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Category: Career

True Compensation

A few years back I left a company I had been working at for 10 years for another position elsewhere. Though it was a more of a lateral move, the base salary the new company offered was $27,000 more than my current pay.

I reviewed minor details like the expectations of the role, daily commute, and main benefits package. It was enough for me to make the move. It ended up being the worst career move I’ve ever made. Aside from being a toxic environment, I miss calculated my compensation offer.

A chunk of my base salary was put into a mandatory pension fund and I had 1 less week paid vacation . When all was said and done, my expected $27,000 ‘take home’ increase looked a lot less.

Compensation at times is challenging to calculate. While we focus on base pay and benefits as the main drivers for our decision, it’s easy to over look other areas such as: the working environment, company core values, potential future growth and sustainability. Even basic benefits like an opportunity to participate in a pension or matched RRSP plan, and negotiating vacation should all be considered.

In the end there shouldn’t be a price tag on our mental health and wellness. No amount of compensation should be accepted in exchange for it. Doing as much upfront research as possible on a company can help avoid this from happening.

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What’s Your Favourite Chocolate Bar?

As I’m writing this I currently work for one of the world’s largest chocolate and pet food manufacturers. Mars Inc. has been around for over 100 years and I was fortunate enough to land a position with them in their commercial division last spring.

But that’s how it’s currently going, not how it started.

In 2015 I had applied for a different position with Mars and was invited in for an interview. Though I could have answered some of the questions better, overall I felt I had wrapped up the discussion on a high note. That’s until they asked me the final question:

Mars: “So what’s your favourite chocolate bar?”

Me: “Reese peanut butter cups.”

Mars: “Hmm, oh ok that’s not one of ours.”

Me: {Makes awkward smiley face}

In my preparation I overlooked one of the most basic fundamental principles in impressing during an interview: understanding the difference between a company’s products and their competitors.

Not saying that mishap was the reason I didn’t get the job, but I’m confident it didn’t help my cause.

My advice: over prepare for big opportunities. The devil will always be in the details.

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What’s in Your Playbook?

Maps. Navigational systems. Playbooks.

Getting to our destination requires using one of these tools to make it happen. So what’s in your playbook?

What books do you have listed to read next year that will get you to the next level in your career, or help you expand you business? Or how about books for being a better spouse, parent or friend?

What courses are you planning on taking to learn a new skill or sharpen an old one? Maybe a course on health and wellness?

Do you have a mentor or coach that can help you see the blind spots in your life or push you become a high performer in your life and career?

What tools have you invested in to track your progress? (Note: investing could mean just downloading an app)

You rarely get to your desired destination by chance. Setting up your playbook in advance is the prerequisite for ensuring you get there.

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Accepting Roles We Don’t Want

I’ve had to let go a hand full of employees in the last 3 years. Mostly due to poor performance.

The most difficult was letting go an individual who arguably was one of the highest skilled professionals on my team.

Though highly skilled, before I took over management of the team, he accepted the position for which he was overqualified for with the previous manager. He constantly struggled to stay on task for the daily duties and lacked discipline to focus on the details.

Ultimately when we sat to go over his exit interview, his response to the poor performance was, “I joined the company in hopes of eventually getting a role in my specific professional background. The role I’m doing now is not what I’m interested in”.

My response to him was that approach wasn’t acceptable based on the needs of the role, his coworkers and our customers. He seemed disinterested in that response and for that reason I had to let him go.

The growth potential from taking on diverse roles and functions in route to our ultimate goal can be limitless. Sometimes it’s a painful road. It takes shutting down our ego sometimes to be open to these possibilities.

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Change the Energy

About 8 or 9 years ago, the company I worked for held their annual event for all employees, highlighting major accomplishments from around the company, as well as future business strategies.

It would typically take pace at a upscale hotel or country club with speakers schedule throughout the day. Each department had to share a slide deck and talk about their team’s successes over the past year.

That year my manager picked me to speak for our team even though I had never done so in previous years. Before I went on my manager introduced me, and in a strange way referred to me in reference to my faith.

“So I’m calling up Sheldon who will of course be in heaven one day…” A little embarrassed by such an awkward introduction, on the fly I decided to change things up.

“You know my manager says I’m going to heaven. That’s funny because right now I’m nervous as hell.”

The entire audience blew up laughing like I had just told a joke on Showtime at the Apollo. That one comment completely shifted the energy in the room and I immediately felt comfortable sharing my presentation.

Being your authentic self can shift the energy and atmosphere in a positive way to those around you. It cuts tension and gives others the courage and permission to do the same.

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Reshape What Failure Really Is

When I had to execute 60 presentations in about 4 weeks there was bound to be times when I would go brain dead, have my voice crack and for technology to betray me in the form of multiple glitches.

When any of those unfortunate events would happen, I would continue with the presentation and wouldn’t give attention to the obvious mishap.

Our culture has defined failure as anything less than perfection and we’ve bought into it. It’s the reason we stay in comfortable, repetitive, well paying jobs we loath instead of pursuing meaning work and fulfilling life projects.

Doing what we love opens up too many opportunities to fail, because when we start something we often have no clue what we’re doing. That of course gives license for those around us to criticize.

Our cultural understanding of failure needs a major shift. It’s not the absence of perfection, it’s our response after making mistakes and the underlying lesson we can take from it.

How do we forge ahead? What changes will we make to our process? Is this worth pursuing after our last results?

Ultimately failure isn’t an absolute. It should always be a gateway to infinite continuous improvement in every area of our lives.

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Everyone Doesn’t Know Something

For those times you feel intimidated in meetings, not fully comprehending what’s being discussed.

For those times when you start a new role and are not sure where to turn for resources.

For every email that comes through from corporate but you were never trained on the company process being addressed on the message.

For all those awkward situations, there will always be moments where you’ll be the sole source to answer some of the most critical issues facing your company.

At any given time in your career you will inevitably fall on either side of the knowledge scenario. It’s important to remember that everybody does.

So be honest when you don’t hold the answer and uphold confidence when you do.

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Projects Come in Many Sizes

Why do we need Project Managers when we have corporate VPs, directors, managers, assistant managers, coordinators and other skilled associates?

Because some projects take longer than others to execute and require the skill set of being meticulous when everyone else wants immediate results.

Project Managers are really architects of patience. They understand results mean more than just getting it done. The slow grind is essential to ensure the job is done with excellence.

Like Project Management our lives and careers need to be centred on substance and not speed. That can only be done when we focus on our singular purpose and not look to keep up with the pace of those around us.

Building bigger, better, stronger, more effective, and sustainable comes with an awareness that the most important projects are the ones that will need a deeper investment in time and patience.

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Match the Right Intensity

If you’ve ever played organized sports at any level, you would have experienced your coach telling you to “match the intensity level” of your opponent. If they played hard in the trenches, you would need to do the same. If they trashed talked after a play, you’d trash talk back showing you aren’t intimidated.

Physical displays of domineering fortitude are commonplace in the athletic field of play and often provide a physiological advantage against your adversaries.

The same can’t be said in the professional workplace or when engaging in entrepreneurship leadership.

Contrary to popular opinion, matching the intensity from a physical or vocal standpoint in the boardroom is more of a sign of insecurity than it is a display of strength.

Stirring you passions away from an emotional reaction, and into making a strategic impact should be the focus. A well developed strategy that highlights the disadvantages or weaknesses of other suggested options (fact based of course) is the best way to match the intensity of your professional opposition.

In other worlds, intensity in the the workplace is more about brains than brawn.

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Take Time to Be Meticulous

When great ideas come we tend to put our focus on the end results. The idea of what we want to see. The picture perfect manifestation of what it should look like.

As is the case since the beginning the 21st century, how fast we can complete something seems to be just as important as completing the project itself.

Our preoccupation with being the ‘first‘ almost always leads us to skipping important details along the way. Or wanting a title because it assumes a specific social status (entrepreneur or CEO) but not being meticulous enough to understand all the prerequisites required.

But that’s just it. As much as we aim to avoid the rat race we still subconsciously compete with one another and over look some of the most important life details that need to be considered.

As I’m writing this I’m 2 months into a new role with a new company. In an effort to prove myself to my new colleagues, jumping into projects and issues before understanding all the specific nuances and inner workings of the company is something I’ve fallen prey to.

Luckily I’ve had support from multiple executive level associates, including my manager, tell me to take time to learn and don’t feel pressured to jump right in, right away.

It’s not just in business or your professional career. In the many facets of life, taking the meticulous approach in all things will provide you with the insight to make better decisions and ones that ultimately will last longer.

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