Brazen Life Personal development meets professional aspiration Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:00:47 +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 Two Roads Diverge in the Workplace: Which Will You Choose? Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:00:47 +0000 If you find yourself dreaming of a different life, don’t let those dreams languish over uncertainty. It’s time to decide who you want to be.

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On a sunny spring day in 2014, two young women sit in their office chairs, nibbling on some midday munchies and staring out the window as they dream of a different life. The women live miles apart — in fact, they’ve never met — and yet in many aspects, they couldn’t be more alike:

They both graduated from college around the same time with decent grades. They both clamored about for a bit about what to do next before taking the reasonable path and settling on a job that pays the bills. (The bills do need to be paid, after all.)

And now they’ve gotten restless. Both women long for more: More fulfillment. More passion. More meaning. They long to do work that feeds their soul, not just their bank account.

Two women. Same situation. Same yearning.

Fast forward 10 years later

In the spring of 2024, their lives look strikingly different.

The first woman has come to life — she’s escaped the meaningless, seemingly endless cycle that once defined her. She wakes up each morning with a smile on her face, a spring in her step and an urgency that can’t be stopped. She can’t wait to get to work, to get moving, to give her gift to the world. She’s found herself, she’s found her work, and it shows.

And the second woman? She’s still stuck doing similar work as before — sure, she’s climbed the ranks and advanced in responsibility. She’s even changed companies a few times in hopes of finding a new opportunity, and yet with each move she finds herself taking on similar roles because, well, that’s what she’s qualified to do, right?

Her experience has pigeonholed her, and she doesn’t see a way out without taking a drastic pay cut. And a pay cut? A pay cut isn’t an option when you’ve got a mortgage to pay, student loan (and car and credit card) debt to pay down, and a family to feed. It’s just not realistic — at least, not anymore.

A decade later, she still feels as if a piece of her is dying as she pulls into the parking lot each day. And as she stares out the window in the year 2024, she realizes that not a whole lot has changed in her life over the past 10 years.

“Maybe things could have been different,” she sighs. “But now it’s too late.”

And so she stays, day after day after day…

What made the difference

It’s not that one woman began with more clarity than the other — they both felt lost, stuck and unsure about how to break free. Nor did one have any more talent or skill or luck than the other, except for the luck that she made. One didn’t start off in a better financial position or with a bigger network. And it wasn’t one single thing that made the difference, either — it was lots of things combined.

Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t an easy road for the first woman, and it didn’t happen overnight. There were lots of sleepless nights, lots of tossing and turning and second-guessing. And yet come hell or high water, the first woman was determined to make it happen. She wasn’t sure where to begin or exactly where she’d end up, but she took it upon herself to actively wade through the uncertainty: to explore, to question, to experiment, to play with her passions.

The other waited for clarity and change to find her. She said, “If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen,” or “I’ll make a change tomorrow.” But what change? The truth is, she didn’t know where to start. Sure, she had some ideas about what she might like to do, but the ambiguity and uncertainty paralyzed her. She didn’t see that in closing herself off to uncertainty, she was also closing herself off to possibility. Her fate was sealed.

The first woman reached out and found mentors — people who’d made the leap and built lives they loved  — and their stories gave her hope that a different life was possible. They encouraged, guided and inspired her, and eventually became some of her closest friends.

The second was “too busy” to reach out — and to tell the truth, she was afraid to do it, too. Afraid to look stupid. Afraid of rejection. Afraid it wouldn’t lead her anywhere, anyhow.

One woman found support and community in other people like her: fierce, passionate, driven fire-starters who weren’t about to accept less from life than what their hearts demanded. They helped each other grow,  held each other accountable and nudged each other forward when they wanted to give up.

The other thought she had to go at it alone — and in doing so, ended up going nowhere at all. She clung to her familiar group of friends and acquaintances, the kind of people who counted down the hours till 5:00 each day, living for martinis and weekends in bikinis. It was safe. It was familiar. It was all she knew. She was one of them, and one of them she’d remain.

One lived below her means. She skipped shopping trips and Starbucks and sandy destinations to pay down her student loan debt — fast. She picked up an extra job bartending on weekends and used the extra cash to invest in trainings and conferences and coaching — anything to get her where she wanted to go.

The other tried her best to be frugal, but it was easy to cave when it came to dinners and drinks and vacations in Vegas. When opportunities for training and growth came along, she’d say to herself, ”I can’t afford that kind of stuff.” What she didn’t see was that the alternative was much more costly.

She believed that finding meaningful work was unrealistic — a fairytale — and too far away. She gave up on her dream before she even gave it a chance.

The first woman knew that a life of fulfillment might not come easily, but she was willing to risk ambiguity and disappointment and loss. She knew that it was better to go through struggles on her own path than to sail smoothly on one that was not her own. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Scribbled on the journal at her bedside was a quote by author Paulo Coelho:

On some nights, [the warrior] has nowhere to sleep, on others he suffers from insomnia. “That’s just how it is,” thinks the warrior. “I was the one who chose to walk this path.” In these words lies all his power: He chose the path along which he is walking and so has no complaints.

This is how she’s felt about her journey. It’s been scary, uncertain, arduous and sometimes risky. And yet it’s all been infinitely worthwhile. From the moment she began to walk along her own path, she knew she was on her way home.

Which will you be?

Thoreau famously wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

So I have just one question for you: Which life will you lead? What song will you sing? Five or 10 or 15 years from now, who will you be — most men or the man? The first woman or the second woman? One of a million, or one in a million?

The choice, my friend, is yours.

This post originally appeared on

Therese Schwenkler is the Founder, CEO and “Marketer of Truth” at, where she provides non-sucky advice on life, love, work and what to do when life sucks. Click here to read Therese’s most popular articles about discovering the work that you love (plus, learn why it’s OK to be lost and confused).

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How to Give Your Boss Constructive Criticism and Still Keep Your Job Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:00:26 +0000 Telling off your boss isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you have the right approach. Make your voice heard without putting your job in jeopardy.

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If you think you’re the only person who’s ever dreamed of chucking a ninja star at your boss, think again. The sadistic smartphone game Beat the Boss has been downloaded eight million times and spawned two highly popular sequels.

Beat the Boss is billed as a game to relieve pent-up workplace aggression, but let’s be honest: Sometimes, you still need your voice heard. Many managers create an environment where contrary opinions are squelched, but no matter where you work, you need to feel free to contribute your ideas.

Here’s how to tell your boss what you really think — without getting fired:

1. Time it right

If your manager already looks pissed off, it’s probably better to wait for another time. Also be mindful of meetings, projects and other big events on your boss’s schedule. It’s probably not the best idea to tell your boss everything he’s doing wrong as he’s on his way to an important presentation or speech, unless you’re planning on filming an epic “I Quit!” YouTube video.

You may have a boss who’s always in a bad mood. In that case, there’s no better time than the present to discuss his attitude with him.

2. Pick your battles

It’s OK to criticize your boss, but it’s best to do it one-on-one. Joining in on a break room bitch session could be dangerous. The business world is filled with sharks, and you never know when something you say could make it to the manager’s office.

There’s a stark difference between someone with initiative and personality (who companies want to keep on staff) and dissenters who destroy the company from within. You don’t want to develop a reputation as a backstabber.

3. Support your ideas with facts

Just because you think something is a good idea doesn’t make it so. (Click here to tweet this thought.) If you tell your boss you work more productively when she’s not around, you’d better have an hour-by-hour breakdown showing the correlation.

But even if you bring the facts, there’s no guarantee management will seriously consider your idea. Be prepared in the event the conversation doesn’t go your way.

4. Be playful and gracious

Graciousness and playfulness are attractive qualities in people. These qualities build trust, and when you hit an inevitable rough patch with your boss, that trust will come in handy.

When approaching your boss with criticism, keep your tone friendly and playful. It sometimes helps to reference a movie or TV show you both enjoy to illustrate bad behavior while keeping the conversation light.

It’s also helpful to be self-deprecating. Conan O’Brien is the king of self-deprecating humor, and he gets away with insulting so many public figures because he’s not afraid to take jabs at himself. Keep an eye on all the late-night hosts, comedian roasts and morning radio shows. Practice mimicking the humorous tone they use when insulting celebrities.

Just to be clear, humor doesn’t have to negate the criticism you dole out. In fact, humor can keep your boss from going on the defensive and lead to a more productive discussion.

5. Keep it clean

While playful jabs at coworkers help foster a creative and trusting environment, watch your mouth. People aren’t robots. Even if they know you’re joking, your coworkers might be offended by certain taboo subjects.

Remember you’re at work — not on stage at The Improv. Avoid offensive jokes and swear words to keep it professional. You’re not Samuel L. Jackson, motherfu —

6. Know when to stop

The scariest part of flying is the takeoff and landing. Criticism is no different. The anticipation can be overwhelming. But once you start, it’s easy to get on a roll like you’re giving an Academy Awards acceptance speech and telling people off when you should be thanking them.

Say your piece, and move on before you say something you might regret later. Remember what goes around comes around, and you’re not without faults yourself. Treat people (even your boss) the way you’d want to be treated, and don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

If you offend someone, apologize and redirect. If tensions heat up, table the discussion for another time.

Rather than bottling up your work rage until you get home (and snapping at your significant other), take responsibility by giving your boss a much-needed reality check and improving the office for everyone. When done well, standing up to your boss can help you release frustration, bring problems to your boss’s attention and maybe even earn your boss’s respect.

Nicolas Gremion is the CEO of Free-eBooks, a popular online source for free ebook downloads, resources and authors. Nicolas is a culturally curious traveler and entrepreneur who lives in Costa Rica with his wife and his dog Frankie.

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Does Your GPA Really Matter? Here’s the Truth for College Grads Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:00:36 +0000 Google doesn’t hire people based on their GPA, and other companies are following suit. Here’s what’s more important than your grades.

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You have permission to put down the books, stop cramming for that test and go out with your friends.

According to Google, your GPA can wait. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

That’s right, in a recent article on the NY Times, Lazlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google, revealed that:

GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless… We found that they don’t predict anything.

But surely good grades and your degree count for something, right?

Google’s answer:

When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.

To add insult to injury, he added that too many colleges “don’t deliver on what they promise. You generate a ton of debt, [and] you don’t learn the most useful things for your life.”

Now that you’ve mentally put your degree through the shredder, you’re probably left with the question: What does matter if I want to get my dream job with an awesome company like Google?

Well, here are three traits companies like Google look for in their hiring efforts:

1. General cognitive ability

That’s a fancy way of saying the ability to learn and process information on the fly.

There’s no doubt that hiring quick and adaptive thinkers plays a huge role in these companies’ continued innovation and success. So drink some brain juice before applying.

2. Emergent leadership

Sorry guys, this isn’t the same as being class president. Bock says:

What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead? And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.

Some political leaders may not be so fond of the whole “relinquishing power” deal, but you should definitely consider it if you want to work for a company like Google.

3. Intellectual humility

Organizations of the Google caliber want people who will work their butt off to solve a problem, and then step back and create the space for other people’s ideas and contributions.

They need to have the confidence to fight for their ideas and the open-mindedness to accept other people’s points of view with the goal of creating the best possible solution.

But the most interesting point Bock made was that expertise is the least important attribute they look for. Fitting in on a character level is more important than education or expertise.

Don’t drop your education entirely after reading this article, because a degree and relevant experience are still important to many companies out there.

But Google doesn’t care about your GPA because there are far more important criteria to consider.

And they’re not the only ones.

If you’re driven to do something amazing with your life and work for an inspiring company, take your GPA with a grain of salt, and focus on developing the skills and characteristics these companies are looking for.

It’s the way of the future.

Ryan Niessen partnered up with the founder of the GameChangers500 to create The Gateway Method: a simple, proven way to gain inside access to the world’s best employers and get your dream job. You can connect with him on Google +, LinkedIn or Facebook.

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Thinking of Lying About Your Experience? Here’s How Interviewers Will Find You Out Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Think you can get away with lying about your experience at an interviewer? Think again. This is what will give you away.

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We’ve all fibbed about something at one point or another, whether it was telling our parents we have no idea who ate the last cookie or telling our best friend the hack job their new hairdresser did isn’t that bad. But when it comes to the job search, lying is never a good idea, especially when you’re lying about how much experience you really have.

You may think the string of fancy titles on your resume is all an employer needs to see, but if they’re sharp, like billionaire technology mogul Elon Musk, chances are they won’t be satisfied without digging a little deeper.

In an interview at Business Insider’s Ignition conference, Musk talked about how he determines whether job applicants are truly qualified for the position. Click here to take a look.

If an interviewer asked you to describe a problem you faced in your job and how you solved it, what would your answer be? Share your ideas in the comments!

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The Best Leaders Have Mastered This Underrated Skill Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:00:24 +0000 In today’s world of constant connectivity and endless information, brevity is now a leadership necessity.

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Long-winded professionals make lousy leaders. You feel no inspiration hearing them tear through another management monologue. You can’t readily recall the most important messages from the last lengthy lecture you heard from senior leadership, and you’re tired of hearing executives repeat themselves over and over again.

The brutal reality in business today is that verbose leaders have few followers.

In today’s world of constant connectivity and endless information, brevity is now a leadership necessity, not a nicety. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Getting to the point quickly is the new, non-negotiable standard for senior managers to climb through the ranks and lead in an attention economy.

The good news is there are specific steps you can take immediately that will make a difference and help advance your career. Here’s a list of seven practical pointers to improve your brevity at work:

1. Always prepare

Effective leaders take extra time to prepare the point they want to make before delivering it. Start by reviewing outlines and creating rough drafts of your key ideas in advance.

2. Control the flow

Be direct and say what’s on your mind; don’t carelessly or inadvertently unleash everything that’s in your mind. Be disciplined to know the story you want to tell and how it connects together beginning to end.

3. Avoid excessive detail

Know your audience and their appetite for detail. Some love lots of minutiae, while others get easily distracted by too much information. Trim out needless points that will only weigh people down.

4. Tell, don’t sell

Effective leaders are great storytellers who love to share good, short and relevant stories while always avoiding the hard sell. Illustrate ideas with the personal and practical anecdotes people crave.

5. Learn to listen

Active listening and asking pointed, open-ended questions is the key to unlocking many doors. An essential to saying less is letting others around you talk more.

6. Picture perfection

More than 70 percent of people are visual learners, so satisfy their preference to see pictures, not consume more confusing words. Showing short videos or sharing infographics is a powerful way to be clear.

7. Don’t over-explain

When you’re confident you’ve hit the mark, stop talking. Resist the temptation to say, “and one more thing.” Enough said.

Effective executives get to the point. A president of a Fortune 1000 manufacturing firm once confided to me that he evaluates up-and-coming managers by how confidently and concisely they communicate.

“When they interact with me, it’s more than just how they perform in high-pressure meetings and boardroom presentations, but how disciplined they are in variety of day-to-day scenarios like email, impromptu conversations, conference calls and progress reports,” he said. “There’s so much information at their fingertips, and it’s not easy for them to control it.”

Overcoming these obstacles can be daunting. An accomplished lawyer who works at the Pentagon recently complained to me, “Nowhere in grad school or in my lengthy military career was I instructed on how to be brief.” So, how can a talented and ambitious professional gain mastery of this valuable yet evasive skill other than through trial and error?

These are specific, real-world skills that accomplished leaders learn to master to be clear, concise and compelling when dealing with others. When any of these are missing, they lose their grip.

What’s more, effective executives are extremely aware of the moments in a business day where this brevity muscle needs to be exerted. Put your brevity to work not only in meetings and in emails, but also when interviewing, sharing bad news and making small talk with your colleagues. Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert in the subject at hand, be conscious that getting to the point is a clear indication of professionalism and respect.

Joe McCormack founded and serves as managing director of The Sheffield Company, and he founded The BRIEF Lab in 2013 with facilities in Chicago, IL and Southern Pines, NC. His new book, Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less (Wiley & Sons, 2014), tackles the timeliness of the “less is more” mandate.

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Afraid to Delegate? How to Get Over It and Get More Work Done Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Done correctly, delegating can actually lower the risk in your business. Learn how to do it the right way with these tips.

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At first glance, not doing something yourself feels risky: What if it doesn’t get done? What if it’s not quality work? But done correctly, delegating can actually lower the risk in your business.

By delegating, you’re decreasing the chance that you’ll burn out and that important activities only you can do won’t get done. Real control comes from managing risk and releasing control in appropriate ways. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Here’s how to change your approach to delegation to maximize business results:

Identify where to focus

To help you let go of projects other people can do, you need to understand what exactly should fill the majority of your time. Where can your contribution make the biggest impact? For most business owners, these activities include strategic thinking about new business opportunities, building relationships, sales and specific elements of operations.

Unfortunately, most owners find that the most essential business-building activities never happen because they get so swallowed up in day-to-day operations. Take a moment to step back and think about where you can provide the highest value. Everything outside your core strengths and role should be activities that others can do.

Name the fear

Vague feelings of discomfort can stop us from moving forward. But when we clarify what actually bothers us, we can then address the issue and break through to the next level. Name your fears. To help you get started, I’ve listed out some common concerns in each category:

Delegating the work:

  • The work won’t get done.
  • The work won’t get done well.
  • I feel bossy/mean.
  • I’m worried I’m inconveniencing others.
  • I feel out of control.
  • The work won’t get done the way I like it to be done.

Doing the work yourself:

  • I feel stressed.
  • I feel sleep-deprived.
  • I’m frustrated.
  • I feel like my opportunities for growth are lost.
  • I am out of control.
  • I’m limiting others’ growth.

After each bullet point, name in specific detail the perceived risks associated with both allowing others to participate and doing the work yourself.

Minimize the risk

Once you have a detail list of perceived risks, take the opportunity to address each issue. Figure out how you can minimize the risk when someone else does the work. This will allow you to put the appropriate checks and balances and safeguards into place.

For example:

Perceived risk: The work won’t get done.

Risk mitigation strategy: Set up a follow-up system for each task. Make a running task list or hold meetings to review deliverables. Use tools like to remind yourself to ping someone.

Perceived risk: The work will not get done well.

Risk mitigation strategy: Take time to think through the work you pass off to others. Identify whether you’re in the direction, coaching, support or straight delegation stage. — both with the individual and with the task. Tailor your management approach accordingly. Always factor in buffer time for work to be reviewed and edited.

By following this three-step strategy, you can delegate effectively and invest your time in growing your business — without burning out.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E®, a time coaching and training company, and the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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Asking for a Pay Raise? These Tips Will Help You Negotiate the Salary You Deserve Wed, 16 Apr 2014 10:00:20 +0000 Want a pay raise, but not sure how to approach it? Follow these steps to get paid what you’re worth.

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Asking for a pay raise from a manager is never easy, partly because it’s hard finding the right words and partly because it’s hard to gauge what the right amount to ask for is without under- or over-selling yourself. But unless you review how much you’re getting paid, you’ll never be in a situation where you’re paid your worth. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Having that conversation doesn’t have to be an ordeal as long as your approach is well-informed and justified. Here are six easy steps for negotiating the salary you deserve:

1. Do your research

It’s important to know what the going rate is before you decide whether or not you’re being underpaid. Carry out job searches for similar roles that match your skill set, seniority level and location. Record the salaries of the jobs and compare the average with yours. This way, you can enter the conversation armed with justifiable data.

Job sites, such as Jobserve and Monster Jobs, are great sources for roles similar to yours because they’re not agents. Instead, agents and companies alike post their vacancies there.

2. Money isn’t the only way to get the salary you deserve

It’s a good idea to think about why you feel you’re not getting the salary you believe you deserve and ask if it’s just the money. Sure, you have bills to pay and you feel like you’re working too hard, but perhaps you can suggest a reduction of work hours or a company phone to balance your salary with your needs.

If you’re working every possible hour and you don’t feel like your salary reflects this, or if you can make your working life easier with something like a company phone, you may feel like you’re regaining the balance between your salary and your level of work.

3. Time it right

No matter how urgent you feel you need a pay raise, get the timing right. Give yourself a bigger chance for success by choosing your timing carefully. After all, this isn’t the sort of conversation you want to have every few months.

4. Get noticed

Before asking for a higher salary, know that the reasons you deserve it don’t need to be stated by you. But they do need to be fresh in your employer’s mind. Start going the extra mile and get noticed for your talents. Wait until people have noticed your efforts, then ask for the meeting.

5. Don’t be desperate

Remember that despite your boss’s office being an area where they typically hold all the cards, you’re both adults and, in that sense, equals. You shouldn’t present your case as though you’re asking for a favor. Instead, exude professionalism and conviction.

Once you’ve said your piece, wait for the answer. You may not get a decision straight away, but when you do, think about the offer and don’t be scared to negotiate if you don’t think the offer is right.

6. Word it carefully

Make sure to phrase your argument carefully. You’re having a business-related conversation with a fellow professional, so adjust your language accordingly. Don’t reference your needs outside work, such as increased rent or a desire to get the latest iPad. Instead, justify your request with business-related reasons.

A useful tip is to phrase your question in relation to the amount you want your salary to be raised by. This sounds a lot less daunting than stating the overall salary you want.

In theory, when presented with sufficient evidence, it’s hard for most employers not to acknowledge their need to meet your requests. But companies have budgets to think about, and often what you consider a small increase doesn’t fit with their books.

While getting paid your worth is important, so is considering how the job fits in with your long-term goals. For example, perhaps accepting a lower salary for a year’s worth of experience will help you propel your career to the next stage.

But if you don’t feel like you’re getting a salary that reflects what you deserve and if your employer shows no signs of changing that, you should look for a job somewhere you’ll feel more valued.

Nick Williams works for Acuity Training, who provide hands-on professional training from their two UK offices. Nick works as an assistant on the negotiation skills training course as well as the majority of technical/development courses.

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How Reality TV Can Help You Better Promote Your Brand Tue, 15 Apr 2014 20:00:07 +0000 Believe it or not, reality TV shows provide plenty of valuable lessons you can apply to marketing your business and making more money.

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It’s OK to admit it. You’re not the only one. We’ve all fallen victim at some time or another to the mind-numbing hold that reality TV can place on us.

“Did she really just say that?” “What on earth is he doing?” “Are you kidding me!? They’re about to eat that!”

Millions of viewers around the globe have uttered these phrases from their couches, sucked into the vortex that is reality TV. Luckily, the hours you spent watching greased up guidos from Jersey were not in vain. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Believe it or not, there are valuable lessons to learn from these shows, and not just about how not to live your life, but also how to successfully market your business.

1. Develop your brand like the Jersey Shore

The amount of time people have spent watching eight Italian-Americans run rampant with fist pumps in the streets and nightclubs across the world is almost sickening.

Yet despite their drunken shenanigans, several members of the Jersey Shore cast were able to become icons who are still relevant years later. You may laugh at the mention of Snooki, The Situation and JWoww, but these characters have now become major brands. And it all started with their stint on reality TV.

Use the same mentalities as the Jersey Shore cast with your company. No, I’m not saying take your employees to Miami for Ultra Festival (although I’m up for it if you’re reading this, boss). What I am saying is to market what you’re good at. Don’t be afraid to be different, and don’t hide who you are.

What benefit does your company provide? Tailor your branding to support your benefit and not your product. Your target audience is likely to be more concerned with what you can do for them and less about how you do it. Once you’ve segmented your brand, you’ll be able to focus your strategies with that market in mind.

2. Keep ‘em engaged like The Bachelor

Sensationalism is an excellent tool that reality TV producers have used for years to keep viewers tuning in. For instance, The Bachelor has kept fans tuning in for 18 seasons and counting.

There are a lot of reasons why, but there’s no doubt the producers have an ability to hook viewers from week to week. After every episode, they tease the upcoming week’s episode with “next week on the most dramatic episode ever…” Well heck, you have to tune in to see the most dramatic episode ever!

Take this principle and apply it to your marketing efforts. Once you’ve actually gotten someone to visit your business or website, the next step is to keep them coming back.

There are marketing tools and software on the Web that can help you retarget users who visit their pages. You can track where the user came in from and see what they did while they were on your site. This information can help you formulate more targeted follow-ups.

Moreover, consider using conversion content to gather subscribers to your email lists. If you’re a brick and mortar business, try to gain as much information about your customer or lead without being intrusive.

Once you have their emails, social profiles or home addresses, be sure to remain top of mind. Send relevant and timely direct mailers highlighting upcoming events they can attend. Use your email lists to send newsletters updating users about relevant-to-them info. Finally, maximize your brand’s personality by communicating with people on social pages like Twitter or Facebook.

3. Keep a Big Brother eye on your competition

Some of the most entertaining reality shows are competition-based. Real World Road Rules Challenge, Big Brother, Survivor and countless others feature challenging events that test the physical and mental strength of the competitors. You quickly learn the most dramatic competitors earn most of the attention and screen time, but the ones who fly under the radar often end up winning.

One of the most important aspects of marketing your business is monitoring your competition. It’s vital that you know who you’re going up against and make strategic adjustments to outmaneuver them.

Much like on reality TV shows, you can quickly identify the obvious competitors. Your specific vertical will have direct and indirect competition. You should look at your competition from all vantage points. Many marketers overlook the indirect substitutes, but don’t follow suit with this oversight. By keeping an eye on indirect substitutes, you can monitor their moves and reach into that market when you see fit.

We’ve come a long way in television over the years. No more are the days when the MTV only played music videos or the Sports Network only played sports. Now everyone seems to be jumping on the reality TV bandwagon because… well, it works.

Luckily, there are lessons from these shows that can be applied to the business world. Consider these three reality TV lessons on marketing for your business and you will be rolling in the dough (drama) in no time.

Derek Miller has an entrepreneurial spirit, scattered mind and marketing background. He’s a novice comic who spins humor into fantasy sports columns on Fantasy Help. You can follow him on Twitter @DereksAlterEgo.

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5 Ways to Build Your Credibility as a Freelancer (and Make More Money!) Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Building a successful freelance career starts with one thing: Landing clients. Here’s how to land those first clients even when you don’t have much experience.

The post 5 Ways to Build Your Credibility as a Freelancer (and Make More Money!) appeared first on Brazen Life.

Ah, the wonderful world of freelancing. Unlike a 9-to-5 job, you can work from home, set your own schedule and give yourself a raise whenever you darn well please.

But there’s just one problem. First you have to land clients — and a lot of them — to live the freelance dream.

Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the freelance waters or have been in the freelance game for awhile, convincing a new client to hire you is not always easy. You need to prove you’re the right person for the job and worth the investment.

To grow your network of clients and build a profitable business, follow these tips to develop your credibility. The more closely you follow these guidelines, the more likely you’ll land more freelance work.

1. Let other people speak for you

Try to put yourself in your potential client’s position. How should he figure out how outstanding you are in what you do? Show references from previous work and let the words of others speak for you. You may have to reference unrelated work experience, but that will still help your credibility.

Ask your previous clients to recommend you or provide testimonials you can use on your website (we’ll get to that next). Most of them understand it’s difficult to win new business. If they’re satisfied with your services, they should be more than happy to help you out.

2. Make your website pop

We live in an Internet era, and almost everything happens online. Everyone — including clients — shops around and does some Internet research before buying a new product or committing to a new freelancer.

Help make the vetting process easier for potential clients. You need a quality website where you can present yourself, your services and previous completed projects to interested readers.

What constitutes a quality website? It should prominently feature your portfolio and link to any work that will help clients decide if they want to use your services. Your website will also help you promote your business to others in the industry.

Your website doesn’t have to be flashy, but it should look professional. Double-check the content to eliminate typos or odd formatting. People will judge you not only on the quality of your portfolio of work, but also on the general impression they have when they visit your site.

3. Show off your skills and training

One sure way to boost your credibility is to show how serious you are about your profession. Show clients how dedicated you are to improving acquired skills and expertise.

With free websites like Coursera, Khan Academy and even online Ivy League university courses, it’s never been easier to expand your skills.

4. Have your contract handy

While a signed contract is not mandatory, having one helps both you and your client agree upon the expectations and deadlines for your work.

Aside from the protection element, a signed agreement will give you confidence and demonstrate to clients that you’re trustworthy and professional.

When working via freelance marketplaces like oDesk or Freelancer, you automatically get guarantees on the contract from both the system and your client. But keep in mind you have to pay a fee (which can be rather high) for long-term projects.

5. Be consistent and reasonable with your rates

Establishing a price for your freelance services can be tricky, particularly when you first start out. Create a pricing structure that’s fair in terms of effort and compensation. Keep your rate consistent in all conversions with your client. And make sure it’s in line with the requirements of the project you’re doing.

Be clear about your prices with clients and stick to your guns – it will prove to clients you know how much you’re worth. No one wants to hire a wishy-washy freelancer. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Once you’ve developed a slick website with testimonials, showcased your work and proved you know your stuff about contracts and rates, you’ll be well on your way to landing more clients.

Do you have any other tips for new freelancers to help improve credibility?

Rye Baehr decided to pass on 9-to-5 employment after college and started his academic career that combines his passion for writing and science. He’s the senior writer and editor at Global Writings and is a passionate traveler and bookworm.

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How to Juggle a Full-Time Job AND a Successful Job Search Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:00:59 +0000 Working 40+ hours a week while trying to lead a successful job search can be challenging. Here’s how to manage it successfully.

The post How to Juggle a Full-Time Job AND a Successful Job Search appeared first on Brazen Life.

We all the know the expression, “Looking for a job is a full-time job,” but what if you actually have a full-time job? Working 40+ hours a week while trying to lead a successful job search can be challenging to say the least.

Here are four tips for juggling work and a grueling job search:

1. Make the time, and use it wisely

I know it seems like there are not enough hours in the day, and that means something’s gotta give. Whether it’s giving up an hour of sleep, your Sunday brunch or your spin class, that time has to come from somewhere — but don’t worry; it’s only temporary.

Try to allocate an hour a day to your job search. Since you’re only going to give it one hour per day, use that hour wisely. Shut down Google Talk, turn off your cell and really focus on the task at hand, whether it’s browsing for roles, putting together applications or preparing for an interview. Really make it count.

2. Choose your jobs carefully

Making it count means not applying to every job you see. Trust me — getting out of work to go on interviews (if you’re lucky enough to get called in!) is not easy or fun. Make sure you’re only applying for roles you really want to go after wholeheartedly. Also make sure you’re applying to roles that you’re qualified for. Anything else will be a waste of time that you do not have a surplus of!

3. Don’t let coworkers know you’re looking

This is a mistake I see people make often. You’re excited about the prospect of a new opportunity and feel the urge to tell a coworker. Resist that urge!

There may also be times you need to sneak away from the office. Use personal days when you need to, but otherwise schedule interviews early in the morning or late in the afternoon when you can. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t be showing up in a suit every time you have a “doctor’s appointment,” either. Overall, keep your search under the radar as much as possible.

Whether it’s true or not, the perception is that if you’re looking for a job elsewhere, you’re not giving 110 percent where you are. If it ends up taking you a long time to make a move, this could negatively affect how people view you and value you in your current company.

4. Don’t let your search interfere with your work product

Most importantly, make sure you’re still delivering flawless work to your current employer. After all, they’re the one handing over that paycheck, and being mentally checked out is not professional. Leaving a job can be sensitive enough, and you want to leave on the best terms possible. You never know when you might need to use them as references. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Ultimately, this double-duty isn’t going to be the most relaxing part of your year. Just remember that it’s only temporary, and the short-term sacrifice of time and energy will pay off in dividends when you land in a great new role.

This post originally appeared on Your Coffee Break.

Jaime Petkanics is the writer behind, an online resource which provides advice on all aspects of the job search. A former recruiter, Jaime answers questions ranging from how to write a great resume, to how to answer interview questions, and everything in between.

Your Coffee Break is a lifestyle magazine for the professional woman. Based in London with representatives in New York, Los Angeles and Paris, Your Coffee Break has rapidly established itself as the go-to magazine for business women across the globe looking for inspiring content to read during their coffee break. Follow them on Twitter at @UrCoffeeBreak.

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The Secret to Happiness: 5 Habits of Successful People Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:00:57 +0000 Want to take control of your happiness and success? You can. Here are five habits to get you started.

The post The Secret to Happiness: 5 Habits of Successful People appeared first on Brazen Life.

No one is in control of your happiness and success but you. While that statement is undoubtedly true, it’s been proven that many happy and successful people share a handful of similar traits that contribute to their cheerful existence.

Take a look at the five habits that could open up a world of opportunity, happiness and success:

1. Surround yourself with other happy people

The Science of Happiness may be imprecise, but one thing is for certain: If you’re surrounded by positivity, you’ll feel it, too. The University of Framingham found, in a 20-year study, that those who fill their lives with other happy individuals are more likely to find their own bliss.

You have the ability to choose the people you surround yourself with. Choose the ones who lift you up instead of those who bring you down. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

2. Revel in both success and failure

It’s easy to feel good when you succeed at something. It’s also important, though, to learn from your mistakes. Sometimes failure will be inevitable due to uncontrollable circumstances. But other times, you’ll personally fail to achieve a goal or complete a task.

Rather than beating yourself up, think of every failure as a learning experience. This way, you’ll feel more fulfilled and have a better plan of action for future attempts.

3. Learn to communicate well

You might be skilled at small talk, and that’s great for when you first meet a friend or business colleague. Happy people, however, are adept at creating meaningful conversations.

A deeper discussion leaves participants feeling more fulfilled than routine chit-chat. By sharing your personal opinions and innermost thoughts, you may even be able to avoid one of the most commonly reported regrets of those on their deathbeds: the wish that they’d shared their feelings with others more often.

4. Appreciate everything — even the small stuff

Sure, you’ll smile on your birthday or after finishing your first half-marathon. But do you smile when you see a flower growing through the crack of a city sidewalk? Happy people are often able to appreciate both the former and the latter.

By taking time to appreciate smaller pleasures, happy people spend more time admiring the world around them, which lends to their high spirits. This goes for your sense of accomplishment, too.

You probably don’t finish a major project every single day at the office, so revel in the fact that you made a dent in your filing or cleaned out your inbox. You’ll walk out a bit more smiley at the end of the day than usual.

5. Give it a try

Of all these tips, perhaps the most important is trying to be happy. It’s a topic that’s been covered by The Journal of Positive Psychology, among other sources. If you give it a go, it’ll most likely work. Study participants reported elevated levels of happiness when they focused on brightening their outlook. Now it’s your turn.

Savannah Marie is a PR specialist with a passion for creative content marketing, social media and coffee. She is the editor of her blog Mixios and enjoys contributing to Brazen Careerist. Connect with her on Twitter.

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Why You’re Wasting Your Time Searching for the Perfect Job Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:00:27 +0000 Every job has a tradeoff (or several). Here’s how to figure out what really matters when looking for fulfilling work.

The post Why You’re Wasting Your Time Searching for the Perfect Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

You’re simply not going to get the perfect job. That’s right. It’s not gonna happen.

Now, before you go burying your misery in a pint of mint chocolate chip, rest assured this seemingly depressing dose of reality isn’t a reflection on you. You may very well be the cream of the crop when it comes to talent and charm, but the big issue is this: The “perfect” job doesn’t exist. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

The good news is, there are some really great jobs. And the key to finding those opportunities lies in some solid self-reflection and the acknowledgment of the tradeoffs inherent to any career decision.

As Seth Godin says, “A decision without tradeoffs isn’t a decision.” So, how can you approach your job search in the smartest way and find that place where less-than-perfect is still pretty damn good?

Get clear on your non-negotiables

You most likely have a couple requirements that simply can’t budge. Maybe you have to stay within a 100-mile radius of your hometown for family reasons. Or you have to at least earn enough money to make a dent in your student loans. Identify those deal-breakers, and be discriminating. The longer your list, the more limited your possibilities, so try to keep it short — three or four factors, tops.

Struggling to narrow it down? You’re probably making assumptions that don’t really hold water if you’re open to some give-and-take.

Do you really need be a manager, or would you consider a different title if it meant you could learn new skills or have an off-the-charts great boss as a mentor? Do you really have to add a big-name brand company to your resume, or could you forgo that wish if you knew you’d have more responsibility and schedule flexibility?

In all likelihood, there are a bunch of factors that aren’t really “must haves,” but are ”nice to haves.” And that’s where your great possibilities exist.

Define what a great day of work would be like

Once you’ve named your non-negotiables, make a list of other factors that might play into your career decision. They can be quantitative, like salary and commute, and qualitative, like culture and opportunity for growth. What matters is that they’re specific to you.

Ask yourself what a great day at work would look like. Start with the following questions:

  • How do you want to spend your time?
  • What do you want from your coworker relationships?
  • What kind of work environment is most energizing for you?
  • What do you want in a boss?
  • How do you want your job to fit into your life?

This is the time to be honest with yourself — just get it out of your head and onto paper. You aren’t obligated to share your list at the next family dinner or at happy hour with your friends.

Think about the tradeoffs you’re willing to make

Your list of variables may feel lengthy and make your head spin. Break it down into smaller, bite-sized chunks to frame your thinking and maintain your sanity.

Start by picking two key tradeoffs. Think about your sensitivity to changes in each of them, particularly relative to one another. What do you value more: a flexible work schedule or a 10 percent bump in pay? The chance to work with an icon in your field or a 20 percent shorter commute?

As you play around with different scenarios and notice your gut reactions, don’t fall prey to false choices or exaggerated outcomes. If you prefer the shorter commute, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work for a jerk. Your boss might be a great match for you, but is an up-and-comer rather than a high-profile industry leader.

Every variable has a range of personally acceptable values. Figure out that range for yourself and consider your willingness to move within it.

Get going!

Once you’ve practiced thinking in tradeoff terms, you’ll be more certain of your personal preferences. Now put that awareness to good use — use it to focus your job search, guide your networking conversations, compose enlightening interview questions and, ultimately, negotiate an offer.

With another hat tip to Seth Godin: “The art of good decision making is looking forward to and celebrating the tradeoffs, not pretending they don’t exist.” The elusiveness of that perfect job doesn’t have to keep you stuck. If you know what you’re willing to give up to get the things that matter most, you can keep moving forward to some pretty great possibilities.

Besides, perfect is overrated.

Laura Garrett is a certified career coach and partner at Ondecision, Inc., an organization dedicated to helping individuals uncover their personal preferences in the name of more authentic career planning. Stay connected to Laura’s work on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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4 Mega-Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make On Your Resume Fri, 11 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Unclear why you’re not getting the interview? Here are a few reasons your resume raises a red flag -- and it might not be what you think.

The post 4 Mega-Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make On Your Resume appeared first on Brazen Life.

Spelling and grammar errors. Gaps in unemployment. Vague job descriptions.

Most job seekers are well aware of the major no-nos on resumes, but here’s the bad news: your resume probably has other red flags you’re not aware of. Here’s the worst news: There’s no way to know for sure what they are.

Why? Because every recruiter and hiring manager has a different approach, and every company has different needs. A red flag for one position is an asset for another.

What’s a job seeker to do? Well, if you’re a mind reader, that’s a big help. Otherwise, you have to rely on learning about industry norms and consider what you want in a job and a company. Here are a few common red flags:

1. No social media presence

While you should never include a link to a personal profile, not having one at all can also raise concerns. In most positions, technology plays an important role, and your ability to maintain a social media account shows a level of comfort employers want to see.

For many creative jobs, such as Web design, photography or writing, it’s expected as a way to gain access to a portfolio of your work. Depending on your industry, this can be done through a Flickr account, a blog or even a Twitter feed.

For jobs that rely heavily on your ability to network and develop relationships, such as marketing and sales positions, showcasing your large social following can be an asset. For many online marketing positions, it’s a requirement, whether it’s stated upfront or not.

Not sure what the standard is for your industry? In almost any job, it’s a safe bet to include your LinkedIn profile. (Click here to tweet this thought.) A great place is in your header under your email address. It’s unlikely a hiring manager would toss your resume for including it, and you’ll avoid being overlooked because someone assumes you’re a techno-phobe.

2. Too few job changes

You probably know that job hoppers are frowned upon, but staying in one place for too long can also hurt you. Many employers want applicants with a wide range of experience. They may question the depth of your knowledge of the industry or wonder why you didn’t take initiative to find more opportunities for growth.

This is particularly true for any industry that requires a diverse set of skills and expertise, such as technology-related fields and project management positions.

What’s a loyal employee to do? If you changed positions or were promoted, break up those different titles into separate sections. Be sure to highlight any changes in department or location as well.

If you haven’t moved around, it’s even more important to highlight specific accomplishments and continuing education to alleviate any concerns. And before you panic, consider this:

If you’ve been in one position for a long period of time, it’s likely you valued that company’s loyalty to you as well. If a new potential employer thinks loyalty is a weakness, it may not be the right match for you anyway.

3. No hobbies or additional interests

Nine times out of ten, including this section on your resume is a bad idea. Employers don’t care about your life outside of work. (Many of them would probably prefer you didn’t have one at all.)

That being said, for some jobs, it’s crucial to showing why you’re the right candidate. If you’re applying for a position at a surfboard company, the fact you can ride a wave is definitely relevant.

A veterinarian’s office is likely to be impressed by your volunteer work with the local shelter and your three dogs, two cats, one gerbil and tank full of fish. In these instances, not including information about your personal life is a mistake.

Also, some workplaces — particularly younger, tech companies — make a point to showcase their employees’ hobbies and personal accomplishments. For instance, they might post on their blog about an employee winning a chess tournament or share the results of their annual table tennis competition.

It’s about showing that you’re not just qualified, but also a match for the company culture. It’s unlikely your resume would be thrown out for omitting this information, but its inclusion can move you to the top of the pile.

4. You’re too qualified

If you seem too good to be true, employers often assume it’s all false. Even if they believe you, it can bring up questions about why you want the job in the first place and how long you’ll stay if you get it.

This can be particularly frustrating for applicants actively seeking a less stressful position or trying to change industries. Take it down a notch. Look at what’s required for this particular position, and make sure you’re showcasing just those qualifications (and maybe just a bit more).

Don’t be afraid to tone down position titles, too. It’s not lying to list your position as marketing if you were the marketing manager, but that extra word can make a big difference in how you’re perceived.

Also, be careful about over-explaining your positions as this can be seen as overcompensating. The key is to focus on achievements in a clear but concise way.

What concerns do you have about the impression your resume gives employers? Share in the comments.

Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a professional resume writer based in Austin, TX. She’s also a contributor to, where you can perform a job search and apply directly to multiple top job search sites in one easy location.

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How to Shake Off That Career Slump and Rediscover Your Motivation Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Whether you’re feeling a case of the “blahs” or have hit a burnout point, these tips will help you re-energize yourself and your career.

The post How to Shake Off That Career Slump and Rediscover Your Motivation appeared first on Brazen Life.

There’s always that sentiment noted over and over again: Millennials are lazy, entitled and unmotivated.

(But, smart people who aren’t wearing bias-tinted glasses know we are some of the most charitable, civic-minded, physically active, entrepreneurial and innovative groups on Earth.)

As with any stereotype, some of our peers make it easy for employers and senior professionals to raise a discerning eyebrow, failing to push past average and beyond limitations to go above and beyond for greatness.

Even those of us constantly making boss moves in an effort to upgrade our careers and livelihoods have those moments of laziness, where sloth wins over making power plays.

(My Granny will often scold me in my moments of weakness: “I’m almost 90 and I’m able to wake up early and get things done. Why are you tired?” How embarrassing, right?)

So, whether you just haven’t felt that burst of enthusiasm for anything after college graduation, or you’re in a phase of burnout that’s just lasted way too long, try these five steps to shake it all off:

Read more at Black Enterprise

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Work (or Want to Work) in Marketing and Communications? Join Us for This Free Networking Event Thu, 10 Apr 2014 17:00:27 +0000 No time for face-to-face networking? This online lunch-hour event makes it easy to meet ambitious young professionals!

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Want to meet some of your fellow Brazenites? Eager to network with your peers, but have trouble fitting face time into your schedule?

We’ve got an event for you!

On Thursday, April 17th, at noon EST, we’re hosting a FREE networking event for the Brazen community, with a focus on professionals who work in MARKETING and COMMUNICATIONS.

That means if you work in marketing and communications — or you want to work in marketing and communications — you should join us!

Click here to register.

Our community is full of ambitious young professionals — hustlers, creatives and entrepreneurs who understand the importance of having a job you love. We want to help you meet one another, so you can rely on the support of your peers as you navigate your own career. We’ve organized this networking event online and during your lunch hour, so you can attend whether you work for an employer or have your own business.

Most importantly, this will be FUN! Remember, Brazen Careerist originated as a social network, and we still believe relationships are the foundation of a successful career. As an added bonus, this is an opportunity to try out Brazen’s software, the same awesome platform we use for recruiting events.

How It Works

It couldn’t be easier to join this event. Register now, and we’ll send you a link to join us on Thursday, April 17th.

During the event, you’ll be paired with multiple participants from around the region, country and world for several rounds of seven-minute, text-based chats. We’ll even save those conversations for you so you can revisit them later. After the event, we encourage you to connect with any interesting people on your favorite social networks; that will help you turn your chat into a mutually-beneficial relationship.

It’s like online speed dating, minus the awkwardness.

Hope you’ll join us!

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Nervous About Starting Your Own Company? Try a Franchise Instead Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:00:00 +0000 You want to start your own business, but fear the risks. Franchising could be your answer.

The post Nervous About Starting Your Own Company? Try a Franchise Instead appeared first on Brazen Life.

The spirit of entrepreneurship has ignited the global economy. Many young professionals enter the job market eager to build a business from the ground up. But there’s an inherent risk in starting your own business, one that often makes the entrepreneurial dream seem unattainable.

For many potential business owners, particularly young professionals, franchising offers a solid middle ground — the ability to grow a business with the support, experience and guidance of an established, proven brand.

Many may immediately assume the opportunity to franchise is limited to food services. But there’s a franchise opportunity for almost any industry you can think of. Before dismissing franchising as an option, weigh all the factors.

You may be surprised that compared to the alternatives, franchising can offer a lot to the entrepreneurial-minded:

1. Franchising removes some of the financial risk associated with starting a business

The single biggest benefit for any franchisee is the ability to use proven systems and business best practices from a franchisor. Independent business owners can make costly mistakes, repeatedly, when attempting to build a business without proper support or guidance.

Partnering with a franchise system gives entrepreneurs a leg up by providing a roadmap of effective tactics that’ll save time and money along with providing access to a network of other business owners who’ve faced similar challenges.

2. Franchising provides a thorough business plan

Franchise systems are required to provide a franchisee with a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). This document details all startup costs, ongoing costs and financial representations of current franchises within the system.

In essence, the FDD serves as a business plan and allows you to accurately project your business success. Without a FDD, a new business owner is forced to make educated guesses, with minimal if any foresight into the costs of doing business.

A franchise, however, allows you to review a brand’s previous success in other markets so you can have a true picture of your profit potential.

3. Franchising offers education and hands-on experience

When you have no prior experience building a business, you often operate under a “learn as you go” mentality. But a franchisee has the opportunity to learn from industry and product experts from day one.

As a franchisee, you can expect to undergo extensive training programs designed to take your franchise from planning stages to grand opening. Oftentimes, corporate training is ongoing and continues well beyond the startup phase. Annual conferences, weekly webinars and periodic site visits provide every franchisee with fresh perspectives on their business and support when needed.

4. Franchising is backed by the marketing support of a larger brand

Many “mom and pop” businesses have a difficult time building brand awareness within a community. With a franchise, the franchisor is responsible for building a regional or national brand awareness program.

Franchisees inherit this marketing department, which provides big-brand support to establish messaging to promote a new franchise. This brand building process results in added value for your business and can be helpful if you ever decide to sell.

The bottom line is simple: Franchising offers the ability to build your own business within the framework of success. (Click here to tweet this thought.) As young professionals enter the job market eager to build a business from the ground up, franchising offers a lower-risk opportunity for the entrepreneurial inclined.

While there’s always risk in starting a business, franchising provides more financial security, a comprehensive business plan, built-in mentorship and marketing support. For many potential business owners, this is why franchising offers the best of all worlds and creates an environment for continued success.

Ron Holt is the CEO of Two Maids & A Mop, the fastest growing residential house cleaning business in the U.S., which uses a proprietary “Pay for Performance” compensation model.

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5 Ways to Attend Popular Conferences Without Buying an Expensive Ticket Wed, 09 Apr 2014 20:00:00 +0000 Conferences are a great way to spread the word about your brand and create influential connections. Attend more without breaking the bank.

The post 5 Ways to Attend Popular Conferences Without Buying an Expensive Ticket appeared first on Brazen Life.

One of the most effective ways to spread the word about your brand and create influential connections is through industry events and conferences.

I’ve seen this firsthand within my own business, as I always see an uptick in engagement and job inquiries when I attend a conference — not to mention an avalanche of ideas! But as a solopreneur, I’m responsible for my own income, and I have to keep a close eye on my spending habits.

After finally becoming debt-free, I swore to run my business without debt. This meant I had to start thinking outside the box to afford certain things for my career.

Here are five ways to promote your business through conferences and events without going into debt:

1. Leverage your website or network with sponsorships

In the new world of work, it’s not only acceptable but highly encouraged to leverage your personal brand to gain sponsorships with other companies within your industry.

If you have a blog or business website, reach out to brands you can promote at the event. A lot of companies these days want to put a face to their product and are more than happy to work with other brand ambassadors who will help spread the word at industry events.

This is something my friend Shannyn Allen does very well. She shares her insights and strategies for landing big-time sponsorships on her blog. In fact, it’s her resources and ebook that helped me land a $300 partial sponsorship to a blogging conference last year.

2. Become an event affiliate

Did you know a lot of events offer an affiliate commission (or cut of the sales) to anyone who gets other participants to show up for the event? Yep, you can basically get paid to promote the event to your network.

Of course, it’s only fair to promote events you plan to attend and can endorse yourself. Hawking products that don’t line up with your business, just to make some money, is a good way to ruin your reputation.

3. Volunteer to work for free

Working for free isn’t always a bad thing! Putting on a big event takes a lot of work and a lot of people pitching in to make it happen. Event coordinators are always on the lookout for more volunteers who can lend a helping hand. In return, you could get a free ticket to the conference, including a backstage pass and even free food.

It might take some extra work, but at the end of the event you will have saved money, made a few new friends and possibly landed some leftover swag from brands. Who doesn’t love free stuff?

4. Consider being a speaker

The type of event you’re attending will determine the kind of perks you can receive for being a speaker. Sometimes you might be able to get an event ticket for free while getting paid to speak. Other times you might only get free access and a nice hotel stay.

My friend Amanda Abella recently spoke at FinCon and received a free ticket to the event, plus a free hotel stay during her time there. For us solo business owners who are bootstrapping our businesses, these small perks really add up. All for just a half an hour of speaking time.

5. Snatch early bird tickets

This is a simple tip, but it’s worth a reminder nonetheless. Snatching up tickets when they first go on sale can save you hundreds of dollars. (Click here to tweet this tip.) If you’re fairly certain what events you want to attend this year, go ahead and buy the early bird tickets when they first become available for sale.

Even if you don’t end up going to the event, it’s a lot easier to sell a $200 ticket versus a $600 ticket because you waited too long. This is especially smart for popular industry events and conferences that tend to sell out.

I had this experience for this year’s New Media Expo event, where I purchased my ticket for $197. Unfortunately, I had to pass on the event since I got the flu, but at the last minute I was able to sell my ticket to a fellow entrepreneur for the same price. It would have cost her $697 if she purchased it from the website directly. So it was a win-win for both of us!

Don’t go into debt to promote your career

As you can see, it’s all too simple to attend industry events and market your business without spending a lot of money.

Big conferences can have a hefty price tag, which could lead to overspending if you’re not careful. But with some creative thinking and a little hard work, you can promote your career without debt.

Carrie Smith is a writer and solopreneur on a mission to help other solo biz owners discover financial freedom. You can connect with her at Careful Cents, or on Twitter @carefulcents.

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How to Stop Playing the Comparison Game Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Comparing yourself to others in a no-win situation. Here’s what you should be doing instead.

The post How to Stop Playing the Comparison Game appeared first on Brazen Life.

Last week after the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, a new show called Friends With Better Lives premiered. The show has gotten a legitimate amount of buzz with its cast that includes James Van Der Beek (who will always be Dawson Leary, no matter how many shows he is on), Kevin Connelly (Entourage), Brooklyn Decker and Zoe Lister-Jones (who you may not know, but you will soon) and its excellent time slot on Monday nights.

But the real reason people may give this show a shot is because it revolves around the ageless concept of “the grass is always greener.” We always think someone else has it better off than us, whether it be financially, career-wise (wouldn’t it be cool to be a surf instructor?) or in terms of their looks, location, ability to pull off hats or yoga capability.

If you’re anything like me, you may suffer from CCMTO (Constantly Comparing Myself To Others). It is one of my worst habits, even though I know this is not how I should approach the world. But I can’t help it. I have always done it. I love my friends and am thrilled for their achievements and happiness, but there are certain times when I wonder, “Why can’t it be that easy for me to do that?”

But apparently I am not alone in my CCMTO. Psychiatrist Judith Orloff calls us a society of “comparison junkies.” And it starts pretty much from day one. Babies are compared to each other: Who is the cutest? Who’s crawling first? Speaking first? Has the most hair? Orloff writes, “Comparing yourself to others can preclude a bond of common fellowship and is a disservice to finding true worth. Either you’ll end up with the short end of the stick or, if you deign to put yourself above anyone, you’re nowhere. (No one is above anyone else.) Self-esteem must come from simply being you.” (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Sometimes the comparisons get so out of hand that we end up losing friends. Last week, Christina Pesoli wrote for Huffington Post about a very negative tendency many women have that’s a result of comparing themselves to their friends. Pesoli describes it as the “Two Out of Three Club.” She writes:

It is a sorority of women dedicated to keeping each other from living full lives. Few people know that the sorority exists, and fewer still realize that they are active members of it. Like computer zombies that are part of a vast botnet, women in this sorority work overtime to sabotage each other’s success, yet they aren’t even aware that they are part of this destructive network.

Members of the Two Out of Three Club condition their friendship with you on your having only two out of the following three things going for you: looks, success and happiness. If you have a great career and a fantastic boyfriend, you’d better look like Ugly Betty. If you are gorgeous and have a job that you love, your boyfriend better be a jackass. If you and your significant other have a good thing going and you’re also attractive, you’d better have a boss like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.

This is tough to hear, but I think most of us can admit that we may have at times pledged this sorority or at least acted like we could be a member. Jealousy can rear a very ugly head, and that head usually comes out in the form of being unsupportive. This is especially bad if it happens in the workplace.

Women need to support each other as we move up the ranks and not turn our backs on each other. Kathi Elster, co-author of Mean Girls at Work: How To Stay Professional when Things Get Personal told me, “The workplace is competitive by nature. And many women are conflicted when it comes to competition: we want to be liked and we want to win at the same time. The result is covert competition — which often manifests as mean behavior. For example, a woman might be nice and friendly to her coworker’s face, but say things that erode that person’s reputation behind her back.”

So, how do we get over this?

1. Identify the person you feel envy towards or are jealous of

Find that person you tend to envy and try to mindfully stop comparing yourself. Whenever you think you are about to do it, think of something else. Think about how you can do better at work or contemplate something really tough, like the series finale of Lost.

2. Jump on the bandwagon

Instead of pouting or looking sad when you hear something good about this person or they receive praise from your boss, jump on the bandwagon. Say “good job” too! Show that you’re confident. But by being generous to them, you will receive generosity back. Same for kindness and encouragement. Put it out there.

3. Learn from them and make a change

Why are you jealous of this person? Is it because they seem to be doing better at work than you? Then figure out what you need to also excel. Do they do extra work? Do they lead projects? Take a cue from them. If they are in shape, ask them what exercises they use or for some diet tips. If it’s a friend, ask them where they shop. Use your negative feelings to your advantage.

Meredith Lepore is the former editor of the women’s career site The Grindstone. Before that, she was on staff at Wall Street Letter and Business Insider and was a contributing writer for LearnVest. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University after graduating with a degree in Brain and Cognitive Science from the University of Rochester. Meredith resides in New York full-time and enjoys reading, jogging, shopping and playing with her puppy, Otis.

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Here’s the Secret to Negotiating with the Opposite Sex Wed, 09 Apr 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Knowing the differences in how men and women approach negotiation is important for getting what you want. Understand the other party’s mindset, and you’ll be more effective.

The post Here’s the Secret to Negotiating with the Opposite Sex appeared first on Brazen Life.

The first time I negotiated with a man, I negotiated the same way I would with a woman. That failed miserably. I ultimately learned I had to change my mindset, my communication tactics and my overall attitude when negotiating with the opposite sex.

Knowing the differences in how men and women approach negotiation is important for getting what you want and deserve. If you don’t understand these differences and how they will affect your end result, you may leave the discussion wondering, “What just happened in there?”

To get what you really want out of the conversation, it helps to understand how the other person approaches it. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Be aware of these five key differences between men and women at the negotiation table:

1. Mindset

Women often see negotiating as an unpleasant chore they want to avoid at all costs. Men see negotiating as a game or a challenge. Men can be more competitive than women, so they may be more focused on winning than a woman might be.

Tip: Enter a negotiation ready for a challenge no matter what. You want to approach the negotiation on a level playing field with the other person and get what you deserve.

2. Length of the negotiation

Men want to get to the point as quickly as possible, and small talk doesn’t accomplish that. Women will take more time in a negotiation to make it right. Men prefer shorter negotiations, while women might take a bit longer to make sure everything’s in order.

Tip: When negotiating with a man, try to limit the length and keep it short and sweet. If negotiating with a woman, know that you aren’t on the clock and you can take your time to get to the final agreement.

3. Relationships

Women worry more about protecting relationships with the people they’re negotiating with. Men see negotiating as an opportunity to show off their skills and ultimately win.

Tip: If you’re a woman, your goal should be to gain respect instead of worrying about being liked at the end of the negotiation. You can’t please everyone, especially in a tough negotiation.

4. The introduction

Women will use small talk at the beginning of a negotiation to develop a relationship before they get down to business. Men, on the other hand, tend to get right down to business immediately.

Tip: Know your audience. If you’re negotiating with a woman, you may want to start with some small talk. Negotiating with a man? Leave the small talk for afterwards.

5. Confidence

Women’s confidence tends to fluctuate more with criticism during a negotiation. Women can be more afraid of being turned down. On the other hand, men are more confident when faced with rejection or criticism.

Tip: If you’re criticized, don’t take it personally and don’t say anything you might regret later. Shrug it off and continue to make the points you prepared so hard for. This will show the other person they did not succeed in ruining your composure.

Don’t wait for someone else to give you a raise or a higher offer. Speak up and ask for it yourself. It’s up to you to make sure you get what you want and deserve.

Most importantly, never be scared to negotiate with the opposite sex just because you don’t understand them as well. Learn where they’re coming from, and you’ll be better prepared to negotiate effectively with anyone.

Anna Runyan is a leadership coach and the founder of Anna is also the author of the brand-new book The Professional Woman’s Guide to Managing Men.

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Performance Reviews Done Right: Tips for a First-Time Manager Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:00:00 +0000 With great power comes great responsibility. In your first management role, you’ll need a few tried-and-true tactics to approach performance reviews with your employees.

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Congratulations! Now that you’ve been promoted to manager, you’re probably eager to kick-start your new role. But where do you start? It’s often said that the transition to your first management role is one of the most difficult ones in your entire career.

Above all, in your new role you’re supposed to manage people. Your team will make or break your success. This is a good thing because you don’t have to do it all yourself. You can identify the skills of each member of your team, build upon them and help them to accomplish their tasks. Sounds doable so far, don’t you think?

Well, this “managing people” part is what most newly promoted managers find more difficult than expected. Maybe your team will include former peers or even friends. And most likely, some senior guys in the team will be skeptical about your performance since you’re younger than they are. Somehow as the new manager, you want to be their friend, mentor, inspiration and teacher, but still need set and maintain new boundaries.

One of the most powerful instruments for establishing a solid foundation for the new relationship with your team is the performance review meeting. Don’t think of these meetings as merely must-dos to keep HR busy. Start to see them as a great opportunity to clearly communicate expectations and open up a dialogue.

Based on years of real-life experience of being a manager (and more than a handful of mistakes), here are my seven tips to get most out of these performance review meetings as a first-time manager:

1. Schedule enough time and don’t cancel

Because these meetings can have such a powerful impact on your employee’s engagement at work, schedule enough time — at least one hour, but preferably more. And don’t cancel this meeting.

This might sound crazy to you, but can you remember how it felt when your manager cancelled your one-on-one? The easiest way to communicate to an employee they’re not important is to cancel their performance review meeting. You can be busy doing stuff all day long, but don’t cancel on them for whatever reason.

2. Champion the performance review process

Be professional. Performance reviews are not a joke or a pointless formality. Though this business process might require a more formal approach than you think, show your employees you take it seriously.

Make sure you know exactly how your company deals with the complete cycle. Find out if a performance calibration is part of the process and make sure you know what you need to prepare for that meeting. Also, communicate clearly to your employees what they need to do in order to prepare fully for your discussion.

3. Focus on performance, not personality

The performance review — what’s in a name? — is about performance, not about personality. Train yourself to avoid bias when assessing your employees.

If performance is unsatisfactory, say so. Give recognition for great performance as well. If you’re not prepared to be completely honest with your employees, ask yourself why and get over that before your meeting.

If you’re afraid an employee will become hostile, figure out why they might become that way and schedule a longer meeting to establish credibility and trust before giving any constructive criticism.

4. Be the manager

Don‘t fall into “friends mode.” Even if you and your direct report usually interact informally, this is a conversation between a supervisor and employee.

Show respect to your direct reports. (Click here to tweet this thought.) If you manage employees who are older than you, be sensitive to their feelings without giving in.

5. But don’t lecture. Lead!

Encourage employees to drive the agenda and bring a list of topics they’d like to discuss or want your advice on. You can try to bring these out by simply asking, “What can I help you with?”

Ask open-ended questions about a specific project (“How’s project X going?”) or even more broad questions (“What’s keeping you up at night lately?”). By encouraging your employees to raise real concerns, you may get some tough responses.

If you can’t answer them, tell your employee the truth. If you do choose to answer, answer honestly.

6. Avoid surprises

Don’t surprise employees with feedback they’ve never heard before. The performance review is only a culmination of the entire year.

Also try to fold in input from others in the organization. You only see what you see, so getting feedback from others leads to a far more balanced and thus accurate evaluation.

7. Steer clear of negotiations

 Don’t enter into negotiations about the performance rating. Your role as a manager is to represent the company and to follow the performance review procedures. You may not agree with such a calibrated rating, but it’s still your job to advocate for it when speaking with your employee.

My bonus tip: Enjoy the ride! Don’t get overwhelmed with all new things coming at you — just be the manager you always wish you’d had. If you make the best use of instruments like the performance review meeting by following these seven tips, you’ll be much better prepared to succeed in the corporate jungle. Don’t leave your first performance review cycle as a manager to chance.

Martina Mangelsdorf, founder of GAIA Insights, a boutique firm specialized in engaging, developing and retaining Generation Y talent, created a unique First Time Managers’ Performance Review Toolkit that helps you to be fully prepared for this crucial conversation. It offers step-by-step guidance and plenty of practical tips to transform the performance review from a scary monster to a invaluable instrument to manage your employees.

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How to Create Job Ads That Attract the Right Candidates Tue, 08 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Having trouble finding the right person for the job? It might be the lackluster job ad you created. Here’s how to master recruitment advertising.

The post How to Create Job Ads That Attract the Right Candidates appeared first on Brazen Life.

Guess what? Your job ad is terrible.

Don’t feel bad; most job ads are. Of course, it would probably be nice if the ad attracted perfect candidates. If it conveyed your culture and spoke directly to the perfect person and compelled them to apply.

And it can happen. You just need to figure out how to master recruitment advertising. Here are the guidelines:

1. Stop rushing

The primary reason most job ads aren’t effective is that they’re rushed out the door. Hiring managers toss a job description together and hit “send” before they even reread what they wrote. Recruiters take that job description, jam it into an ad format and publish as quickly as they can.

But rushing your work leads to sloppiness and carelessness. It was true in grade school, and it’s true today. If you need to create a job ad, stop, breathe, take your time and make sure you reread it before it goes out the door.

2. Spend time on the job description

If your job description is terrible, your job ad will be terrible too. If you invest time to make sure the job description is clear and matches the company’s tone, you’ll be a giant step closer to a non-crappy job ad.

The best job descriptions contain:

  • Separated requirements and responsibilities. “Three years of experience” doesn’t belong next to “day-to-day website maintenance.”
  • Language humans use. At least the humans you’re targeting. If you’re targeting lawyers, you’ll probably sound more formal than if you’re targeting startup folk.
  • An awesome company description. In a few lines, candidates should get a feel for the company and the people it employs.

Once you’ve completed your first draft of the job description, run it through a quick check to make sure it’s accurate and contains enough information.

3. Think like a growth hacker

OK, you’ve taken a deep breath and written a job description that isn’t awful, but you’re not done yet. You’re less than halfway there. Now you have to take off your writer hat and put on your growth hacker one.

In growth hacker mode, think hard about how to craft the job ad to get the best results. You’re focused on metrics like views, clicks and conversions (in this case, that’s applications).

To optimize views, make your ad search friendly. Look at different networks and job boards to see how search and keywords affect results. How you optimize for views will depend on the platform. LinkedIn displays search results differently than The Ladders — each network is different.

To get clicks, focus on the title of your job ad. It’s like your subject line in email marketing: You need to excite someone to click open. If your title says “Junior Software Engineer for Engineering Firm,” you might get nothing but yawns. Spice it up. Stand out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and A/B test your titles to see which performs best.

To get conversions, ensure your job ad reads well and clearly conveys your message. You did a lot of this when you wrote your job description, but now think like a candidate. Skim the ad. Did you “get” it? Was it interesting? Even better, have someone (like a candidate) skim it and tell you their impression. You might find yourself rewriting a bit.

And make it easy for candidates to apply. The best-optimized job ad in the world is useless if it’s hard to apply.

4. Location, location, location

Time to change hats again. Remove growth hacker and put on real estate agent — a virtual agent. Your well-crafted and optimized job ad won’t help if your target candidates can’t find it. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Do a little online research. Tons of articles and discussions focus on where sales, marketing, accounting and tech candidates look for jobs. A quick online search for your role and industry will help you figure out where your job ad belongs. Once you know, post it there.

Being a recruitment advertising master does take more time and effort than posting a few rushed paragraphs on the most popular job boards. But taking the time to master recruitment advertising will get you something special: the right candidates and the certainty you didn’t waste your time.

Michael Overell is the CEO and co-founder of RecruitLoop, an online recruitment marketplace based in San Francisco and Australia. A former McKinsey Consultant, Michael is passionate about startups, health and technology. He surfs when he can and rides a bike most days. Follow him @mboverell.

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10 Life-Changing Lessons You’ll Learn in Your 20s Tue, 08 Apr 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Learning doesn’t stop once you graduate college. There might not be as many textbooks or lectures involved, but what you learn in your 20s will stick with you for life.

The post 10 Life-Changing Lessons You’ll Learn in Your 20s appeared first on Brazen Life.

Think of your 20s as Life 2.0. There are certain improvements to the operating system, such as the legal age of drinking, a diploma, your own income and the ability to finally say to your parents, “I’m an adult. Stop treating me like a child.” (BTW, if you’re acting like a child, it doesn’t matter what age you are.)

But as with all system upgrades, there are still bugs that need to be worked out. By the time you arrive at Life 3.0, you’ll realize even more updates have occurred.

Prep for the 2.0 updates with this handy list of truths and realities about life in your 20s— and beyond.

1. Being selfish isn’t selfish

Many of us are taught to put our family and friends first. That lesson needs to be rewritten. Your friends and family are important. But you are just as important.

Putting yourself first isn’t selfish (assuming you don’t walk all over other people to do it.) To advance your career, you need to be a little bit — or a lot bit — selfish.

If not you, who else will take control of your life? You deserve to be happy in your career. Your needs are as important as anyone else’s.

2. Your career is just as important as your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s

If they imply otherwise, it’s time to find a new partner. A real companion is proud of — not intimidated by — their partner’s success.

Seek a romantic interest who has enough sense of self to say, “I deserve this amazing, ambitious person. Together we’re a great team.”

3. The only thing that’s constant is change

Learn to go with the flow and you’ll be happier in the long run. When something happens you don’t like or didn’t expect, ask yourself what you can learn from the experience.

I have a friend who was on her way to speak at a conference when she found out she’d lost everything, including her home and life savings (long story, so I’ll spare you). She walked to her place on the stage in shock. She found herself seated next to the Dalai Lama, who asked her what was wrong, and she unloaded on him. He listened kindly, and when she was finished, he simply asked, “What can you find to be grateful for in this situation?”

Now, even she admits she couldn’t find something to be grateful for at that very moment. But the very concept struck her as a wonderful way to go through life. There’s always something to be grateful for.

4. There is no set timetable for success

Everyone hits different markers in their life at different times. Just because you’re not yet working your dream job doesn’t mean you’re running behind the pack.

Your journey is your own. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s standards or timeline to achieve success. If your way is a bit more scenic and less straightforward, and even if you get lost on occasion, celebrate the beauty of your path.

5. Find your bliss

Stay close to anything that makes you glad you woke up each morning. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Whether it’s doing yoga, taking foreign language classes or volunteering at the local animal shelter, try to make room in your life for activities that energize you.

6. Accept that life isn’t fair

Bad things happen to good people, and vice versa. Sometimes what you perceive to be a bad event that happened for no reason will transform into one of the best things that’s ever happened to you.

7. Walk through life with a sense of interest and awe

I have a friend whose daughter taught me a valuable lesson when she was only two years old. She would walk (or toddle, I suppose) into every room with an expression of awe on her face. It was if she was thinking, “What fabulous thing could be happening in this room?”

It was such a lovely education in choosing an attitude of being ready to embrace every little thing in life, at all times.

8. Save — even if it’s only $20 a week

Your 20s are the perfect time to hone your personal finance skills. Each paycheck, put aside a little bit into your savings account. If you have it automatically direct-deposited, you won’t even have to think about it. Put that money in an interest-bearing savings account or other earning-potential cache.

If you’re able to average a 10 percent return on your savings every year, you’ll have saved over half a million dollars by the time you’re in your 60s. All for the price of about three lattes you didn’t buy every week.

9. Go easy on your parents

Your parents did the best they could with the skills (or lack thereof) and parenting examples they had. You may think it’s hard to be a kid, but soon enough you’ll realize it’s far more difficult to be a parent.

Don’t blame them for the choices you make. Remember, you’re an adult now. Take responsibility for own actions.

10. Go easy on yourself

You’re a unique and wonderful individual who deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. But to earn that respect from others, you must start by treating yourself with respect and kindness.

There will be times in your 20s when you feel as though your software has crashed and you’d simply like to hit the reboot button. But keep in mind you’re not a machine; you’re human and have complicated feelings. So hang in there, and look for life’s equivalent of the computer’s Easter Eggs.

Heidi Nazarudin is a former CEO of a Nasdaq-listed company turned success-oriented blogger and author. For more inspiring career tips and tricks, visit her blog at

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7 Things You Should Do While Earning Your MBA to Increase Your Chances of Finding a Job Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 If your reason for earning your MBA is to land a better job, make sure you cover these bases while working toward that degree.

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Going back to school to earn your MBA is often a means to achieving something greater: a job you’ll enjoy, and hopefully one that will reap a decent salary, too.

That’s why MBA hopefuls will be glad to hear that more than 75 percent of the 211 employers who responded to a Graduate Management Admission Council survey intend to hire at least as many MBA graduates this year as they did last year.

But a promising crystal ball reading — particularly one from an interested, albeit respected, party that administers the GMAT test — doesn’t mean that MBA students will face any less of a crowded field of competitors when they search for post-graduation jobs.

To put yourself in the best possible position for beating out those competitors, here are seven things you can do while earning your MBA that will improve your chances of landing a job afterward:

1. Take an ax to your resume

MBA students and graduates often make the mistake of listing every achievement imaginable on their resume, thinking that will help them avoid being overlooked, warns Roy Cohen, a career coach in New York City and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. But the truth is, including so many achievements can actually make it more difficult for employers to understand why they should hire you — not easier.

“Companies and hiring managers do not want to work to figure out how you will add value and over what time frame,” Cohen says. “Make sure that your [resume] is precise in showing that you have both the experience and skills to outperform in the job and career that you are pursuing. Equally important, edit the resume to focus on removing the nonessential and distracting items.”

2. Vary the style of your resume

Each MBA student should have multiple versions of the same resume, with different styles and formats that go beyond the traditional one-pager, advises Aaron Simkovich, controller at Maranon Capital in Chicago and a Boston University School of Management MBA.

Simkovich recommends giving all of those different resume versions to a recruiting firm (if you work with one). “They should know what type of resumes worked with these companies in the past,” he says.

3. Consider a makeover (and no, we’re not talking about a resume makeover)

“If the last suit you bought has shoulder pads, then it is time to take a trip to the mall to buy a replacement,” says Roberta Chinsky Matuson of Matuson Consulting, who helps Fortune 500 companies recruit talent. “While you are there, be sure to stop by the hairdresser for a fresh new look,” she added in an interview with’s Karen Schweitzer, which is chock-full of other tips for MBA job applicants.

4. Find ways to gain relevant work experience

If you know what career field you want to work in, choose internships that relate to that professional path. “The more pertinent the better, and the more recognizable a company [such as General Electric, Microsoft] the better,” says Mike Kahn, an executive senior partner at the Lucas Group focused on human resources.

“Just having any job over the summer won’t help much, though it is certainly better than no work experience at all,” he says. “When I see a resume of a recent college grad and they have no employment at all, that is a big red flag.”

5. Dive into LinkedIn

MBA job applicants should get involved in networking groups of all sorts, as well as social media sites, Kahn advises. “Be sure your LinkedIn page is robust and includes a high-quality, professional photo,” he says. “While LinkedIn is the gold standard for online networking today, keep all of your online presences a potential employer may come across professional.”

6. Learn to right write correctly

Students often take for communications skills for granted, but they do so at their own peril, because recruiters pay close attention to the written and spoken word, says Lee Igel, an associate professor at New York University’s Tisch Center and a regular Forbes contributor, who has advised senior executives at large companies.

“It seems obvious to students, because we’ve all been composing and talking for years; writing and speaking are, however, specific skills,” Igel says. “Recruiters and other executives who make hiring decisions have been telling me for years that they’re happy to discover candidates who can do one or the other. A candidate with both is like manna from heaven.”

7. Try to have fun

That’s the final piece of advice for MBA students who are job hunting from Roxanne Hori, who wrote a Businessweek article on the topic. Enjoying a job search might sound utopian, but Hori reminds students, “Business school is a unique opportunity to build an amazing network of friends and colleagues you may have for the rest of your life… Take advantage of all these things. They will enrich your business school experience many times over.”

Menachem Wecker is a former education reporter at U.S. News & World Report.

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Too Many Meetings? How to Scale Back and Achieve More Mon, 07 Apr 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Stop all the pointless routine collaboration. If you want to achieve more at work, be deliberate and selective when you collaborate.

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It’s 9:15 a.m. and you’re just getting into the rhythm of your day. The phone rings, and on the other end of the line, one of your colleagues unexpectedly asks you to attend a meeting that starts in 45 minutes.

Although you respect your colleague and would like to support her, you had plans for your morning and are getting closer to a few deadlines of your own. How would you respond to the meeting invitation?

  1. Stick to your existing plan and graciously say “no.”
  2. Be a “team player” and let your colleague know that you’ll attend the meeting, but clearly set a boundary that you won’t stay longer than one hour because of your own deadlines.
  3. Ask a few questions about the anticipated goals and importance of the meeting, then evaluate whether your own priorities match and if the specific contributions you could make are likely to impact the outcome of the meeting. Make a committed yes/no decision based on those factors.

If you chose response one or two, you may be an over-collaborator. Response three is the preferred answer because it focuses your decision around two critical factors: your highest priorities and your value-added contributions.

To get more done at work, these are the two factors that can help you escape the inertia of unnecessary collaboration and join your efforts with others only when it counts.

Routine collaboration drains time

Of course, collaboration by itself isn’t bad. Problems occur when routine collaborative efforts and unclear mandates produce a toxic sludge known as meeting soup. On a bad day, we may view meetings as the biggest waste of time in our working lives. On a good day, we may look at meetings as the chance to connect with people and discuss important matters.

The reality for most of us is that the quality of our meetings falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. According to most estimates, managers and employees spend anywhere between 25 and 80 percent of their time in meetings. (Click here to tweet this stat.)

For a full-time employee, this translates to time spent in meetings that ranges from 520 hours to 1,664 hours (or 65-208 full working days). What’s the rationale for all the meetings? It’s the “need” for collaboration.

Selective collaboration boosts performance

To reduce your meeting clutter, make it a priority to collaborate in the right way, at the right time, with the right people. This kind of selective collaboration is about intentional partnering that boosts the chance of success by aligning the required strategic skill or resource with the essential contributors in the simplest way.

Think of selective collaboration as a career move for you, not just a chance to escape the unproductive, routine meetings and conversations that fail to push your goals forward.

Moving away from routine collaboration — even when professional or cultural norms dictate it — can deliver a greater return on your efforts because it aligns with your highest priorities and features your value-added contributions. Getting great work done by delivering clear and consistent contributions is one of the best ways for you to stay at work.

The first step is learning how to choose when, how and who you collaborate with. Yes, you’ll have to learn how to say no. Yes, there may be some short-term negative reactions to this. But your elevated contributions to top priorities should ease those concerns quickly.

Instead of relying on partnerships that are dictated by circumstance and opportunity, you’ll seek out collaboration opportunities that serve a specific purpose.

Sometimes the missing piece is motivation, and that can be found through a partnership with some individual or group who’s driven, focused and inspired. Other times, the missing piece may be technical, strategic or organizational. In these instances, the mix of skills, abilities and access to resources serves as the driver for selective collaboration.

Selective collaboration gives you a tool to accomplish tasks that otherwise wouldn’t be feasible alone. The restraint of choosing high-potential collaboration allows you to avoid wasting time when collaboration itself is a substitute for lack of creativity, vision or accountability.

There’s reciprocity with this as well. When invited to collaborate with others, accept the invitation only when the best mix of skill and contribution can be aligned in an effective way. It’s not about being selective because you “have better things to do”; you choose the moments where your impact can be the greatest.

When in doubt, you can use the following list to confirm the opportunity for selective collaboration. If you can agree with each item, it’s time to schedule a meeting.

  • I have identified a clear learning and performance outcome for this collaborative effort.
  • The outcome will clearly support one of my priorities.
  • I know what I can contribute to make the collaboration a success.
  • I understand what my collaborator(s) can deliver and their contributions make it better than going it alone.

Jesse Sostrin is the author of Beyond the Job Description. He writes, speaks and consults at the intersection of individual and organizational success. Follow him @jessesostrin and visit his site here.

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No Experience? No Problem. How 4 Pros Landed Their Dream Gigs Fri, 04 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Not having related work experience or education isn’t necessarily the end of your job search. Here’s what four pros did to get their dream job.

The post No Experience? No Problem. How 4 Pros Landed Their Dream Gigs appeared first on Brazen Life.

An Army combat engineer turned advertising executive. A banking executive turned career counselor. A mother of 12, now a communications writer. An Intel engineer turned comedian. These are not your typical career changes.

Here are the inspiring stories and creative strategies these people used to transition into a job they love — without related work experience or education.

Work on your transferrable skills and connect with the interviewer on a personal level

Tom Aiello, president of March Marketing, was an Army combat engineer who wanted to work in advertising.

To get the recruiters’ attention, he listed his skills and compared it to job descriptions to see which of them are applicable in advertising. Then he focused his resume and cover letter on these transferable skills. His next challenge was to convince company VPs that his military background was applicable to advertising.

These decision-makers didn’t think “a rigid Army veteran would thrive at an ad agency,” says Tom. He had to convince them that he could fit in. “The key was connecting on a personal level to make them feel they could work with me,” Tom says.

He looked up the background of each interviewer, then used the information he found to break the ice by drawing out what they have in common.

Do your homework: study the people, culture and the work done. Use this to “ask intelligent questions about the job,” Tom suggest.

When transferrable skills aren’t enough: quash the stereotypes

Peter Berner, president of Pilot Workplace, had a successful banking career, but he wanted to be a career counselor.

Back then, “the going price of admission into the career development field was a Ph.D. in Psychology and a skirt,” says Peter.

Here’s a situation where transferrable skills and enthusiasm weren’t enough.

To solve this, he compiled the bios of senior leaders in major career development firms, and through persistent networking, he got an audience with the decision-makers of these companies.

But he didn’t ask for an interview. Instead, he showed them the bio compilation without the names and asked them to check for any similarities in the work and backgrounds on the bios. None of them could find a pattern.

The credentials of the senior leaders were diverse, but even more surprising to his audience was the fact that “none of them had a Ph.D. in Psychology and not one of them was female,” Peter says.

After realizing this, the people who didn’t want to give him a chance were suddenly open to hiring him. Don’t disqualify yourself from the competition just because you don’t have the “requirements” for the job. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Create your own experience

Varda Epstein, a mother of 12 with a high school education, started out occasionally cleaning houses to help pay the bills, but is now a successful writer.

Like most writers, she started out with no clips, so she wrote editorials for a local newspaper and used them for her portfolio. Today, she’s the communications writer at Kars4Kids, an organization sponsoring educational initiatives for children. “I’m doing what I love best: writing about education and helping children,” says Varda.

Many aspiring writers think they can’t have a successful writing career because they don’t have a journalism degree, but she didn’t let that stop her. “No potential employer noticed or inquired about my lack of education,” says Varda.

Don’t be impatient for success

“Nothing big starts big,” says Dan Nainan, senior Intel engineer turned comedian. He used to travel the world doing technical presentations with Intel Chairman Andy Grove, but he wasn’t exactly a “natural” on stage.

He took comedy lessons to get over his fear of public speaking. After that, the comedy kind of took off and, since then, he’s performed at several events, including a TED conference and several presidential inaugurations.

He’s successful, but “it took almost two years of full-time work to get my first show,” says Dan. Back then, each $5 ticket sold earned him $1 and he had to hand out flyers in Times Square. It was hard work for low pay, but he persevered.

As for changing jobs and learning new skills, Dan suggests, “If you want to do something difficult, try something even more difficult, and the difficult thing will become less so.”

Let that sink in for a moment. It’s logical advice. In his case, speaking on stage was hard, but it’s even harder to make people laugh. Once he got comfortable with comedy, public speaking came easier.

What about you? Are the requirements for your dream job a bit out of reach? Try the strategies here.

If these strategies have worked for you before, share your story in the comments!

Charley Mendoza is a freelance business and career writer. She helps business consultants and career professionals attract new clients through copywriting and blogging.

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Get Recruited: Upcoming Brazen Recruiting and Networking Events (April) Fri, 04 Apr 2014 10:00:30 +0000 Want to be invited to our upcoming recruiting events? Here's how to get on our list.

The post Get Recruited: Upcoming Brazen Recruiting and Networking Events (April) appeared first on Brazen Life.

You probably know Brazen has an incredible community of go-getters, young professionals who have rallied together around finding a job they enjoy. Many of you have been with us since back when we were a social network — and we love helping you continue to grow.

But did you know Brazen also partners with popular employers and universities around the country to put on virtual career fairs and networking events?

Our platform allows talented candidates to connect directly with recruiters, hiring managers and other decision-makers to see if there’s a match with a particular company or organization. Doesn’t that sound more civilized than applying to a standard job listing and never hearing anything back?

Many of our partners ask us to bring the best job candidates to these events, which means YOU have a chance to get recruited. This is your opportunity to take a step up in your industry and transition into your dream job.

Want an invite to our next event? Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll keep you posted!

Get psyched about these upcoming events

This month, an impressive roster of employers, universities and organizations are hosting events on the Brazen platform. We’re excited to partner with GettingHired, LGS, DC Business Leadership Network, National Labor Exchange Military Career Fair, and many more impressive employers who are looking to chat one-on-one about open positions — as well as make hires.

On the university side, we’re working with Columbia Alumni Association, UPenn, Lehigh University, Oregon State, University of Kentucky Alumni Association, and more to host networking events that help alumni and students make valuable connections.

Don’t you want to be in on this goodness?

Sign up for our newsletter to get on the invite list!

If you’re with a university, employer or other group, click here to host your own online networking event. We’ll be in touch right away!

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The Truth About Millennials in the Workforce Thu, 03 Apr 2014 17:00:39 +0000 Sick of hearing about how entitled and self-centered Millennials are? Then you’ll love the infographic recently released by Switch and Shift.

The post The Truth About Millennials in the Workforce appeared first on Brazen Life.

Sick of hearing about how entitled, lazy and “me, me, me” Millennials are? Then you’ll love the infographic recently released by Switch and Shift.

Titled “The Myth of the Millennial,” it lays out all the facts and figures that show how — contrary to popular misconception — GenY is actually highly engaged, highly competitive and highly driven. It’s chock full of great stats you can quote the next time you hear someone groaning about Millennials.

You can view the full infographic here.

What do you think about the stats in this infographic? Does anything surprise you?

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The Secret to Nailing That Interview and Getting the Job You Want Thu, 03 Apr 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Interviews don’t have to be scary. Make your interview a mere formality on the road to landing your dream job.

The post The Secret to Nailing That Interview and Getting the Job You Want appeared first on Brazen Life.

Imagine yourself in the market for new winter boots.

You walk into your favorite shoe store, and a friendly assistant approaches you. “Hello!” she exclaims, while beaming her most customer-friendly smile. “How can I help you today?”

“Well, I’m looking for winter boots,” you reply, and go on to describe the boots: “I’d like them in black, calf-high, with a fur trim. I don’t like heels, but I do need the sole to have a decent grip.”

The assistant appears to be taking mental notes as she nods her head enthusiastically. You notice this spirited zest and cautiously add, “Oh, just so you know, they’re for my next vacation. I’m heading out to Antarctica.” You leave out the part about being on the final leg of your 20-must-see-places-before-you-die trip. She has enough details.

The assistant leaves with the instructions and, moments later, returns with an armful of boxes. Slowly, she opens the lids and starts to reveal the treasures.

“I think you’ll love these,” she claims, handing you a pair of red ankle boots.

Seeing the disappointment on your face, she grabs another pair. “Oh these. These are simply perfection.”

The camel-colored concoctions most certainly are not.

Twenty minutes later, you find yourself on the bad side of frustrated and wonder if anything you’d requested resonated at all.

This story has a point: When the shopper is your potential new employer, and the friendly assistant is you, the last thing you want to do is hand over red boots when black ones were requested.

In other words, know what your interviewer wants before you begin handing them solutions. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Get inside their head and figure out what their most pressing needs are. And proceed to show them how you’ll fix them — in your resume, your cover letter and your interview.

Here’s how:

Do your homework

As an interviewee, your job isn’t to show up at the interview prepared to answer questions. Your job is to have answers prepared in anticipation of questions.

If the very thought of this makes you shudder with fear, fret not. It’ll take some work, but it’s easier than you think.

Whether the interview is a done deal or you’re trying to break into a new business, knowing what issues your hiring manager is facing is the key to getting noticed.

  • Interview people. Reach out to people in the business. Use your network to create warm introductions. When speaking to the employees, ask them about challenges they face in the business and their team. Get as much detail as you can.
  • Go online. Many businesses participate in industry forums and communities. LinkedIn is the biggest place. Seek out where your target employer is and read the latest updates. A wealth of information awaits you.
  • Speak to competitors. Businesses in the same industry face similar issues. Again, ask your network to make warm introductions and speak to employees of competing businesses. As well as understanding what challenges they face, this will help in researching the competition of your interviewer. Everyone likes inside information.

Bulletproof your resume

Armed with your background information, your next step is to show ‘em what you’re made of.

Given the challenges and issues you’ve noted, what can you do to solve them? What have you done in the past that displays your skills and abilities in fixing the issues? What expertise can you provide that the employer doesn’t already have?

This is difficult to do. It’s up to you to think creatively and dig deep. Once you know what the answers are, write your resume to include them for every relevant job you’ve done. Use different formatting techniques (bold, italic, changing text size) to draw the eye to those specific areas.

And while you’re perfecting your resume, know this: 80 percent of your competition won’t think of doing this. They’ll turn up at the interview ready to answer questions using knowledge of their experience alone. And you? You’ll turn up with the answers the employer previously only wished had existed.

Interview day

D-day arrives. Are you prepared? You will be, right? Because in addition to research on competitors and the killer resume you created, you also prepared examples of how you can be of value to the interviewer, didn’t you?

No? Let’s fix that.

When you note the key issues facing the interviewer and find solutions, your focus will be on how you can lead those solutions. Write these down in detail, create a case study and make your solution visible. Why?

The power of paper: When you’re in the interview room and you’re ready to talk about your solutions, don’t just discuss them. Pull out the paper that has the magic case study or detailed description on it and hand it over to the employer. “Let me show you something I’ve created,” you’ll exclaim, handing them your paper.

What impact does this have? It gives them a solution to their problem. It shows them you have initiative. And it makes their decision to hire you easy.

Much like if the assistant had brought those black, fur-trimmed boots with a good grip.

Taking these steps will put you in the front line of 80 percent of those competing for the same job. You’ll have done your homework. You’ll have networked with your future colleagues already.

And the interview? It’ll be a mere formality.

Razwana Wahid writes at Your Work Is Your Life, a service dedicated to making your writing  work  – to sell, to convert, to connect. Read more at or follow her on Twitter.

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How to Pursue Your Passion Without Going Broke Wed, 02 Apr 2014 20:00:00 +0000 Pursuing your passion seems like a good enough idea until rent is due. Unfortunately, passion isn’t enough to pay the bills.

The post How to Pursue Your Passion Without Going Broke appeared first on Brazen Life.

Burnt out at work? Want to try a new career? Go back to school? What should you do with your life? Where should you turn next?

If you’re looking for any sort of career advice, it’s likely you’ve heard a certain suggestion before: Pursue your passion! In this economy, you’ll barely make any money no matter what you do, so why not do something you’re passionate about?

It sounds like a dream. You could move to a country with a low cost of living, then if your passion earns only a couple of dollars a day, you’d still be fine. You just need to find a thousand people passionate about the same things and convince them to give you a hundred dollars a year!

Yeah, right. That’s not exactly how the world works. Passion is rarely enough to get you through on its own. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Customers rarely pay a premium for “passion.” And when you’re not getting paid enough, it’s hard to stay passionate about your passion.

When passion just doesn’t cut it

Finding a project you love is all well and good on a sunny day when you’re feeling okay. But on those gray days when you’re suffering from the flu or you’re otherwise down, passion is rarely enough to get it done.

You may wind up asking yourself if you’re doing the right thing. Can you justify giving up a more lucrative career — one that left you free time to pursue your passion after hours — just to do something that sounds fun?

I know that feeling. At the most basic level, I spend every day writing. I’m passionate about writing and the topics I cover. But today, it’s too cold out, I didn’t get enough sleep and all I can think about is crawling into a nice warm bed. Yet, I’m sitting here, typing up a post just for you. How do I keep it up?

Instead of your passion, pursue this

There’s another route you could go. You could take on anything that pays the bills, then pursue fun projects you’re passionate about on the side. This is exactly the route I took when I was a freelancer fresh out of college. That approach, as it happens, leads straight to passion burnout.

Unless you consider wanting to eat on a regular basis to be your passion, passion isn’t the problem here. But when your main focus is the work you actually enjoy, you have to pay the bills with whatever you can shoehorn into your schedule.

The reason I’m still planted firmly at my keyboard on a day when I don’t have an immediate deadline is not just because I’m passionate about writing. I also have a sense of purpose. Besides following your passion, you also need to define your purpose.

I write about topics relevant to entrepreneurs and help businesses with their content because I know my writing makes a difference for them.

For example, I write articles that give freelancers advice about paying taxes. I cover the nuts and bolts of small businesses. I help my friends with their wacky Kickstarter ideas. My purpose sustains my passion. My work is something I’ll stick to whether or not I feel passionate about writing anything today.

Where passion and purpose intersect

There’s this niche of writers who turn out articles on how to find your passion (and pursue it!) Each article seems virtually identical.

A particularly persistent piece of advice is to look at what you enjoyed as a child. I don’t know about you, but my childhood interests were pretty diverse. There was a time when digging large holes in the backyard entirely consumed my attention.

At another point, I was obsessed with mythology. My interests waxed and waned like any other kid’s, and that’s a good thing. Until you’ve had the chance to try a whole bunch of things, you probably won’t have a good idea of what you enjoy.

You’ve got to find your purpose as well as your passion — and then find a place where both intersect. It may be easier to find a day job you can tolerate. But the only way to find something that works for you is to go out and try different options.

Get involved with different groups and to explore different purposes you care about. You don’t need an all-consuming cause, but you do need something you care enough about to give up sleeping in on the weekends.

Only then will you really be capable of pursuing your passion, and your purpose along with it.

Thursday Bram writes about the business of writing, along with small business and freelance topics. You can find Thursday on Twitter.

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10 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Get Better at Multitasking Wed, 02 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 As an entrepreneur, you have to wear many hats. Learn how to multitask better with these great tips from top business leaders.

The post 10 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Get Better at Multitasking appeared first on Brazen Life.

Recently, the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) contacted top business leaders to ask the question, “Everyone’s favorite productivity tip is to simply focus. But when you have no choice, what is your best tip for multitasking smarter?”

As an entrepreneur, you have to wear many hats — often simultaneously. Learn how to do it better with these great tips on how to do multitask without tanking your efficiency (or your sanity). (Click here to tweet this list.)

Wear a watch with a timer

“I recommend deciding which tasks you’re going to complete each day and then wearing a watch that beeps every hour to help you keep track of passing time. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the details of a task and spend too much time on it, so staying conscious of how much time you’re spending on each task is the key to working faster and being more productive.”

-Ziver Birg, ZIVELO

Write it down, and take three at a time

“Only have three priorities at once. I am a sophomore in college, so I always write out what I need to do to complete my week. However, I star one thing in each category (work, school, other) that I need to complete first. When I cross that off, I star something else and if I finish a category, I am able to use that star in another category. Write it down!”

-Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper

Only multitask when you don’t need to devote your full attention

“All — and I do mean all — of the research currently available shows that multitasking is a productivity killer. Don’t do it. The only acceptable time to purposefully multitask is when you’re performing activities that don’t require your full attention. For example, you can respond to emails while listening to music or take a non-critical call while walking or driving. “

-Emerson Spartz, Spartz

Don’t multitask

“I’m often amazed at how much more I can get done when I don’t multitask. If I’m going to go on social media, then I will just go and enjoy myself and not pretend that I’m doing other work. If I’m writing, I shut down all other distractions. The same goes for checking email, phone calls — you name it. Keep your focus lasered, and see how much faster you close the loop.”

-Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media Inc.

Use offline email

“One of the main ways that folks multitask is by balancing email responses with other projects, but the biggest distractions are new incoming emails. Work in an ‘offline’ state so you can multitask across known projects and avoid any new surprises that will just create more work.”

-Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches (Follow on Twitter @ModifyWatches)

Know your limits

“Don’t try to handle too much at once. This is when mistakes are made. Instead, prioritize your tasks and make sure you are dedicating enough attention to the most important.”

-Nicolas Gremion,

Get an extra set of hands

“Everyone sings the praises of multitasking. It’s a simple math equation: More tasks can be completed with four hands than with two! To multitask smarter, hire someone to help. This isn’t just about delegating one-off tasks. With my executive assistant on my team, I am consistently able to be much more productive and effective.”

-David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

Keep a list of short tasks handy

“Multitasking is only effective if you’re just looking for ways to fill time when you are waiting for something else to finish. Keep a list of short tasks that you can work on while you’re waiting, like updating a contact in your address book or sending out a reminder email. Try to avoid anything that you can get sucked into (like social media) during these short bits of time.”

-Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting (Follow on Twitter @ThursdayB)

Remember: two is better than one

“While it’s ideal to focus on one task at a time, it’s simply not realistic for the busy life of an entrepreneur. At my office, my dual-monitor setup allows me to fly through multiple tasks with countless tabs open. My productivity improved exponentially using dual monitors, and now I couldn’t imagine working any other way. “

-Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings (Follow on Twitter @cabinetkings)

Plan to avoid it

“Take the time to build a schedule that avoids the need (as much as possible) to multitask. Generally with multitasking, you end up being less efficient. I diligently keep a running to-do list and a running follow-up list, and then I prioritize my time based on those lists. It is also important to give yourself a small break between tasks to keep your focus and energy level high all day long.”

-Anderson Schoenrock, ScanDigital

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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Coworker Envy? Here’s Why That Jealousy’s Holding You Back Wed, 02 Apr 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Struggling at work because everyone else seems to be doing better than you? Don’t let jealousy and comparison ruin your self-image.

The post Coworker Envy? Here’s Why That Jealousy’s Holding You Back appeared first on Brazen Life.

‘Fess up. Are you that employee who gets envious of a peer’s success? That coworker, who was hired about a week before you, seems to have something delightful to say to everyone — even the boss. She turns heads when she walks through the door. In meetings, people listen to her. And is it your imagination, or is she getting better assignments than you?

Our relationship to power and success can often color both our self-image and how we view others. Someone who’s experiencing self-doubt and questioning her own success does the obvious thing: She compares herself to others who seem more at ease, more knowledgeable and more dominant and confident.

To be successful in your career, it’s essential to let go of comparing yourself to others. Without comparisons, jealousy and envy can’t exist. Not only are behaviors associated with jealousy and envy unattractive, but these behaviors will also prevent you from achieving success. That’s because success depends on high self-esteem.

Sounds right — but how do you let go of jealousy and envy to build up your self-esteem? Here’s how:

Turn your attitude around

Pay attention to every time you find yourself obsessing about a coworker who seems to attract more attention and opportunities than you do. When you catch yourself comparing yourself to her, stop and shift your mindset. Focus on what you do have and what you’re grateful for in life, not what you’re lacking. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

For example, you were hired on the basis of your academic record, intelligence, problem-solving abilities and experience. Take a mental inventory of your pluses, and think about how lucky you are to have a good job and career prospects.

Give others what you most desire

Enlist this secret to success: If you want to be appreciated, appreciate others. If you want your work to be valued, value others’ work. If you want attention, pay attention to others. If you want a successful career, help another’s career to flourish. What goes around comes around when you surrender comparisons.

Learn from a rival’s positive points

Here’s an easy way to quickly transform those negative feelings of jealousy into a more productive frame of mind. Get your mind off what you think you lack. Ask yourself what you can learn from someone who has the success you desire. As Yoko Ono has said, “Transform jealousy to admiration, and what you admire will become part of your life.”

Wish a rival well

This may be hard or even feel impossible, but try to imagine yourself seeing the world through that other person’s eyes. When you can do this, it enables you to feel compassion and empathy.

Think to yourself, “I hope she succeeds and gets everything she needs and wants out of this job.” As soon as you do this, you can easily let go of jealousy and attract more success.

Surrendering comparisons lets you put your eyes back on your own self and your own success — where they belong — instead of wasting energy obsessing on others people’s good fortune or beating yourself up.

Even if you don’t completely mean what you say during this exercise, fake it until you make it. Often, having the right intention and choosing the higher ground (even if you’re not totally there yet) precedes an attitude change.

When your heart is in the right place, you’ll become what you want to be. Praise yourself for all the baby steps you make in the direction of self-compassion and gratitude for your life.

Judith Orloff, M.D. is author of a new book, The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life (April 1, 2014), which this article is based on. Learn more at

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Learn What Your Audience Needs With One Simple Strategy Tue, 01 Apr 2014 20:00:00 +0000 Do you talk with your audience? This tactic could be the key to your success.

The post Learn What Your Audience Needs With One Simple Strategy appeared first on Brazen Life.

A few months ago, I ran an experiment: I emailed my mailing list and asked if anyone was interested in having a 15-minute consulting conversation with me via Skype.

I offered to help them with questions about Web design, freelancing or self-publishing. They’d choose the topic and they’d have my ear for 15 minutes.

I did this to see how I could better help the people already interested in what I do and who had probably bought at least one item I created, since most folks are on my mailing list because of books I’ve written.

Thirty-five people replied within a few minutes, and I spent the next few weeks scheduling and taking calls with them, one by one.

But they weren’t the only ones who benefited

My intent was to help with whatever they were working on or struggling with. What ended up happening was that these calls helped me.

I became more clear on the specific topics my audience was interested in. I got to learn exactly where they were struggling and looking for help with their own work.

I did my best to help each one, but I also made meticulous notes so I could see if there were any trends. Thirty-five isn’t a huge chunk of people to get very scientific with, but it was enough to detect a general pulse and notice common themes.

The commonalities between these people helped guide my writing for my upcoming book and helped me figure out what type of course would be most beneficial to create. Both creations, after all, would be targeted primarily at my mailing list.

It’s helpful to know more about the people who wanted to know more about me and the products and services I offered.

And it wasn’t done in an obtrusive way, either — these were just informal conversations with people who were happy to share. I had nothing at the time to sell, only genuine help to provide for free.

Your audience matters

Obviously, in business, it’s important to know what your customers want and how you can serve them in the best way. This leads to things like revenue, which is always a good thing.

It also creates a connection between you and them and shows them you aren’t blindly creating things to sell at them. You’re listening to them. Because they’re the people who are listening to you.

Too often with passion-driven entrepreneurial projects, we focus on what we’re stoked about or what drives us. But if it’s an interest we want to turn into a job, it’s just as important that a potential audience finds it equally interesting and of value. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

How do you listen to what your audience is interested in or needs help with?

Paul Jarvis is a Web designer and bestselling author who’s obsessed with nature and hairless rats. His latest book, Everything I Know, is a guide to freelancing as a creative professional (without living on Ramen noodles or settling for bad clients). Follow him on Twitter @pjrvs.

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Share Your Thoughts on GenY in a New Blogging Contest (and Win $200) Tue, 01 Apr 2014 17:00:58 +0000 Read Wave wants to know your thoughts on Generation Y for their new contents, and the winner receives a cash prize!

The post Share Your Thoughts on GenY in a New Blogging Contest (and Win $200) appeared first on Brazen Life.

You know what they say about Generation Y. We’re the YOLO Generation. The “me, me, me” generation. The generation that’s into selfies, Instagramming our food and #hashtagging #everything #we #say.

Or so they say. We’re more interested in what you have to say about GenY, and so is Read Wave, a site that shares “three-minute stories” it hopes will inspire and move you. They’ve launched a contest to gather your thoughts on Generation Y, and the winner receives a cash prize!

Read Wave is calling all bloggers, writers, thinkers, part-time philosophers and aspiring journalists to write an 800-word article on the theme of Generation Y. The article that receives the most “likes” on Facebook will win a cash prize of $200 (or an equivalent value in your local currency if you’re outside the U.S.).

The deadline for submissions is April 14th, so put on your thinking caps, pick up your pens (or keyboards), read more about the contest here, and get to writing.

Best of luck!

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5 Ways to Take Charge of Your Career and Land the Job You Want Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Stop waiting for the perfect career to come to you. It’s not going to happen. Use these five steps to reach out and grab it.

The post 5 Ways to Take Charge of Your Career and Land the Job You Want appeared first on Brazen Life.

As much as you wish it would, the perfect job isn’t going to find you and toss itself upon a silver platter. If you want to achieve your ideal career, you have to engage in techniques that’ll catapult you towards it.

Read on to discover the five ways you can become proactive and prepared while taking charge of your career ambitions.

1. Educate yourself

You claim you want a certain industry career, but can you prove it? Be willing to walk the walk by tuning into podcasts and subscribing to relevant blogs. See what professional organizations and learning seminars you can join.

Your resume may not reflect any jobs that directly pertain to your ideal career, but showing off to hiring managers that you’re proactive enough to educate yourself may be more impressive anyway.

2. Mentor with meaning

You’ve heard about the importance of a mentor, and you’ve thought about getting one, you just… um…

It’s normal to feel hesitant about approaching a mentor; after all, you likely respect and admire their achievements. But the hardest part is asking. (Click here to tweet this thought.) With an insightful and humbled approach, the worst that can happen is getting turned down.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be in the same time zone to connect. In fact, people in other states and cities might be more willing to help you out because if you live somewhere else, you pose less of an employment threat.

LinkedIn is a great tool for connecting you to the professionals within your desired field. Even if you can’t meet in person, you can still message one another and gain an insider’s perspective on the job climate, fair pay and common misconceptions.

3. Volunteer

Perhaps you can’t land your dream job right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t interact with it. Reach out to a local company within your desired field and see if you can volunteer your services in exchange for a widened industry experience and education.

Not only can these informal internships add some weight to your resume, but they’ll also connect you with the movers and shakers in the industry. Just think how much more your name will stand out in a pile of resumes when their next job opening comes around. And even if it never does, your time spent volunteering doubles as networking for leads to jobs beyond that specific company.

4. Dust off that resume

In addition to adding these new efforts to your resume, you might also want to tweak the details of your past jobs. Say, for example, that your dream is to work as a grant writer, but up until this point, you’ve only worked at completely unrelated catering and event jobs. Seems like a huge disconnect right? With a little creativity, maybe not.

 Continuing with this example, being a grant writer requires you to understand specific demands and meet deadlines while paying close attention to details. Who’s to say that as an event assistant, you didn’t meet client’s demands within their timelines while paying attention to details? The key is to honestly craft your resume so those natural connections to your dream career are made clear.

5. Update more than your look

The old saying “dress for the job you want” still applies in today’s modern world. Be willing to take out those piercings and steam a suit if it’ll get you one step closer to the job you want. But don’t stop there.

It’s also a good idea to update your attitude. Be more proactive and hungry when it comes to developing your skills. Ask your boss to meet with you and discuss your options for internal development and growth. The job you have now may not be ideal, but if you make the most of it, you can turn it into a powerful catalyst toward your future career.

What other steps can you take to take charge of your career ambitions?

Kelly Gregorio writes about workplace trends and tips while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a provider of merchant cash advances. You can read her daily business blog here.

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How to Turn Your Big Idea Into a Profitable Business Mon, 31 Mar 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Got an idea that feeds your soul in a way your job doesn’t? Take these concrete steps to give yourself a chance to make that idea an income-generating reality.

The post How to Turn Your Big Idea Into a Profitable Business appeared first on Brazen Life.

You went to school, got a degree, found a great job… and slowly started to fade away. Nothing at work motivates you anymore.

But there’s this one idea that gives you that feeling deep inside your gut. You know, the big idea that’s been brewing around inside for a while now, keeping you up at night and giving your mind and soul something to daydream about in those boring meetings you attend week after week.

You’d love to do something more with your big idea. But where do you begin?

Almost everyone at some point has had a big idea tucked away deep inside. Yet few people ever tell anyone about them, much less turn them into a successful business venture. How do you buck the odds? How do you become one of the growing numbers of people that change the odds and become the success story?

Define your big idea

Work can be boring. That’s why you start dreaming in the first place. Before you know it, your dreams turn into something solid. They start defining you.

You may not tell anyone about them, but that dream comforts you when your boss has you rewrite a report for the tenth time. Or when you can’t get to sleep on Sunday night because you don’t want to return to the office on Monday morning.

Before your big idea can move forward, you have to define it. And not just in simple terms — the more detailed the better.

“Solve the world’s hunger problem” may sound good when you finally say it out loud, but what specifics do you have for accomplishing it? Do you have an idea for a new crop? Can you eliminate pesticides from the food supply? Can you change the distribution cycle?

While a one-line goal is easy to focus on, it’s the detailed step-by-step plan that’ll give you guidance and help bring others on board.

Discover where the money is

Ideas are great. But if you can’t make money with them, you’ll never be able to quit your day job and dedicate your life to it.

One of the easiest ways to find out if your big idea has potential is to see what’s already in the marketplace. Chances are if you’re dreaming about doing something, someone out there has done something similar — and has made a good living from it, too.

Find those people. Follow them. Study them. Buy their books, products and training materials. Sign up for their marketing materials. Discover how they talk to their own clientele.

The more you learn what they’re doing, the more you can apply it to your own big idea. Why reinvent the wheel when something like it already exists? Your job is to take what’s out there and add new life to it with your own ideas. And make it even better.

Make your action steps believable

The more you work on putting together the specifics, the more pieces will fall into place. And the more tasks you’ll discover that are still left to do.

The key to turning your idea from concept to reality is action. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Without action, it’s just another idea that gets lost in the shuffle. Action is what solidifies your idea and turns it into a viable business. And action requires specific steps to see it through from beginning to end.

Let’s say you’ve had the goal of writing a book for years. But every year comes and goes without a book to show for it. The reason it’s left unfinished is the goal is too colossal; it’s unbelievable. How will you ever be able to write 50,000 words?

Monumental goals almost never get completed. Which is why it’s so important to break them down into bite-sized, doable action steps, and in some cases even find help that’ll hold you accountable along the way.

Instead of having “write a book” as a goal, by turning it into something more doable — write 1,667 words a day — it becomes more believable and therefore more achievable. You can write 1,667 words over your lunch hour or when you get home from work. You can’t write an entire book.

And that’s where having a believable action step can help you succeed.

Set a date

To accomplish your goal, you have to have an end in mind.

You can track it by date: On Dec. 31, I’ll quit. Or you can track it by income: When I’ve reserved $10,000 in savings, I’ll put in my resignation. Either way, having a tangible end point to focus on will make that date a reality.

It’ll also give you something even more concrete to focus on when you file into the conference room for one more of those boring meetings.

Lori Osterberg is co-founder of, a site dedicated to helping people define their big ideas, pinpoint their exact target audience and develop a successful profit zone around it. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Be More Productive on Monday — and the Rest of the Week, Too Mon, 31 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Tired of getting sucked into the black hole of Mondays? Here’s how to conquer the day -- and set yourself up for a productive week.

The post Be More Productive on Monday — and the Rest of the Week, Too appeared first on Brazen Life.

There’s a reason most people dread Mondays: They’re notorious catch-up days. You answer the dozens of emails you neglected over the weekend and attempt to make sense of your triple-booked calendar for the week.

By the time you actually start working, it’s almost lunchtime. How did that happen again? No wonder Tuesday is thought to be the most productive day of the week. But it doesn’t have to be.

A few simple changes to your routine can rock your professional world. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Here are three ways you can make your Monday more productive:

1. Prioritize before you prioritize

Write down the top three tasks you know you have to get done that day. These are three tasks you were thinking about in the shower or while you were making your morning coffee. They’re probably on the top of your mind because they’re the most important or time-sensitive tasks of the day. Do them first.

If they’re cognitive in nature, it’s especially important you get started before noon, when your ability to focus starts decreasing for the day.

When making your list, don’t look at your calendar or email. Glancing at your calendar may seem harmless, but you’ll instantly be flooded with dozens of seemingly important tasks. It’ll make picking the top three more stressful than helpful.

When you finish a task, don’t forget to cross it off the list. If it’s a task that involves someone else in the office, celebrate the win. Celebrating the little wins will make your day more rewarding. Take a moment to high-five a colleague or buy yourself a cupcake — or both.

2. Do an email sprint, not a marathon

Checking email in the morning has become a bit taboo lately, for good reasons, but let’s be real here: You’ve got to check your email. So do a sprint instead. You know what you’re looking for, and with a quick one-minute scan of your inbox, you can flag anything urgent that needs to be answered immediately and ignore the rest.

Don’t even open the email if you know it can wait until the afternoon. Most things don’t matter, at least not immediately, but doing an email sprint will catch anything that does. As soon as your one-minute sprint is over, answer the urgent emails and move on to the first task on your priority list.

Wait. It’s only 9:30 and you’ve already prioritized your day and checked your email? Professional world rocked yet?

3. Take a break

A lap around the office, a quick read of the morning paper or even a nap if it’s allowed are all good ways to give your brain a boost. If you’ve been working on the same task for a while, but the ideas are no longer flowing freely, take a break. Listen to your brain telling you it can’t focus right now.

Short breaks can recharge your brain and help increase productivity. It may seem counterintuitive, but being unproductive in a constructive way (getting exercise, staying informed or sleeping) for a couple minutes will make you more productive for the next 60.

It’s possible to beat the odds and make Monday your most productive day. While these productivity hacks are especially important to implement on Mondays, they can help increase productivity at work on any day of the week. Start today.

Emma Zimmerman is Marketing Associate at Startup Institute, an international career accelerator offering transformative educational experiences for career changers and recent grads. Her work with early stage startups in Chicago led her to a company @StartupInst that increases the impact of startup employees and helps people find their passion.

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Why Sheryl Sandberg’s Anti-Bossy Campaign Gets It Wrong Fri, 28 Mar 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Sheryl Sandberg’s campaign to ban the word “bossy” has its merits, but it leaves something to be desired. Here’s what it’s missing.

The post Why Sheryl Sandberg’s Anti-Bossy Campaign Gets It Wrong appeared first on Brazen Life.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and the godmother of “leaning in,” has launched a female empowerment initiative that includes calling for the banning of the word “bossy” and encouraging the world to refer to girls as “feminist” or displaying “executive leadership skills.” She has garnered the support of organizations including the Girl Scouts of America and powerhouse entertainer Beyonce.

Though I respect Sandberg’s intentions, as well as her exemplary leadership and strides in advocating for career, equality and leadership advances for women, I think this particular campaign is a bit presumptuous, taking focus off a larger, more pressing issue, especially for young minority females.

Read more at Black Enterprise

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Want to Learn New Skills? Try These 8 Online Education Tools Fri, 28 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Want to add to your skill set without the headache of post-graduate programs? Try one of these online education tools.

The post Want to Learn New Skills? Try These 8 Online Education Tools appeared first on Brazen Life.

Feeling lackluster about your skill set lately? How would you like to pick up some knowledge without all of the hardship of student loans, applications to postgraduate education programs and mind-numbing studying for the GRE?

We’ve compiled a list of eight free educational tools that cover many topics, including programming, entrepreneurship, entertainment and the sciences. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. TED Talks

You may be familiar with TED Talks and their knowledge-friendly, inspiration-charming slogan, “Ideas worth spreading.” The conference, held every year in various parts of the world, gathers great minds of science, philosophy, journalism and creative professions to educate you on technology, entertainment and design.

At least, that was the original idea when the nonprofit was founded in 1984. Now all of the talks are available online. It’s one of the best places to learn about the hottest new ideas and world truths, which is why it’s at the top of our list as one of the most valuable tools to begin learning new skills.

TED inspires and shares knowledge you can’t find anywhere else, and it’s generally one big, grand lesson in less than half an hour.

2. Khan Academy

Bill Gates had a vision of educational bliss when he was introduced to Salman Khan’s project in 2006. The Khan Academy began when the MIT and Harvard Business school graduate was tutoring his grade school cousin, Nadia, in basic mathematics. Khan couldn’t always teach her in person, so he began filming YouTube videos.

The format was a simple lecture on an electronic blackboard paired with friendly and straightforward instructions and easy-to-understand drawings.

These lectures went viral, and Khan Academy was started using real-world anecdotes to teach many of the requisite K-12 courses in science and mathematics — even postgraduate-level skills. It’s the second hottest online educational tool on the Internet because it’s perfectly free for viewing. All content is delivered on YouTube without user registration.

With thousands of lectures to choose from, anyone can pick up skills such as high mathematics, finance, accounting and computer programming. Khan Academy has also partnered with other renowned universities and museums to teach even more higher education topics. Exercise your cerebellum for yourself here: KhanAcademy

3. Coursera

Coursera is another educational effort to offer free education online to the world. It features some of the most prestigious universities and brilliant minds on the planet. Coursera is most notable for its courses on computer programming skills and having featured lessons with Google executives.

Coursera is taught by professors from world-renowned universities sch as Princeton, Stanford and Columbia. Who knew Ivy League education could be a Wi-Fi connection away?

Unbelievable? Check out their list of partners yourself. Courses last six to eight weeks and many include actual certificates of completion from the universities involved. They’re taught in dozens of languages by schools from around the world.

4. SkillShare

SkillShare is another hip way to learn skills online, especially with topics like DIY Audio Mixing from an actual DJ master, Young Guru, who has worked with much of the top talent in the music industry including Beyonce and Jay-Z.

SkillShare is unique in that the videos are mainly focused on modern and practical skills, such as entrepreneurship courses like Launch Your Startup Idea for Less than 1K. This course helps students define a minimum viable product to start their own company affordably.

Membership with SkillShare is only $9.95 per month for unlimited access to the video lessons. With a free membership, courses are on a per-class cost basis.

5. SkilledUp

With SkilledUp, 103,000 courses are available at your fingertips. SkilledUp is another resource to find and learn new disciplines online. Sixty-seven thousand of them are even free, including topics on Google software tutorials and lessons on Javascript.

The unique search engine format leads users all over the Web to a vast network of online course registries. If you have the appetite, SkilledUp has a list of resources to keep your brain occupied for hours learning about topics you didn’t even know existed. You might want to check out the Golden Rules of Entrepreneurship.


Online video tutorials don’t stop there. Lynda is another place to learn new skills on your own time. With 2,372 courses online, you can pause and continue based on your own schedule to learn photography, computer programming and software like Final Cut Pro using’s memberships.

It’s not free, unfortunately. Unlimited access to these videos start at $25 per month. Higher memberships come with downloadable course materials and the ability to watch offline via your iPhone and iPad. Keep it mobile with Lynda.

7. Open Culture

Open Culture is the most barebones way to find free education from the top schools of the world online. Have an interest in art, programming or physics? You can find about any course you’re seeking on Open Culture under a plain text heading with a direct link.

That’s all it is: a simplistic, practical catalog of online education for no cost. Consider it the Craigslist of online education. Open Culture is one of the most basic and useful places to find lessons on practical skills.

8. MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts has a catalog of courses for free online. The most prestigious technical college in the world is actually offering courses to laymen for no cost on relevant topics.

Sustainable energy, medicine and engineering are all examples of classes you can take online from MIT. The most impressive aspect of OpenCourseWave is that it includes virtually all of MIT’s in-person courses and is available to the entire world. Check it out for yourself: MIT OCW.

Erik Hyrkas is the Editor and Founder of He’s part-time freelancer and full-time gadget freak based in Washington, D.C. He spends his free time using social media to annoy his friends and keep himself updated on the latest technology news and trends.

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Coworker Drama: How to Navigate the Office Minefield and Accomplish More Thu, 27 Mar 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Tired of listening to all the “problems” of the middle-class office? Here’s what’s going on and how to deal with it.

The post Coworker Drama: How to Navigate the Office Minefield and Accomplish More appeared first on Brazen Life.

It’s Monday. You get into the office and are all set to tackle the mountain of emails that have amassed in your inbox over the weekend when you hear, “and they were completely out of soya milk, it most certainly was not extra hot and I could swear there were two full shots when I explicitly requested a shot and a half!” from the desk behind you.

Monday morning coffee blues: just one of many “problems” you’ll hear working in a middle-class office.

The scene is familiar: You’re working your way up in the world, putting in the hours and doing great work. You’re surrounded by people at a similar point in both their career and life choices.

They’ve got a little extra disposable income, they’re starting to think about marriage, family or expanding family, moving homes, buying a bigger car — heck, they’ve worked hard these last few years and feel they deserve a decent coffee on a Monday morning.

Welcome to the world of the middle-class office. Best get ready to tackle some serious middle-class problems:

The little problems are huge

The main problem in working in a middle-class office is that there are few real “problems” at all. (Click here to tweet this thought.) No one is worried about scraping together the last few pennies of their paycheck at the end of the month so they can afford to eat, no one is working three jobs to make rent, and no one’s worried about unemployment.

That means the little problems in life become one catastrophe after another. And who are people going to moan to? You, their fellow suffering coworker.

Their eyes hurt because the computer screen is too bright. The traffic was especially terrible this morning and they were a whole three minutes late. They simply can’t believe there’s no decent sushi place nearby. And they’ve totally forgotten the name of their new cleaner.

Plus, little Oscar has started teething (you worry if Oscar is their dog or their baby), the wedding photographer had to pull out and, on top of all this, the photocopier has jammed again. They look like they’re about to keel over. Life has gotten to be too much.

The best thing to do?

Smile. A friendly nod.

In these situations, the smallest of gestures — making a cup of tea, offering them the opportunity to get it off their chests and out of their system — will probably pay dividends. A sympathetic ear and listening to them for a few minutes will minimize a day-long moan, and you’ll be in their good books, which is never a bad thing.

And by the time they’ve had their little rant, they’ll realize they’ve got so much to do today (you could always prompt this by saying, “Gosh, is that the time?”) that they can’t believe they’ve spent the last 10 minutes jabbering away.

Everybody is, like, so super-busy

You send an email only to be greeted with a plethora of out-of-office replies: “I’m in meetings all day… I’m on email, but away from my desk… Please contact my assistant…” yet you can clearly see each individual looking at their computer screen.

Everyone has so much going on that rather than talking to you about a certain project (yes, you who sits at the next desk), you get an email, a meeting request and a shared Google Doc because they’re so super busy they haven’t got the time to chat about this right now. Ask them how the search for that new kitchen is going, however…

Everyone is so busy that people don’t even have the time to speak in full sentences. Enter the language of the middle-class office: peppered with acronyms, abbreviations and phrasing that doesn’t make sense.

Expect to hear sentences such as, “FYI, going forward we need to reconsider the USP of this, think outside the box and adopt blue-sky thinking — let’s touch base next Wed and drill down the key issues then. Oh, and re: the party, I’m an in but no sig oth.” At a middle-class office, we’re not just talking a waterfall of corporate nonsense; we’re talking the shortening of “significant other” because they’re on such a tight “sched.”

No one has time to do anything because they’re all so busy. Busy doing what exactly, you’re still not sure.

In these situations, it’s best to take the lead and start face-to-face meetings. Agendas to ensure you’re on track, shorter meetings to optimize time, even popping to a colleague’s desk rather than sending an email will ensure you get the answer you need rather than waiting for a response. As for the corporate lingo? Just don’t. Please.

If you’re not on a health kick, who are you?

Perhaps one reason everyone is so busy is due to their involvement in some kind of crazy health program. You’re receiving sponsorship requests for colleagues running a 5K/10K/ marathon or planning a trek to Antarctica with a fridge on their back while riding a unicycle, and you can’t be expected to sponsor everyone (except then you look like the bad guy when you realize everyone else has).

Add to this the smug, healthy annoyance that everyone has cycled to work, is fitting in a yoga session at their desk and has a quinoa and broccoli salad for lunch while you were planning a Mexican feast of burritos with extra cheese (and maybe even chocolate pudding, too).

This health guilt is a side effect of middle-class office life. Your colleagues will be juicin’, chowing down kale, reminding you about the dangers of bad posture (they’ve already submitted a proposal to replace all office chairs with FitBalls) and not-so-discreetly judging your lifestyle choices.

The truth of the matter is exaggeration plays a role here. The smile, friendly nod and sympathetic ear technique is probably best put into action again. We should be encouraging each other’s achievements to build office camaraderie — however much it pains you.

By acknowledging your coworkers’ lifestyle choices, hopefully they’ll respect yours. Or, as the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” Even if it’s the smallest change, a healthier lifestyle isn’t really such a bad thing.

Then there’s the air conditioning warfare, the fact that no one does a tea run because you’re all too important for that now, and the pressure of thinking of something witty to write in a colleague’s birthday card while having to chip in for said colleague’s present, when you’re not even 100 percent sure their name is Amanda — or they even work in this office…

It’s a minefield out there.

Good luck.

And if you do succeed in effectively navigating this period of your career, share your tips with us in the comments, please!

Sarah Atkinson is a digital marketing professional and blogger based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She is currently working with serviced office provider Easy Offices and has a special interest in workplace motivation.

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Buck the Work-Life Balance Myth and Do This Instead Thu, 27 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Do you have a to-do list that’s a million miles long? Here’s how to accomplish more in both in work and life by… get ready for it… doing less.

The post Buck the Work-Life Balance Myth and Do This Instead appeared first on Brazen Life.

Our lives are filled with the insatiable appetite to learn and do more in the 24 hours we are given each day. With so many different opportunities and responsibilities, it can become so overwhelming you may just throw in the towel.

The reality is that the elusive work-life balance does not exist. Today, we are all so hyperconnected and overly available that “blue screening” during a 2 a.m. bathroom run has become a serious fear. You wouldn’t want to miss your sister’s neighbor’s puppy’s photo update, now would you?

As the mother of two children under 18 months old, it’s been incredibly challenging to run a business and household — while still prioritizing my health and happiness.

How I juggled the last two years may amaze most people, but I simply focused on creating a work-life, boss-mommy integration. And I’ve succeeded!

Don’t resent me. Instead, follow in my footsteps and do it for yourself! Here’s how to integrate your work with your life so you can stay on top of both your personal and professional priorities:

1. Don’t believe the “have it all” hype

Because of our hyperconnectedness, many of us have the “luxury” of taking work with us wherever we go. We expect the same of our team. We dream of working from the beach or a cafe in Paris for a week, but reality comes knocking all too often.

Enter, the three big rocks.

Ask yourself what’s important to you and why. Spending quality time with family, speaking at a great event or training for a half marathon? Keep your big rocks aligned and you won’t go wrong.

You can’t have it all (don’t believe the hype), so figure out a way to focus on the three big things that matter to you the most. Remember, you can be great at three things or you can be mediocre at a lot of things. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Make a list. Start with the three things that are most important for you. These are different for everyone, but for the sake of this exercise, I’ll show you mine:

1. Health: Attend yoga three times per week. Go to the gym twice a week. Eat kale.

2. Wealth: Pay off my line of credit by November 2014. Give one percent of profit to charity. Increase my business revenue by 50 percent and employ three more talented professionals by December 31, 2014.

3. Quality time: Spend two hours per day playing with my children. Have weekly date nights with my husband. All while completely disconnected. No electronics!

By focusing on your big rocks, you’ll quickly see that the smaller pebbles that fill in the gaps have less meaning — and ultimately less importance in your life. The goal here is not to feel like you’re giving up something, but instead that you’re investing in the most important things in life.

2. Live your life according to just one list and one calendar

It just makes sense to merge all your tasks — both personal and professional — into one calendar. It’s all part of “life” anyway. One unified list is a great way to visualize your must-dos. Send yourself a calendar invite for your shopping trip, hair appointment, the baby’s vaccinations and upcoming team meetings.

If you have a significant other or co-founder (or even a nanny), invite them to your calendar of events as well. If they know how busy your day is, they may take some to-dos off of your plate.

3. Make the most of your 24 hours each day

Up at 5 a.m. changing diapers? Or maybe you’re juicing and training for a marathon? Regardless of the scheduled — or unscheduled — event, jump into it with all your capacity and focus.

Some people are incredibly productive before the sun comes up. Those people find books like What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast helpful. Others, not so much. They’re burning the midnight oil and waking up at noon.

By identifying when you have the most focus (also known as your flow), you allow yourself to get your most important work done during your most productive hours. Don’t fight human nature.

4. Collaborate or get left behind

Business owners and executives find it difficult to delegate. Moms find it especially hard to give up running the household. Changing diapers must be done their way, as with cleaning bottles, making lunches and brushing teeth. When dad does it, it’s done differently. Yet the outcome is all the same! Hmm…

Take a step back, breathe and start delegating the crap out of your piddly-diddly tasks. Ask your cleaning lady to come on garbage day so she can put out the trash instead of you. Ask your employees to help manage daily to-dos and give them the autonomy to do them their way. They’ll most likely make the process more efficient, anyway.

Save yourself the headache and don’t do it all. It won’t do you any good if you’re sick in bed from exhaustion. Know your limits, appreciate them and work within your capacity.

Work-life integration isn’t going away. We’re all living (and working) in the 24/7 culture. Don’t bury your head in the sand and think about everything you have to do. It’ll all become a mountain you’ll never be able to scale.

Instead, focus on the three big things, create one task list, get into your flow and delegate! You’ll be happy you did.

Renee Warren is the co-founder of Onboardly, a demand marketing agency that helps small to mid-sized companies grow by doing three things: increasing conversions through key revenue-generating channels, acquiring customers and turning those customers into brand ambassadors. You can reach her at

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How to Use Your Transferrable Skills to Make Yourself Irresistible to Employers Wed, 26 Mar 2014 23:00:00 +0000 Feeling down and disqualified because you lack the all skills for the job you want? Don’t despair. You’ve got more skills than you think.

The post How to Use Your Transferrable Skills to Make Yourself Irresistible to Employers appeared first on Brazen Life.

Some days, looking for a new job can be pretty brutal.

How are you supposed to be capable of all these skills? Managing, delegating, working in a team, taking direction, giving feedback, writing, editing, filming, networking, prioritizing, knowing seven softwares and eight social media platforms — it’s too much.

What’s an up-and-comer to do when everyone has a degree, an impressive internship and a Klout score of 74?

You can start to feel pretty down on yourself when your dedicated job hunting has resulted in a big fat zilch, and you’re starting to seriously consider running back to Starbucks with your tail between your legs — or going for a master’s degree.

Fear not. Dollars to doughnuts, you have far more valuable skills at your beck and call than you can think of right now. Skills you may not even know you have. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

These are your invisible skills. Everyone’s got them, but we generally don’t think about them as being important or worth telling anyone about.

Once you learn how to identify your own invisible skills — and, to be sure, it takes practice — you’ll never need to feel like you’re fluffing up your resume ever again. You’ll be filling it with valuable information you can back up with facts and experience.

Most skills share one trait in common

 They’re transferable.

 Being good at something doesn’t just mean you’re good at it. It means you’ve got a grasp on all of the components that go into it.

 Let’s say for example, you’re a good driver. Being a good driver means:

  • You learned how to operate a fairly big and complex piece of machinery.
  • You keep in mind a large array of rules and regulations.
  • You’re actively aware of your surroundings.

If you lacked one of these skills, you wouldn’t be a good driver, so acknowledging and claiming these skills as your own is perfectly reasonable.

Practice breaking skills down

When you’re trying to teach someone a new skill, the first step is breaking down all the component parts that go into the skill. By doing this, you can identify what needs to be understood first, and what builds upon it.

You can do the same thing by yourself with the skills you already know you possess.

Start with a good long think about what you’re good at. Write them all down so you have a long list of options.

Next to each skill you have, write two to four invisible skills that allow you to accomplish it.

Need a few more examples?

  • Baking a cake: following a recipe, planning ahead, paying attention to detail.
  • Writing a poem: imagination, writing and editing, abstract thinking.
  • Playing hockey: physical fitness, balance and precision, teamwork.

Everyone has these invisible skills because almost everything you do requires bringing together the different abilities and knowledge you have. When you practice breaking down what goes into your top-level skills a couple of things happen:

  1. You become good at it — it’s a method of analysis that’s also useful and transferable.
  2. You keep in mind just how many things you actually are good at, and some days we all need that.

Making use of your invisible skills

Not every skill is transferable in every situation. Some jobs don’t care if you can think abstractly or balance well. That’s OK. Not every skill needs to be transferable.

The point is to have a full arsenal of the skills and abilities you possess at the tips of your fingers and ready to go when you do need them.

You can include a useful section on your resume for relevant skills. These are skills not necessarily related to jobs you’ve held in the past, but they draw on the other aspects of your life: your hobbies, your education, your site projects. It’s the perfect place for a few of these invisibles skills you’ve identified.

Choosing which invisible skills to include becomes a matter of reading between the lines of a job ad. What’s the problem they’re trying to solve by hiring someone? What global skills will they value in a team member?

Once you can identify why they need a new hire, and what they value as an organization, you can cherry-pick from your invisible skills to show how talented and insightful you are — a combination that’s hard to resist.

Megan Dougherty (@MeganTwoCents) writes about Paying for Life when you’re creative, educated and broke. If you’re at the very end of your monthly budget and it’s a week until payday, why don’t you check out her list of 20 Ways to Make $30 Tomorrow?

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4 Tips for Balancing an MBA Program with Your Full-Time Job Wed, 26 Mar 2014 20:00:15 +0000 Is it possible to balance a full-time job and an MBA education? With these four essential skills, you can succeed at both.

The post 4 Tips for Balancing an MBA Program with Your Full-Time Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

Are you a current or prospective MBA student? Our MBA Corner is just for you.

Students pursuing an online MBA face distinct challenges — as well as unique opportunities for growth — when attempting to simultaneously maintain a full-time job. The concept of a work-life balance is a familiar one, but what about a work-school balance? Both areas are important to your professional development, and fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice either.

In fact, the skills that you sharpen in an online MBA program can make you more efficient at your job, and the hands-on experience you gain from working full time can enhance your performance in school. As long as you tackle both ventures with the right strategies, you can overcome potential challenges and succeed in both the workplace and the virtual classroom.

Here are four ways to ace your MBA while kicking butt at your full-time job.

1. Focus on your time-management skills

Because you’re balancing schoolwork and a full-time job, it’s essential to gain control over how you divvy up your time to ensure your performance doesn’t suffer in either area. It can be tempting to procrastinate when overwhelmed, but doing so will only lead to more stress in the long run.

Organization is critical for staying on top of important deadlines. To avoid confusion, consolidate important meetings and tasks from your job as well as assignments and tests from your syllabi onto one calendar so you can easily keep track of your responsibilities for both. Designate specific study times, and you’ll be more likely to stick to them. If you know that you’re likely to put off a project until the last minute, you may want to set earlier deadlines for yourself to avoid procrastination.

Remember that while multitasking may sound more time efficient, it can be difficult to stay focused when you’re juggling several tasks at once. You’ll not only finish assignments more quickly if you handle them separately, but the quality of your work will also be better.

2. Develop your presentation skills

From outlining your business plan for a potential partner to promoting your venture at an event or giving a presentation in class, a number of occasions call for strong public speaking skills. It’s crucial to tailor the content and tone of your presentation to the audience’s interests and knowledge level. Once you have their attention, your points can make a memorable impact.

Practice makes perfect, but overly rehearsed lines can make a presentation sound mechanical. As you practice, get a sense of the timing and flow of your presentation without having every word memorized. Remember to remain enthusiastic when giving any presentation — confidence and energy are far more convincing than a perfectly polished speech.

3. Apply lessons from the classroom to work, and vice versa

Now is a great time to begin fine-tuning your leadership style. Many MBA programs provide opportunities to participate in group projects that allow you to hone your leadership skills. Collaborative projects are beneficial to your career in the long run, because whether your goal is to start your own venture or become the CEO of another company, you’ll need to be able to manage and inspire others.

Furthermore, you’ll gain valuable insight from your professors, mentors and peers about your leadership abilities that can be advantageous and applicable to your full-time job. Your success in the business world will also depend on your ability to work as a team, so use any group assignments to better your collaboration skills.

4. Network better — at school and at work

You’ll be invited to a number of events in an MBA program that will expose you to a variety of professionals whose knowledge and advice can be helpful to your success. Start by drawing up a list of specific individuals, whether alumni, staff or fellow students, that you want to contact. Be proactive about reaching out to them, but don’t expect anything in return. It’s critical that you know something about your contacts before you get in touch with them, because your discourse will be more meaningful for both parties. Don’t be afraid to go outside of the obvious people in your immediate industry. The more you can grow your network, the greater your professional possibilities.

Keep your communications short, friendly and complimentary. In fact, don’t start with a request of any kind — instead, send a quick email letting them know it was nice to meet them, or that a speech they gave inspired you. Once they respond, you can ask for a meeting over coffee. Additionally, don’t forget that networking is a two-way street, so try to create as much value as you can on your end. Always follow up to thank them for their time, and you’ll forge stronger relationship and a continually larger network.

Rebecca Lindegren is the Digital Strategist for MBA@UNC, the online MBA program at UNC Kenan-Flagler. In addition to higher education, Rebecca is passionate about leadership, online marketing and skiing. Follow her on Twitter.

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Get the Most Out of Professional Conferences by Utilizing Social Media Wed, 26 Mar 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Neglecting to prepare for a conference is a major missed opportunity, for your employer and for you. Here’s how to make the most of the experience.

The post Get the Most Out of Professional Conferences by Utilizing Social Media appeared first on Brazen Life.

It happens to everyone. You wake up the morning before you leave for a conference in a panic, frantically searching for the closest 24-hour dry cleaners and double-checking travel plans. With everything going on in your life — work, friends, relationships — you feel lucky if you make it to the conference on time, let alone look like a decent human being. But, of course, you found time to update all your social media channels on where you’re traveling.

Professional development is a hefty investment companies pony up for every year, but there’s typically very little discussion around expectations. All too often, employees are given a plane ticket and a conference badge and sent off to Orlando, Cincinnati or (if you’re lucky) Las Vegas, without any support on how to fully harness the experience for the good of the company. The responsibility lands on your shoulders to take the bull by the horns and figure out where you need to go, who you need to meet and what you need to learn.

Waiting until the last moment to prepare for a conference (or not preparing at all) is a major missed opportunity, for your employer and for you. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Use the guide below to maximize your conference experience through using social media — and become an industry mover and shaker in the process.

Articulate your goals

What is it exactly that you’re there to achieve? Is your objective to network? Find potential clients? Look for business partnerships on behalf of your company? Brush up on the most recent industry trends? At least one month before the conference, write down your top three objectives and make a plan for how you can achieve them.

Do your homework

Do not wait until the flight is over to start researching which speakers will be in attendance and which presentations you plan to participate in. Examine the conference agenda two to three weeks before the event and reach out to the speakers directly on Twitter. Sample Tweet:

@Presenter I’m really looking forward to your session at #XYZConf14. Would love to meet up with you to discuss my ideas on XYZ! You game?

Jump on the event hashtag, ASAP

Most conferences have an event hashtag to use, and people often use them weeks or months in advance. For bigger events, they’re used year-round! Start following the hashtag and use it when tweeting articles or news relevant to that audience. Learn who the influencers are, follow them and engage with them. If you tweet with them consistently in the days and weeks leading up to the conference, you’ll win yourself a natural icebreaker when approaching them during the event.

Use LinkedIn

Many large-scale conferences have their own LinkedIn groups. Find out if yours does, and if so, use it! Join the group and introduce yourself. Tell them (briefly) about yourself and your goals for the conference, and invite anyone in the group to eat lunch with you the first day. Define the goal: to discuss a particular industry trend, kick around some ideas and learn what’s worked for them and what hasn’t. Boom. Your first meeting has been scheduled.

Create curated Twitter lists

A surefire way to become everyone’s hero. Research the speakers and organizers and add them to your list if they’re on Twitter. Create a Twitter list of people who use the event hashtag. Update and share both every other day using the hashtag. In doing so, you’ve automatically boosted your visibility and positioned yourself as an influencer.

Make a YouTube video

Create a short video introducing yourself, your company and what you hope to achieve at the event. Encourage the audience to follow you on Twitter and to approach you in person. Invite them to join you at lunch or at the cocktail networking reception for a brainstorming session. People will recognize you and gravitate to you. No more standing in the corner, shuffling your feet and feeling awkward as you stare at your smartphone!

Write a killer recap blog

If (tsk, tsk) you didn’t have a chance to do anything listed above, it’s not too late to redeem yourself! Create an interactive recap of the conference highlights, post it to your blog and share it using the conference hashtag. You’ll boost traffic to your site, get visibility and look like a rockstar when you share it with your boss.

Follow up

Don’t stuff those business cards in your pocket and forget them, only to find them later, balled up in a pulp at the bottom of the washing machine. Download an app that turns business cards into contacts (CardMunch is a good one) and maximize your networking digitally in real time by doing so.

Wait two to three business days after the event has concluded and circle back with the people you met. Tell them you’re glad to have met them and propose coffee (either in person or on Skype) to stay in touch and explore mutually beneficial opportunities.

What are your top tips for maximizing your conference experience? Share them with us in the comments below!

Tatiana Natzke is a social media consultant, an avid sci-fi reader and a prolific gardener. As Senior Account Manager at Social Tribe, she works with clients to design and execute cutting-edge B2B and B2C social campaigns and strategies. Follow her on Twitter @TNatzke and @Socltribe.

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Build Your Personal Brand: 5 Tools That Will Help You Get Noticed Wed, 26 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Are you ready to stand out and get noticed? These five tools can help your brand attract the right kind of attention.

The post Build Your Personal Brand: 5 Tools That Will Help You Get Noticed appeared first on Brazen Life.

You’ve had a brand your entire life. How you act, what you say and how people feel about you are all part of it. That same brand follows you, especially into the office. Sharing best practices, interesting content and becoming a thought leader will help you stand out and get noticed.

Here are five tools to get started:

1. Pocket

Have you ever had an idea you know is great, but you forget it 15 seconds later? Great content is like that, too. With so much happening online, it can be hard to grasp the right insights and keep them around for quick reference.

Pocket solves that problem by allowing you to save anything and go back to it when you have time. You can save articles and videos, with specific tags, and send them to colleagues from inside the app. Never lose another great idea (or post) again.

2. Noowit

Sending a link to an article isn’t the most efficient way to share information anymore. Your inbox gets filled immediately, and coworkers have the same issue. That’s what makes Noowit incredible.

It takes articles and other media and creates a smart, shareable and mobile-ready magazine. You can view it on any device, and with their bookmarklet, you can always update it. It also allows you to view the article inline, so you can go back to the magazine and never have to open a new tab. Create content people love, and they’ll thank you for it. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

3. Buffer

Your time matters. How you spend it and what you do with it can determine your success in and outside of the office. Buffer acts as your social media concierge, giving you the ability to schedule all your posts throughout the day.

Choose your favorite networks and schedule your posts ahead of time. It even allows you to check the analytics of your posts, so you can see what’s working in your networks and how it gets shared. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and Buffer helps you manage and scale your impact online.


Being an expert in one thing can transform you from an employee to a thought leader. empowers you to be a publisher by letting you turn topics you’re passionate about into a collection you can share and build.

Slideshows, articles, videos and anything else you find gets placed into a beautiful layout and is easily accessible from any platform. Thousands of topics are already on the site, so you’ll have no shortage of ideas to build from.

5. Kippt

When it comes to beating the competition, you’re only as good as the information you have. Kippt lets you create an online library of cool things to share and curate. You can save any type of media and share it publicly or privately.

This can be a great resource for gathering information on a new product launch, market research or seeing how your company is perceived. You can create private groups for your team or send the entire bundle of relevant articles to people who need it. Let your bookmarks tell a story.

Test and iterate with these tools and choose the ones that work best for you and your schedule. With the right tools and some effort, you can make this the year you expand your brand and elevate your career to new heights.

Jonathan Jackson is a writer, thinker and digital media enthusiast. He just finished a resource guide for Millennials called Push: An Insider Guide to Building Your Brand, Managing Your Wallet, & Starting Your Career. You can find him on Twitter, Google+ and his website, where he blogs about life and other things.

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Ace the GMAT: 5 Ways to Increase Your Score That No Counselor Will Tell You Tue, 25 Mar 2014 20:00:00 +0000 Really want to rock the GMAT this year? Here are five effective ways to tackle the test you probably haven’t tried yet (and they might even be fun).

The post Ace the GMAT: 5 Ways to Increase Your Score That No Counselor Will Tell You appeared first on Brazen Life.

Are you a current or prospective MBA student? Our MBA Corner is just for you.

You know — more or less — how to effectively manage your time. You’ve studied test strategies until you can’t keep your eyes open. And you’ve taken dozens of practice tests.

You’re also exhausted. And to truly ace the GMAT, you have to study more efficiently, not longer. Create rituals, not a more-is-better approach. Access a support network, not just go to a generic study group.

Here are five effective ways to tackle the GMAT you probably haven’t tried yet.

1. Join a Meetup group

Did you know Meetup has an entire website section devoted to helping folks ace the GMAT? Not only can you find study buddies, but people who have already taken the test attend to share advice. Right now there are just over 2,000 members in 17 cities, and there’s no doubt this group will continue to grow.

2. Find your effective study time and turn it into a ritual

The common GMAT study strategy is “more is better.” But if you’re waking up at 5 a.m. to take practice tests when you really work best at 11 p.m., stop it. Stop it right now. This might mean going the library during your lunch break because your brain gets super-focused after you eat. Or sticking to a ritual you know you’ll never miss, like studying every morning for one hour before yoga. This takes a bit of trial and error, but the time you’ll save by studying more effectively more than makes up for it.

Sticking to these rituals will eventually create a natural trigger. Going to your favorite indie coffee shop consistently after work will motivate you the second you walk in the door. Train your mind to be in GMAT mode at a specific time or in a specific place every day. This way, the amount of time it takes to transition into study-mode will decrease. The less time you spend transitioning, the more time you can spend on actually improving.

3. Attend a free strategy session

You know this by now, but the GMAT is not your average test. It takes strategy before you can plan your study (and study before you can take the test). Just like any efficient cubicle-dweller, the 10 minutes you spend planning your day every morning will make that day infinitely more productive.

The good news is that there are many free strategy sessions happening across the country. The Princeton Review hosts free events all the time, both as intro courses or free classes to help you decide if you should sign up for one of their longer-term courses.

4. Do fewer problems

Taking unnecessary practice tests will not help you learn the material well enough to ace the GMAT. Instead of taking 12 practice tests, take three. Then pick apart every single question. Studying the problems might mean doing fewer of them, but you’re not done just because you got it right. Spend twice as long reviewing as you spent doing. Evaluating your practice tests makes all the difference.

A good way to do this is to make a weekly date with a GMAT buddy (who you found through Meetup, right?). Choose five to 10 questions you found most difficult. Take turns going through each question, step by step, uncovering the traps. This will be easier with someone you can talk it out with.

5. Get competitive

Turn your GMAT study sessions into a game. Choose a common book and do timed drills. Bonus points if you have access to a place where you can publicize the scores. Best out of three wins?

Whether a one-minute dance party every half hour or GMAT jeopardy works best for you, this post has great list of 7 ways to make studying for the GMAT fun.

What other unique ways have you found to prepare for the GMAT?

Marian Schembari is a blogger, traveler and all-around social media thug. She landed in San Francisco via New Zealand via London via New York, where she’s now the Marketing Manager at Thumbtack.

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MBA Decisions: Should You Get Your Business Degree Now, or Wait? Tue, 25 Mar 2014 17:00:03 +0000 Our guide will help you decide whether you should return to school for your MBA today, or hold off for a little while.

The post MBA Decisions: Should You Get Your Business Degree Now, or Wait? appeared first on Brazen Life.

Are you a current or prospective MBA student? Our MBA Corner is just for you.

Whether you’re a recent college graduate or further down your career path, you might be asking yourself this question. The question isn’t “should I or should I not go to graduate school?” It’s a question of when should you go.

Here are the merits of attending business school now versus waiting:

 You should attend business school now if…

1. You’re unemployed

Like the price of any commodity, the value of education increases during poor economic times. When layoffs begin and the job market dries up, it’s a great time to go after your MBA.

If you’re collecting unemployment benefits, have savings and get decent loans, you can pursue your MBA full time without distraction and with little economic downside. If the job market improves, you’ll be qualified for better, more lucrative positions. If it doesn’t, you’ll at least have a competitive advantage.

2. Your employer will pay for it

According to Forbes, the average cost of an MBA is more than $100,000. Paying back school loans can take decades. If you have a full-time job and your employer is willing to foot the bill for your master’s degree while continuing to pay you a living wage, it’s a no-brainer.

Working full time and taking graduate classes at night means you’re going to have little free time, and it’ll be a challenge to keep those grades up. But for those up to the challenge, the rewards are great.

The 2013 QS Top MBA survey estimates the average starting salary of an MBA holder is $113,000. A six-figure salary without student loan debt is no small thing in this economy. If you work for a company with reasonable upward mobility, a company-sponsored MBA can also be a fast track to upper management.

3. You want to run a business, but lack management skills

A common misconception outside the business world is that an MBA is a master’s in finance. MBA programs are more about management than anything else. Many applicants to b-school aren’t business, economics or accounting majors. Many have or are working on their undergraduate degrees in fields like engineering, geology, or even art history.

What all viable MBA applicants have in common is a desire for leadership and business management skills. An art major might pursue an MBA to become a gallery owner or museum curator. Engineering and architecture majors with MBA degrees start their own firms.

If you want to create your own company but lack management experience, an MBA might be a good idea.

You might want to wait if…

1. The demands of your life won’t allow you to concentrate on the degree

If you’re going to pursue your MBA, commit to the experience. Graduate level classes require considerable time and effort. An MBA alumnus from the University of Delaware said she spent an average of 20 to 30 hours per week in class, studying and working on group projects. The minimum GPA for graduation was 3.2. While she wasn’t working at the time, she was raising a new baby and found herself exhausted by graduation day.

Not all MBA programs are as rigorous, but all require a significant devotion of time and have exacting graduation requirements. If you aren’t able to manage these demands along with your workload and personal life, you’ll not only waste time and money, you’ll also damage your academic record.

2. You don’t know what you’re going to do with your degree

Admissions officers for business schools want to hear candidates articulate a plan for their career paths after graduation. They don’t want to hear that you want to make more money. Students with specific goals have a greater sense of purpose and are more serious about completing their degrees.

Admitting qualified and determined candidates benefits business schools because it allows them to maintain high academic standards and completion rates, metrics key in attracting qualified applicants — and tuition dollars.

If you plan on applying to business school, spend some time considering where you want an MBA degree to take you. Polish your messaging. This doesn’t mean you have to plan out your life until retirement. Just make sure your personal statement and interview talking points convey both maturity and a sense of direction.

3. You don’t need it

By now the story of the college dropout whose tech startup makes him a billionaire has become an American cliché. You don’t have to get an MBA because you think you should or because you want to impress others.

If you possess rare, bankable skills, and already have a job you love or are pursuing a dream, you might not benefit much from an MBA degree. You might also not be management material. If your skill set or personality isn’t suited for managing a business, do a little soul searching before committing to two to four years of rigorous education and $100,000 in tuition.


If you continue on to graduate school out of college, the true economic cost is the money you could have made working, plus the expense and debt you incur, compounded by the lost interest of starting your retirement savings later and accumulating less money. If the increased salary that comes with your improved career prospects can make up for these losses, an MBA makes economic sense.

But this calculation fails to consider personal factors: lost time with family and friends versus stifled ambition, the stress of a lower income versus the pressure of a demanding academic curriculum, satisfaction with your job versus the freedom of owning your own business.

The best advice on deciding when to pursue your MBA is to make a list of the benefits and opportunity costs of the decision, discuss the matter with friends, loved ones and advisors, and above all, commit to whatever decision you make.

Rich Carriero has worked in the test preparation and college admissions industry since 1999. In addition to his career as a freelance writer, Mr. Carriero is also a GMAT Tutor and Academic Manager for Next Step Test Preparation

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New Graduates: 3 Smart Moves That Will Help You Snag That First Job Tue, 25 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0000 You’re ready for a grown-up career, but don’t have tons of experience. Here’s how you can still be competitive in the job hunt game as a recent grad.

The post New Graduates: 3 Smart Moves That Will Help You Snag That First Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

Now that you have your diploma, you’ve finally sworn off retail and thrown in the busboy towel. Your resume is a well-oiled machine — clean, efficient and just a little bit sexy.

You’re ready for the responsibilities and rewards of a real-world career. But there’s a problem. You have the training, but not a lot of experience. You want to break into a new career, but so do thousands of other recent graduates whose resumes are painfully similar to your own.

Just like a number scrawled on a bathroom stall, many people have glanced at your application — but no one is picking up the phone.

Sound familiar?

There’s hope. Check out these lesser-known strategies to set yourself apart from the competition:

1. Rethink your niche

You have a degree in journalism, so you want to be a journalist, right? While this may be your end goal, it’s relatively unlikely you’ll land such a coveted position right off the bat, even if you’re quite talented. Your odds might actually be greater in other fields.

Take time to break down your core skills. Consider other industries that covet those same skills. The results of this strategic move are many: You’ll broaden your options with alternative career paths. You’ll have opportunities to advertise and leverage your knowledge in another field. Plus, you can prove to employers that you’re uniquely prepared to approach their industry with a fresh perspective.

Let’s revisit the journalism example. You could consider a job in the nonprofit sector. Grant writing is a core requirement for many nonprofits, and successful grant writing requires the ability to tell a compelling story. Grant writers have to research and understand many facets of the project or issue at hand, then distill that information to form a convincing argument without sacrificing accuracy. Has your degree prepared you for such a job? If you’re a strong journalist, you’re absolutely prepared.

2. Make the call

Most employers have moved their application processes online. Some companies have even automated their hiring systems and only accept resumes that have been copied and pasted into a Web form. Then your “resume” gets delivered to an anonymous HR technician who coldly decides your fate.

In these cases, it’s easy to feel like a shiny new penny dropped in the grass. You know you have the value — perhaps the penny is a poor example, but who drops a gold bar while they’re out for a walk in the park? — but there’s no saying when or if anyone will notice your online application.

You can remedy this feeling and make a good impression on prospective employers by tracking down contact information for a company’s HR specialist or the director of the department to which you’re applying. Reach out — preferably by phone — to introduce yourself and to confirm receipt of your application materials.

Doing so demonstrates you’ve done your research and are serious about the job. It also bookmarks your name in an employer’s mind, making it easier for them to pin you as more than just another resume in the stack.

Before making the call, be sure to check that an employer hasn’t specifically requested to not be contacted by phone or email. This is rare in most industries, but it does happen. And there’s no faster way to the rejection list than coming across as an ignorant pest. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

3. Give them more

When a company lists an opening, they can expect anywhere from several dozen to several thousand applications. It makes sense, then, that they only want a succinct cover letters and resumes. Anything longer than a page is overwhelming.

You would be wise to heed employers’ length requirements when you prepare your application. Exceeding their maximum, even if you’re highly qualified, can land your manifesto in the trash bin. But if you can’t detail your entire life story, starting when you won the second grade spelling bee, then how do you convey the extent of your awesomeness?

Include a line towards the end of your cover letter inviting the hiring committee to learn more about your work online. This requires, of course, that you build and maintain a personal blog or website with relevant, professional and current content.

Blogging can be time-consuming. But if you’re unemployed, you probably have time to spare. And the investment of your time can pay off. Think of your blog or website as a complement to your resume that not only showcases your talents, but also reflects your character.

If your resume is stellar enough to put you in the running, chances are good the hiring committee will take a peek at your website. And if they like what they see, chances are even better that you’ll be bumped to the top of the candidate list.

Haley Coffman is a recent grad who landed a job writing for eDegree. She spends her weekends writing a novella about a Spanish bullfighter named Isabella.

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Going Back to School for Your MBA? How to Tell Your Boss Mon, 24 Mar 2014 17:00:58 +0000 Want to sell your MBA ambitions to your boss? Here’s how going back to school will make you a more valuable employee.

The post Going Back to School for Your MBA? How to Tell Your Boss appeared first on Brazen Life.

Are you a current or prospective MBA student? Our MBA Corner is just for you.

Heading back to school to earn your MBA? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to quit your job.

In fact, you’ll find many advantages to remaining employed, whether part time or full time, while also pursuing an education. Continuing to work while earning a graduate degree can help offset the financial burden of your studies and help you gain real-world experience that will benefit your career. Working while in school also offers powerful opportunities for professional growth.

First, though, you’ll need to let your boss know that you’re going back to school, and that’s a conversation that makes many people uncomfortable. While this may not be an easy task, it’s important to keep your employer in the loop about your goals to ensure they’re on board and supportive.

If you break the news in the right way, your honesty could help your boss to see you as a more valuable employee. But you’ll need to eliminate any concerns on your employer’s part that your work performance might be affected by your studies, and shed a positive light on how your education will prove beneficial for the company. With the right strategies, you can convince your boss that business school will expand your abilities as an employee.

Want some talking points to make this sometimes-difficult conversation successful? Here’s how earning your MBA will make you a better employee.

You’ll better understand the company as a whole

Depending on your role within your company, it might be difficult to truly comprehend how different components of the business work. Particularly if you’re in an entry-level position, you may not have the chance to see the inner-workings of various departments, which could be holding you back from understanding the business as a whole.

Pursuing an MBA in entrepreneurship or supply chain management, for example, can offer you a deeper glimpse into how a business operates. Armed with in-depth knowledge about the role that other departments play in the overall functionality of a corporation, you’ll be prepared to make better choices in the workplace that align with the company’s strategy and goals.

You’ll sharpen your leadership skills

The ability to manage others and delegate responsibilities is a highly valuable trait in an employee. And guess what’s often a focus in business school? Learning how to lead! Even if this isn’t addressed directly in your program, you’ll likely have opportunities to lead during group projects and practical applications of what you’ve learned.

Let your boss know that you plan on applying what you learn about being an effective leader to your current position, so you can continue to grow within the company and contribute to their bottom line.

Your efficiency will skyrocket

While balancing your studies as well as a job, you will inevitably acquire immense self-discipline. As you juggle work and school deadlines, you will learn to effectively prioritize tasks. Time-management skills will simultaneously improve your school performance as well as your efficiency at work.

Give your employer added reassurance that you will keep your education and job separate by letting them know that you plan to outline a specific study schedule so that your schoolwork doesn’t compromise company time.

You’ll bring valuable knowledge and skills to your own department

Whether you’re going for an MBA in marketing or a Master’s in finance, higher education will provide you with a deeper understanding of your specific department. Some of your coursework will analyze how you can utilize a firm’s resources to achieve a competitive advantage.

This is something you should bring up to your employer — with a stronger grasp on what your department does, you’re in a better position to support the overall business’ success. In learning about opportunity recognition, you may be able to fuel innovation within your department.

You’ll become even better at working in teams

Regardless of what kind of program you’re enrolling in, you will be required to participate in a number of group assignments. The successes and challenges you experience while working with others in the classroom can inform your approach to team projects in the workplace.

Emphasize to your boss that you plan to hone your collaborative capabilities, and encourage your boss to point out any areas that you could improve upon while working on group projects. Inviting feedback shows that you are eager to grow and that you plan to leverage opportunities in your coursework to fine-tune your role as a team player.

Rebecca Lindegren is the Digital Strategist for MBA@UNC, the online MBA program at UNC Kenan-Flagler. In addition to higher education, Rebecca is passionate about leadership, online marketing and skiing. Follow her on Twitter.

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Phone Interview Tips That Will Help You Land Your Dream Job Mon, 24 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Made it to the phone screen stage of the interview process? Follow these tips to advance to the next stage and get the job of your dreams.

The post Phone Interview Tips That Will Help You Land Your Dream Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

Congratulations! You’ve been selected for a phone screen. Now what? As a recruiter, I’ve witnessed many people struggle with the phone screen stage of the interview process. Too often, candidates end up in phone screen purgatory: getting close to the job of their dreams, but never advancing to the next stage.

The good news is there are some basic steps you can take to make a good impression:

1. It’s all in the words

A high percentage of communication is nonverbal (e.g., facial expressions, gestures and eye contact), which can’t be conveyed through the phone. This means the words you use and how you deliver them are more important than usual. Choose your words wisely.

Letting the recruiter hear energy and enthusiasm in your voice matters as much as the language you use. Remember, recruiters talk to many bland, listless candidates all day, so listening to a genuinely cheerful person stands out.

2. Answer the (right) phone

A common mistake is to provide one phone number to the recruiter, yet be standing by to answer on a different line. In a world where having multiple personal phone devices is a common reality for many, make sure you’re available at the right number. Set a calendar alert to remind you of your scheduled time. Be ready and waiting for that phone to ring.

3. Don’t multitask

I commonly come across candidates who repeatedly press keys on their phone (on accident), deafening me with intermittent beeps. I know this means the candidate is holding the phone with their cheek and shoulder and they’re busy with something else.

This also means they’re completely distracted and only partially engaged in the conversation. This isn’t the time to wash your child, do your laundry, order takeout or read a magazine. Yes, we’ve heard it all.

4. Park the car

Many candidates think they might as well kill two birds with one stone and talk while they’re on their way to their next destination. This happens to be illegal in many places, and at the very least, is distracting. Worst of all, it often leads to a poor connection, and listening through ambient noise is painful.

5. Do your homework

A phone interview is still an interview. Don’t let the informality of the phone get in the way. (Click here to tweet this thought.) The recruiter wants to find out about you, your motivations and why you want to be a part of this organization in this particular role. Be ready to explain why you fit based on your knowledge of the company and skill set.

Before the call, go to the company’s website and read up on the company mission, culture, goals, products, services and exec bios. Don’t assume that Company A, which makes widgets, is anything like Company B just because they also make widgets.

Based on this knowledge, determine how and why you belong there. Write down five points you want to make about your experience; this will help you to collect your thoughts about your past work and highlight what’s most important for them to know.

6. Prepare questions to ask

Most recruiters allow time at the end for questions, and you should take this opportunity to learn more about the specific role you’re applying for. Ask about the size of the team you’ll be working on, and how this role fits within the organization. Ask about specific goals the team wants to achieve. Ask what the interviewer likes the most about the company.

This shows the recruiter you’re not just in it for the paycheck; you want to find a place that’s a good fit for you.

Remembering these simple tricks will ensure you put your best foot forward during this crucial first impression. And here’s one last suggestion: About 30 minutes before the call, if you can, go for a nice walk. It’ll allow you to clear your mind, get your creative juices flowing and give you a moment to reflect on what you’re going to say.

Good luck!

Danny Roberts is a recruiter for Redfin, a technology-powered real estate brokerage that is currently hiring for many roles. In 2000, Danny participated in MTV’s The Real World: New Orleans, which lead him on a unique and varied career path that helped him discover what his values are and where he needs to be.

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The Best Business Books to Read Before Starting a Company Fri, 21 Mar 2014 20:00:38 +0000 Want to take your business from good to great? Start reading every book on this list.

The post The Best Business Books to Read Before Starting a Company appeared first on Brazen Life.

Are you a current or prospective MBA student? Our MBA Corner is just for you.

If you have the drive to start a business all on you own, you know research beforehand is crucial. The best managers and business owners also know that running a successful organization requires continuous learning and reexamination of ideas.

If you’re already an entrepreneur or plan to start your own business soon, add these books to your reading list. Though many are not “official” business books, they can still help clarify what you need to do to get the to heart of problems, build better relationships and help push your business’s success even further.

On business fundamentals and productivity hacks

1. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

Godin has written a whole library of business-oriented books. But this is one of his best-loved books among marketing and business professionals – and probably one of the first books you should read before you launch your business plan.

Godin’s ideas are simple but elegantly explained: Your business and product must be a purple cow. If you’re not memorable, you probably won’t succeed.

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Covey was one of the key players in making “proactive” a business buzzword. Even if you just rolled your eyes at the mention of that word, the book is chock-full of wisdom and ideas that have held true even after two decades.

The author’s son Stephen M.R. Covey spoke about the book with U.S. News. “I think it’s become even more relevant today,” he said. “The world’s become more connected, more interdependent, and technology aids all of that. 7 Habits really moves a person from dependence to independence to interdependence.

“More than ever we need to be able to understand how to effectively work with people. The common approach today is not what 7 Habits is teaching, which is a different way of saying, how can we work together to achieve and attain something better than either of us could do on our own?”

3. You Already Know How to Be Great: A Simple Way to Remove Interference and Unlock Your Greatest Potential by Alan Fine with Rebecca R. Merrill

This book might challenge you to stop reading this article.

Alan Fine says we spend far too much time looking at external material in hopes of improving ourselves. Instead, you should use the skills and resources you already have to release yourself from paralysis and move forward with your goals.

On how to develop better people skills

4. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, PhD

You’ve probably seen this classic book on the bookshelves of everyone from C-level executives to bookworm friends. Don’t let “psychology” fool you into thinking the good doctor is waxing theoretical for more than 300 pages. Dr. Cialdini draws on 35 years of research and a 3-year study to explain the six universal principles of persuasion.

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Can a non-fiction self help book that’s more than 80 years old still be relevant today? Believe it or not, yes.

Carnegie shares valuable insights about how to read, charm and influence people and couples them with historical anecdotes. Warren Buffet called it a life-changing read – so yes, it probably belongs on your Kindle.

Mashable listed Carnegie’s book as a source to fix relationship building while networking. “If you have not spent time building relationships during your career,” said Jayne Mattson, “Start by reading the best book about relationship building of all time: Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which is still one of the most widely read books today on this topic.”

6. Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi

You know all about the importance of networking – but the way Ferrazzi frames it, you should be focusing more on nurturing relationships than on “making connections.” Learn to reach out to people with Ferrazzi’s practical advice and insight and see what a difference it makes in your career and personal life.

7. The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Ken Blanchard

Manager or not, this time-tested mini-manual shows you how to effectively delegate and supervise without compromising your time with family and friends (or even your own job.)

This book is a fast read, and it will help you adapt better time management skills and – lo and behold – carve out more time for yourself.

On reflection on the good, the bad and the given

8. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

This book might be best saved for reading at home or during your commute. Psychiatrist Frankl published this memoir about his time as a prisoner in four different Nazi camps in 1946. It makes this list because of its emphasis on finding one’s own meaning and truth, whether that be your professional or personal life.

Frankl explains we might not be able to avoid suffering or hard times, but we can decide how we process pain and find meaning in it.

Frankl’s book is more than just an inspirational read for some business owners. “Throughout Frankl’s analysis of himself and his mental processes as he experienced one of the ugliest times in history, it also encourages professionals to help others find meaning in their work,” says Dr. Tim R Love. “Whether you’re at a desk job from nine to five or working the night shift driving the interstate, it’s important to find meaning in whatever it is that you do.”

9. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

If you’re in the business of, well, business, then you probably have a decent working knowledge of capitalism. Adam Smith’s 1776 masterpiece elegantly describes the inner workings of a modern market economy – and you’ll be surprised at how relevant his theory remains several centuries later. Plus, you’ll be able to give a coherent argument when somebody tries to tell you making a profit is evil.

On assessing your aspirations and strategizing

10. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

It’s admirable and sensible: If you want to be good at something, observe experts or professionals in your aspirational field/skill/practice and do what they do.

But it doesn’t always work. Malcolm Gladwell argues that culture and environment actually affect our success much more than we’d like to believe. He also brings up the somewhat taboo subject of privilege and how we can help future generations live up to their potential.

Gladwell’s book has caught the attention of many types of people, including professor of mathematics Jason Brown at Dalhousie University in Halifax. “Does full understanding need to precede rote learning? I believe that the answer is “no” in basic mathematics. Students need to practise, practise, practise essential tasks; some understanding will develop only after the routines are memorized and well-rehearsed,” Brown said. “Command of an ability or talent requires repetitive work — no two ways about it.”

12. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A. G Lafley and Roger L. Martin

As the CEO of Procter & Gamble, Lafley knows a thing or two about strategy (Martin is his strategy advisor and helped co-author this super-informative book.) The two main points that the powerful duo focuses on: Where to play and how to win.

Their five-point method for “winning” will help any manager or owner hone in on their organization’s strengths, challenges and opportunities for growth – and turn these qualities into a strategy that outsmarts the competition.

13. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Jim Collins and his team spent five years following 28 companies trying to identify what made a company ascend to greatness and sustain its success. This book details their findings — and the facts might be hard to swallow. But they’re completely game-changing.

Is your bookshelf big enough for these new additions? Get reading, and I bet you’ll find that your business savvy increases dramatically.

Thad Baker is an outdoor enthusiast, musician, writer and food junkie. He likes to write about many different topics, ranging from digital marketing to career advice and even men’s fashion. Follow him on Twitter @ThadBaker87.

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