Brazen Life » 2011 » December » 20 Personal development meets professional aspiration Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Copyright © Brazen Life 2011 (Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life) (Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life) 1440 Brazen Life 144 144 Personal development meets professional aspiration. Personal development meets professional aspiration. So there’s this awesome job, the sort of job you’d just die to land (and tell your friends about)! But the awesome job isn’t nearly like the job you have now. So how do you make it from current job to awesome job? In our podcast series, we’re hoping to provide insights and answers to that very question. We talk to young people who have amazing jobs or are doing something really cool and interesting and ask them how they did it. So listen along for good information and some inspiration, too. job, search, jobs, career, advice, job, hunt, networking, Gen, Y, interviews, millennials Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life no no What Every Employer Desperately Wants: A Problem-Solver Tue, 20 Dec 2011 18:00:50 +0000 By taking ownership and showing initiative, you’ll stand out in any pack.

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One night when I was bartending in college, I witnessed one of the greatest traits an employee can posses.

A fellow employee and I were rushing to prep for fumigators to spray down the bar (yep, it was that kind of bar), and we had no idea what needed to be done; we’d received zero instruction from the owners and it was 2:30 a.m. I decided turning off the pilot lights on the stove would be a good idea, so I asked my fellow employee if he knew how to do that. His response? “No, but I’m sure I can figure it out.” We both went downstairs and followed the gas line from the stove until we found an on/off lever for the gas. We pulled the lever and off went the burners.

Hardly brain surgery, I know, but there’s a great lesson here. Rather than get frazzled like I did, my co-worker stayed totally calm and simply put on his problem-solving cap. He wasn’t even phased by the fact he didn’t know what to do (I actually don’t think it even occurred to him), he just knew he would look at the problem until he found a solution.

That’s what employers want. Hell, that’s what EVERYONE wants – someone who’s a doer, who finds a way and gets the job done.

In a world full of crappy co-workers and employees, your boss is dying for a can-do attitude. All bosses are – that’s why problem-solving ability regularly ranks as one of the most desirable traits in a prospective employee. Problem solvers are strategic and critical thinkers, people who bring ideas and solutions.

And guess what? Ideas and solutions make money.

Innate or obtainable?

“Your interpretation of the experience determines your perception,” Michael Michalko wrote in Psychology Today. Put another way: we decide how we react to a given situation. Some of us might be more predisposed to the can-do attitude, especially optimists, but how we react is up to us. Some situations may be out of our control, but how we react rarely is.

Like any other highly-valued skill set, a can-do attitude requires practice, practice, practice. When preparing for different government jobs, I knew I’d face a lot of problem-solving or puzzle questions, and my early attempts at these challenges did not go well. Whenever I heard a sample Google or Microsoft interview question, I’d respond with the mental equivalent of seizing up and falling into the fetal position.

I needed work. So I tried as many sample questions as I could and bought puzzle and mental exercise books like How Would You Move Mt. Fuji? Most of these questions deal more with how to react to and work through the problem at hand, so they’re great practice even if you don’t get many of the answers.

I also practiced a ton of analytical reasoning while studying for the LSAT, which really does ingrain a formulaic, methodical approach to a given problem. Some people are born with this skill set, but the rest of us have to work hard at it.

Luckily, it’s teachable – and learnable.

Valuable beyond your career

Being a problem-solver will take you far, regardless of your profession or industry, but it will also pay dividends in your personal life.

When faced with adversity, something as inevitable as death and taxes, those with a can-do attitude are well equipped to handle any situation. Struggling marriages, partnerships or businesses can often be righted by working through the challenges methodically and with perseverance.

In contrast, those who quickly or dismissively deem the problem unsolvable (often known as quitters) are just as quickly defeated.

Next time you’re asked about a problem you don’t know the answer to, be honest about it but volunteer to find a solution. It’s a way of taking ownership  and showing initiative, two things any boss loves. Adopting challenges with a can-do attitude is also arming you for interview time, when you’ll almost certainly be asked about a time you “worked through a difficult problem.”

“Whether you think that you can or can’t, you’re usually right,” Henry Ford famously said. That certainly applies to having a can-do attitude. It’s optional; it’s a choice.

What kind of attitude do you choose?

Tim Murphy is founder of, a free application tracking tool.

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8 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Young Professionals Tue, 20 Dec 2011 11:00:42 +0000 If you’ve been procrastinating and still have holiday shopping to do before the weekend, here's a guide for the Brazenite in your life.

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At this time of year, most of us are wondering where Halloween and Thanksgiving went and how in the world Christmas is THIS. WEEK.

If you’ve been procrastinating and still have holiday shopping to do before the weekend, here are a few gift ideas for the driven (and brazen) young professional in your life:

1. iPad. Let’s be honest: what young professional wouldn’t want one of these tablet beauties? They’re perfect for working and playing on-the-go. And if your favorite young professional already has an iPad, consider getting the Logitech Keyboard Case to make working on the iPad even easier. Or purchase an iTunes gift card to help them load their iPad with great apps and tools.

2. E-reader. There are so many to choose from this year: Nook just came out with Nook Simple Touch, their touchscreen version of the e-reader, and Amazon just released Kindle Fire. Have that baby pre-loaded with a one of the book suggestions below to start 2012 off right.

3. Career books. Kick off the new year with some useful books about moving forward in your career. A few of my favorites:

  • Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job by Emily Bennington and Skip Lineman

4. Portfolio case or tote. Last year, my boss gave me a portfolio tote to start collecting my writing samples and examples of my work. It was a great way to encourage me to keep my samples organized and up-to-date. You also can never go wrong with a professional-looking padfolio for any job-seeker.

5. Domain name. Encourage the person you’re buying for to get a jump-start on building their online presence by purchasing a domain name for them. I recommend Fat Cow for web hosting and domain name purchasing because they have awesome customer service, but several other sites offer similar services. This awesome post from the 4-Hour Workweek offers tips for purchasing a domain name.

6. Starbucks gift card. If you’re a fan of going to gift card route, Starbucks (or insert your young professional’s favorite coffee shop here) never fails. Caffeine is a must for long days at the office or extra hours nurturing a solo business.

7. Business card holder. Ever been at a networking event and had to fumble in your bag or pocket for a business card? Consider purchasing a sleek (and personalized) business card holder to avoid that pesky problem.

8. Moleskine notebook. These classic notebooks are perfect for jotting down to-do lists and ideas on a whim.

Have any additional gift ideas? Share them in the comments below!

Jessica Lawlor is a public relations professional in Philadelphia. In her free time, she manages a book review and writing blog and is currently writing a novel.

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