Update on finding that job to love

If I’m brutally honest, I must admit it was a bit scary to get back to work. What if it was me? What if I just wasn’t capable of fitting into company abroad? What if I had grown so used to the freedom of not being in a job, I couldn’t get used to working life anymore? What if I didn’t set the right conditions for the job to love? What if I’d set myself up for failure? What if I couldn’t live up to the expectations?

The organisation ticked off every box on my wish list and even though all the signs appeared to be green, I did worry just a bit (I consciously say “just a bit”, because I did actually apply some lessons learned from my mindfulness and meditation efforts. Trying to live in the now, instead of in the past or future…).  I think I can safely say at this point, there was no reason to worry.

First of all, it’s just very nice to be part of a company that does extremely well. Makes me feel proud and somewhat humbled to be part of it at the same time. It makes me want to add proper value, just to earn the right to be able to say I’m adding a bit to that success.

From what I’ve experienced up until now, people in the company are genuine, kind, helpful and are motivated not to be d*cks. Management is as transparent as they can be, proactive in requesting feedback and make great effort to communicate effectively. We celebrate successes, thank people and give compliments for work well done. Very much carrots instead of sticks.

I have the privilege to head up a lovely team of eager to learn, smart people with a great attitude and I get to think of ways to make them shine even more. I get my teeth stuck into strategy plans, processes and trying to get all stakeholders on the same page. I hope to teach my team a thing or two and in all that feel supported by my superiors. I’ve read some more books (‘The first 90 days’, ‘Good to Great’, recommended readings by our CEO by the way…) to help me on my way with doing things that fit company culture. It might sound super boring to people who don’t share these interests, but this stuff really energises me.

I guess I just want to say that I love what I’m doing and I’m doing what I love. Of course, it’s still a bit scary to try to live up to expectations, but I’m making an effort to put everything in place to do just that.

My summary on what makes this a job to love (and on what I think would apply to a job to love in every field, for everybody):

  • An organisational culture that suits me
  • An environment that makes me want to be the best I can
  • Doing things that energise me (and I think I’m sort of good at…)
  • Getting the right support

Nb. I’ve added some hyperlinks to the books. They refer to you tube video’s that give you a quick summery

Posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the position, strategy or opinions of Softcat.

Found that job

Most of you have noticed by now that I finally started a new job. And you’ll probably wonder: Did she land a job she loves? And if so: Why? Did the blog or journey help her in any way?

Let me reveal something I haven’t been sharing in an earlier stage. In all honesty, I’ve started talking to Softcat a while ago. In fact, shortly after my first blogpost. But it wouldn’t have been much fun if I had thought: mission accomplished, let’s kill the blog, now would it?

Just after publishing the “This is me” post, a former colleague of mine reached out; sent me a message via LinkedIn if I was interested to have a chat. I was, so we had a phone call wherein he told me a bit about the company he was working for: one of the Greatest Places to work for in the UK. He was really excited about this company called Softcat. He highlighted some of the pro’s and quirks and got me sort of curious. No promises made, but I was invited to have a chat at Softcat’s Head Quarters.

It was a bit of an adventure to get up to those Head Quarters, as they are positioned in the lovely village of Marlow. And although it’s just 45 kilometres from London (that would be approximately 28 miles), it does take about 2 hours to get there by public transport.

Of course, I was early. Yes, ridiculously early, so I had some time to check out the area. To my pleasant surprise, there was a hipster coffee bar just 2 minutes away from the office, so I tried that one right away. After a nice brew, I headed up to the office. It appeared to be stashed with awards for being a Great Place to Work, for being a great reseller for the biggest soft- and hardware brands around, for being great overall. People that crossed the reception as I waited all seemed to be smiling and helpful.

The interview took place in a quirky room with comfy sofas. My CV used as a guideline to figure out what would make me happy in a role. My interviewers thinking about opportunities in the company that would suit my needs and interests. It was so much different from other interviews at other companies: a very good different! Absolute bonus points for that. The atmosphere was laid back, friendly, genuine. We parted on good vibes.

Two weeks later I was invited for another chat at the London office. By that time, both Softcat and I kind of decided there was a match. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a budget challenge at that point.  The message being: we’d love to have you at Softcat, but can’t promise anything until budgets are sorted. They understood that they were at risk of losing me to another company in the process, but added that most important thing was that I would find the job to love. I believed what they said, but of course had my reservations. So, I went on with my job search, to be sure I wouldn’t be dependent on a yay or nay on their budgets.

A couple of Months passed and I wasn’t sure they would keep their word. I was finally in the process of speaking to some other companies when I received an email. Budgets were sorted: would I still be interested? Yes, I was.

Once more, I travelled up to their headquarters. Spoke to more lovely people and went home having to decide if this was the opportunity I had been looking for during my journey. After a good night sleep, I made my mind up.

A week after signing the contract, I received a “Congrats-on-the-new-job card” from Softcat, welcoming me to the team. Way to make your new employees feel welcome! And more confirmation I made the right decision.

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I’ve been at Softcat a bit over a week now, and my first impression is that they practice what they preach. It’s a very sociable environment where people walk around in Softcat merchandise because they want to, not because they have to. They have dress-up days instead of dress-down days, free breakfast and loads more quirks to make life easy. The CEO even responded personally to my introduction mail!

Did I land a job I love? That obviously is a bit hard to say after being just in for a bit over a week, but all is looking good. So I want to say Yes. If anything, it certainly looks like I found an organisation to love.

Let me quickly summarise my journey:

  • Putting the blog online made me stand out, it caught attention
  • Writing the blog pushed me to think out of the box and make the journey to finding a new job much more fun
  • I even managed to learn new things along the way
  • I met a lot of inspiring people
  • Being able to show what I had been doing while I was on my journey helped me during my interviews
  • I had a better professional network in place in the UK than I thought. Just don’t be afraid to reach out

In answer to the question: Did I manage to network my way into a job to love in the UK and did I have fun along the way? It’s a double yes 😊

 

Posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the position, strategy or opinions of Softcat.

Learning new things

I love to learn new things, create stuff, be creative. And I mean this in the widest sense.

I kind of forgot I did for a while.

When I was a kid, I would sew dolls clothes and other useless artifacts (I also remember a stuffed piano).  I’d figure bolt musical staffs and other useless artifacts (I also remember hippos and foot-shaped book-stands…I think my mom still uses those 😊), embroid tapestries, write short stories, come up with piano tunes and so forth. When I became older, the dolls clothes were traded for carnival costumes and prom dresses, figure bolting changed to updating old furniture and short stories got replaced by journaling.

When I became a “grown-up”, that stuff disappeared into the background. Somehow, I just stopped doing it.  Learning new things happened, but was mainly focused on courses and training at work. Creating new things and being creative were things I applied in my job, not so much outside of it anymore.

These last few Months, some of the books I read got me to think about those things again. Why do we stop doing things that made us happy once, and maybe even gave us a sense of pride when we were young? Why do we forget about them so easily?

I’ve been lucky enough to have had some time on my hands to think about, and start doing things I love again. And that includes being creative, learning new things and creating stuff.

I can really lose track of time once I get my teeth into something new that intrigues me. I guess I can be a bit of a nerd. A couple of Months ago I got all excited about using WordPress. Learned about cool features, tweaking the page until it looked great. It wasn’t just launching the writing element of the blog that got me; I liked the fact that I created something that actually looked pretty cool as well. I think I can even admit I was a bit proud of the outcome.

Last week a dug into the world of Prezi. I was looking for an original tool to help me build a presentation. In these times, I didn’t think PowerPoint was the right tool to blow people away. It might be in some cases, but not with the audience I was aiming at. PowerPoint felt a bit too “Old School”. Two years ago, my sister already pointed out Prezi to me, and now was finally the time to start using it.

Prezi is an online presentation platform. It’s dynamic, intuitive, free to use (if you register for a basic account) and built to make your presentations look amazing. You do need some time to get the hang of it though. Once you do; the sky is the limit. And I was pretty chuffed with my Prezi.

It felt good to create something that I wanted to show to other people because I was proud of it.

If you recognise this, it might be useful to take some time to think about what you loved doing as a kid. Why did you stop? Would it make you happy to start doing it again? What holds you back?

You might want to give it another shot…

 

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The Challenge of Mastering Self-Help Books

Lately, I’ve been reading quite some so-called “Self-Help books”. It appears that one book sort of leads to the next. In this case, “The Miracle Morning” led to “The Five Second Rule”. Someone in the online community (Yes, I became a member of the “Miracle Morning™ Facebook Community” when I started the 30-day challenge) needed an extra push to get out of bed in the morning. Someone else advised her to read this book by Mel Robbins as, in her opinion, it was “a life changer”.

It got my curiosity and I started watching some of her Ted Talks and other YouTube Video’s.

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After that, I decided to order the book. The book is fairly new, only came out this year. The Rule isn’t. And it’s simple: If you don’t feel like doing something you should be doing, but need to push yourself to do it anyway, just count backwards: 5…4…3…2…1 and GO.

This is pretty much the summary of the book as well.

Quite simple, quite applicable, and after reading the 1000 examples of its effectivity, I should be able to take it on. Everyone should be able to take it on. On a critical note…I don’t think I needed 1000 social media examples and 235 pages to get it, but that might be just me.

What I did think was refreshing about the book is that it is focused on being active and taking initiative. Nothing happens if you don’t make it happen. I guess that was something the universe decided to emphasize to me, because at the same time, a friend of mine pointed out Mark Manson’s work.

Mark Manson is the author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***” and pretty much challenges the status-quo of Self-Help Books. He gives you a reality check when you’re overdoing it on the “Self-help streak”. It basically comes to this: You will not reach your goals if you sit back, relax, meditate and visualize until your dreams come true.  I’m not a big fan of the language he uses to make his point, but on the other hand, it does come across.

There is a thin line between learning from the books you read, and obsessing over the books you’ve read. I’m trying to keep a good balance.

I like to apply things I learn and think are helpful. A lot of it makes sense, and most of the time, the ideas crossed my mind already. It’s just nice to find out that someone took the time to put it into words and make you aware again. Give you a little push towards the right mindset and get you in the action mode.

Yesterday I applied tips and tricks from 5 books in one big epiphany: During my 30-day Morning Challenge (1), I picked up the tip from the book I’m reading at the moment. It advises to clean stuff, which would make room for new stuff. The new stuff not only being new tangible stuff, but new people, opportunities etc. (2) I didn’t feel like it, but counted 5…4…3…2…1 (3) and cleaned out my wardrobe. I took the pile of clothes and brought it to the local community center so other people could benefit from it (4 and 5).

It’s up to you to decide if you think I’m overdoing it. I actually felt pretty good about myself 😊

 

  1. “The Miracle Morning”, Hal Elrod
  2. “Coach yourself to success”; Talane Miedaner
  3. “The Five Second Rule”; Mel Robbins
  4. “The Kindness Diaries”; Leon Logethetis
  5. “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”; Richard Carlson

 

Nb. Just hoover over Names and Book Titles and click on them to get directed to a related webpage

‘How to create a career you love’

For the people that are curious about my 30- day Miracle Morning challenge: As I’m writing this, I’m at day 18 and haven’t missed a single one. Getting into the habit of setting goals for the day, meditating, reading, writing and exercising on a daily basis is actually quite satisfying.

On the subject of going places and meeting people: I attended a workshop organised by Escape the City this week. It was called: ‘How to create a career you love’. Obviously, that triggered me.

Being ridiculously early as always, I had some time to stroll through the Bermondsey area, snap some pictures that would do great on Instagram and get some coffee at one of the many coffeeshops on Bermondsey Street before heading up to Work.Life. London is full of workspaces that are ideal for entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers, Work.Life being one of those initiatives. These initiatives often collaborate with the communities in London that focus on the same target group. Pretty cool!

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About 30 people attended the highly interactive, almost 3-hour, workshop. It started with filling in a 16-question survey about your job. This added up to a score around your level of belonging, Impact and Wellbeing. The score indicated how satisfying your work environment was to you. Several exercises followed to make you aware of what’s important to you in your work life. Results discussed immediately with one of your neighbors. More exercises followed, executed together with one of your neighbors or the entire table to create awareness of how easy it is to come up with creative ideas to turn your career around.

During this evening, I got to the conclusion I’m in a pretty good place right now.

While discussing challenges and struggles of other attendants, I realized that I had answered most of my trivial questions already:

  • I know what my criteria for a ‘Career to Love’ are.
  • I know what I love to do, and I know in what sort of environment I would love to do it.
  • I’m not stuck in a situation that isn’t satisfying to me, as I made a radical decision and chose to turn it around a while ago.
  • I don’t feel lost about my purpose in life.
  • I’m not under the impression I have to start my own business to be happy (Which would create new questions around what that business should look like, making life even more complicated. I’m not saying you shouldn’t start a business by any means, I’m just saying it’s not the perfect solution for everyone. If you have a great idea and it energizes you: go for it!).

For those of you who read this, and are unsatisfied with where you are in life right now: it might be useful to get answers to the above. When I just quit my job, the answers weren’t clear to me either. It took some serious soul searching, talking to people -even coaches-, attending communities, workshops, meetups, reading books, articles. It doesn’t have to be that radical: Do whatever works for you. But don’t just wait until, by accident, the perfect career falls in your lap. Newsflash: It won’t. You need to know what your goal or purpose is to make it work for you.

So, what are you waiting for?

 

Nb. This blog contains hyperlinks: just hoover over the subjects of interest to get redirected to the website.

 

 

Kat the Coach

Last week, I had a call with Kat, the career coach I met during the Alternative Career festival. I briefly mentioned her in the blog about the event. We started talking when we were queuing for food and didn’t really stop until we finished our food. I felt we kind of had an instant connection, and ever since, we kept in touch.

Kat brilliantly combines working in a corporate environment herself with guiding people that work in corporate environments as an independent career coach. Speaking with her instantly convinced me she knew what she was taking about.

When I wrote my blog “A little Pick me up” she dropped me a note that she had some advice that might be useful. She was actually enjoying her well-deserved holidays at the Mediterranean Sea, but was perfectly fine with interrupting them for a while to have a Skype meeting with me.  Not because she’s a workaholic, ok, maybe a little, but mainly because she loves what she does for a living.

We talked about how I was getting on with my job search, and what might help me to get better focus, and finding the right opportunities. She started asking me a bunch of questions, and she was able to quickly analyze my challenges and convert them into the criteria that are necessary for a job opportunity to possibly be my dream job.

After that call, I actually realized I forgot to focus on an important step in my journey. Until that point, I mainly tried to bring theory into practice myself. Reading books, making lists, applying former experience and what I read in those books to job applications. But I didn’t manage to put together an overview of my criteria that easily. Doing it on my own, made it seem much less to the point, and much more complicated.

Until that point, I didn’t realize I could really use someone that had that helicopter view, that would be able to give me some guidance and understands the UK job market.

Her approach helped me to focus on the right things and to reject the opportunities that didn’t fit my criteria. This week we caught up and we discussed on which subjects I could need some more help. I’m convinced that working with Kat will help me to land the job I love!

Just to make my point again: Go out, leave your home, meet people! I’ve met a lot of inspiring people over the last Months who helped me on my journey in different ways, making it so much more fun and exciting!

Want to know more about Kat? Check her website! She writes some pretty cool newsletters as well!  You can register to the newsletter for free, by requesting the free exercise on her website.

Nb. My blogs contain hyperlinks: Whenever I refer to something, just hoover over the text and you’ll be able to get to the related webpage!

Morning Miracles…

I love to sleep, but I also love life. Therefore, I’d rather not sleep through it all. I’m not really a natural early riser, but during the past week, I realized a lot of good stuff actually happens in the morning, so I have decided to embrace this part of the day and get the most out of it.

In last week’s blog, I mentioned a book I started reading as it was recommended by one of the ladies at the Campus (at the women meetup, early in the morning). I finished ‘The Miracle Morning’ last Sunday and decided to actually bring it into practice. The book promises you can become successful and rich and skinny by sticking to the proposed program, so I thought: why not give it a shot…

On Monday morning, I got up in time and started the ’30-day challenge’. In short, it means I rise early, and start the day with an hour of Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing (The book calls these your “Life S.A.V.E.R.S.”). I start by meditating with the help of my new friends Oprah and Deepak Chopra, followed by doing some awkward outloud reading of affirmations I wrote and a bit of visualizing what my ideal day and future is going to look like. Next up is my ab-workout. After that, I read a few pages in ‘Start with Why’, and I top it off with writing my goals and experiences in my journal. I’m 2 days in now, and it feels pretty good to start the day with contemplating, setting goals and working on becoming a level 10 person on 10 different areas.

I know, I know, I was a bit skeptical as well, but I was doing most of that stuff anyway, although a bit less structured. There is nothing that I really dislike about the activities, so, I guess there is no harm in doing it all in the early morning. Get it out of your way, and have loads of time left to be useful during the rest of the day. I’ll stick to the 30-day challenge. If it works: great! If not, worst case, the only thing improved is my abdominal section.

If you’re triggered, take a peek at Hal Elrod’s website, the writer of ‘The Miracle Morning’. This guy is pretty amazing at going through rough times, but staying positive, grateful and inspiring! If you want to give the Challenge a shot yourself, check out the Miracle Morning website: there’s a crash course, so you don’t have to read the entire book if you don’t want to!

Nb. I always add hyperlinks to the blogs, so you’re just a mouse click away from the books, people and places I mention 🙂

 

Back on track

Last week I blogged about picking myself up after a little period of being a bit less motivated. I practiced what I preached and just to prove how being structured, active, meeting people and making plans works out. Here’s what it brought me so far:

  • 4 recruiters contacting me about interesting roles
  • Inspiration to apply for a role in a very different environment than I would usually be looking at
  • New contacts added to my professional network
  • 2 new management books to read and lessons to learn from them
  • Renewed positivity about my chances on the job market

On Thursday, I went to my second Meetup Women at the Google Campus. They invited Maria McKavanagh, Chief Operating Officer of Verv. She spoke about being young, a woman and being successful in tech. She stressed the fact that women tend to talk themselves dav

down a bit, and they really shouldn’t. She reminded everyone of the fact that if you fit 80% of job specs in an advertisement, you are probably very well fit for the job. The only thing to do is convince the employer of your capabilities and why the missing competencies should not form an issue. Most of the time, the specs contain every nitty gritty detail the perfect candidate should have, although that candidate probably doesn’t exist anyway.

I saw this opportunity at a FMCG company, and was very hesitant to respond to it, because of my background in IT and Consultancy, but I do think I ticked quite some of the boxes.  After the meetup, I decided to just give it a shot. I figured there’s nothing to lose either 😊

At the end of the meetup I spoke to some other people that joined. The ambiance is always really vibrant. The people joining are very driven, enthusiastic and motivated. It just gives you a great buzz. And just like last time, I left with some great tips. This time on some must-read books. I finished “Key Person of Influence” by Daniel Priestly in 2 days. I was very excited about it, and couldn’t help but recommending it to some of the people in my network right away. Inspired me to think about entrepreneurship, and it triggered me to seriously consider writing a book.

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I’ve now started “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. It’s about getting up early, personal development and becoming the best version of yourself…I’ll keep you updated if I get hooked.

For now, I think the most important conclusion is that I really got energized by creating structure and sticking to it. I’m excited to find out where it leads me.

 

A little pick me up

I was warned about this: getting to point where the job search doesn’t seem to be going according to plan. The point where search engines make you depressed, it feels like all your ideas around alternative network sources seem to be dried out and you’ve completed all levels of LinkedIn.

At that same point, I sort of paused my blog, as I didn’t really know what to write about (although I still have some reviews on cafes that function very well as offices and some interesting management books).

The challenge is picking yourself up at this point… And that is just what I’m doing.

So, I have been thinking what got me motivated and made me energetic earlier on in my quest and I’m just going to put together a little list. It helps me, might help other people as well:

  • Get out of bed around the same time the rest of the world gets up. Have breakfast, take a shower right away, dress properly (yoga pants are not being considered as dressing properly)
  • Agree a daily schedule with yourself. Decide how much time your job search needs to take and if you have time for anything else. I function best when I start the day with my job search routine and like to treat myself afterwards by doing something nice.
  • Make plans. I know I need to get out of the house every now and then to keep my sanity, so I go to the gym in the afternoon, do some grocery shopping, plan lunch dates, or wander, stroll and discover new places. Think about what you’re going to do the day before, so you can make it part of your schedule.
  • Create a routine around the job search. Mine looks like this
    • Check all job alerts I receive
    • Check career websites of organizations I’m interested in
    • Check LinkedIn Jobs
    • Respond to opportunities that seem interesting and match
    • Check newly proposed connections on Shapr
  • Meet people. People can give you good ideas, make you grow your network, and are very important to keep you from getting socially isolated. (That’s not really an issue I run into, but I am the type of person that does not function well by being alone all week, the only person to talk to being my spouse in the evening. Even though I love talking to my spouse 😊)
  • Give yourself a Netflix quota. Completing Netflix is not something that will help you on your quest. Although it can be highly satisfying, it’s also addictive and will keep you from doing useful stuff. (I swear, this is just a warning and doesn’t have anything to do with experience)
  • Do stuff that makes you happy. Not instead of the job search, but alongside your job search. Make it part of your schedule. For me, it means exploring the city, taking pictures, putting them on Instagram, reading, blogging, swimming, Pilates, yoga, Zumba, coffee, lunch and so forth.

You know what, even just putting together this list energized me. I’m on it!

What I learned about growing my professional network so far…

My first attempt to grow my professional network in London was by meeting up with someone via the “a-friend-who- knows-a-friend-principle”. I had that meeting when I just resigned. I didn’t read Dale Carnegie yet, so my approach could have been more polished. I did read the John Lees books, and therefore knew I should have had my pitch ready. It wasn’t.

But the main issue with that meetup was that I wasn’t ready for it yet. I really couldn’t explain what I was looking for, because I wasn’t very clear on what that actually was. And if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can’t really expect other people to find it for you. The upside about that meetup was that I forced myself to start talking about my journey to a stranger, taking myself out of my comfort zone, trying to start a domino effect on growing my professional network in London.

This guy was actually really helpful. He listened to my story, and asked questions to be able to give a bit more direction to my quest. And he introduced me to an acquaintance of him, after I asked him if he knew anyone that could be of help. Unfortunately, the person he introduced me to worked at an organization that did not seem to match my requirements.

If I would have had my pitch straight at that moment, I would have known that and shouldn’t have bothered that person with a phone call. But again, it was a lesson in pitching myself to a total stranger and getting some steps closer to having my story worked out. On a side note; I don’t think phone calls are the best way to get a good first impression of someone.

I reached out to an old colleague that works at an interesting consultancy organization. She also was really helpful and spoke to her London counterpart who appeared to have an interest in my profile. He hasn’t been in touch yet…

An old classmate of mine offered to introduce me to an old business partner of him after reading my blog. I saw that this guy checked out my LinkedIn profile, but this also was followed by silence…

For networking to be effective, supply and demand needs to fit. And to find out if it fits, you need to be aware of what you bring to the table and what your demands are. “Begin with the end in mind”: Thank you Mr. Covey.

And, very, if not more, important, there needs to be a personal fit. Your personality will not fit every organization or person you get in touch with. Not all interactions will be successful. If that would be the case, not as many people would struggle to find a life partner I guess. And in some way, finding a new job has some similarities to finding a partner.

Maybe, I’ve made my life a bit too complicated by trying to build up a new network out of non-existing, second- or third-line contacts. Some interesting opportunities actually came up from my first-line network. But because they are so close, I might have overlooked them in the first place. By speaking about my quest, or blogging about, getting my balance in supply-and-demands straight, those opportunities have actually found their way to me.

I am really enjoying my focus on networking, getting to know new people, speaking about what I’m looking for, speaking about my blog, reading books about human interaction, effective behavior and kindness though. Although it might not always lead  to brilliant job opportunities, it does make my life more fun.

Last week, I was enjoying the sun on a terrace next to Regent’s Canal and sat down next to a girl who was obviously working on something. After a while we started talking: She was an interior architect with quite a cool portfolio, looking for the perfect toilet brush… We started speaking about nice places to work from in London and about places to grow your network as an entrepreneur, about the Kindness Diaries and about my blog. We ended up having a drink and exchanging social media details. If I hadn’t been on this quest, I definitely wouldn’t have had this great afternoon!

Quick summary:

  • Figure out your supply and demand
  • Speak to people about your quest, everybody, everywhere. (Unless they kindly ask you to shut up about it)
  • Polish your pitch on the way
  • Don’t be surprised or put down if not every new contact is a perfect match
  • Leave your house and meet people! (people you already know or new people, it doesn’t really matter, but is lifts you up)
  • Enjoy making new contacts, even if they are probably not the ones that provide you with your dream job

How Netflix inspired me

In January of this year, we decided to get Netflix. Yes, I do realize we’re not really the “Early Adopters” in this case. Now I hear you thinking: How can binge-watching series on Netflix possibly relate to finding the job I love? Well, it does, and here is why.

If you were more of an early adopter than we are on the Netflix subject, you’re probably familiar with the recommendations it gives you, based on your viewing history, or just based on what they would very much like you to watch. One of these recommendations was “The Kindness Diaries”. As it was described as a travel documentary, it caught my attention and I added it to my watch-list.

Two weeks ago, when I felt I did some hard work on the job hunt and wanted to treat myself for this, I decided to watch 1 episode. They only take 20 minutes, so it would be a nice short break.

13 episodes and 4.5 hours later I very much wanted to share the experience with the world. For 4.5 hours, I’d been sobbing my eyes out over the most amazing, inspiring journey I had seen on a television show and I wanted to create awareness around these series.

So, what was it that made me binge-watch my entire day away?

The program maker is Leon Logothetis, a former city-of-London-broker, who, during one of his existential crises, decided to move away from his job and do something more meaningful with his life, which at one point leads to this trip. Inspired by “The Motorcycle Diaries”, he buys a yellow vintage motorbike and with this bike, plans to travel the world, relying on the kindness of strangers for gas, food and shelter. And when he stumbles on an incredible story, he gives something back.

With everything that is wrong in today’s world, these series are fantastically refreshing and give you a brilliant view of how kind people can actually be.

So after my Netflix marathon, I tweeted the following:tweet

Somewhat later, this happened:leon response

It took me a while to respond, because I did not just want to accept the book without giving something back. I finally sent him the PM, and this happened:FB PM

Woaaah! Ever since, I can’t stop telling people about this. And maybe spreading the word is sort of helping as well, just to create a bit of awareness and inspire people to show some kindness every now and then.

Yesterday, not one, but 2 books arrived! I was so chuffed! I’m planning to share them with friends after finishing them.

Now how does this story relate to my journey? Well, it made me think about my values, how I can contribute, what I can give back or pay forward. It made me realize I’m probably not the person to turn my life upside down for a change, or to become an entrepreneur; I like working for an organization. I’m not the person that volunteers at homeless shelters or travels around the world to save turtles. If that works for you, please do!

I am, however, a person that wants to do something meaningful, and someone who is trying to find a way to contribute to making the world a little better. What that will look like? I guess time will tell how that evolves. Just stay put if you want to find out 😊

You might want to read this: How to Win Friends and Influence People

I while ago I was discussing Management books with a friend of mine. I just read “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and was telling her she should definitely read it, when we came to the conclusion we had quite some of these so called “inspirational” books hanging around on our bookshelves that had just been there for ages.

When you buy a book because you know it is on top of all the must-read lists, but never really felt like actually reading it… Yeah, I guess you’ve been there. Makes your book shelve look like you’re an intellectual though. At the end of our phone call, we decided to browse through our collection and turn these “sit-on-shelve-books” into “make-them-work-for-you-books”.

I was a bit hesitant about this one at first, because of the fact this book seemed ancient. davIn 1937, Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” was published for the first time. Ever since, it has been reprinted on a regular basis. The discussion I had with my friend, triggered me into finally reading it and I just can’t believe how relevant his book still is after 80 years (and why it took me so long to pick it up for the first time)!

It turns out that Dale Carnegie perfectly understood the importance of dealing with people in your life. And most important: How to do that in a respectful, friendly way and turning it into your advantage. Some of his suggestions might need a bit of practice, because your behavior needs to be sincere. But others are very easy to apply and have the potential of working miracles for you.

I loved the fact that he states that people work for people, and need to feel they are being appreciated. This shows it was already a recognized issue back then, and still pops up quite often.

Below is an overview of his principles.

win friends

My most important lesson I took away from this book:

quotes-if-there-is-any-one-secret-of-success-said-henry-dale-carnegie-7656

If you’re not that much of a reader: Here’s a little summary on YouTube

This one is definitely off that book shelve and I’m going to make it work for me!

Review ‘Campus meet-up: Women’

First Thursday of April, I got up early to join the Women’s meet-up. Every first Thursday of the month 8.30 AM, the Campus organizes a Women’s meet-up. It’s not restricted to women, it’s just that the focus is on women…

Again, I was early (yes, ridiculously early) and the doors weren’t opened yet, but the receptionist let me in anyway. After a while, more people arrived, lots more! There were even more people joining than last time and all women.

Entering the meet-up room, I was pleasantly surprised by the breakfast that was offered. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of that, but I’ll definitely take one next time. Croissants, chocolate rolls, yoghurt, fresh jam, chia pots with raspberries… I would join another meet-up for that reason only…

Network level was just as high as during the introduction meeting. This time, everybody
was positioned in circles. First assignment: tell the other people in your group who you are, what you can bring to the table, and what you would like to get out of it. Luckily, I learned that lesson before: Don’t go to network events without having your pitch ready.

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Second assignment: write an obstacle you run into with starting your business, project, or product on a little piece of paper. The obstacles get shared with the group, and there might be some experts that can help you on your way. I asked for input on ways to expand my professional network. Got some interesting tips I’ve further explored after, one of them being Escape the City, about which I wrote in my previous blog.

As far as getting something useful out of it: This time, I spoke girl that made a career switch from being in finance to becoming a developer. That could actually be a helpful contact to add to my network. I also spoke to a girl that is developing an app to learn Spanish, who was looking for testers. I volunteered, as I was playing with the thought of picking up Spanish again anyway.

At the end of the meet-up the organizers asked if there were any particular requests ‘en groupe’, just so you would know who was looking for people to hire, or test or to help out in any other way.  To sum this meet-up: Again, really inspiring! Stories of entrepreneurial people are just so energizing!

Based on my experience with these network events, I can definitely recommend 17494714_406640983051420_7506900271247654912_n(1)everyone to pick up something you love (maybe a hobby for starters: it doesn’t necessarily have to be a new career…) and get in touch with other people that are equally enthusiastic. It boosts your energy and your mood instantly!

Professional Network growth: +2

You can still register for May’s meet-up!

Escape the City: Alternative Career Festival

Two weeks ago, someone asked me if I’d checked ‘Escape the Cityescape-manifesto’ yet. I hadn’t, so I did. ‘Escape the City’ appeared to be a great tip: it’s a global community with a focus on doing work that really matters to you.  They provide Start-up and Career Change programmes, Events, Workshops, and a job search engine. The welcome mail stated “Life is too short to do work that doesn’t matter to you and we’re here to help”: very appealing, great start.

To my pleasant surprise, the site referred to their Alternative Career Festival that was planned for the 13th of April in London. It looked pretty interesting and I decided to sign up for it.

32 Companies would be there. Al in their own way, providing careers that matter. This does not necessarily mean you have to move to a third world country and build a village, or join Greenpeace to save whales. It’s just about organizations that have proper added value.  For instance, ‘Transferwise’ was one of the listed companies: They provide a service to transfer money between banks all over the world without it being horribly expensive. Or ‘Hostmaker’, a company that arranges everything from pictures to cleaning and welcoming guests in your Airbnb apartment. How about ‘Love Crafts’ – Building digital communities for crafters: Long live knitting and crotchet!

I always feel a bit awkward when I arrive at an event like this on my own. The good thing is that most people that visit events like these, come alone and feel awkward. I guess it’s not really the type of activity to gather a herd of friends for to enhance the party mood. – On a side note… If this would be a possibility, it would implicate all my friends think they’re not pursuing the right career, and that would be really sad. Although Mark Stevenson, one of the speakers at the festival, claimed 85% of people do not really like their job. Now that is actually worrying –  So, besides meeting lesser known organizations with potentially interesting career opportunities, this was a pretty good lesson in networking, forcing myself to be bold enough to put myself in front of total strangers and telling them what I think I have to offer.

I actually practiced my elevator pitch upfront, repeating it over and over again on my DLR ride… “Hi, I am Carola and I’m looking for a job to love. My last role was manager of a project management team at an IT company. I loved guiding and empowering my team members, improving and introducing new processes and creating awareness around project management and professional services throughout the company by doing roadshows, webinars and creating service descriptions. I’m looking for a people minded organization, that recognizes the importance of professional and personal development in a market I can relate to, where I can be of added value with my skillset and competencies”. I used it straight away on my arrival, in the elevator to the 8th floor.

On the “market floor”, I met organization’s I never knew exisIMG_20170418_132033_954ted and everybody was so enthusiastic about their employer and their job! In most conversations, people asked what kind of competencies I could and wanted to apply in a job, instead of asking me for a specific role I aspired. Left my contact details at several places and decided to contact some of them this week.

During my food break (yeay, mezze!)  I spoke to a career coach, who was providing advice to visitors and in this way, gave back to the community as Escape the City helped her on her journey of becoming an entrepreneur. I spoke to a girl that was thinking about changing her corporate career into doing something more meaningful and fulfilling.

After that, I joined a lecture about the future by Mark Stevenson. It started depressing, pointing out the horror of carbon footprints and disappearing jobs, but ended with some very interesting insights about where the future of work is going. New markets that are emerging.IMG_20170418_133204

This festival was just as exciting as I hoped it would be. I left with some new contacts, renewed energy and a lot of inspiration!

Shapr: my first meet-ups

As I mentioned in my intro blog: I’m no job hunting or networking expert. So besides gaining some great experiences and being introduced to interesting opportunities, unfortunately, it means I stumble, trip and get disappointed as well. Got some rejections on applications I sent via the standard job sites (I haven’t ruled those out entirely, although I’m aware they will probably not be the most effective part of my quest), which, even if they were not dream job applications, never really give anyone a cheerful mood and even make me lose focus on what I want: not just any job, but a job to really love.

The good news is I’m learning on the way, teaching myself how to trip less often, redeem myself quicker and keep my eyes on the ball.

On that notice…Let’s give you a little insight in my recently acquired Shapr experience. I agreed to meet one of my matches at Fernandez & WellsIMG_20170413_111421.jpg, a really nice coffee place at Somerset house with a great terrace. I didn’t check too much of her profile (I thought it was wise to start with meeting a ‘her’, as I wanted to be sure this app isn’t used as a dating app in disguise) and that was my rookie mistake. Although she was a really lovely lady, our meeting goals seemed to differ somewhat. The sweet girl was into network marketing, and well, I am not so much. For those who don’t understand what I mean by network marketing: it’s like the Herbalife/ Tupperware/ Avon concept.  You probably get the picture.  I was triggered by the network element in her profile, but unfortunately, this was not the type of networking I’m looking for and not the career I would consider as one to really love. This meetup made me realize I had 2 more of those matches. As far as learning on the way is concerned: I’ll be keen on avoiding these profiles in the future.

My second Shapr meeting was a phone call. This time I was triggered by his profile that stated something about being able to connect you with relevant people in the city (yes, it was a ‘him’ this time: I figured phone calls are a pretty safe way of having an introductory meeting anyway). We had a nice chat about my experience with working in the UK, his experience and what both of us were looking to get out of being on the app. And although it was quite inspiring to speak to such a young entrepreneurial type, it became clear after chatting for about half an hour, he had something to sell as well. In this case, it was some sort of course. Interesting, but again, a bit of a discrepancy in our meeting goals. I’m looking for a job, not a training to improve the speed of my learning ability. Somehow, I agreed he could send me some information about his course. I did apply the advice I took away from one of the John Lees books: I asked him if he could introduce me to someone that could be of any help to me in my job hunt. He told me he might know someone and would give me the info. So it might have been a useful match anyway.

Most important lesson learned from these first Shapr experiences? Get your goals clear before you spend time on speaking to your matches.

Happy Easter!

Campus Meet-up: New Members

I’m chuffed! One little blog which led to more than 2000 views on LinkedIn in 3 days, more than 400 views on WordPress… Old colleagues contacting me and some extra ideas on where to go to extend my network. Thanks for that! One of the ways I’ll definitely add to my journey is called Viewvo and it enables you to shadow ‘a vetted business expert’ of your choice for a day. I just love this idea!

I was just thinking, you might want to get some more insights on what that “Job I love” should look like to me. It pretty much adds up to finding a job where I can apply my skills and competencies in an organization that is people orientated, that recognizes the importance of personal, as well as professional development. Doesn’t sound too complicated, does it?

Now let me give you a little review of my first activity as a member of the Campus Community…

So there: I registered and signed up for the introduction meeting, which is organized every fortnight.

I’m quite punctual, or actually, I’m always ridiculously early, so I was the first one to arrive. A bit awkward, as the room was next to a workspace and I felt like an intruder, but fortunately, another girl came in that was just as early and we had a chat. The first cool thing about these meet-ups, is that everybody who attends them is very eager to extend their network.

About 50 people joined. The ladies of the organization kicked off the meeting by explaining what the Campus looked like and what you could get out of it. After half an hour of info, we were asked to make groups of 4 and get to know something about everyone in that group. Great way to break the ice and start networking. The aim: to walk out of the gathering with at least one new contact that could help you on your quest.

While enjoying some snacks and drinks (You gotta love Google: there was beer, proper Brewdog beer…) I spoke to entrepreneurs that were looking for developers, developers that were looking for entrepreneurs, techies, fashionista’s, financial types, Chinese people, other Dutch people, Colombian people, German people. It just was an amazing hodgepodge.

And in that amazing hodgepodge, I lost sight of the goal for this meeting. After an hour, I had to leave for my yoga class. I did leave with one new connection… The connection being a guy with skills that might be interesting for my boyfriend’s company. Note to self: next time, don’t lose focus on what I want to get out of it.

Luckily, I’ve registered for the Women’s meetup. I’ll make up for it then 😊

Professional Network growth: +1

Coffice (The Brew)

Located on City road, just off the Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch, you can find Coffice. It’s part of the Brew cafe chain, and actually has 4 locations, a community and you should check it out.

You can just walk in, order a coffee (or tea, or beer, or wine…) and they will hand over the WiFi password with your drink. You can sit down in a booth, or at one of the desks.

With more than enough sockets, the opportunity to book meeting rooms and have Friday afternoon drinks (or any day actually…), this pretty much adds up to the perfect coffee/working space…

http://www.thebrew.co.uk/community/brew-cafe

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