. Enjoy that you have steady hours and can go home and not be on call 24-7, because once you start your company or move to a more challenging position until you are well-established you will be the decision maker, you will be responsible for the life and death of the company and you will be on call 24/7.
Envision success. What does success mean to you? can you see it? can you write it down? Think and write down now what success will mean to you 3 months into your new position/business, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, etc. You have to have the vision for where you are going before you can get there. To me this also means the “butterfly effect” by that I am talking about that excited, giddy feeling you get when you think about your business being successful, that feeling you get because you know that now you are doing what you were meant to do, what you LOVE to do. If you don’t have that feeling then start over until you find something that gives you that feeling, that reason to get up in the morning and go to “work” that doesn’t feel like work.
With these successful actions in place you can see your dream become reality, and enjoy the success you have earned due to your hard work, because you took the time beforehand to grown in your current surroundings, take the opportunities for educating yourself, watched and emulated successful actions of your managers, finalized your plans, relaxed, and envisioned your success.
- Matthew King, Co-founder