This is a follow up to the post I did a few days about criticism. In case you missed it, I would encourage you to take a look at it. I personally, thought the message was so important, that I made a video reiterating how to process critique. Yeah, thats right I rocked out a video and wrote a post – so you can have a choice in how you digest the message. I am here to serve.
I hate being criticized. No one does, really, but I HATE it. Maybe its because I am an only child and just not used to playing well with others! Ha! Criticism has not really plagued me in school or in my work in corporate career, because I was so detached I did whatever it took to get an “A”. But when it comes to creating something, building something, making something, or even writing something that is a reflection of me, the criticism can seem very personal. Because creation, is an extension of oneself. It is a manifestation of your view of the world.
If you want to start a business, write a book, heck birth a child, there is going to be someone who is going to criticize you. Your only role in all of this is to determine if its constructive feedback or if its negative bullcrap that you could honestly give 2 sh@$ts about. As you become more well known, move up the ladder, or become more successful, you will get more criticism often of the bullcrap variety. I am a MBA, after all, so I made this super awesome chart. (Okay you can tell what kinda student I was, given the fact that this chart is not in Excel!)
But in some instances criticism can be helpful. I recently worked at a startup, where the CEO was constantly critiquing. “This product sucks, you suck, we need to work harder, faster, better, and under budget” Rarely was he critiquing me, but he would shut down other people so publicly, that I actually avoided showing him my work or sharing my thoughts in fear of being criticized. For backdrop, I was working in the Middle East, full of colleagues that were all ex- military (and I am pretty sure they saw combat). In the Middle East, being critical is almost a sport, so you can imagine a critical culture led by an ex-leader of the IDF. You can imagine how that worked out for me. IT. DID NOT.GO.WELL. Upon reflection, I now know that despite a sucky work culture, there were things I could have done to preserve my peace of mind and made sure that voice was still heard. I also learned that if you want to be part of a creative endeavor, know that critique will be part of the process. And that it WILL be OKAY.
Some Lessons I learned:
- Decide if the criticism is constructive and if you can learn from it. Be humble, listen, process, and then react if necessary.
- Dismiss the criticism if its just a subjective opinion and if that opinion matter to you.
- Get feedback from multiple people and look for patterns.
- Assert yourself if the constructive criticism is misguided, don’t be afraid to push back. The goal is not to be defensive. But if it is constructive criticism and its a person you trust, have a dialogue abut it
- Look at the source. Some people are just critical. They often don’t even know their impact on others. Forgive these types and ignore them. Some people are haters. Shut those people up and avoid them at all costs.
- Don’t get to attached to the outcome positive or negative. Feedback should be directional only. As in if you are getting a ton of feedback about something, it may shed some light about whether you are on track or off course.
- Keep some distance – Your work is a reflection of you. But it is not YOU. Don’t take things so personally that you feel great about yourself with positive feedback and you feel down, when the critiques roll in.
I gave up my power in that situation because I stopped sharing my ideas, and ultimately my voice was silence. But we were NOT put on this earth to be silent; in fact, we were put on this earth to create. With creation comes critique – the good and the bad.
Meditate on this today! I plan on posting a longer piece about this quote, but in summary looking at my happiest most fulfilled friends. They are the ones that are more disciplined about the things in their life. And we are not talking just about work. Discipline begets discipline. Have a wonderful discipline day my friends!!!
1) Have more fun, turns out your mom doesn’t care!
2) Take Track more seriously, you are really good at it.
3) Tell your parents how awesome they are
4) Don’t write that letter to your mom, about how you think you were adopted. You aren’t get over yourself. . .
What would you say?
This is a follow up to How to get an Informational Interview, read this first if you haven’t already. Congrats, so you got a coffee date on the calendar with someone you really admire. Now what? Here are some tips to help you prepare for and have a successful meeting. The point is not for you to lavish them with praise or to hear their “story”, your goal is to ask them something, even if its as small as asking for another meeting.
Before the Meeting:
- Send an Invite- My dear friend Dorthea (a real life princess), was the first person to let me know about this tip. She schedules everything and she loves to send the invite first. a) it helps confirm/make sure that the meeting is going happening and that no one forgets about it and b) it gives you the opportunity to put in the agenda/your main ask in the calendar invite. (we will talk about why you do this in a sec). She has casually asked me to meet up for coffee and then when I get the invite, she has often to her credit, slipped in info about her latest fundraiser or project, so that I know whats up before I get to the meeting! Clever girl.
- Confirm the Meeting - They day before it is always great to confirm the meeting. Even if they have accepted your invite. Sometimes I will include an article that I think they would be interested or a link to an event, just to show that I am not going into this meeting cold and that I know a little bit about them and what are intersted in.
During the Meeting:
- The Meeting Flow: This is the most important part to the whole informational meeting. You set the meeting, you own the agenda. Hopefully, you have alluded to what you want to talk about prior to the meeting, so now you can casually remind the other party about your objective. Which leads me to the next point.
- Always Ask for Something and Ask It Up Front: Don’t let the other person guess why you are meeting. It is not to your benefit to chit chat for 40 minutes about bs. Most people want to be helpful, help them be helpful to you by asking for help. Even if you don’t really need help, ask for help anyway, just to see if they are indeed, willing to help you and the quality of that help.
- Caveat 1: Don’t drop big bombs, like “I want to raise a million dollars from you” in the first 5 minutes. But do say” I am looking to fundraise and I would like your support” or ” I am fundraising and I would like to figure out how to get you involved”. Think about ways you can lay the foundation for your “ask” in a bite size portion. Bigger “asks” take time and trust to fulfill, instead think of reasonable “asks” that can ladder up to what you want.
- Caveat 2: Be clear and to the point. And try to get a yes or no commitment. Put your salesman hat on and be a closer. The goal here is to see if the person is interested. They might not have the answer for you immediately, but you want to at least walk a way from the meeting knowing how vested they are in you.
- Caveat 3: Do your research. Make sure you asking for help from someone who can help you. If you raising money for cancer research, do the pre work of understanding if “Cancer research” is in their wheelhouse of causes.
After the Meeting:
Ending the meeting: It is a good idea to ask, how you can be helpful to them. No matter if you think you have nothing to offer. Asking the question alone, will win you brownie points. This is also a good seque into announcing any next steps/recap the meeting. A template- “This was a great meeting, I learned so much about X, I am going to follow up with you about Y, in the next few days”.
Followup: This is where most people fall short. Send a follow up note, immediately after the meeting, thank them for their time and gently remind them of any next steps. Depending on if it would be appreciated, send a thank you card. And then follow up, check in, follow up, over the next few weeks/months. What you don’t want, is for the relationship to go stale.
Have any other tips? Share them below in the comments.
“He chose money over power. In this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apartment after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.” Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), HOUSE OF CARDS
I admit I am a bit late to the game on watching House of Cards, but once I committed I think I watched all of the episodes in a 48 hour period. This quote about power stood out as one of the best quotes of the show. I think of Power, as influence, as in you have the ability to get things done either from your own resources or by using your influence over others to leverage theirs. Money is important. Heck it is very important. But influence, is the ability to get things done. Money + Influence = can be dangrously awesome because of what you can get done. Influence – Money = can still let you accomplish great things, this is the stuff legends is made of. Money – Influence = can let you direct a movie without an audience or fight a war without soldiers. Enuf, said.
The quest for power is often seen in a negative light, but I would challenge that assertion. No matter what realm you operate in, we all want influence. We want to be able to raise money for our charities, produce that documentary, get a bill passed, heck, get our kids to eat their vegetables. Don’t be afraid of your power and influence.
Recently, I did a quick power audit.
- Work – What was my ability to push my projects through my organization. Did I have any influence on getting them expedited or green lighted?
- Community – Can I bring people together for the causes I am interested in? A step further could I raise money from my communities?
- Friends – Did people respect me? Come to me with important matters? Was I someone they consulted with?
Okay, so I know what you are thinking and now you want to know, how to get more influence, which I promise to do a deep dive post on. But for now here are some of my favorite tenets as gleamed from this great book the 48 Rules of Power.
Be the expert: Know something that others don’t. In this instance, its better to have specialized knowledge than broad knowledge
Be part of a Mafia: Join organizations, get mentors, and network with people who have influence. Support them and make sure they support you.
Get a Board of Directors: Find people with more influence, or different spheres of influence invest in you as a person. They can pull strings that you will be unable to. Throughout history, the greats have come up through the help of people more powerful. Align carefully.
Know what People want - Sometimes, just knowing what motives people is half the battle. Giving and sometimes NOT giving them what they want can help your cause, but only when you know that that “thing” is.
Be Known for Something: Write a blog, get on local TV, support a specific charity, start a book club on some topic. Whatever it is, let it be known what your projects are. Remember people have short memories, find ways to remind people of what you are working on.
Create Dependency: Creating dependency does not have to be some big thing, if all you are known for is having the key to the bathroom at your desk, you still have more access and power than Jill Schmoe. No matter how small, create value and be very generous.
Be Generous: At the end of the day, we are not trying to be dictators of small countries (hopefully). Be generous in helping others and sharing what you know with others. Karma, it is a real thing.
Be Graceful: This is often a matter of style. But people tend to respect people whose talents look effortless. Don’t complain or share how freaking hard you are working. Keep all the negative stuff behind the curtain.
Sidebar – The book “48 Laws of Power” is totally Machiavellian, and reading it will make you grow hair on your chest and make you want to go to invade a small country, but if you use a discerning eye, some of the tenets can apply, say, to your everyday PTA group. It is worth a read, and if you are super lazy, just scan the outline.