No skill, knowledge or experience is ever wasted

experience

It took me a long time to fully commit to a specific career. I am one of those people who like variety in a job – the opportunity to do many different things. I needed to find a multi-disciplinary career that would allow me to pull from my many strengths both within existing knowledge and skills.

As a Liberal Arts major, I honed my skills in communication – both verbal and written; analysis; interpretation, critical thinking; problem solving; cross-culture issues and an understanding of human nature. How do I parlay all of that into a job? That was the million-dollar question that would take me on a journey of discovery. On this journey, I learned about myself – what I liked in a job, the content I would like to work on, how I want to feel about my job, how I liked to work and the settings where I can thrive.

The Liberal Arts are often looked down upon as a waste of time. This point of view is unfortunate. In order to have a “dream team”, you need to have people with different perspectives, different ways of thinking, and different skill sets. Although you may have a team member with a bright idea, you also need a team member who can then convert that bright idea into a strategy, into a communication piece, into a branding and marketing project etc.  

My Liberal Arts degree trained me in applied knowledge, the ability to synthesize information, look for context clues to flesh out an argument and increase understanding.  I learned about people and culture, society, communities, social issues, history and human nature/behavior. All these skills and knowledge have come in handy in my current profession as a Learning and Development professional.

I entered the Learning and Development (L&D) discipline because I wanted to make a difference in the workplace – improving workplace performance and contributing to the personal and professional development of employees. This profession is multi-disciplinary because it pulls from many other disciplines e.g. sociology, psychology, communications, marketing, branding, history, technology, etc. I am using many of my skills from my Liberal Arts background and skills I honed as an administrator throughout most of my working life. In this profession, I wear many hats: organization specialist, communication specialist, project manager, instructional designer, facilitator, analyst, coach, mentor, to name a few.

I now know for sure that no skill or experience is ever wasted. We can transfer existing knowledge and skills to other jobs/careers and other areas of our lives.

It does not matter how you begin but what you acquire along the way. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

 

 

The power of a vision board

 

vision bd

“Without a vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). I’m not overly religious but this biblical quote sums up the consequences of not having a clear vision of whatever it is you are trying to achieve. We all have goals of some sort either personal and/or professional. It is easy to create a goal – we may mull it over every once in a while, write it down, or discuss with family and friends. However, implementing the goal takes time, effort and persistence.  The implementation phase is usually the part in the goal process that proves the most difficult. 

The key to having your desired goal(s) top of mind is to have it in your face at all times – a constant reminder of what you are working towards – what you are trying to achieve. For those people who are visual learners this task is right up your alley but for those non-visuals it may take some effort to get going but it can be a very effective tool.

So, how do you get started? Here’s a very simple process:

1.       Define your goals. Decide and confirm what they are

2.       Write them down in order of importance and put a timeline beside each one

3.       Find pictures that match each goal – pictures that show where you want to go, what you want to achieve etc.

4.       Get construction paper and organize your pictures with labels in any fashion that appeals to you

5.       Post your board in a frequently visited spot or a place in your home – a place where you have to look at it often, for example attached to the fridge.

The vision board is effective because it serves as a passive motivator to keep working towards your goal — keep saving, keep studying, keep learning, keep exercising etc. This process also trains the mind to believe that you can achieve. It also moves the goal from being a general concept to something real – a tangible.

Many times we sabotage our own success especially with self-doubt and excuses. There are many clichés that serve the purpose of giving ourselves a boost when we get discouraged – “Believe in yourself”; “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” are two that come to mind. Whatever it takes, the key is to achieve that goal. A daily visual reminder can help keep you motivated and on track to finally crossing that goal off the list. Isn’t that the point?

 

 

 

Your name Inc.

There has been a lot of talk about personal branding. It took a while for me to fully understand the concept of having a personal brand. I finally get it! I recently transitioned personal brand 2full time into a new career in the learning and development (L&D) field and in the process inadvertently utilized and realized this concept.

So, what does it mean to have a personal brand? I stumbled upon a blog via Strategy magazine called “the future is female and other lessons” where the author describes it beautifully. The Blog has a heading labelled You are a Brand (and so am I) where she cites: “take care of your personal brand the same way you take care of a client’s brand; people have to buy into you as a person before they buy into what you’re trying to sell them. Think of yourself as a company with a brand. I know, it defies our usual thinking about ourselves. Put your name here ______ Inc. For example, my name is Tricia Thompson so my company is Tricia Thompson Inc. How do you want people to see you? Relate to you? What kind of footprint do you want to leave behind? How do you want your reputation to precede you? Food for thought.

Let me get back to how I inadvertently used my personal brand. I have been pursuing a career in learning and development for some time. My experience in my pursuit is that it is a tough field to break into without credible experience. In the interim, I volunteered as an adult ESL tutor and as an adult literacy advocate with organizations that reflected my passions and values such as Frontier College and West Neighbourhood House. In addition to volunteering, I also created a personal website and started this Blog as a “show and tell” to showcase my thought leadership and background in learning and development. In addition, I continued to be an active member of The Institute for Performance and Learning which represents workplace learning professionals in Canada. On Twitter, among others, I followed The Institute, Articulate which is an e-learning tool and community, The Muse which is a personal/professional development site etc. Let me include LinkedIn for good measure here as well. I crafted my profile closely towards all the work I did previously and presently which related to L&D. Are you getting the picture yet? My digital footprint, my associations, my online presence and community presence all pointed to L&D. So, when a position opened up in my current company, the hiring manager did not have to question my passion and transferable skills because I had already put breadcrumbs down which left a visible trail towards my goal.

There are many high profile personalities who do the personal brand thing really well. At the moment, Donald Trump comes to mind mostly because of the impending US election as I write this. Now, I am no fan of Trump but he has crafted his personal brand to a “T”. You really have to give credit to a man whose name has cachet. Trump is known for real estate. The man gets paid a pretty penny for having his name attached to buildings even though he may not be the owner of those buildings. That’s having a strong, cashable brand.

Remember your company and your brand in all that you do. Your brand should reflect your values, philosophies, passions and desires. It is important to reflect your brand consistently across all platforms. People should know what you are about even before the first handshake.