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Posts Tagged ‘experience

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.

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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

The discomfort zone

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The comfort and discomfort zone

When I started my career beginning of the 90’s, it was still believable to do your career or a big part of it in the same company. At that time, as my second job of my career, I was joining the Belgian subsidiary of a IT Japanese company with that thought. But around two years and half later, the company was restructuring and I was part of the people who lost their job. I was not really happy at that time and the future looked a bit dark in my eyes. The reason of such darkness was also that I saw people around me, people of the generation of my parents, working since many years in the same company and loosing their job in a few minutes. To my eyes, something was changing. The world of business and of jobs will not be the same than before.

When such things happen, it is always an opportunity to analyse your background and to understand the way you did. I remember that I had my second job because there was some knowledge and experiences needed, and that I had the chance to develop this knowledge in my previous job. The experience I acquired during my first job was clearly an asset to build my career, to get other opportunities. I compared also my first job and the second one to see what was different. As first job, it is always the one where you will learn a lot because it is your first experience, but in my case, another reason was that the small structure of the company where I was working, was an environment where you have to do a range of different tasks and where you can learn a lot of different things. My second job was an interesting one, but was only focused on a specific function. I was account receivable accountant at that time. By having a look to the two years in these Japanese company, I had to note that my career and work evolution was lower than in my previous job.

By thinking about this particular change in the work world, I conclude that before, the perspective to work on a long-term basis for the same company was seen as a positive and comfortable perspective, but this statement is not true anymore today. You can maybe still work for a long time in the same company, but the most important is to make sure that you will evolve in different functions, that you will expand your skills and knowledge.

The comfort is something enjoyable when things are going well in your job. But the question is how long will it stay like this. In a fast moving environment where restructuring processes happen more and more in companies, the comfort feeling could be a danger. Skills, capabilities and experience are the guarantee to succeed in finding of job opportunities. But skills and capabilities are not something static, but dynamic. In a fast moving environment, your skills and competences have to move, to evolve too. As I mentioned before, you will probably have a job because the needed competences match with yours, but you have also to stay competitive on the job market place. It is the reason why the acquisition of new competences and the talent development is an asset and a necessity.

It is important to check time-to-time, in your professional as in your personal life where you are, where you were and where you want and have to go. When you see that things do not change a lot and that you are still in the same place, in the same function, that you do not see any evolution in your work, your career, than think that it is probably time to move to another challenge. Think also to follow some trainings in order to improve and increase your knowledge in specific areas, in some matters you are interested by and where you have really talent. Don’t do this only in your professional life, but also in your personal life, by having hobbies, fixing a goal to them and persevering in order to reach your goal. In other words, move from the comfort zone to the discomfort zone.

Move to the discomfort zone has to be an ongoing process. As many exercise, we have to be used to do it, we have to go over a certain inertia. At the beginning of my career, I was thinking to do my career in the same company. Today, as freelance consultant since few years, I cannot imagine anymore to move to such career if it would be possible.

This statement, this experience makes me take a few conclusions. In every negative event, you can always learn something and find opportunities. It is a characteristic of an entrepreneur mind, and you have to be the entrepreneur of your own life. Move to the discomfort zone will give you other opportunity, will contribute to your self-development and empower your self- confidence. Move to your discomfort zone is just a question of habit. With this, you will see that the discomfort zone is not so uncomfortable.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 2, 2011 at 21:20

Seniors at work, a win-win alternative.

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Seniors as mentor for juniors

The belgian business magazine trends.be published recently an article about a survey organized by Acerta Marketing Intelligence, about seniors employees. It appears that the trend about the work of the seniors is progressing on a positive way. Indeed, around 33% of companies are considering to keep the collaboration with their talented senior employees for a longer time and extend their active life. This is a positive sign given by companies, showing a change of mentality and vision. There are of course legal restriction to the extension of professional life, but some possibilities are existing and could be interesting for the economy.

These time, most of countries have to face with the problem of retirement and the payment of pensions. The proportion of retired people compared to active people is increasing and in a few years, the payment of pensions could be an issue. But the increase of retirement age is unacceptable for some politics and for trade unions. They consider that people have merited to stop to work and to let the jobs to the youth. We can agree on such view, but does it mean that everybody is happy to stop working?

The extension of the professional careers could be an advantage for the economy and for the people too. Here are some positive points:

  • The freedom to still work. Some people enjoy to work, because they like their job, and they always look for learning and progressing in the live. The age of retirement is something subjective. Age is a question of mind. There are people who are still young in their mind even if they are sixty years old.
  • Benefit for the health. Some studies showed that people pursuing a professional or a volunteer activity have a better psychic health. They can still work on a project, concretize a goal. Nicolas Hayek, the founder of Swatch, was used to say that like the artists, the entrepreneurs will never be retired, they just move to another function. Each people has to be the entrepreneur of his life, and should be allowed to continue a professional activity if he is still motivated.
  • The flexibility. The Seniors who want to continue to work, would maybe work on a part time basis, which could match with the needs of companies. The companies could contract the seniors for specific projects needing only a part time activity. This flexibility should be a win-win deal. The companies would benefit from the expertise of the seniors following their needs, and the seniors could still contribute to the economical activity and to maintain a positive work-life balance.
  • To act as a mentor. The academical background is important to face professional challenges, but the years of experience is also an asset. In a fast moving environment, we have to learn everyday. The seniors could contribute positively to the juniors career development. The juniors learned other things at school or university and will have different approach than the seniors. On the other hand, seniors have a lot of practical experience, giving the advantage to anticipate and to be more pro-active in certain situation. Seniors have more experience and knowledge, juniors have ideas and technical skills. By working together on a project, they can combine their competences and provide innovative and added valued solutions.
  • To share enthusiasm. By working with the juniors, the seniors who are still motivated to work, will show their motivation, their enthusiasm, what will be an example for the junior. If work is considered as a constraint, your life will be worse than the hell. First you have to chose the job you like, and to get the change to work with inspiring people.
  • A complementary financial revenue. The retirement allowance are lower than the paid salaries during the professional career. If a retired people can earn a complementary revenue, he can still maintain a certain level of life, which is positive for the economy. He can still contract services contributing to his wellness. In Belgium, a important part of the retired people are living under the poverty level.

The possibility to continue to work is an interesting and positive alternative which should be given for those who wants to continue to work. Work should not be seen as an obligation, but also as a right. Work is often seen as a constraint, but our life is full of constraints. The challenge of live is to live with these constraints and to be creative to face them. By learning from the constraints, we are reaching the freedom, the freedom to chose our constraints.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

February 19, 2011 at 23:55