What difference do you make?

At every good job interview, there is at least one ‘nagging’ question that follows you home. One that has forever stayed with me is: ‘What do you bring to the table, that isn’t already here?’

Ok…what do you say that won’t come off as arrogant to a team that has decades of experience in an industry or field that you are just starting out in? Yeah, you know you have transferable skills, but which ones do they value? All these questions were racing through my head! Meanwhile, the hiring manager was waiting for a memorable response, especially after so much thought was put into it. Eventually, I simply said: ‘You’ve stumped me with this one.’ Despite fumbling that ball, I did get the job. Though my response was uninspired, the question has inspired me from that day on.

Whatever you do and wherever you go, you need to know what difference you make. However, if you are not sure what difference you make, don’t beat yourself up. It requires ongoing self-reflection. Just keep in mind that self-discovery is not all about internal reflection, it’s also about how you interact with other people. Be warned: It’s that interaction that often is a bit of a revelation to you and to others!

Personal Relationships and Business – An Odd Couple

Organizations often give ‘lip service’ to the idea that what is important to the individuals that make it up, really matters. However, you won’t observe a high level of pride, dedication, and commitment to an organization’s mission and vision, unless that sentiment is more than just talk. Much time and money is invested trying to identify what behaviors demonstrate a high level of engagement within organizations. Should it require a lot of independent research to determine if someone you are in relationship with, is ‘just not into you?’

Mutually beneficial relationships are a two way street. In order for organizations to know if people are truly engaged, they need to ask them. Person to person, not survey to employee. The leadership in organizations must make it a priority to give, the same thing they want to receive: a high level of pride, dedication, and commitment to an individual’s mission and vision.

In recent years, there has been much talk about how to define an effective framework for ‘performance management.’ Showing genuine commitment to helping individuals develop and accomplish their personal goals may at first glance seem secondary when it comes to business. However, taking a ‘business comes first’ approach, may result in a huge missed opportunity. If the leadership in an organization determines the corporate goals, cascades them down, and then individuals are advised to ‘align’ their goals to the corporate goals, why would anyone be surprised to discover that there is a ‘disconnect’ which reveals itself as a ‘lukewarm’ commitment to the goals.

Showing genuine commitment to helping individuals develop and accomplish their personal goals as a primary rather than secondary objective of performance management will reveal the source of the ‘disconnect.’ If I’m ‘just not into you’ we both need to find that out… sooner rather than later.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

I was very intrigued by the article The True Meaning of ‘Entrepreneur’ by @SteveTobak. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, an entrepreneur is “one who organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” I feel like the general definition of ‘entrepreneur’ just does not communicate the essence of what many of us recognize as ‘entrepreneurial spirit.’

For an entrepreneur to execute their personal vision, they need to attract ‘like-minded’ individuals. By ‘like-minded,’ I don’t mean ‘yes men’ that think exactly as they do. I mean individuals that recognize that same entrepreneurial spirit within themselves, driving them to produce a product or provide a service to solve a problem. This resulting synergy produces something much greater than each individual could produce on their own. It produces a corporate vision.

If you don’t fuel the entrepreneurial spirit that lies within you, you will have nothing to contribute to a corporate vision. Whether you are working in a home-based business, a startup, or a fortune 500 company, it’s that spirit that is essential to your success.