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Posts Tagged ‘experience

Network and reputation

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IMG_0507Recently I just started a new assignment as freelance financial consultant. After a period of transition to switch to another activity project that did not succeed, I decided to look again for opportunities as consultant and interim manager. I started to contact again my network of recruiting partners about my availability to start new projects. Few weeks ago, a former colleague sent me a message about a possible opportunity for me. One of her former colleague was looking for a temporary consultant. She informed me that she gave my details to the person and that I will be probably contacted soon.

Few days later, I was indeed contacted by the person and invited to send an updated curriculum vitae that will be submitted to the CFO. Few days later, I was invited to an interview. In the meantime, I Inquired about the company, and noticed that I had the opportunity to know the CFO in a company where I had worked twice, respectively four and fourteen months. I went to the interview, and based on what the company was looking for, I made a proposal of services I could render in accordance with the customer expectation. At the end of the interview, I was directly asked when we could start the collaboration. We agreed to start the next week.

I was of course very happy to have catch and obtained this opportunity. After several month of transition trial and a period of cash burning, my expectations were to restart a project as soon as possible. But when you are contacted by a recruiter for an opportunity, there are, most of the time, few candidates on the case and you are never sure that you will be the winner. The two reasons coming in my mind and making that I got the job, are network and reputation.

Let us talk about the first one, reputation. Reputation is a crucial point to ensure your professional life and future opportunities. It is the positive impression you will make to your collaborator. Positive reputation is built by your competences and your attitude. It is always difficult to evaluate yourself on a humble way, and that is why the feedback of other is very important. The only way to keep your reputation is to improve yourself on an ongoing way, by learning every day and increasing your skills, and offer more services to your customers. Don’t promise what you cannot do. To say that you are not competent for such a task is not a weakness but a sign of honesty and humility. It will make you a trustable person, and trust is the key component of a long term and successful collaboration.

Beside your competences and skills, there is also your attitude as part of your reputation. As interim manager, we are often hired for our strong experience and the capacity to take the lead quickly in a project. But we have to never forget that we are to work with people. We have strong experience but it does not mean that we have nothing to learn from others.  We are able to transpose our experience in a new environment, but we need the help of the other collaborators to discover and have control on this environment. Be a real team player and share knowledge and experience with other. Remember that knowledge is the only thing we have more each other when it is shared. Ask for permanent feedback from your partners in order to know where you are and how you can improve yourself.

The second important point to maximize your chances to catch opportunities is your network. To build your network is an ongoing process. You need to build your network on an ongoing way and not only when you need it. A part of your network is made of contact with people acting in the same area of activities than yours, but also the people you worked with.  The strength of your network is the result of your reputation.  Be aware that to build a network is not only to add contacts on networking tools like LinkedIn or other social media platform.  To add contacts on social media is like making a phone book. Remember that behind these profiles on social networks and media, there are real people with who you have to interact. Maintaining and developing your network is based on communication. Inform your network on regular basis about your activities and projects, about your availability to start new projects. As people often change of companies, it is important to update your own contact database and to take contact with new partners.  You probably noticed that on social network platforms, you see some messages on the information wire of people you do not remember they were part of your network, because they don’t interact regularly with you. Make sure that people knows you are still there.

In your career, you will find that the world is very small. You will meet people who know people who worked with you. Look on your contact on LinkedIn for instance, and see the common contact you have.  You probably know that it takes time to build reputation and network and only a few minutes to destroy it, by doing something negative, and it is even more true with the power of social networks.  Remember that your reputation and network are the most important things to build a successful professional life, to maximize your chances, there are the two things are your own responsibilities.  As mentioned Philippe Gabilliet, professor of a management school in Paris, in a famous video, chance is a competence and you have to work on it.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 20, 2019 at 13:23

Seniority is an asset

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Seniors workersAs many other criteria like race, gender, or social level, seniority is often an element of discrimination. When companies are operating restructuring processes, it is often the seniors who are fired. Most of the time, there are considered as a cost for the company, and less productive than the youngest. It is a short term vision, and a purely financial logic that doesn’t care about the quality level of work provided by people.

Productivity and creativity are not a question of age. It is a question of mind. Some people are always in a learning mode. In an ongoing changing world, they live with their time and consider learning new things as new opportunities. The key of such way of life is motivation. As far as you define and attribute goals matching with people competences, experience and expectations, you can only have motivated people who will give the best of themselves.

Experience and knowledge are advantages of seniority, as far as you learn from them. Experience means that you are doing mistakes. As far as you are aware and learn from your mistakes, it is an asset that completes your knowledge base and allows you to anticipate similar situations in future projects.

I remember a collaborator at a customer who was nearly 64 years old. As financial guy, he was computer literate and had among other things a high level of database management knowledge. But to reach such level of knowledge is not done overnight. It was the result of hours and hours of self-training and experimentation. He had probably a good salary as a senior, but how can we evaluate a salary if you don’t take into account the level of productivity and creativity. With his database knowledge, my colleague creates applications to do the job of one day in 30 minutes, and providing more information and more accurate.  So, when companies are looking for gains of productivity, is age the right criteria of people selection without considering experience and knowledge? I don’t think so.

Another example: few years ago, I met a woman during an entrepreneur week-end. When she went on retirement, she decided to do her first steps with computers and to discover internet.  After few time, she followed a special training in order to audit websites about their accessibility for people having problems of vision. She built a strong community on the web and is attending co-working places.  Here again, the acquired competences are not a question of age but a question of mind.

Of course, in a fast and ongoing changing world, seniors like youngest must question themselves.  Seniors who worked on several projects and assignments acquired a lot of experience. But what is important is the capacity to perceive the changes of the environment and to transpose their experience into a new context.  Experience does not mean that seniors reach a summit where they know everything and have answers to each challenge and problems.  Seniors have experience, and youngest people have new visions about the future of business, of society. What is interesting is the combination of senior experience and young people visions that can lead to creating innovative processes.

Seniors can be an asset for organization as long as they consider that age is not a criteria to stop to learn and to progress. They are an asset if they are aware about their potential and if they see changes as opportunities that can enrich their personal journey. They are also an asset if they share experience, knowledge and journey with juniors. Transmission is probably a key role they can play in favor of young generations. The conditions to value seniority are first that seniors themselves have always a project and don’t see age as a barrier, and secondly that their value is recognized as an asset. This implies a long term vision. As this African proverb says: “Along we go faster, together we go further”.

 

Picture source: money.usnews.com

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 10, 2018 at 06:42

How to face uncertainty?

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rock-climberIn my previous post, related to the choice of studies, I was talking about the fact that to predict the future is something becoming more and more difficult. Since now 25 years I am working, and looking around me, what is for sure is that uncertainty is growing. Who can predict now how will be the world in the next 6 months, or in the next 10 years? We try to make predictions in many areas and sometimes, we have to note that these predictions are not verified. How many times have we heard some economists explaining us the origins of financial crisis they were unable to predict.

The big question is how to face uncertainty as we don’t know in advance what the evolution will be in many domains? There are in my mind two types of uncertainty to take into account; the uncertainty linked to our environment and the evolution of it, and our own uncertainty, or I would say our own uncertainties. Facing uncertainties induce questions and make people worried. What will be my future? Will I have a job? Or simply will I be able to do this task, to face this challenge?

Our own uncertainties and the uncertainties linked to our environment interact. Most of you probably know the famous Peter Drucker’s quote saying “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself”. But to be able to create something, we need to have a good perception of the future and be able to perceive the trends and the changes of our environment.  But facing the environment uncertainties means to face also our own uncertainties, with a range of questions we are putting to ourselves. What will be the future and will I be able to face it? Have I the capabilities to face challenges and what challenges will be? To face our uncertainties means to try to know a bit more about ourselves.

To consider our own uncertainties is to be aware of our lack of knowledge and experience. By mentioning this, we underline the key role of education but also of curiosity. Education and school are the fundamental tools to develop our knowledge and capabilities. Education and knowledge will give us the opportunity to become first human being and to develop our autonomy, giving us more possibilities to make choices. This is why the role of education and the way to educate people are fundamental. It is important to develop curiosity, to encourage people to learn new things by their own, to discover new interests. To develop our knowledge is probably the best answer to the question related to my previous article: what studies have I to choose? Most of the time, it is difficult to know in advance if we will enjoy things we don’t know now.

This is why people have to be encouraged to make experiences, to be curious and to try new things. It implies the necessity to take risks. By multiplying such experience in a process of serial trials, you expand your possibilities fields and you dispel your own uncertainties. You will probably enjoy something new that you never suspected before that you could enjoy. We never know in advance what things could be if we could enjoy it or not, as we don’t know them.  Such experimentation process make that your own uncertainty dispels: you know that you enjoy something, that you are able to do it or not. By expanding your interest and experience fields, you discover new possibilities, you build new competences, but you also empower your self-confidence.

Self-confidence and competences are probably the two most important key components to dispel your own uncertainties. The development of these two components will allow you to maximize your chance to attract challenges and opportunities. With all your experiences, you will build your background, a knowledge base including information that helps you to analyze situations and to develop appropriate strategies. Nevertheless, despite the fact that success cannot be guaranteed anytime, it is also important to develop and keep critical mind. When facing a similar situation we faced by the passed, we should avoid making a copy-paste of previous solutions we applied. Things are less linear than before, and we have to take all the elements of the situation into consideration to implement solutions and action plans. It is part of an efficient learning process.

It is obvious we cannot live in an environment without uncertainty. But by developing a learning attitude, we can create a virtuous circle, where experiences and risk taking contribute to empower our self-confidence. A zero risk environment doesn’t exist, but this virtuous circle will allow us to be creative and to be stronger to face it and to quit more easily our comfort zone.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 8, 2014 at 06:07

Reinvent ourselves.

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Confiance et douteRecently, I was listening to the news on the radio, about the employment market. My country like probably others has to face with a lack of talents. Indeed, despite the fact that the unemployment level amounted around 12%, there are available jobs that can be filled due to a mismatching between the requested skills and competences, and the available talent on the market. Mismatching, but also lack of talents on the market. These last decades, the market and the related needs is changing faster, and the talents need to follow the same evolution. But this in theory, but practically, the gap remains.

The economical environment has a huge impact on the work market and on the career evolution.  It was not unusual to have people having the same position during a big part of their career, with an indexed salary each year.  And it was not impossible to see young people starting their career, earning a lower salary to do the same job.  Such situation today is not sustainable anymore for companies.  The competition is always harder and each invested penny has to provide a good return, not only in term of financial return, but also in term of quality, productivity and growth.

Does it mean that for seniors, the chances to find a job are low, because they are too old? I don’t believe so, but it is obvious that today, you cannot just do the same job all your life. There are always possibilities, and the acquired experience is an asset you have to use for future challenges. Such evolution implies an appropriate evolution in your career. Such evolution is an asset for companies and organizations, but is also positive for people.  This career evolution implies a permanent education, a permanent acquisition process of new competences and skills. The combination of new skills and your experience is a useful innovation tool, and innovation is an essential key to develop successful and sustainable organizations. Definitively, these are people who make the organizations.

The development of the organizations and the technologies create specific needs, niches of specific competences. To fill these needs, we need talent. Talent means people with specific and added value skills, but also with strong experiences.  Here is a major point, the specificity of what you can deliver to the organization. What will be your difference criteria, and what will be the factor making that people will work with you and not with another?  To be able to answer to that need, you need to see a matching between the needs and trends of the market, and your acquired skills, but also with complementary skills you could acquire.  For instance, people working in finance and accounting departments offers financial services, but combining this with strong IT skills, they can build powerful tools and deliver added valued solutions for the organization. This combination of skills will make you as unique.  The added value provided by such combination of skills is higher than the sum of each skill.

By growing your skills and capacities, you give you the chance to open new doors to new opportunities.  And each opportunity gives you the chance to learn new things, to live new experiences.  Such process is successful if it is initiated and driven by passion. Passion and talent will make that you will offer the best of yourself, and in the mean time you will convince people to contract your services, your talent.  By subscribing to such process, you will certainly meet success, but it will impact positively your wellness and self confidence. The feeling to be useful and to still have an active place in the society has a positive impact on your physical and psychological health.  All this things will make that you will fill yourself as a creative actor of the society and not to be a slave.

Do what you are passionate by, reinvent yourself each day. It’s good for you, it’s good for your future, it’s good for the community.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 26, 2013 at 07:29

When passion comes to you

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Steve Jobs - 2

Steve Jobs, an entrepreneur moved by passion

Time to time, I am used to attend small entrepreneur sessions organized by a partner in her nice small business center, in a nice village in the south of my country. During the last months of the year, some students of a communication school are participating to a training organized by one of their professor. These students are part of small groups spending a whole week to follow the news during 24 hours a day, and building also a personal project. These students are living a unique experience, and few days ago, I saw a comment from one of them on Twitter. She was saying that the useful thing during this week was to discover a real passion. I found these words wonderful, because we don’t read or hear this very often, few people are talking like that.

Passion is something essential in our life. It is an intense feeling we have when we do something, or when we see something. By mentioning that, we notice we don’t hear often people expressing passion. We could wonder what makes that you are passionate by something. Is passion something you have or is it something you have to discover? I remember Steve jobs saying that it was senseless to ask people what they want, when you want to concept a new product, because they have no idea about what they want. I would say that it is a bit the same with passion. You don’t know what you are passionate by, if you don’t look for passion.

How can you find passion? Education plays an important role in the look for passion. Education contributes to open minds, to acquire capacities and knowledge you will use during your life. The more you can learn, the more you will have chance to get opportunities, you will conquer your freedom. But education doesn’t consist only to acquire knowledge and capacities, but also to develop a critical mind, making that you will be able to develop your own system of values, to make your own choices, to take your own decisions. Such process implies that you will be questioning yourself about what you are facing everyday, what you want to do. By looking closely, your life is a range of decision and actions, and by questioning yourself about what you want to do in your life, you will make the choice to take decisions.

The decision process is moved by the whish to do something, but also because an opportunity comes to you, making the right time to try a new experience, to discover something new. This decision is moved by curiosity, and curiosity is essential to expand the fields of your possibilities, of your interests. This is important to see opportunities, to wonder each time what you can to with this. When the decision to act is taken, you start a new experience, bringing you satisfaction or disappointment, but also opportunities to learn, to discover new things you ignore until now. This experience put also a new light about ideas you had about things, and can break your wrong believes. For instance, you participate to a computer training program, and you notice that you have good capacities and intuitions to use the computer and perform tasks with it. The discovery of your capacities brings you a motivation to move your limits forward. Each further step you are doing brings you more and more satisfactions. Satisfaction increases your motivation, and your motivation becomes a real passion.

Passion is not something coming to you but the opportunities leading to a potential passion that can come to you. The facto to will see these opportunities and to take them is just a question of mind. See the fact to try something new, not as a risk but as a chance, the chance to go to new opportunities, and to meet passion. Passion creates a virtuous circle, when passion convinces yourself and convinces the others. You convince the others because you succeed to communicate your passion, you showed the best of yourself, and they see you as an opportunity. Opportunities call opportunities, and can lead you to discover new passions. So, try to discover passion, passion will come to you.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 10, 2012 at 21:57

Listen to your inner voice

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Steve Jobs, who listened to his inner voice.

In his famous speech at the Stanford university, Steve Jobs said “Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” I was remembering this sentence during a informal meeting of entrepreneurs organized by a partner.

I am used to attend some informal entrepreneurs meetings. These cessions are the opportunity to make new contacts, to expand our network, but also to hear about experiences, interesting professional ways. By sharing our respective experiences, we can note interesting things, learn about some useful solutions or advice, but also put an end to some believes.

I am always amazed by people who decides one day to take a completely different professional way. In the last cession I attended, there were two men who decided to change of professional goals, one moving from chemistry to sales of ICT hardware, and another, moving from manual activities to a training and coaching activity. Each of them explained in which circumstances they took their decisions, and by listening to their stories, I can learn or confirm a few things.

The common start point in such decision process was a dissatisfaction element. One of the guy was not satisfied about the job he was doing, and wanted to have more recognition, to look for something more interesting. The other was blamed by his boss, telling him that he will never be a good sales guy. He decided to show himself he was able to be one’s. In both cases, people want to have a better image of themselves, and are maybe noticing that there are not anymore at the right place, or never were at the right place. Suddenly, there is a shock, a flashing light in your head, meaning that you want something else. This shock brings the motivation to initiate that change process.

Such shock, such flashing light is not the only element contributing to decide to change of professional direction. It is also an effect of a long and gradual change process. Through our work, through different professional experiences, we are expanding our knowledge, acquiring competences, and sometimes, talents are emerging, a wealth you acquired day after day. The fact that you are looking for something else and that you make an assessment of your competences, make that you suddenly realized what are your competences and what new ideas you could concretize.

Of course, such transitions are not always easy, and one of the attendees, as many entrepreneurs I met, confirm such difficulties. But to launch a idea, a new business is always a challenge. The most important thing is to be focused on your goal and to persevere to reach it. It doesn’t guarantee that you will reach the success, but failure is not a fatality. By having the courage to launch a project, you will learn a lot of things, you will learn from other people you will meet. Even if you fail, don’t think that you will have to restart again. You will only take a new start, with more experience, with more knowledge. Have also the humility to share your failure experiences with other people. You will gain in credibility and break some believes that business is an easy thing. By sharing your failure experience, you will learn something to somebody else, and you will probably receive some advice from somebody else too.

To start a new business, to become an entrepreneur is always a difficult challenge. But with courages, motivation and hard work, by adapting your strategy, by meeting and working with other people, you can maximize the chance to reach your goal. But motivation can only be there if you are convinced by what you are doing, and if you have the talent to do it. Listen to your inner voice.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 9, 2012 at 23:08

Is the entrepreneurship mind innate?

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Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder, a successful entrepreneur.

Our society is made of people having different kind of professions, as employee, state employees or independents. But as spoken already on this blog, some people are not really doing the job they like to do for many reason. They chose a job in function of some benefits, advantages or wrong beliefs, but are carrying their professional life as a burden. Probably that some of them have an entrepreneur mind and the capabilities to become entrepreneurs, but these beliefs or other people wrongly influencing them, make that these capabilities remain hide and unused. This question call another one: is entrepreneur mind something innate or something we can acquire?

A first important point is our social and educational environment. People are not equal on that level, and some social environments with low education are not fertile environment for the entrepreneurship mind development. Your family and so your social environment can contribute to such development if he wants to see your potential, your strong points and if he encourages you to use and to develop your potential, to identify your talents and your strong points. This will contribute also to be self-confident and so to face challenges. But do not forget that your environment have to subscribe to the fact that you have to do what you love to do and that their advice have to be based mainly on that value.

Another point is your character. Peter Drucker said that an entrepreneur mind is first a mind. The quality of an entrepreneur mind is to expand his knowledge, to be curious, to take decisions. An entrepreneur mind sees difficulties as opportunities. An entrepreneur mind is first a player, an actor and not a spectator. This implies to have a strong character, a leader character and not a follower character. We can link to that point that you have to know first who you are. Often, there are people who are wrongly influencing others, and stick wrong label on your back. They will tell you that you have not the capabilities to do something, and sometimes, wrongly influenced people are blocked because they believe what the others say about them, because they are not self-confident.

We could not forget also that you consider life as a range of projects and each project has a goal. To always have a goal is a source of motivation, and a source of potential opportunities.

A third factor that is playing a role in the entrepreneurship development is the political environment. By asking the question on a forum, a person answered me that in a country like USSR, the entrepreneurship was forbidden. And after the USSR fell down, a lot of brilliant people became successful entrepreneurs. Government have to play a key role in the promotion of entrepreneurship by implementing economical policies favoring the entrepreneurship development with tax incentives, but also by including the development of entrepreneurship mind in the educational programs.

What about our own experience? Our experience can make also that we decide one day or another to switch from an employee position to an entrepreneurship project. Each of us we have our own experiences, with things we loved and with negative remembers. Our present actions are lead by our passed experiences and by anticipation of the future. And in function of our passed experiences, some of us decide one day to become entrepreneur.

By mentioning al these points, it is difficult to answer to the asked question. Some people were always entrepreneurs, some people became entrepreneurs for several reasons and some people will never start as entrepreneur. Is the entrepreneur mind something innate or something we can acquire. Each reasons developed here before will contribute or not to the fact that we become or not entrepreneurs. I would say that there is probably a seed of entrepreneur in each of us, but this seed will grow if the needed and sufficient conditions are met.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 14, 2011 at 21:06