Your Career: Job Hunting In 2015: 7 Things You Need To Know…Get Creative with Your CVs. Don’t just Opt for the Standard Words on a Page, Do Something Different to Stand Out

Work.  The dreaded, daily, servitude that burdens your already tired and weary shoulders. Beaten, bedraggled and crestfallen you slump out of your bed at 6am, ready for another day of instant coffee, TPS reports and habitual sighing.

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If any part of that sounds like you -or your daily routine – then there’s a good chance that it’s time for a change. Or, if you’re entering the workforce for the first time, and this is what you’re expecting from a job market that’s not too friendly to young people and graduates, then fear not – there are options.

If you’re so inclined, many of those options exist in the tech industry, which is experiencing an ever growing roster of successful companies, huge investments and even a Mike Judge TV show (the only true metric of success).

In response,young people, graduates and experienced employees are flocking towards either building their own startup or working for an exciting tech company. But the popularity of these companies means that you will need to stand out – in a big way.

So what can you do to land a top job in tech (or any other industry)? I asked some big tech companies, and some startups, what it takes to be the winning candidate.

Get Creative

Ann Pickering HR Director at O2,  suggests that people get creative with their CVs. Don’t just opt for the standard words on a page, do something different to stand out.

“Use your application as a chance to show what you’d bring to the role – and it doesn’t need to just be words on a page. People who bring a digital aspect to their application, whether that’s a well-crafted blog post or a snappy Vine video, will always leave a lasting impression.”

Pickering explained that it’s also important to keep your application succinct and to the point – explaining exactly what your skills are and why you’re suited to the role.

“It can be tempting to shout about everything you’ve ever accomplished, but this can sometimes mean doing yourself a disservice. No one wants – nor has the time – to wade through pages and pages of preamble, so make sure your CV gets straight to the point. Read the skills and requirements an employer is looking for closely, and ask yourself whether your application can link back to every point on the list. If not, change it – and cut out anything that’s not relevant.”

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Make a connection with the interviewer

Nedhal Alkhatib, Programme Manager for Motorola, told me that it’s not only important to make an impression during the interview, but also a connection.

“How the candidate’s personality comes across is extremely important to me.  I look for a ‘can do’ attitude – someone who is approachable, and consistent throughout the interview. It’s absolutely fine if they don’t know the answer to something; I just want to see a willingness to learn underpinned by a confidence and drive to succeed. I also want them to make a connection with me, I often interview many people for a role and so standing out is vital – if I leave happy and get on with the candidate I’ll remember them and be more likely to hire them.”

She continued: “How you present yourself in the interview is crucial – don’t come across as over keen or desperate – you want the interviewer to like you and your personality, not pity you. In the same vein, don’t forget to ask what the company can offer you in return – this should be a mutually satisfactory exchange and you should leave with your questions answered.”

 

Never stop learning and picking up new skills

Ben Medlock, co-founder of Swiftkey, is a big advocate of skills. If you want to contribute to a startup, then you’ll need to bring something fresh.

“The main thing not to do is stop learning or stop being curious. We rate people who are always teaching themselves and others something new. That gives you lots to talk about in an interview, too.”

Medlock continued: “We definitely look for an entrepreneurial spirit, the kind of people who’ve taught themselves new skills and challenged themselves. But starting your own business isn’t a requirement. You need many different backgrounds, personalities and experiences to build an effective team and we find our strength in our diversity – our team speaks 33 languages between them and everyone brings a fresh perspective and set of skills.”

Graeme Smith, Managing Director of Amazon’s Development Centre in Scotland, explained to me how important technical skills are.

“We’re solving hard problems and building systems that run at massive scale, we need people who are great at coding and problem solving.”

He added: “To push the boundaries of technology you need a solid base of theory, so we generally look for a Computer Science degree from a good university. On top of that, we work in close-knit teams so we need people with exemplary written and verbal communications skills.

Be comfortable with change

Leah Busque, founder and CEO of TaskRabbit, says that it’s imperative for people in tech to be comfortable with the rapidly changing industry.

“Be open to the possibility of not knowing. In Technology, we’re in the business of creating entirely new paradigms to advance the world and that can mean more experimenting and failing than knowing and succeeding. The more you are able to demonstrate your comfort in this perpetual state of change, the better.”

Rob Coupland, MD of TelecityGroup agrees that being adaptable is key to working in tech: “Be open-minded, be adaptable, and be flexible. Technology is an extremely fast-moving industry, and you should be open to all the opportunities that are presented to you. For example, there are now countless more creative roles in technology than there were just a few years ago. If you are self-motivated and always eager to learn, you will be perfectly placed to seize new opportunities as our industry continues to evolve.”

Be genuinely passionate about the job you’re applying for

Busque also suggests that those excited by an industry will generally succeed in landing a job in it.

“Targeting a company that you know well but that doesn’t align with what will ignite that daily fire to learn and grow will prove unsustainable and ultimately be a disservice to your career and even personal life. Every person I’ve seen succeed in the industry is excited by the promise of their product or company mission. Believe in what you’re working on and the rest will follow.”

Graeme Smith agrees and places a particular importance on a candidate’s visible passion for the industry.

“First and foremost we’re looking for people who are passionate about inventing for customers and passionate about technology. We’re inventing on behalf of our customers, so we need people who can think from a customer’s perspective and don’t just build technology for technology’s sake.”

Have an understanding of different areas of the industry

Coupland explains that understanding the industry you want to work in, from bottom to top, can really demonstrate multiple skills.

“If an applicant has spent time in a retail environment, or on a helpdesk, they can demonstrate that they recognise the importance of both customer service and technical expertise. For example, if you’ve had work experience at Apple AAPL -3.52% Store, you are demonstrating that you understand technology, that you are commercially competent, and that you are able explain technology in a way that everyone can understand.”

Get connected and get active

Sarah Wood, co-founder of Unruly, thinks that it’s important to fully immerse yourself in the industry by making contacts and showing off your talents.

“Get connected. On LinkedIn LNKD -1.65%, in tech forums and best of all in person. This way you’ll understand how the ecosystem works and where to find the most promising points of entry. Build a portfolio of outputs that you can show to prospective employers – a blog, a working prototype, a university project, a video of the Code Club you ran – visual, tangible proof that you won’t just talk the talk, you’ll walk the walk. Voluntary work as a teacher at code club will boost your resume and help kids improve their future prospects too.”

Graeme Smith also thinks it’s important to be as busy as possible: “Attend tech meetups to get to know people from your target companies, that’s often the best way in. Don’t wait for a job ad to apply for a job, many companies will respond favourably to speculative applications. The demand for talent is massive right now so don’t sell yourself short.”

Jay McGregor is a freelance technology journalist who writes for The Guardian, Forbes, TechRadar and is a tech correspondent for BBC’s James Hazel show. Follow on Twitter @_jaymcgregor

Leadership: 6 Body Language Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making…You Might Think that Sounds Absurd: Who would Notice Something as Trivial as Where Your Feet are Pointing?

You’ve got a pretty mean poker face. You wouldn’t have made it this far in your career if you hadn’t become the master of stifling an ill-timed laugh or shaping your blank stare into something a little more musing.

argue conflict workplace Leadership: 6 Body Language Mistakes You Dont Know Youre Making...You Might Think that Sounds Absurd: Who would Notice Something as Trivial as Where Your Feet are Pointing?

But science has shown that’s not enough. Princeton University researchers have demonstrated that we subconsciously rely on body language more than facial expression for identifying emotions. This supports the oft-cited statistic produced by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, noted pioneer of nonverbal communication, that body language accounts for 55% of the messages you communicate.

Maybe you’ve heard a few maxims from HR professionals—“Don’t cross your arms,” or “maintain good eye contact”—but you don’t know exactly why these moves are so important in your work relationships. Well, it’s time you found out!

Here are the six body language moves that can seriously sabotage collaboration—and how to make sure you’re always sending the right message to your colleagues.

1. Pointing Your Feet Away From Others

Dr. Carol Kinsey Gorman suggests that while you’ll usually focus on the face you’re making as well as your upper body, you often ignore your feet—which are often just as telling of your emotional intentions.

You might think that sounds absurd: Who would notice something as trivial as where your feet are pointing? But foot-positioning is a signal that we all register subconsciously in social situations. For example, maybe your body is facing the person you’re talking to, but your feet—or even just one foot—are pointing away from him or her. This is an obvious signal that you’ve already checked out of the conversation.

So, next time you’re trying to look fully engaged, make sure that both of your feet are pointed at the person you’re speaking with.

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2. Crossing Your Legs, Arms, or Feet

Unsurprisingly, physically closing yourself off suggests to others that you’re also mentally closed off. Crossed arms, for example, are often perceived as a signal of distance, insecurity, anxiety, defensiveness, or stubbornness.

If you want to encourage open communication and participation, you have to first signal that you’re open and engaged. Standing at the front of a room giving a speech? Focus on your body language and resist the urge to cross your arms or legs while taking questions.

That said, while crossing your arms isn’t good in a group setting, it does have its neurological benefits. Research completed by Ron Friedman and Andrew J. Elliott found that individuals are 30% more likely to stay on a difficult task if their arms are crossed. So, feel free to cross your arms while you think—in the privacy of your own cubicle.

RELATED: 7 Body Language Mistakes That Could Cost You The Promotion

3. Striking a Power Pose

Power posing—or puffing up your chest and stretching out your limbs to make yourself seem larger—is great way to pump yourself up, whether before a job interview or prior to public speaking.

But, doing this in public is equally as likely to stifle collaboration as closing yourself off. Connson Locke and Cameron Anderson recently published a study that showed that leaders who demonstrate a powerful demeanor inadvertently stifle participation. Locke and Anderson found that the more powerful a demeanor the leader displayed, the less likely followers were to participate in joint discussions.

So, if you want to hear what your team thinks, lean in toward others while they’re speaking, especially if you’re seated or at a table, which signals that you’re interested and invested in the conversation. Resist the urge to strike an alpha pose: If Superman would do it, save it for when you’re flying solo.

4. Looking Uninterested (or Too Intently)

Yes, it’s obvious that ignoring people will make them feel, well, ignored. You’d never do that. You may multitask, but—oh wait—yes, reading emails while listening to someone is the same as flat-out ignoring him or her.

The thing is, it just doesn’t look like you’re invested in the conversation. Remember that 55% of communication we talked about earlier? Even if you’re listening, you’re sending the message that you’re not interested. So, put down your laptop, phone, or any other distractions, and make eye contact with your colleagues.

Just don’t go so far as to overdo the eye contact. In a recent study, psychologists Julia Minson and Frances Chen demonstrated that people are less likely to be persuaded to agree with you when you make eye contact—it triggers a primal reaction, and people feel like you’re trying to dominate them. Experts suggest that making eye contact about 60% of the time is optimal.

RELATED: Are You Really As Good At Reading People As You Think?
5. Forgetting to Nod

Nodding is almost universally perceived as a sign of encouragement and acceptance. Robotics researchers seeking to facilitate smooth human-robot interaction have identified head nodding and tilting as essential components of successful dialogue.

If nodding can humanize a robot, imagine what it can do for you!

While leadership experts may advise against nodding (as it detracts from your leonine image), it’s an essential tool for encouraging collaboration. Particularly when asking a shy employee to contribute, nod or tilt your head to establish agreement and encouragement.

6. Failing to Mirror

Limbic synchrony, or “mirroring,” naturally occurs in conversations when you feel connected and engaged. Mirroring is as it sounds—it means reflecting the gestures and postures of the person you’re engaging with. On the flip side, a failure to mirror the body language of your team members subconsciously communicates disengagement and dissent.

For example, if you notice a notoriously hard to engage co-worker is resting his chin in his palm while he listens, you might do the same. Look to see if your teammates are taking notes, or if a potential client uses a lot of hand gestures when she speaks (or none at all). Mirroring these actions will make others feel more comfortable with you.

Additionally, scientists at Stanford University found that “matching” gestures between team members was indicative of increased creativity and problem-solving. Scientists tasked a pair with brainstorming and found that the more a team’s movements were synchronized, the more creative the ideas the pair came up with.

RELATED: Your Guide To Smart Body Language In The Conference Room
Sometimes, it can feel like you’re just not clicking with your team. Practicing the techniques above can help you be more successful with future collaborations.

This article was originally published on The Daily Muse.

Shane Jones is the co-founder of The Press Box and the Director of Earned Media at WebpageFX. You can befriend Shane and share musings on twitter @ShaneJones15.

Leadership: 13 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People…Mistaken Belief that Being Likeable Comes from Natural, Unteachable Traits that Belong Only to a Lucky Few

Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likeable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few—the good looking, the fiercely social, and the incredibly talented. It’s easy to fall prey to this misconception. In reality, being likeable is under your control, and it’s a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ).

presentation speech 14 Leadership: 13 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People...Mistaken Belief that Being Likeable Comes from Natural, Unteachable Traits that Belong Only to a Lucky Few

You’ve got less than a minute to persuade the audience you’re worth listening to.

In a study conducted at UCLA, subjects rated over 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability. The top-rated adjectives had nothing to do with being gregarious, intelligent, or attractive (innate characteristics). Instead, the top adjectives were sincerity, transparency, and capacity for understanding (another person).

These adjectives, and others like them, describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence. TalentSmart research data from more than a million people shows that people who possess these skills aren’t just highly likeable, they outperform those who don’t by a large margin.

We did some digging to uncover the key behaviors that emotionally intelligent people engage in that make them so likeable. Here are 13 of the best:

They Ask Questions

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to listening is they’re so focused on what they’re going to say next or how what the other person is saying is going to affect them that they fail to hear what’s being said. The words come through loud and clear, but the meaning is lost.

A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. People like to know you’re listening, and something as simple as a clarification question shows that not only are you listening, you also care about what they’re saying. You’ll be surprised how much respect and appreciation you gain just by asking questions.

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They Put Away Their Phones

Nothing will turn someone off to you like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all of your energy on the conversation. You will find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them.

They Are Genuine

Being genuine and honest is essential to being likeable. No one likes a fake. People gravitate toward those who are genuine because they know they can trust them. It is difficult to like someone when you don’t know who they really are and how they really feel.

Likeable people know who they are. They are confident enough to be comfortable in their own skin. By concentrating on what drives you and makes you happy as an individual, you become a much more interesting person than if you attempt to win people over by making choices that you think will make them like you.

They Don’t Pass Judgment

If you want to be likeable you must be open-minded. Being open-minded makes you approachable and interesting to others. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is not willing to listen.

Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace where approachability means access to new ideas and help. To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people’s eyes. This doesn’t require you believe what they believe or condone their behavior, it simply means you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what makes them tick. Only then can you let them be who they are.

They Don’t Seek Attention

People are averse to those who are desperate for attention. You don’t need to develop a big, extroverted personality to be likeable. Simply being friendly and considerate is all you need to win people over. When you speak in a friendly, confident, and concise manner, you will notice that people are much more attentive and persuadable than if you try to show them you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what—or how many people—you know.

When you’re being given attention, such as when you’re being recognized for an accomplishment, shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help you get there. This may sound cliché, but if it’s genuine, the fact that you pay attention to others and appreciate their help will show that you’re appreciative and humble—two adjectives that are closely tied to likeability.

They Are Consistent

Few things make you more unlikeable than when you’re all over the place. When people approach you, they like to know whom they’re dealing with and what sort of response they can expect. To be consistent you must be reliable, and you must ensure that even when your mood goes up and down it doesn’t affect how you treat other people.

They Use Positive Body Language

Becoming cognizant of your gestures, expressions, and tone of voice (and making certain they’re positive) will draw people to you like ants to a picnic. Using an enthusiastic tone, uncrossing your arms, maintaining eye contact, and leaning towards the person who’s speaking are all forms of positive body language that high-EQ people use to draw others in. Positive body language can make all the difference in a conversation.

It’s true that how you say something can be more important than what you say.

They Leave a Strong First Impression

Research shows most people decide whether or not they like you within the first seven seconds of meeting you. They then spend the rest of the conversation internally justifying their initial reaction. This may sound terrifying, but by knowing this you can take advantage of it to make huge gains in your likeability. First impressions are tied intimately to positive body language. Strong posture, a firm handshake, smiling, and opening your shoulders to the person you are talking to will help ensure that your first impression is a good one.

They Greet People by Name

Your name is an essential part of your identity, and it feels terrific when people use it. Likeable people make certain they use others’ names every time they see them. You shouldn’t use someone’s name only when you greet him. Research shows that people feel validated when the person they’re speaking with refers to them by name during a conversation.

If you’re great with faces but have trouble with names, have some fun with it and make remembering people’s names a brain exercise. When you meet someone, don’t be afraid to ask her name a second time if you forget it right after you hear it. You’ll need to keep her name handy if you’re going to remember it the next time you see her.

 

They Smile

People naturally (and unconsciously) mirror the body language of the person they’re talking to. If you want people to like you, smile at them during a conversation and they will unconsciously return the favor and feel good as a result.

They Know When To Open Up

Be careful to avoid sharing personal problems and confessions too quickly, as this will get you labeled a complainer. Likeable people let the other person guide when it’s the right time for them to open up.

They Know Who To Touch (and They Touch Them)

When you touch someone during a conversation, you release oxytocin in their brain, a neurotransmitter that makes their brain associate you with trust and a slew of other positive feelings. A simple touch on the shoulder, a hug, or a friendly handshake is all it takes to release oxytocin. Of course, you have to touch the right person in the right way to release oxytocin, as unwanted or inappropriate touching has the opposite effect. Just remember, relationships are built not just from words, but also from general feelings about each other. Touching someone appropriately is a great way to show you care.

They Balance Passion and Fun

People gravitate toward those who are passionate. That said, it’s easy for passionate people to come across as too serious or uninterested because they tend to get absorbed in their work. Likeable people balance their passion with the ability to have fun. At work they are serious, yet friendly. They still get things done because they are socially effective in short amounts of time and they capitalize on valuable social moments. They minimize small talk and gossip and instead focus on having meaningful interactions with their coworkers. They remember what you said to them yesterday or last week, which shows that you’re just as important to them as their work.

Bringing It All Together

Likeable people are invaluable and unique. They network with ease, promote harmony in the workplace, bring out the best in everyone around them, and generally seem to have the most fun. Add these skills to your repertoire and watch your likeability soar!

Travis co-wrote the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and co-founded TalentSmart, the world’s #1 provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving 75% of Fortune 500 Companies.

Forbes.com | January 27, 2015 | Travis Bradberry

Strategy: A Master Networker Shares His Top 20 Networking Tips…Appreciate That the Most Influential People Operate on a Different Level

At one of Jon Levy’s house parties you could find yourself, as we recently did, making fajitas with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Regina Spektor and leading snake venom expert Zoltan Takacs before watching live presentations from Bill Nye the Science Guy and break-dancing pioneer Richard “Crazy Legs” Colón.

jon%20levy 1 Strategy: A Master Networker Shares His Top 20 Networking Tips...Appreciate That the Most Influential People Operate on a Different Level

Jon Levy introduces one of his Salon guests in his living room.

Levy may not be a Wall Street billionaire or hotshot advertising executive, but over the past five years, he’s built the Influencers, a network of over 400 interesting and impressive people that includes everyone from Nobel laureates to Olympic athletes.

Twice a month, Levy holds private dinner parties and TED Talk-like “Salons” in the sprawling New York City apartment he inherited from his parents, who are successful artists now living in Israel. As an independent marketing consultant specializing in consumer behavior, a diverse, strong network is beneficial to his career. But beyond that, Levy has a genuine passion for connecting influential people from different fields and seeing what these relationships yield.

We asked Levy to share some of the tactics he used to go from a low-profile New Yorker to the leader of a growing network of power players. Here are his top networking tips.

1. Appreciate that the most influential people operate on a different level.

A Landmark Education seminar on personal success inspired Levy to start a network that became the Influencers. He says he left thinking about this quote: “The fundamental element that defines the quality of your life is the people you surround yourself with and the conversations you have with them.”

If you want to surround yourself with executives and successful entrepreneurs, you first need to understand and respect that the lives of high-demand people are fundamentally different from even most chronically busy people, Levy says. Their schedules are likely filled with travel plans and meetings, with scarce free time dedicated to family.

“Everybody’s coming to them for answers. Everybody’s asking them the same questions millions of times. You can begin to think about, ‘OK, what is something different that I could provide this person that would make it worth their time to speak with me or meet with me?'” Levy says.

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2. Add value without expecting anything.

On that note, you should be thinking of how you can add value to a potential connection without expecting anything in return, at least immediately. Levy is a proponent of Wharton professor — and Influencers member — Adam Grant’s theory on “givers,” those who seek out opportunities to help people they respect and appreciate.

“If you’re a giver, then you build quality relationships, and with those relationships you’re exposed to opportunity over the long term,” Grant told Business Insider last year. “You actually increase your own luck so far as you contribute things to other people.

3. Create memories.

Rahzel, former member of The Roots and beatboxing legend, joined the Influencers about a year ago and says that he’s amazed by Levy’s memory. “Jon can pinpoint people and the places and exact time he met them,” he says.

Levy says he’s boosted his memory with a simple trick. “For the most part our memory is visual, and it works based on novelty for something to really stick out,” he says. “If there’s somebody I meet that I really want to connect with, I try to create a moment that’s memorable and that can serve as tradition.”

This can mean sharing a special toast or asking a question that will elicit a unique response. For example, Levy met a Tinder exec recently and asked her about the first thing most people ask her. She said men who use the dating app often nervously ask if Tinder employees can read guys’ messages to other users. “Now I’ll never forget her!” he says.

4. Make your introductions more interesting.

Most people just aren’t interesting in the way they communicate, Levy says. He thinks that Americans, especially, apply their efficient approach at work to how they meet people, talking in boring, direct ways about themselves.

“When people ask me what I do, I try to be a little elusive just to create some interest. So I tell people I spend most of my life trying to convince people to cook me dinner. Which is true,” he says, laughing. “A lot of my time is really spent around logistics, phone calls, and emails and all that. But the benefit of [my introduction] is that it sounds so different and then it’s much easier to connect.”

You may be better off delaying the job-talk for as long as possible. Levy has his dinner guests spend the majority of the evening refraining from discussing any aspect of their occupation, and encourages Salon guests to do the same, so that they can get to know each other personally.

New Yorker writer and author Maria Konnikova found this endearing when she attended one of Levy’s dinners and Salons. “At the Salon, you’re just enjoying the evening and figuring out which people you actually like, regardless of whether they can be helpful to you,” she says.

5. Use the double opt-in system to introduce people to each other.

In keeping with being a “giver,” you should always be aware of which of your connections could be interested in meeting each other, and email is the easiest way to do so remotely.

Levy is comfortable connecting his closest friends through an email addressed to both of them, but he’ll use what Grant calls the “double opt-in” system for the busiest people in his network. If there’s a chance that the busier connection simply doesn’t have the time or desire to speak with the other person, a private email to both parties asking if they’d like to connect allows you to screen refusals without hurting anyone’s feelings.

And as Grant explains in an “Art of Charm” podcast, introduce people because you think they can add value to each other, not just because they happen to live in the same city.

6. Befriend gatekeepers.

You’ll find that many of the world’s busiest people have assistants taking care of their emails, phone calls, and schedules. If that’s the case, it’s in your best interest to be on cordial terms with them if you’re looking to connect with their boss.

“If you can make friends with [the gatekeepers], you will be on their schedule,” Levy says.

He says that once he’s met someone in person and gotten their personal contact information, he’ll first try them directly the next time he wants to reach out. And if they don’t respond, he’ll try again with their assistant looped in.

“There’s no ego involved,” he says. Don’t feel slighted if you have to go through an assistant even after you’ve met someone. Whatever works for their schedule will work for you.

7. Make cold calls.

To get in touch with influential people, you can’t be afraid of reaching out without precedent.

Levy recommends getting in touch with an executive sometime before 8 a.m. because it’s likely that they’re in their office but that their assistant isn’t. If you’re able to get access to their number, give them a call before their day becomes too hectic. There are databases like Who Represents that you can subscribe to that include the contact information of high-demand people and their gatekeepers.

And if you don’t want to use a database, you can try a free trick that Levy uses. Get just a single person’s email address from the company your target works for to determine the format (e.g. my email is rfeloni@businessinsider.com so it makes sense that my colleague Drake Baer’s email is dbaer@businessinsider.com). This sneaky tactic is actually how Levy recently got in touch with a Sony senior vice president.

Make sure, however, that if you’re reaching out you’ve actually got something of genuine value to share, as mentioned above.

8. Write emails that will get replies.

Sending an introductory email to someone is low-risk because the worst-case scenario is that your message gets tossed and your name forgotten. But you can significantly increase the chance that your email will get a reply if you follow these tips, Levy says:

  • Don’t be a salesman. “I don’t try to convince them of anything in my message,” Levy says. “It’s not, ‘Oh, I think it would be really good to do this because of X, Y, and Z.’ [It’s] ‘This is what I do… I think what you’re doing is fascinating, and I’d like to sit down with you and talk about what you’re up to.'”
  • Keep it as short as possible. You’ll want to have the recipient take a look at your message and be able to give an adequate response, even if it takes them 30 seconds on their smartphone. When Levy emails a high-demand person like a celebrity, he keeps his email down to a single sentence that cuts out any trace of filler. If he emails an executive, who make decisions based on available information, he’ll limit his message to three to five sentences and include some links they can click if they’d like to learn more about him and the Influencers.
  • Offer a clear next step. If your recipient is interested in you, let them know how you’d like to take things forward by asking a question or extending an invite they can email reply to.
  • Entice them with your subject lines. If you’re being referred by someone in their inner circle, mention their name in the subject. Levy likes the subject line “Quick Question” because it signals to the reader that they can open the email and remain on a path to a cleaner inbox.

9. Follow up.

Be sure to send a quick follow-up email either later in the day or the next day after meeting someone for coffee or lunch. It’s proper etiquette that will keep you from looking like you’re selfishly using the other person.

10. Organize your contacts.

If you’re looking to build a network on the scale of Levy’s, you could benefit from some simple organization.

Levy uses Google docs like a traditional phone book, but with contacts arranged by industry and ranked by the likelihood that they’ll do business together. He keeps separate lists for those in his Influencers community, potential members he’s reached out to, and those he’s interested in eventually connecting with.

jon levy 2 Strategy: A Master Networker Shares His Top 20 Networking Tips...Appreciate That the Most Influential People Operate on a Different Level

Levy gives a toast with his Salon guests.

11. Create a diverse network of givers.

Who should you be adding to your network in the first place? Generous people from a wide variety of industries, Levy says. Prioritize personality over perceived “usefulness.”

“It’s adding diversity to your network that truly helps it. The reason is, every time you add an additional person that’s in your industry, you’re not expanding your network very much because you all probably know the same people,” he says.

For example, Levy became friends with the founder of Wizard World Comicon, Gareb Shamus, someone completely unrelated to Levy’s industry. “Nobody would think that investing in that relationship makes any sense! He’s a wonderful guy, and one of the most generous people I’ve had the pleasure to know,” he says.

12. Stay away from drama.

“I’m in full support of providing value and helping people who are struggling, but I fundamentally will not allow my network to be exposed to people who are negative and have the potential to bring them down. It’s insidious, and it spreads through the network very quickly,” Levy says.

13. Don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself.

If you’re serious about making a name for yourself, you’ll need to be willing to embarrass yourself in front of powerful people.

Speaking about himself, Levy says, “I think the only people who would probably embarrass themselves more over time are people who are far, far, far more successful. Like the [Richard] Bransons of the world.”

There are going to be times when you’re not going to appear as funny or impressive as you’d like, but as with anything else, you should make note of how your social interactions failed and improve the next time.

Levy actually plays with the way he tells stories and introduces himself either in person or over email to see how people react, and then adjusts accordingly.

14. Don’t impose yourself on others.

“One of the fundamental mistakes I made at the beginning was thinking that people enjoyed all the things I liked,” Levy says.

He would take an “older sibling” approach and try to get his introverted connections to behave like him, an extrovert. For example, if he tried to get a shy person to retell a story he enjoyed in front of a large crowd, he ended up putting that person into an incredibly uncomfortable situation.

Whether you’re introducing people or hosting them at an event, you should always be aware that it’s not your job to get people to behave a certain way.

15. Understand that not everyone will like you, and that’s OK.

“At a certain point, I realized that there’s a percentage of the population that no matter what you do or say, they’re just not going to like you, and it’s beyond your control,” Levy says.

“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on yourself and develop yourself and learn to make people more comfortable, but at a certain point it’s like, what are you trying to accomplish?”

If it turns out that a coworker or even a childhood hero of yours doesn’t like your personality even when you’re at your best, then simply move on and spend time with someone else.

16. Have a topic prepared to start a conversation.

Everyone’s been in a situation where you’re stuck with a stranger and neither of you has anything to say. So instead of talking about the weather or your commute, says Levy, “I always have a story of something I’ve been doing recently or a book that I’ve been reading.”

“Otherwise I hate the ‘interview’ setting, which is what happens when it’s like, ‘So what do you do? I do this. What do you do?’ That’s sharing facts, not insights. It’s not connecting,” he says.

17. Tell a story that is clear and compelling.

When you tell a story, make sure it has a clear point and a punchline, whether it’s a takeaway or a joke. You should strive to be memorable when you’re meeting new people, and the best way to do so is through good storytelling.

18. End conversations gracefully.

“I used to be absolutely awful, really awkward, at ending conversations,” Levy says, laughing. “The last moments of a conversation will define how people remember you, so you want to get really good at a solid ending,” instead of being rudely (or strangely) abrupt.

Over the phone, wait for a lull in the conversation and then give an indication that you need to be excused for something else or are happy with how the conversation went. Tell them it was a pleasure speaking with them and that you’ll make sure to follow up on certain points.

In person, Levy says he always takes an extra beat to make eye contact with the person he’s finished speaking with so that it doesn’t seem as if he’s running away.

19. Keep meetings brief.

There’s no need to let an introductory meeting with a new connection last longer than 45 minutes, Levy says. And if you’re grabbing coffee or lunch, the ideal is probably a half hour.

“It’s better to leave the conversation having something to talk about and feeling like you need to connect again rather than feeling that the energy’s died,” Levy says.

20. Be open. People are ultimately unpredictable.

You can’t be uptight if you’re looking to become a great networker. Do what you can to connect with people who are interesting, and don’t waste time with those who don’t mesh with your personality.

“One of the fundamental issues that we face as people is we are acutely aware of the things we tell ourselves to be aware of and then are aware of virtually nothing else,” Levy says. “So we tend to overvalue specific people or experiences. And when you realize the diversity of exceptional human beings out there and opportunities and business deals and everything, you’re going to realize there are a lot more options than you’re giving credit to.”

Photographs courtesy of Rick Smolan, Influencers member, CEO of Against All Odds Productions, and author of “Inside Tracks: Robyn Davidson’s Solo Journey Across the Outback.”

 

Businessinsider.com |  January 27, 2015  |  

http://www.businessinsider.com/jon-levy-top-networking-tips-2015-1#ixzz3Q28B8344

Your Career: How To Spend The Hour Before Your Job Interview…Don’t Let Last-Minute Anxiety Spoil your Long-Term Preparation. Follow this Expert Advice to Feel Calm & Focused

Your suit is ironed, tucked and free of cat hairs. Your own hairs are combed, your padfolio is organized and your employer research is thorough. And your mind? For this interview, you’ve packed it like a filing cabinet: Answers to typical interview questions are filed under A; smart questions you plan to ask your interviewers are under Q; and examples of your achievements are under E.

laptop cafe girl blonde 7 Your Career: How To Spend The Hour Before Your Job Interview...Dont Let Last Minute Anxiety Spoil your Long Term Preparation. Follow this Expert Advice to Feel Calm & Focused

Do some last-minute LinkedIn research.

But although you’ve set yourself up for success, a shiver of doubt may slink up your suit in that darkest hour before the interview. Nerves set in. You try to appear relaxed, but not boring. Enthused, but not abrasive. Prepared, but not canned.

Don’t let last-minute anxiety spoil your long-term preparation. Follow this expert advice to feel calm and focused in the hour before a job interview:

Warm up your vocal cords. Talk about a quick confidence killer: introducing yourself to the interviewers only to have your voice crack or sound strained. Don’t let a weak, I-woke-up-an-hour-ago voice set the tone for the rest of the day. Lewis Lin, founder and CEO of Impact Interview, an interview coaching service, suggests warming up your vocal cords, especially before phone interviews. Before the interview — say, on the drive to the office — speak through your talking points loud and clear, “as if you were an actor or actress getting ready for an audition,” Lin says.

Do some last-minute LinkedIn research. Being likable in the interview is key, Lin says. After all, your interviewers are not only hiring, say, a product manager. They’re hiring someone they’ll encounter daily: at meetings, in the break room, at happy hours and in the buffet line of holiday parties. Show the interviewers you’re someone they should want to work with. “A great way to build that chemistry, that rapport with the interviewer, is to be able to relate to the interviewer,” Lin says.

He suggests using the hour before the interview to scan your interviewers’ profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as any personal website they have or articles written about them. Did you and one of your interviewers attend neighboring colleges? Do you both know Pete from Boston? Did you attend the same conference last summer? Breathe easier knowing you have a shared connection to mention come interview time.

Strike a power pose. Consider your pre-interview posture, says Susan Joyce, an online job search expert. She suggests looking at the research and TED Talk of social psychologist Amy Cuddy, an associate professor​ at Harvard Business School. ​Cuddy’s work shows that power poses can boost confidence, and as Joyce points out, what better time to feel confident than minutes before speaking to a prospective employer?

Joyce suggests ducking into a restroom stall before the interview and trying the starfish pose. With your feet spread apart, “you raise your arms up to the sky, you look up to the ceiling and you smile,” Joyce says. “It’s an amazing quick fix to confidence.”

Think happy thoughts. This will be easier to do after those poses, Joyce says. She and Lin say candidates often put tons of pressure on themselves: What if I blow this interview, and then I don’t get the job, and then I don’t get an interview for another six months, and then I can’t pay rent? And so on. “End-of-world-type scenarios start dancing through our heads,” Lin says, “and that’s clearly not going to be helpful when you’ve got that much pressure.”

Lin’s suggestion for showing you’re passionate about the position, but not crazy-eyed and desperate? “Have that kind of kid-like wonder,” he says.​ “Like, ‘Hey, I’m just going to have this conversation with another professional in the industry. I get to share my experiences, the things I’ve learned and I hope we get a chance to learn about the other person and the experiences they’ve had.’”

Joyce recommends repeating a few positive affirmations. Think: “I’m perfectly qualified for this job. I’m perfectly qualified for this job. I’m perfectly qualified for this job.”

Calm your nerves. “Nerves mess up a lot of interviews,” Lin says. “Whatever ritual [or] routine or habit that works for you to get in the right mindset to come across as relaxed and confident is really important.”  He suggests exercising if you have the time before suiting up or watching a clip from your favorite movie. Listening to music can help you focus, too. Watch pregame coverage of a professional sporting event​, and you’ll see most players entering the facility while listening to music on their headphones, Lin points out. (Ray Lewis, former NFL linebacker once told Men’s Journal that he listened to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” before every game with the Baltimore Ravens to get fired up.)

Whether you’re about to tackle quarterbacks or a high-stakes interview, simply taking deep breaths will help settle your nerves, too, Lin and Joyce say. Before you enter the building, as you sit in the reception area and as you open wide in starfish pose, take a few long inhales through the nose and exhales through the mouth.

As Joyce sums up: “Take a big deep breath, put a smile on your face and roll with it.”

This article originally appeared at U.S. News & World Report. Copyright 2015. Follow U.S. News & World Report on Twitter.

 

Businessinsider.com |  January 26, 2015  |  LAURA MCMULLEN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2015/01/14/how-to-spend-the-hour-before-your-interview#ixzz3PxiF6Utb

Leadership: 12 Things That Successful Leaders Never Tolerate…Tolerance is a virtue–most of the time. But Some Things Should Never Be Tolerated. To Build a Successful Career & Life, Make Sure as a Leader These are Never on Your List

By and large, tolerance is a good trait. The differences we encounter enrich our lives and organizations. But to attain a successful life and meaningful leadership, we must refuse to tolerate the things that deplete, and ultimately destroy, us.

getty 182944695 9706479704500197 48535 Leadership: 12 Things That Successful Leaders Never Tolerate...Tolerance is a virtue  most of the time. But Some Things Should Never Be Tolerated. To Build a Successful Career & Life, Make Sure as a Leader These are Never on Your List

Start by declaring these things intolerable in yourself and those around you–and see what changes as a result.

1. Dishonesty

Living an honest life allows you to be at peace with others and yourself. Dishonesty imposes a false reality on your life and those around you.

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2. Boredom

Successful people are generally exploring something new. Life is too short for inactivity and staying in your comfort zone.

3. Mediocrity

It’s easy, and a constant temptation, to settle for less. But what makes some people stand out is their willingness to make the hard choices that allow a life of greatness.

4. Negativity

Every negative thought keeps you from being your best. If you hear yourself complaining, out loud or to yourself, find a way to shut it down.

5. Toxicity

At work or at home, a toxic environment will literally make you sick. If it doesn’t feel right, if it makes you tired or fills you with dread, cut yourself loose.

6. Disorganization

Clutter and disorder cause stress and affect your emotional and mental well-being. Get rid of what you don’t need and keep everything else where it belongs.

7. Unhealthy anything

Unhealthy food, unhealthy relationship, unhealthy habits–choose what you do wisely. Remind yourself that you deserve better, and then give yourself better.

8. Regrets

We all have regrets, but you can’t move toward your future if you’re dwelling on the past. Learn from it, right any wrongs where you can, and leave it behind.

9. Disrespect

Relationships are the heart of success, and respect is the heart of good relationships.Disrespect–whatever the form and whomever it’s directed toward–is one of the most destructive forces you can harbor.

10. Distrust

Distrust often arrives through a succession of little compromises here and there, so be watchful. Focus on building your own integrity and surround yourself with others who do the same.

11. Anger

We all feel anger, and in its place it can move you to action. But holding onto anger is paralyzing and accomplishes nothing. Learn to direct anger toward problems, not people, and then get over it.

12. Control

Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. Focus your energy where it can do good, and learn to let go of the rest.

Pay attention to the difference between the things that are truly positive in your life and the things you just let happen.

Remember, you are sum of what you tolerate!

 

Inc.com | January 26, 2015 | 

http://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/12-things-that-successful-people-never-tolerate.html

Leadership: Why Do Managers Hate Agile?…Agile Involves Self-Organizing Teams that Work in an Iterative Fashion & Deliver Continuous Additional Value Directly to Customers

Why don’t Agile and management get along? In a poll last Wednesday of some 400 people working in many different firms where the practices known as Agile and Scrum are being implemented, 88 percent reported tension between the way Agile/Scrum teams are managed in their organization and the way the rest of the organization is managed. Only 8 percent reported “no tension.”

Lite Bulb Ideas Leadership: Why Do Managers Hate Agile?...Agile Involves Self Organizing Teams that Work in an Iterative Fashion & Deliver Continuous Additional Value Directly to Customers

Develop an Effective Knowledge Transfer System

Two different worlds

The reality is that “management” and “Agile” are two different worlds.

The world of “management” is vertical. Its natural habitat comprises tall buildings in places like New York. Its mindset is also vertical. “Strategy gets set at the top,” as Gary Hamel often explains. “Power trickles down. Big leaders appoint little leaders. Individuals compete for promotion. Compensation correlates with rank. Tasks are assigned. Managers assess performance. Rules tightly circumscribe discretion.”

The purpose of this vertical world is self-evident: to make money for the shareholders, including the top executives. Its communications are top-down. Its values are efficiency and predictability. The key to succeeding in this world is tight control. Its dynamic is conservative: to preserve the gains of the past. Its workforce is dispirited. It has a hard time with innovation. Its com1panies are being systemically disrupted. Its economy—the Traditional Economy—is in decline.

The Agile world is horizontal. Its natural habitat is in low flat buildings in places like California, although it also spreading rapidly like a virus and has already established footholds in most of the tall vertical organizations. The Agile mindset is horizontal. Its purpose is to delight customers. Making money is the result, not the goal of its activities. Its focus is on continuous innovation.

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Its dynamic is enablement, rather than control. Its communications tend to be horizontal conversations. It aspires to liberate the full talents and capacities of those doing the work. It is oriented to understanding and creating the future. It believes in banking, not necessarily banks. It believes in accommodation, not necessarily hotels. It believes in transport, not necessarily cars. It believes in health, not necessarily hospitals. It believes in education, not necessarily schools. Its economy—the Creative Economy—is thriving.

The adults in the room?

The vertical world of management likes to position itself as “the adults in the room.” The following from an interview with Sam Palmisano, former CEO of IBM, in June 2014 in HBR is typical:

“You’ve got companies in great runs right now, the Googles and the Facebooks. Good ideas, great returns, but then all of a sudden, you need an act two. Well, jeez, is act two going to propel you from $30 billion to $100 billion? That’s a little tougher. It’s the Microsoft challenge.

“So you have to say, ‘Well, I need a different view. I can still create shareholder value, but I can do it a different way. I can rethink capital allocation.’ Recognize where you are on your maturity curve, as a management team, and behave accordingly. Don’t give a speech as CEO as if you just got out of Stanford and you came up with an iconic interface and you called yourself a piece of fruit.

Sadly, the real world is the opposite of the imaginary world that Palmisano inhabits.

The firms with “names like pieces of fruit” are not “$30 billion firms.” In fact some of them are now much larger than the old 20th Century “giants.” Apple for instance is now more than four times the size of IBM.

Market capitalization

Apple $660 billion

Google $362 billion

Facebook $222 billion

IBM     $155 billion

GM       $ 54 billion

Whereas firms with a vertical mindset at the top, like IBM, are struggling with declining revenues andbloody cost-cutting reorganizations, firms in the horizontal world of Agile, like Apple and Google, are busy growing and inventing the future. Their second, third and fourth acts are already well under way.

What then is Agile?

For those managers who don’t know what the Agile is (itself a part of the problem), the horizontal world of Agile involves self-organizing teams that work in an iterative fashion and deliver continuous additional value directly to customers.

The practices of Agile that includes names like Scrum, XP, Kanban, DevOps and Continuous Development, grew out of lean manufacturing in Japan in the late 20th Century. As Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka wrote in “The New New Product Development Game” in HBR in January 1986:

This new emphasis on speed and flexibility calls for a different approach for managing new product development. The traditional sequential or “relay race” approach to product development… may conflict with the goals of maximum speed and flexibility. Instead, a holistic or “rugby” approach—where a team tries to go the distance as a unit, passing the ball back and forth—may better serve today’s competitive requirements.

In due course, Agile became a major force in software development, following the Agile Manifesto in 2001. More recently, it has been spreading to all sectors of the economy, not only in digital natives like Apple and Google, but also in significant pockets within large traditional organizations.

Agile was a response to hierarchical bureaucracy

Agile, Scrum and Lean arose as a deliberate response to the problems of hierarchical bureaucracy that is still pervasive in organizations today: falling rates of return on assets and on invested capital, a dispirited workforce, a decline in competitiveness andwidespread disruption of existing business models.

Given these problems, it’s easy to forget that hierarchical bureaucracy was a great advance when it was introduced over a hundred and fifty years ago. The basic idea of hierarchical bureaucracy is that work is organized with individuals reporting to bosses who tell them what to do and control their work. The roles, the rules, the plans, and the reports of hierarchical bureaucracy created order where previously there had been chaos.

vertical world of hierarchical bureaucracy Leadership: Why Do Managers Hate Agile?...Agile Involves Self Organizing Teams that Work in an Iterative Fashion & Deliver Continuous Additional Value Directly to Customers

As Gary Hamel has noted, hierarchical bureaucracy solved two essential problems:

  • getting semiskilled employees to perform repetitive activities competently and efficiently;
  • coordinating those efforts so that products could be produced in large quantities.

In a stable environment, it had great strengths. It was scalable. It was efficient. It was predictable and it delivered reliable average performance.

It had some liabilities. It was vertical. It was non-collaborative. Its plans were linear. It couldn’t change direction very fast. It was dispiriting to staff but at least people had a job. And the customer was noticeable by being totally absent: the focus was internal.

In a stable environment, these liabilities didn’t matter much.

Change wasn’t important. A firm could go on, grinding out the same basic product for years without much risk of harm. In a stable context, it could predict what customers would buy. It didn’t need to worry about customers. They could be manipulated by advertising.

With semi-skilled employees performing repetitive tasks, collaboration wasn’t important. And who really cared if the workers were dispirited? It was enough that they had their job and their paycheck.

In a world where workers were only semi-skilled and information was hard to come by, it made sense to put the boss in charge. In that setting, managers generally did know best.

Then the world became turbulent

But the world changed and the marketplace became turbulent. There were a number of factors: Globalization, deregulation, and new technology, particularly the Internet. The Internet changed everything:

  • Power in the marketplace shifted from seller to buyer. Suddenly the customer was central, not something you could take for granted.
  • Now the new norm as “better, cheaper, faster, smaller, more personalized and more convenient.” Average performance wasn’t good enough. Continuous innovation became a requirement.
  • In a world that required continuous innovation, a dispirited workforce was a serious productivity problem.
  • As the market shifted in ways that were difficult to predict, static plans became liabilities.
  • The inability to adapt led to “big bang disruption.”

In this turbulent context, the strengths of hierarchical bureaucracy evaporated.

Scalability turned into unmanageable complexity.

The efficiency of economies of scale turned into diseconomies and inefficiency.

Predictability turned into a crippling lack of agility.

And reliable average performance wasn’t good enough for customers who wanted “faster, better, cheaper, smaller, more personalized and more convenient.”

The horizontal world of Agile

In the light of these problems, managers began to fundamentally rethink the way organizations are run. And so Agile was born. Scrum was notable among the approaches, but not the only one. The approaches all had certain features in common:

Work is done by self-organizing teams that could mobilize the full talents of those doing the work.

Work is focused directly on meeting customers’ needs.

A “lens” focuses attention on the customers’ needs (when the lens is a person, as in Scrum, the person is known as a “product owner”; in large scale applications, the lens is “a platform.”)

Work proceeds in an iterative fashion so that it can progressively satisfy customers’ needs better.

The arrangement can be pictured thus.

Icons from TheNounProject
In this way of organizing work, the basic dynamics of the traditional economy are reversed.

Instead of a vertical dynamic of hierarchical bureaucracy with people reporting upwards to bosses, the firm was operating horizontally was a focus on the customer.

Instead of a controlling ideology, the approach is one of enabling self-organization.

Instead of static linear plans, plans are iterative and continuously on the move.

Instead of a workplace that is dispiriting to staff, the workplace is interesting, even inspiring, because people have the autonomy to deliver their best.

Instead of the customer being absent, the customer is now central. The goal of the firm is to delight the customer.

Coming next: Part 2: Does Agile Scale?

And read also:

A Learning Consortium for Management Innovation

The best-kept management secret on the planet: Agile

The case against Agile: ten perennial objections

What manufacturing can learn from Agile

GE Healthcare Gets Agile

___________________

Follow Steve Denning on Twitter at @stevedenning

 

Forbes.com | January 26, 2015 | Steve Denning 

 

Taxes: 10 Surprising Items IRS Says To Report On Your Taxes…Many Fringes from your Employer Aren’t Taxed, but Some Are

This time of year, the IRS likes to remind us that just about everything is taxed. It isn’t just your paychecks that get tallied on a W-2 and end up on your tax return. Income means income from all sources. So as you start getting organized for the annual drudgery of filing taxes this year, don’t forget about some of the odder ones.

IRS Taxes: 10 Surprising Items IRS Says To Report On Your Taxes...Many Fringes from your Employer Aren’t Taxed, but Some Are

 

1. If you sell unwanted clothes, cars, furniture, even family heirlooms, are they taxed? You bet. If you sell something for $100 you bought for $50, that’s a $50 gain. But in many cases you may not know what your tax basis is. If you can’t prove your basis, IRS will view the whole $100 as income. Maybe its capital gain, but it’s still income.

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2. Barters and Trades are taxed. If you get paid to baby sit for your neighbor, take a friend to the airport or water your uncle’s garden, it’s income. Suppose you trade favors and don’t swap cash? IRS says each of you is taxed at the market value of the goods or services. 

3. Ticket scalping? Taxed. Even swapping tickets of even value can trigger tax. Selling for cash certainly does. And the fact that scalping is illegal is no excuse for failing to report it. Same for any other illegal activity. Income is income. Remember, they got Al Capone for tax evasion, not murder.

4. Gambling winnings are taxed too. If you hit the jackpot or win the lottery, it’s all taxed. Taxes are one of the main reasons some people choose to take annual payments when they have that choice. A lump-sum payout can generate a big tax bill.

5. Prizes and awards are taxed, even if you win a Nobel. They are taxed even if you don’t win cash. If you buy raffle tickets and win a car, the cash value of the car is taxed.

6. Tips on the job? IRS taxes tips just like everything else.

7. Many fringes from your employer aren’t taxed, but some are. Small value benefits in the workplace aren’t taxed. This includes coffee and pastries, occasional photocopying, occasional entertainment or sports tickets, occasional meal transportation money for working overtime. But these days the IRS is looking hard at benefits it thinks are too big to let go. Silicon Valley meal benefits could be next.

8. Cancellation of debt is a strange one. When you borrow money, you don’t have income because it’s not yours, you have to pay it back. But if the lender forgives it, you pay tax. COD is short for “cancellation of debt.” When a debt you owe is canceled or discharged, in many cases the tax code treats the wiped out debt as cash income to you. If you owe $500,000 to the bank, but the bank forgives it, it’s as if the bank just handed you $500,000 and Uncle Sam wants his cut.

9. Lawsuit recoveries are usually taxed. It may seem like you are just getting damages so aren’t being enriched, but they are usually taxed. One big exception is physical injury recoveries. But even there, punitive damages and interest are taxed. Sometimes, if you win a lawsuit, you have to pay the IRS—even on your attorney’s fees.

10. Treasure trove sounds like something from a pirate movie, but it’s a term used by the IRS. Cash or valuables you find are taxed. In Cesarini v. United States, a man bought a used piano for $15 and found $5,000 in cash inside. When the IRS said it was taxable, Mr. Cesarini went to court. He lost, and the treasure trove tax hit happens to others too. In 2013, an anonymous couple found $10 million in rare gold coins buried in cans on their property. It was the biggest and best coin discovery in U.S. history. And it was taxed.

For alerts to future tax articles, follow me on Forbes.com. Email me at Wood@WoodLLP.com. This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.

Strategy: 11 Productivity Tips That Will Make You More Effective…Every Project Requires an Action Plan. There is Always a Most Efficient Series of Steps for Each Project.

With the abundance of demands on our time today, it’s easy to feel like we’re losing control. Even if we’ve decided what really is important, we still require a few sensible suggestions to assist us in organizing our time more effectively.

Messy Desk Strategy: 11 Productivity Tips That Will Make You More Effective...Every Project Requires an Action Plan. There is Always a Most Efficient Series of Steps for Each Project.

That is the purpose of these 11 tips for time management and productivity.

1. Synchronize all calendars.

If you have a calendar on your PC, a wall calendar, a daily planner, and a handheld device, all of them must say the same thing.

Too many planners and calendars obviously may lead to unneeded confusion. Therefore, attempt to get by with just one, or, if that isn’t possible, be certain that all of them are synchronized.

 

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2. Every project requires an action plan.

There is always a most efficient series of steps for each project. To save effort and time, we must identify what that series is and follow it. Prior to starting any project, attempt to identify this series and jot it down.

3. Schedule the most vital activities first.

If you first deal with your most critical tasks first, it’ll be easier to discover time for less important tasks. If you permit yourself to become sidetracked on busywork or unimportant tasks, odds are you never will get to the things that really matter.

4. Track your time.

To figure out where your time is heading, attempt to keep a time log for one or two weeks. How much time is actually being lost on unimportant tasks? Where will the majority of your interruptions come from? Will they happen within specific periods of time or on certain days of the week? Once you have this data, it’ll be simpler to eliminate time-wasting tasks, along with interruptions and distractions.

5. Schedule less.

If you’re cramming too much into your schedule, you’ll always feel frustrated and rushed — and ultimately, you will not get much accomplished. Attempt to be realistic concerning how many things are scheduled into your day. One ounce of accomplishment is better than one pound of frustration.

6. Minimize all interruptions.

Block off parts of your day during which you aren’t to be distracted unless absolutely necessary. When possible, turn off your phone, instant messenger, pop-ups, Twitter notifications, and all other things that usually get your focus off the project. Learn to concentrate on one activity.

7. Expect the unexpected.

Things happen, that is just the way it is. If your schedule is so tight that you do not allow for the unexpected, you drastically increase your odds of feeling chaotic throughout the day. If you must be somewhere and you’re able to make it in 15 minutes, permit 25. Leave tiny, unscheduled time blocks all through your day in order for you to have a buffer against the unexpected.

8. Utilize transition time to your advantage.

If you’re commuting, attempt to utilize this time for something productive. Can you find a method of listening to crucial data that you normally would need to read later?

Have something around that you’re able to do whenever you’re stuck waiting around. Making use of time that normally would be wasted is an easy way to create more time for those things you have a desire to accomplish.

9. Take occasional breaks.

I utilize applied focus sessions where I do 45 minutes of focused effort, followed up by 15 minutes of something else. After 45 minutes, our ability to focus starts to taper off and we no longer optimally perform.

I utilize those 15 minutes for strolling around, getting something to drink, answering calls, or anything else that distracts me from the activity at hand. Oftentimes, that’s when my best ideas come to mind, and I wind up feeling invigorated and prepared to make things work.

10. Think on paper.

If you feel stuck, jot the issue down. Defining the issue on paper is going to assist you in sorting it out. Create a list of as many solutions as possible. Odds are, you have just solved your issue.

11. Be flexible.

These are just suggestions; they aren’t fast and hard rules. Experiment, discover what will work for you personally, and don’t be frightened of customizing the thoughts to match your individual needs and circumstances.

Some of them might work for you and some of them might not, yet you never will know until you try.

 

Businessinsider.com | January 21, 2015 | MURRAY NEWLANDS, INC.

http://www.inc.com/murray-newlands/11-awesome-productivity-tips-that-will-radically-improve-your-life.html#ixzz3PUpCsAsf

Strategy: The Complete Guide To Crafting A Perfect LinkedIn Profile…”Pledge to Banish Trite Buzzwords & Take These Easy Steps to Reinvigorate Your Profile,”

January 21 is the most popular day of the month for LinkedIn users to update their profiles.  If you’re one of the millions of people rewriting your “summary statement” or uploading a new cover photo today, Catherine Fisher, a LinkedIn career expert, has some advice for you.

linkedin pano 12204 Strategy: The Complete Guide To Crafting A Perfect LinkedIn Profile...Pledge to Banish Trite Buzzwords & Take These Easy Steps to Reinvigorate Your Profile,

“Pledge to banish trite buzzwords and take these easy steps to reinvigorate your profile,” she says.

 

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Here’s the complete guide from LinkedIn to having an all-star profile:

byy infograph Strategy: The Complete Guide To Crafting A Perfect LinkedIn Profile...Pledge to Banish Trite Buzzwords & Take These Easy Steps to Reinvigorate Your Profile,