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Embrace Change in Life & Career

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It was a rollercoaster of a year.

I worked hard on something, then got disappointed. It happened over and over again.

I’m talking about 2017. Compared with my heartaches, my successes seemed rare and small.

A common saying from an unknown author is that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you look at things.

Perhaps. But I also believe at looking objectively at things and using our experiences to learn what to do next and how to move forward.

But maybe that’s my 90%.

I think, at the end of the day, what 2017 was about for me was change.

Life is filled with it. Sometimes it’s the big, beautiful, welcome gift we want; while sometimes it’s disguised in an ugly package, bringing with it hurt, tears, and disappointments.

Either way, the only time we can escape change is when we die because life is filled with it.

At the end of 2017, I decided to roll up my sleeves once more and get to work - at writing a book.

I thought it would be a shame to not share my learnings with others.

So here are the things I realized were helpful in proactively doing to help us deal effectively with changes in our personal and professional lives:

  1. Build Skills - In good times or in bad, what you can do to add value to others’ lives matters. It’s can also help you have options to earn from.

  2. Build Your Network - What they say is true - it matters whom you know. I get more business from people I already know than from random strangers who’ve just heard of me.

  3. Mind Your Finances - You never know when you’re gonna need it so choose to save it.

  4. Put Yourself First - Never take yourself for granted. Choose to care for yourself.

  5. Work Your Butt Off - No one can ever fault you for working hard. It helps keep your reputation intact.

I expound more on each point in my upcoming book, ‘#Adulting: 5 Secrets to Embracing Change in Life & Career‘ which comes out in October. If you’d like to learn more, please kep an eye out for announcements under the ‘Services’ tab of this website!

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(Photo from GoRaydar)

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Rediscovering Career Passion

For most of us, working has periods of highs, lows, and steady states. We can sometimes feel like we're stuck in a rut. This week's #superwithcooper vlog is all about reigniting your career passion to help you gain greater happiness and success!

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Skills You Need by 2020

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A few years ago, some business leaders came together and were asked to forecast what it would take to succeed in one’s career by the year 2020.

These top honchos got together at the World Economic Forum.

They were asked to share their thoughts about what was needed to get ahead in one’s career back in 2015, as well as their predictions on what would be most valuable to be skilled at in 2020.

Fast forward to today, 2020 is just over a year away, and the world’s business climate has been changing.

What hasn’t changed though is the need for skilled leaders, and you can be one of them.

Here are the top 10 skills you should start developing today to get ahead in 2020:

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If you’d like more information on these skills, you can also check out this business blog:
https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/the-10-top-skills-that-will-land-you-high-paying-jobs-by-2020-according-to-world-economic-forum.html

Here’s to you and to positioning yourself for the future!

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Photos from Shutterstock and blogs.edweek.org

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To stand out, I must start with myself

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It's fascinating to think about how we can stand out in our different social circles.

Whether it's at work, with family, or as part of various extracurricular circles, it's good to be someone who stands out for good reasons.

There are many ways we can do that - we can dress well, smile more, do more; but I took a step back and really thought about how we can stand out in a sustainable manner.

So here, my friends, are some suggestions:

1. Find ways to add value.

Don't be one of the many who find ways to take, take, take.

Instead, find ways you can add value to other people with your time, skills, and/or financial resources.

It can be as simple as contributing helpful ideas on an online forum or volunteering to help sponsor a charitable event.

This will expose people to see what you have to offer and will also tell them that you aren't just another person who's looking for something to gain from a situation.

Be cautious - people are smart enough to know if you're just in it for the money, the praise, or the popularity.

Look for ways you can give, give, give.

2. Listen with your ears & your eyes.

In order to stand out, we need to be able to respond to others well.

And in order to respond to others well, we need to listen.

Listening is an activity which requires full focus.

It's not just about engaging our ears; it's also about observing others.

After all, people might be saying one thing, and yet be communicating something very different and yet very clearly through their body language.

So be sensitive to others' behavior and adjust yours accordingly to respond properly to them.

3. Be holistically trustworthy.

It's been said that there are 4 elements to be a trustworthy person: Reliability, Acceptance, Openness, and Congruence (find out more here: http://www.becauz.com/wp-content/uploads/Tips-for-Using-the-Trust-Behaviors.pdf)

We're usually strongest in one or two areas, which is perfectly normal.

However, to really stand out, we need to be able to speak everyone's trust language.

That means we have to develop strength in all four areas:

Be reliable by being true to your word and showing up and submitting things on time.

Be accepting by respecting differences and trying to understand others' perspectives better.

Be open by being honest and by clarifying things.

Be congruent by not playing games and not having hidden agenda.

Why develop all four areas?

Well, we never know if the strength of the person we'll be dealing with tomorrow might be something we're weak at.

We need to be able to show everyone that we are people they can work with because we can be trusted.

Whether it's by listening, adding value or being trustworthy, we stand out by putting others' needs at high priority.

What can you do more of today?

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(Photo from GoRaydar)

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You are Priceless!

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We all have different sets of values - things which are important to us.

Independence has always been a priority to me, and I've recently been reflecting on how I feel more independent when I earn, and how I question myself and my capabilities when I don't.

The latter part is, of course, wrong.

But I also discovered that it wasn't just me who felt that way, and other people did too, whether on a conscious or subconscious level.

Not earning at times doesn't make me any less of a person.

Reality is, that it also happens more often when you're an entrepreneur like me - that sometimes, for whatever reason, money doesn't come rolling in.

Although my income has increased over the years, there is, for example, one month this 2018 when I didn't earn anything.

And it's not like the expenses stop when you stop earning.

You still eat, you still need to occasionally go out, you still need to buy groceries... the list goes on and on.

To make matters worse, this happened during a time I had MAJOR expenses: I needed to pay for printing and launching my book; making my usual expenditures blow up into six figure digits.

It was a long and painful journey until I one day realized that whether or not I earned that month and the succeeding ones, I was still myself - someone loved and treasured by many.

I was still the person my family had raised, and the person who had gone through various life experiences.

I was also still the person who had served others through my work, and provided support to different friends I've made.

I was still a combination of all the successes and failures; joys and disappointments I had so far lived through.

Simply put, a dip in my earnings did not mean that my worth as a person had gone down too.

In the eyes of those to whom I mattered, I was still priceless.

We sometimes go through rough patches in life - some worse than others - but nothing can ever make us any less worth than what we truly are.

It just so happens that we, at times, make the conscious decision to not be very kind to, or value ourselves much.

But no one anywhere is every exactly like you.

No one has your personality, dreams, goals, and experiences rolled into the exact package that you are.

And that makes you incomparable. That makes you special. And that, makes you, unique.

You're priceless. Nothing anyone can ever say or do can ever change that.

So why do you sometimes treat yourself less than that?

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(Photo from Shutterstock)

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You are Enough

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Young(er), hungry and ambitious; I went from goal to goal - both short term and long term ones.

I collected medals and certificates, but never bragged about them. The feeling of achieving them was more than enough.

I was raised with a drive to achieve. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that as long as it's done with honesty, a spirit of fairness, and hard work.

For a long time though, I didn't realize that it had become like a band-aid solution to one of the biggest challenges all of us are susceptible to.

The one thing I was, without a doubt, suffering from, too.

The fear of not being enough.

From since I was in pre-school, I enjoyed recognition from being an achiever.

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Put in this amount of hard work, and you get a medal. Do this, and you get glowing words of recommendation for your next year in school.

The older we get, the fewer those words become. Also, the older we get, the more distractions seem to find their way to us, which at times successfully get to us keep our eyes off the goals we've made.

What I didn't realize earlier on was that just like every other person, I had a need for relevance. A need that I had long fueled with achieving titles and winning various competitions.

Along the way to realizing this, I also learned that we have different ways of trying to fill up this gaping hole of needing to have impact, relevance, and make an imprint.

Others try to prove they're bad-ass by breaking rules, and going the 'this is my world and you're just in it' route. Others help and help and help and help others hoping to one day be noticed from how much of themselves they put out there. Others find comfort in being social butterflies; flitting from one group to another a couple of days or nights a week.

The thing is - as long as we are able to stand up for our own rights, respect others, and be blessings to them; I don't find anything wrong in achieving, making goals, having friends, and going out of our way to help others.

The problem begins when we start using our various exploits and activities to cover up the need to feel that we're enough.

Because with or without makeup on, with or without having the latest clothes, with or without being friends with the 'It' crowd, with or without the medal that says you finished first, with or without lots of money, and with or without the ability to speak your mind 24/7; you are enough simply by being yourself: There's no one else in the universe who is exactly like you.

So go out there and shine like the rockstar that you already are.

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(Photos from Unsplash)

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Becoming Confident

One of the top questions I get asked is how someone can become more confident.

Many people invest in their knowledge and skills in learning how to grow in this area of their lives.

If you're someone who's looking into growing yourself in this area, then this write-up's for you.

Here are my thoughts on this topic - and many more questions related to becoming confident!

1. How does one really grow in confidence?

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It's case to case. Different factors helped me grow in confidence:

a. Growing your knowledge and skills on a certain topic helps you grow in confidence.

b. Surrounding yourself with encouraging and supportive family members and friends.

c. Learning to do things on your own without depending on others.

d. Realizing that others are too busy figuring out their own lives that they don't spend as much time judging us than we commonly believe. :-)

e. Loving and accepting ourselves. Can't say this happens 100% of the time since there's always room to grow; but the more we love, care for, and believe in ourselves - truly being our own cheerleaders - makes us live lives filled with kindness.

2. How much confidence does one really need?

Confidence for me is primarily about believing in ourselves. If we don't know something, believe that we can. If we can't do something (yet), believe that someday, we can.

In terms of a scale, I don't have one. But I can say that there's nothing wrong with loving and believing in ourselves. If we don't, who will?

Be cautious about being OVERconfident though. There's nothing attractive about it. This is associated with showing off, wanting to always have the upper hand over others. Overconfidence just communicates insecurity. Instead of behaving this way, focus on finding peace, and being loving towards yourself and others.

3. Does a confident person ever have periods of not feeling confident?

YES. Everyone does! :-) It's more a question of what you do with those periods. Do you sulk or do you cheer yourself up? Do you focus on the negative or on what you can do?

Nothing and no one is ever perfect, but what separates you from being the better version of yourself is what you choose to do with your life.

4. What SHOULDN'T you do to grow your confidence?

Never step on others to feel better about yourself.  Don't manipulate others, don't take advantage of them.

5. What life changing experiences (if any) did I have which increased my confidence?

I'm thankful to have a loving family and friends who encourage and support me.

I also enjoy learning new things and exploring. Learning and traveling definitely help increase my confidence because these activities show me what I am capable of!

What other confidence-related questions do you want answered? Tell me in the comments section below!

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The 5am Club

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There's nothing like triumphing over the biggest hindrance to our success: ourselves

Did you know that a big chunk of successful people wake up earlier than most?

This is by no means a coincidence.

Not only does this give them bigger control over their day, it also gives them time to exercise. According to the book the Millionaire Mind, millionaires have a greater tendency to exercise, and exercise is directly correlated to risk taking; a trait businessmen are known to possess. It keeps them healthier and stronger both in body, and mind. It also helps them manage emotions better.

Let's be realistic though - for most of us, getting up early isn't an easy thing.

I love my sleep. I enjoy waking up between 7 and 9am. However, admittedly, I know that I can do better and that waking up at 9am makes me feel like so much has gone by, and I've wasted so much time already.

So I carefully analyzed my habits and patterns and realized which practices truly help me be more productive and wake up earlier:

1. Reduce distractions during the day

The more time spent during the day on non-important stuff, the more time you'll spend later in the day trying to catch up on things you need to finish. This means finishing work later and therefore going to bed later.

2. And reduce Netflix and Social Media before bedtime

One of my guilty pleasures is watching on-demand TV series before bedtime. I rationalize to myself that I need it to relax and prep myself for bedtime (like a bedtime story) but reality is that it doesn't. First and foremost, I usually watch suspense, action, or psycho-thrillers - not exactly the best things to watch before bedtime. Also, I keep bargaining with myself that I'll just watch for a few more minutes, and before I realize it, those few minutes have turned to 45.

It's the same with Social Media, right? Excellent time wasters different platforms turn out to be when our scrolling and browsing go from a few minutes to 15, 30, 45, 60 - and even more!

If you can't control it, avoid it.

3. Choose books over electronic devices

Multiple scientific studies have come out to try to convince us about the negative effects of electronic devices before bedtime.

Apparently, electronic devices like laptops, cellphones, and tablets emit blue light which convinces our brains that it's day time and makes it harder for us to fall asleep.

4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime

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Perhaps it's a no-brainer that we should avoid caffeine a few hours and immediately before sleeping, but what about alcohol?

Although alcohol may help people relax, research has proven that alcohol affects the quality of sleep we get!

Infusions with little to no sugar, water, and warm milk are apparently still the best beverages for a relaxing, quality, good night's sleep.

5. Sleep in the dark

Did you know that melatonin, a hormone which helps regulate sleep, is produced in the dark?

This is why, for a deeper, more relaxed state, we should sleep with as minimal lighting as possible.

6. Plan your day the night before

There's nothing like not falling into a restful state because you're stressing about not knowing what will happen tomorrow! Also, knowing what to look forward to can help get us out of the bed in the daytime.

7. Decrease late night social activities

Staying up mingling, socializing, and hanging out with friends keeps the mind engaged. Not only does it keep us out of bed, it also makes it more challenging to be able to fall asleep immediately after the interactions.

8. You are your own best alarm clock. Psyche yourself that you will get up by a certain time

I find that one of the best ways to get up and get out of bed is by focusing on the thought that I WILL get out of bed by a certain time. For some reason, setting this intention before going to sleep is hands down the best alarm clock I've ever encountered.

What helps you sleep better? What helps you get up earlier? Share in the comments below!

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(Photos from Shutterstock and Unsplash)

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Better with Congruence

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It's said that one of the key elements of trust is congruence.

When I think of the word, I remember my high school geometry class, when I learned about angles and exchanged tips on playing The Sims with classmates.

Congruence, it turns out, is an element of trust too. It's about "saying and doing what you believe, walking the talk, being straightforward, and being consistent." (Find out more in this link: https://www.leadershipmastery.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/understanding-trust.pdf)

Easier said than done? Perhaps. But let's think about this for a moment:

1. Being trustworthy means saying and doing what you believe.

If you say one thing and do another, how will people believe what you say, or think that what you're ding is genuine?

Others can tell if you're sincere with what you say or do. Call it an inborn BS-detector, but people can sense this stuff.

2. Being trustworthy means doing what you say.

You'll say you'll do it, but don't. Will people want to work with you? Will they believe you when you tell them something?

They'll most likely go with someone who is consistent with what they say and what they do.

3. Being trustworthy means being straightforward.

Do you tend to beat around the bush?

Do you tend to not say what you really think?

These type of actions do not promote trust.

4. Being trustworthy means being consistent.

If you consistently show that there is a match between your words and actions, then people naturally will trust you more.

They may or may not like you, but because they know there is consistency between your word and deed, they know what they can expect from you.

So, the big question is, are you congruent? Remember - there's always room to further grow in your ability to be so!

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(Photo from GoRaydar)

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The Value of Hard Work

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When I was starting my career as a speaker in mid-2015, I worked smart by strategizing how to make my work sustainable.

But what made me move forward on both good and bad days was hard work.

There are lots of good and bad folks in the world. Sometimes, there’s an occasional not-so-awesome client. It happens in every job and industry.

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There are days when I feel so frustrated and heartbroken that I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.

Now how do you know when to continue working hard or to give up?

Here’s a quick guide for any situation:

1.       What is the goal? If there’s no goal, it may be pointless continuing down this road. Goals are very important.

2.       How do you measure success?

3.       From whom can you get objective feedback?

4.       What can you get out of this experience?

5.       What is something you can look forward to after this?

People can find fault in you for being a quitter, but no one can ever fault you for working hard!

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(Photos from GoRaydar)

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