|Get the best of Oprah.com in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletters!|
Work (58 posts)
Or so says software developer Ed Weissman in his blog post about how working at McDonald's as a teenager prepared him for building software. I know, it sounds crazy. But Weissman lays out the lessons he learned as a burger-slinger in a way that proves their usefulness for any career. Among them: "In order to do heavy volume, you have to be set up for heavy volume." "When you're operating on the razor's edge, every detail is critical." "Ideally, managers can do and doers can manage." Read the whole post for his advice on being prepared for anything, and for what he sees as the single most important lesson he learned from working at McDonald's, which applies to anyone trying to do anything at all. Don't worry, it has nothing to do with french fries.
The Best Response to Getting Fired
How to Be a Star at Work
Luckily for us, The Wall Street Journal asked the 18 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies what they thought would help women to succeed in the workplace. The whole article is full of helpful, enlightening advice, but here are a few of the gems (that we haven't heard a million times before):
"For a lot of women, they think the myth is true, that if they just do a good job and work hard, they'll get recognized. That's not the case...Men selectively listen. When [I made a point and a male later said the same thing], I'd stop the conversation and say, 'Do you realize I said that 10 minutes ago?' Women have to take responsibility for the dynamic around them; you can't just say 'Woe is me.' "
-Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of Frontier Communications
"I developed a strategic process for my career plan that set the final destination, developed the career track, identified skills to build, took line positions to gain experience, and sought leadership and management training on the job, through special assignments, coaching and networking. For example, as VP of Marketing for Nestle, I actually worked in a manufacturing plant which gave me a deep appreciation for how the supply chain works."
-Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup
"In order to lead an organization, you have to be incredibly comfortable in your own skin, and the only way to do that is to be confident in who you are."
-Gracia Martore, CEO of Gannett
Identifying your own successes, learning new skills, and being comfortable in your own skin? Seems like good advice for all of us, aspiring CEOs or not.
4 Mistakes Women Make at Work
How to Start Your Own Business
I see her IRL sometimes and she's always wearing something adorable and carrying an armful of peonies and demurring, "Oh no, you're just seeing my online persona." Then she offers a twinkling smile and excuses herself because she's always on her way to a Special Yoga Class in the Park for Perfect Ladies or something like that. Total girl crush.
The girl crush, despite what its name suggests, is no small matter. As Thessaly la Force writes in W Magazine, "The 'girl crush' may sound silly, but sometimes it takes something unserious to get us talking about a serious subject: the ambitions of young creative women and the need for worthy role models." The girl crush is that woman who seems to have the perfect life. She's someone you want to befriend, if possible, but even more than that, she's someone you want to study, the way all little girls intensely study slightly older girls. La Force writes about her own girl crush, an illustrator and author of whom she writes, "I adored her from afar, and I suppose a part of me wanted to be her."
In the W Magazine piece, la Force enumerates her nominees for inaugural members of the Girl Crush Hall of Fame: "Zadie Smith, with her daring, brilliance, and wild success; Joan Didion, with her cool, spare prose; Patti Smith, with her soul and wisdom; Sofia Coppola, with her chic grace and unmistakable taste; and Tina Fey, with her goofy smile and razor wit. Each of them has accomplished something the rest of us dream of doing. And because they’ve done it, we feel we can too." That's what makes the girl crush more than just a regular old friend crush. The girl crush is the mentor (whether she knows it or not), the role model. She's the template for how to do the things you want to do; she's proof that it can be done.
For more girl-crush fun, check out Thessaly La Force's effervescent blog-zine, Girl Crush.
LaPorte acknowledges that each of these personality types are "cousins in talent," and that it can be hard to distinguish between them. So take a look at her descriptions of each. Then ask yourself: Do you love to connect people? Are you a ninja at good advice? Can you dream up a plan to solve any problem in 2 seconds flat? (And if so, can you call me?) Pinpointing which role comes most naturally to you can be an immense help, whether you are trying to make a career move, establish your brand, or just think more clearly about yourself and what you do. Hint: your response to LaPorte's post is likely to offer some clues about which role you play in life...
How Your Shadow Behaviors Affect Your Career
Getting Started on a Strong Life Plan
Forget for a moment, if you can, any dorm-room associations you may have with the topsy-turvy artwork of MC Escher, and while away a few minutes/hours clicking through the artist's visually fascinating, mathmatically-inclined work. The intricate patterns, the carefully-crafted optical illusions, the things turning into other things. Remember the wonder you felt on first seeing them?
Spanish artist Cristóbal Vila has imagined, in his new short film, Inspirations, what MC Escher's workplace may have looked like. Open Culture calls the video "three minutes of unbridled imagination," and it is indeed an interesting tribute to a beloved artist, a way to peek inside a creative mind:
What would inspire you to create something new? Chess sets and lizards? A tin can full of feathers (as I vividly recall from the studio of an artist friend of my mother's)? A vision board covered in clipped magazine images? Tell us in the comments!
Rather, Buckingham uses this term to refer to Generation Y. As in, "if you drop them, they break." Inc. contributing editor Donna Fenn reports that recently at the Inc. Magazine and Winning Workplaces Leadership Conference, Buckingham said, "You would expect GenY to be very strengths-focused. But they're actually more focused on weaknesses." According to Buckingham, Gen Y'ers, who feel that fixing their weakness will make them more successful, ought to instead concentrate on building up their strengths. I admit I had to read this about ten times before it sank in. You mean...trying to fix a weakness isn't the same thing as building up a strength? You mean...obsessing over a weakness makes you fragile? Oy.
Fenn counters the statement that Gen Y'ers are fragile "teacup people" with a thoughtful run-down of the instability and chaos in which this generation has come of age. But regardless of your age or generation, there's an interesting question at the heart of this argument. Is focusing on your weaknesses turning you into, well, a teacup?
Principles for Success
Only Failure Can Teach You...
None of the three is actually engaged. Nor is this a real bridal shop—it's the Atlanta area set of Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva. The sisters are stuntwomen, here to lend their faux-fighting experience to the fictional melee.
Of course, they don't just tussle over tulle. They've also fallen out of trees (Trisler, as a double for Jennifer Aniston in the recent film Wanderlust); careened through traffic in the passenger seat of a speeding car (Martin, in What to Expect When You're Expecting); and tumbled down steps (Duke, in Hallmark Hall of Fame's 2011 The Lost Valentine, standing in for Betty White).
You could say roughhousing runs in the Georgia-bred sisters' blood. Their father, Anderson Martin, is a stunt performer who has worked on films like Sweet Home Alabama and The Blind Side, while their grandfather, Glenn Wilder, performed in classics like Scarface. Trisler and Martin dabbled in the business as kids—Martin appeared in Run Ronnie Run at age 8. But in 2008, when Georgia began offering increased tax incentives, Hollywood arrived on the trio's doorstep; they scored jobs through family connections and were soon working on dozens of shoots. They now train with their father. "Our dad shows us different ways we can approach each stunt," says Duke.
Off set, Trisler works as a hair and makeup artist, Duke teaches Zumba, and Martin waits tables. But all three see many more stunts in their future. Says Martin, "When you're performing, going to work is like going out to play."
As anyone who's ever tried to do anything knows, this business of trying to emulate your heroes can be as soul-crushing as it is self-defeating. Guillebeau goes on to hypothesize that while very few people have one thing that they excel at as excellently as, say, Thelonious Monk excelled at playing jazz, most people have unique combinations of skills that they are fairly decent at, and that it's this unique combination that gives you your very own value. (Read the whole post to learn what Dilbert has to do with all this!)
Which made me think of—stay with me here—last week's episode of Mad Men, in which office sniveller Pete Campbell tries to channel Don Draper, to disastrous effect. Why would you be a second-rate Thelonious Monk or Don Draper, when you're the only you there is? What is your own unique combination of talents, interests, and experiences? Just sitting down to make a list of these things might help you to uncover a value you never realized you had.
Trust Your Intuition for a More Meaningful Life
Martha Beck's Guide to Self-Acceptance
So I was very relieved to learn that as an adult in possession of a calculator and tax accountant, as long as I'm not too picky about things like grocery bills, math actually can be largely avoided. Hooray! Then I read this post on Dim Sum Thinking on the beauty of math and the facile question "When Will I Use This?" It seems this whole time I've been asking the wrong question.
The post argues that looking at math's practical applications is not the best way to get students interested in the horrible torture beautiful elegance that numbers have to offer: "The hard part is that math is so darned useful. There is math everywhere. It’s easy for us to think about learning the math we need to do science or economics." But to this math teacher, math is every bit as enjoyable for its sake as the more beloved activities of playing band and football, disciplines kids enjoy without asking how they use the skills they hone later in life.
If you've ever had a job, you've probably had paranoid delusions and/or fantasies about being fired. What would your response be? Screaming "You can't fire me, I quit!"? An "Office Space"-inspired beating of the office equipment? A weeping nervous breakdown? (My preferred reaction to any life change.)
Well, former University of Illinois college basketball coach Bruce Weber was let go from his job last month after his team didn't make it into the NCAA tournament. Here was his response:
A large ad in the Sunday Champaign News-Gazette, thanking his team and fans. Thanking them! Now is that a classy move or what? May we all deal with career setbacks in such a graceful manner.
via Yahoo! Sports.
How Getting Fired Could Be a Good Thing
Turn Failure Into a Success