3 Ways to Wow Your Boss (And Get a Raise)

You’ve heard the usual ‘stand-out in the workplace tips’ — “Voice your opinion!” and “Never say no to an assignment!” but we’ll almost guarantee you aren’t doing these three shockingly simple actions to be the office superstar…

1. Don’t just forward a link. Admit it, you’re guilty of sending your boss an email that just says, “check this out!” followed by a long link. When forwarding a link, always include the actual usable idea. Summarize what the article or site is about in one or two lines and explain why you are sending it.

2. Save the drama for your mama. Seriously, if we have to see one more coworkers ‘woe is me’ — insert mini violin — Facebook post we’re just going to lose it. Don’t forget your coworkers (and perhaps boss) are Facebook friends with you – and can see everything you post (and at what during-the-workday-time). If you wouldn’t complain about “it” — whatever that may be — to their face, don’t complain about it on your social networking site.

3. Watch the clock. Here’s a tip — bosses notice when you get to work, how long of a lunch you took and when you leave. You don’t have to be chained to your desk all day but do keep in check with company culture, if the majority of employees leave at 6, don’t be the gal who packs up at 5. If you’re coming in earlier than the majority of your coworkers make sure your boss knows. Be upfront about your work schedule and she’ll appreciate it. Send her an email letting her know you work better early in the morning and ask if she would mind if you left at X time but came in at X time. You’d be surprised at how flexible bosses can be (we hope).

Top Management Roles Stressful? Study Says No.

In a surprising new study from Harvard it seems those folks in upper management aren’t as stressed out as you’d think.

Compared with people of the same age and gender who were at lower career levels, the “leaders” in the study declared themselves less stressed and anxious. And it wasn’t just what they were saying their bodies proved it too — their levels of cortisol (the hormone that circulates when we are super stressed) was in line with what they were reporting.

The study did report that the source of the leaders’ chilled-out demeanor was simply control. The upper management had control of their schedules and financial security. Think about it: top management has the option to come in late or leave a bit early with no questions asked…but the admin assistant would probably get written up for the same behavior. We also think another reason could be the hefty paycheck that comes with being in upper management. When you have the options to hire help in your personal life (chef, household cleaning and pesky assistant work covered) suddenly you’re a lot less stressed.

“Leaders possess a particular psychological resource — a sense of control — that may buffer against stress,” the research team reported Monday in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

Apparently our primate relatives have also shown similar results in studies. According to the LA Times:

“Baboons and monkeys who rise to positions of power in their social groups show lower levels of anxiety and stress, so long as their status is not under constant challenge. A recent study of female macaque monkeys demonstrated that rising and falling through the social ranks not only dialed their stress up and down, it turned genes on and off in ways that can powerfully influence health.”

The study is clear — having a sense of control protects against stress. So if you can’t (immediately) rise the corporate ladder try creating control in other parts of your life—budgets and planning help — but so does creating a career trajectory for yourself. Write out career goals for 3 months, 6 months and 1 year and constantly touch base on those goals.


Photo Courtesy: gcoldironjr2003


Organize Your Office Space: Feng Shui (and Fun Stuff!)

With all the back to school ads featuring shiny happy kids and college students heading back to school with fun gear … we’ve been thinking … Why not celebrate “Back to work!” or “Loving my Home Office.”  Post-it, Scotch (the fabulous high heel tape dispenser) and stylish websites like seejanework.com are all ready to help you spruce up your space.

Once you’ve collected some motivating new goods the next step is creating order! We loved this break down of how to maximize the efficiency of your office using Feng Shui principles written by  for Buzzle.com.  We’ve done some editing… so click here for entire article.
Wind Chimes
The melodious sounds of a wind chime placed at the right corner cannot only improve your mood, but your career too. Wind Chimes promote the flow of positive energy, called ‘Chi’ in Feng Shui. Try to look for a beautiful metallic wind chime with 6 rods. Hang the wind chime with a 9 cm or inch long red ribbon.Positioning Your Furniture
Since we are talking about Feng Shui for career success, it inevitably relates to the position of furniture in your office. It is strictly advised against having your back to the entrance of your office or cabin. According to Feng Shui, it creates vibes such that your colleagues will inconspicuously work behind you for career development and you may miss out on many career opportunities as you may be oblivious to it. If it is absolutely unavoidable due to office arrangements, place a mirror in front of you such that the view behind is clearly visibly to you. Also, if your desk is directly in front of a window such that your back is towards it, it will create a vibe of insecurity and instability in your cabin for you. Hence, try to keep that window closed and block it by placing a huge rack or stand in front of it. Other forbidden places to position your desk as per Feng Shui are: next to the entrance, directly opposite a colleague or in a corner. These places create much distraction and prevent you from concentrating on your work and performing well. It is alright to sit facing a wall though. However, the best position would be to sit diagonally opposite to the door with a wall behind your back. This position keeps you informed and in control of events around you.

Maintain Your Place Clutter Free
Feng Shui always propagates keeping your area clean and clutter free. Never keep your table cluttered up with many little things. It is also very mentally distracting and blocks the flow of Chi and creates bad Feng Shui. More open space will help you realize more opportunities with the flow of vitality in to your space. Do not block space with piles of documents and files. When there is a need to keep them, attend to them as soon as you can and then dispose them off to the right cabinets outside your cabin or cubicle.

Office Interiors
If you want to hang a painting in your office, choose one that has a flock of birds or a wide lake. They have positive psychological effects on your mind. You can also keep a miniature replica of an airplane on your desk that will always motivate you to strive more and achieve higher career goals. Use blinds to reduce the intensity of natural sunlight filtering through your office. But, avoid using tube-lights or bulbs all the time. It is good to have some natural element in your office. Since Feng Shui is about wind and water, having an aquarium or fish tank can also help influence wealth accumulation positively. You must keep 8 dragon fish or gold-fish to encourage wealth to come in and 1 black fish to fight against all evil vibes, in your tank. Always clean it regularly. You can also have an odd number of gold-fish if you cannot find a black one. Decorate your aquarium with plants, gravel and white-gray rocks. It will create the perfect balance in the atmosphere. Place the fish tank near the entrance of your office to activate the chi. Eliminate any sick fish because it stimulates bad Chi. English ivy, ferns and bamboo plants are also good choices to keep in your office.

Feng Shui Ornaments
Citrine crystals at your home and the office will help attract wealth and also improves your self-esteem. Other Feng Shui for office are the three-legged toad to earn extra incentives, the rooster to save yourself from the office politics, the three I-Ching coins in your wallet to attract money to it and the Chi Lin unicorn for promotions.

When you place anything made of mud and earth, or are placing plants in your office, do not put a water source too. Together, water and mud can create a very bad combination harmful for your career. Also avoid earthy tones like yellow, brown and orange. Instead, use black and blue color tones in your office that are the colors of water in Feng Shui. Generally, the career area is in the north direction of your house or office. Use patchouli or cinnamon scented room fresheners or candles for your office. Offices are high-stress zones and you need to balance it out with Feng Shui that promotes a good vibe overall and creates an energetic environment. Also, you will keep bad energy at bay and become more productive.

OK ladies.. let us know if any of these work for you … we’re off to look for a three-legged toad!

Which State Has the Best Career Advancement Potential?

Location, location, location — according to a new study by the nonprofit research group Pew Center, living in New Jersey offers the best chance for career advancement than any other state. Other states topping the list included Maryland and New York.

“The take-home for us is that where you live really matters,” Pew research manager Diana Elliott said. “New Jersey in our study is a good place to live in terms of economic mobility.”

Economists point to the diversification of the industry in New Jersey and say the key to career success often isn’t moving up the same corporate ladder but switching ladders.

Check out these average New Jersey career salaries:

New Jersey teacher: $63,154

New Jersey nurses make 6 percent more than the national average

New Jersey paralegal: $49,000

New Jersey architect: $114,000

The 3 Most Important Things You Aren’t Doing for Your Career

To climb the corporate ladder (or at least snag the corner office) you’ve got to have the best on-the-job-advice, which is why we’ve culled the three most important things you should be doing at work (but probably aren’t).

1. Transfer to an emerging market. You’ve conquered New York, San Francisco and LA — but what about Shanghai or Tokyo? If you’re willing to move a few thousand miles tackling an emerging market could be the ultimate chance to prove your leadership and create new business development opportunities — go where you are needed not where you’ve already shined. Plus, just volunteering for a big office move could provide the opportunity for big salary negotiations.

2. Move to an industry that is growing.

Jobs in the STEM field (science, technology, engineering and math) are growing faster than any other according to the Department for Professional Employees. You don’t have to be a scientist or engineer to snag a job in STEM — creatives like marketers, graphic designers and writers are also needed at engineering firms, research facilities and computer programming companies.

3. Be honest about your goals.

Think about the job your boss does…come on, we’re waiting, really think about it! Would you want that job? Or would you rather be your own boss? If you’re slowly moving up the corporate ladder take the time to step back and think about your trajectory — is this something you really want to do or could entrepreneurship be right for you?
Photo courtesy of Jono Haysom

Mistakes … the Path to Success!

Once again Dan Rockwell of the Leadership Freak has motivated us to share his insights. This time it’s on the art of mistakes in Five Ways to Get Good at Mistake Making! If you’ve been reading our posts long enough (or even yesterday)  you might have seen one or two typos that make it through our very loose editing system (thanks Melanie and Kieran for sending them to our attention asap!).  We loved this message because it reminds us to appreciate mistakes for what they are: valuable lessons. Enjoy this brief and  slightly edited version of Dan’s wise words.

“Too many mistakes and you lose credibility. Too few mistakes and you’re dead in the water, you can’t lead.”

1. Don’t make the mistake of letting your mistakes defeat you
. Churchill wisely said, “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

2. Don’t pretend you know when you don’t. Be honest and enthusiastic instead of pretending you know how to create a rocking Power Point presentation, when your boss asks you to take on the task of making the presentation for the upcoming pitch – perhaps you can say something like, “I’m pretty good at figuring these things out and am up for the challenge.”

3. Celebrate your successes and your mistakes. Stories of your mistakes can be humorous, endearing, and most importantly, educational. Most importantly, explaining a good screw-up before sharing a success prevents you from looking arrogant.

4. It’s a mistake to run from mistakes. After owning a mistake, begin the next sentence, “Next time …” Eli Siegel observed, “If a mistake is not a stepping stone, it is a mistake.”

5. Please don’t be a whining, cry baby. You look weak when you make excuses. It’s better to, “Admit your errors before someone else exaggerates them,” Andrew V. Mason.

One more point we’d like to add is Own it!  After working in the same office for five years and again on this blog for a few more -we’ve learned to NEVER try to blame someone for your screw up -the truth always comes out- and who wants to work with their little sister, right?

Have we left anything out?  We’d love to hear your success due to failure stories;)

Great News for Job Seekers!

Remember that Fall you spent on the Big Island working at a yoga and meditation retreat? Or the spring you lead eager families through the Montana landscape as a Dude Rancher? Oh, wait that hasn’t happened yet.

For our recent grads and anyone who is looking for a job consider a self imposed diversion from the doom and gloom reported on the current employment numbers. Haven’t been paying attention? Well it goes something like this … “Along with the long-term unemployed, experts say their prospects are the bleakest among all job-seekers.” (thanks Smartmoney.com)

With the creative life path approach in mind, we loved what Michael Landes, founder of Backdoorjobs.com writes about his experience of finding his way via a variety for posts.

As I reflect on a handful of experiences in my lifetime—landing my first internship with Gallo Winery while in college; learning to “think different” as an event marketing intern at Apple; traveling coast-to-coast with MTV; counseling and inspiring college students about the importance of internships and short-term work experiences at California State University, Chico (my alma mater) and Pace University in New York; venturing to Europe on a solo backpacking and cycling adventure (I absolutely loved Switzerland!); experiencing the beauty of Yellowstone National Park while working as a recreation manager; connecting more with the earth as an apprentice at a farm; teaching elementary school children; or working as a graphic designer/illustrator at the American Institute of Wine & Food, Harvard University, and other nonprofits—I realized that all of these experiences, no matter how unrelated they were, have made me the person I am today.

How to find these jobs?  Besides, backdoorjobs.com, a collection of short and long term job options – you can check out aboutjobs.com which is part of a large network including InternJobs.com, OverseasJobs.com, InternationalJobs.com, SummerJobs.com and ResortJobs.com.

Our favorite opportunity we saw on Backdoor.com was working at a retreat on the Big Island.

 Kalani is a well-loved, non-profit, yoga, wellness, and spiritual retreat center where people come to connect with nature, themselves and others. Kalani’s volunteer program presents an incredible opportunity to spend time in a beautiful environment with people from an array of backgrounds and nationalities. Experience life within a vibrant community on Hawaii’s Big Island, enjoy a variety of activities, classes and experiences, and learn and grow while serving guests and visitors in the spirit of Aloha!

Other options were a bit rougher -but if you like to camp – you might consider…

The Northwest Youth Corps is about accepting challenge, getting in shape and being outdoors. It is a life where boots, sleeping bags, mosquito repellent and dips in icy cold lakes replace the usual comforts of home—time where building a campfire, pitching a tent and cooking in a dutch oven becomes second nature. Non-residential Crew Leaders receive a living allowance of $1,210/month and a $2,775 AmeriCorps education award.

Benefits include a living allowance or stipend ranging from $275-$565/week, meals and camping while in the field, an AmeriCorps education award to qualifying individuals, uniform, travel, the ability to live and work in the beautiful Southwest region, and valuable training and field experience. {These types of jobs exist in every region of the country}

Are you currently working a super fabulous short term job? Perhaps teaching windsurfing in Maui or cleaning up plastic in the Bahamas? If so send us a postcard!

4 Easy Ways to Make Extra Cash Now

Whether you are saving up for Christian Louboutin Bollywood stilettos or just working on pumping up your savings so you can tell your boss to get a life…you need cash. Unless you’ve got big plans to maximize your quarterly bonus or your long-lost cousin is going to leave you an unexpected inheritance, try our four easy ways to make extra cash now—and send us a pic of your new Louboutins as a thank you!

1. Pet Sitting

First, stop laughing. Unless you’ve got an allergy to all things fluffy, pet sitting (especially overnight) can be super lucrative. Kennels can charge pet owners upwards of $40-$50 per dog, per night. If you’ve got the time to walk the dog, attend to daily feedings and throw a ball around you may want to consider a small side gig. Plus, the hours are really convenient for someone who already has a 9-5. How to get a gig? Start by creating a simple free website (use a version from WordPress) and then send an email to your entire contact list with the link to your new URL. Chances are, your inner circle will know someone who has a vacation coming up and needs a nice person (like you!) to watch Fido.

2. Consignment Shop

Well, really you’ll need to consignment SELL, the shopping will come later. If you’re horrified at the thought of actually having to present your items in person (for fear of rejection) try an online consignment store like The RealReal, which makes the process so easy. After speaking (on the phone!) to your assigned contact you’ll be emailed a Fedex label you can print out at home. They’ll even arrange for an at-home pick-up from Fedex if you don’t want to drop the items off.

3. Be a Tutor

This will probably only work if you’re GPA was worth talking about…but if you’ve got serious skills in writing, math, science, foreign language or any other subject start marketing your services. Tutors, especially for advanced subjects like calculus can make up to $50 an hour. For tips on how to market your services see the Pet Sitting idea above.

4. Become an Organizer

If your closet looks like the aftermath of a Sak’s annual sale, don’t opt for this money making route, but if you’ve got what it takes to help others organize their spaces read on. One of our favorite self-help authors is Regina Leeds — she literally wrote the book on organizing your life. Read this (and other organizing books) first before giving advice to any clients as you may find some real tips you can integrate in your new side business. Organizing doesn’t have to just be junk drawer related, you can offer organizing services for a closet, office space, kitchen, garage and even car trunk (have you seen ours?) The gig pays well, too — about $40 to $100 per hour.

Hate Your Job? Tips to Boost a Day at the Office.

We love our jobs and apparently – that’s not such a popular sentiment. According to Money Magazine about 60 percent of workers are dissatisfied with their jobs! The reasons? Low salaries, lack of growth opportunities, heavy workloads, and long hours. Unfortunately, unless you’re one of those lucky trust fund types, a job is just about as important as the shelter, food and DVF wrap dress you’re able to afford from having one. The job market isn’t exactly booming so right now isn’t the time we’re going to tell you to just get up and quit. Instead, read on for Money’s tips on boosting your day in cubicle land.

1. Do What Needs to Be Done First.

If you manage your workload you’ll feel better prepared, less stressed and on top of things. Identify the tasks that are most important to your boss and move ahead on completing at least one each day.
2. Take Responsibility For Your Own Growth.
To take charge of your advancement, identify skills you’d like to pick up, and propose projects that will help you develop those abilities, Mary Lee Gannon, president of Pittsburgh executive coaching firm StartingOverNow.com suggests in the Money article. If you’re in marketing, say, you might offer to establish your company’s presence on a new social media platform, like Pinterest. Besides keeping you engaged as you learn, “you’ll be better suited for another position when it opens up,” says Gannon.
3. Fly Above the Drama.

Keep a positive mental attitude and don’t engage in office politics. If your work doesn’t already have one — create an upbeat, happy culture. “Praise others, discourage bad-mouthing, get to know optimistic co-workers better,” the article suggests. Other ideas? Start a company suggestion box, a company bowling team, weekly company lunchtime walk or a Monday morning bagel and coffee session.

Any other ideas to boost your office day? Leave them in our comment section below!
*Photo Credit: AmySept via Flickr