Advancing Your Career After a Break

Last month, I was on CBS KCTV5 Better Kansas City TV Show for my monthly TV segment. These segments explore a variety of topics that align with my keynotes. From emotional intelligence and leadership to this month’s topic: getting started in the workforce or advancing your career after a break.

The job market can sometimes be scary. Whether you’re a new college graduate looking for a first job, a stay-at-home parent hoping to re-enter the workforce or someone scouting out a career change to a completely different field, I have four tips to help you get back into the game!

Over the years, I’ve had the honor of recruiting for and consulting with, companies large and small. I am passionate about helping students, educators and those already in corporate America establish career paths.

Do you know the #1 problem regarding applicants in today’s job market? Do you know what companies look for when hiring new employees? Do you know how to overcome the hurdle of lack of experience?

Watch my segment to learn how to overcome these obstacles and transition back to the workforce with greater ease.  After watching, let me know your favorite tip!

As always, wishing you ALL the best. If you are looking for a motivational speaker or a consultant, give us a call. We’d love to work with you!

Interview Spotlight: Liz Murray

If you’ve heard me speak or read my past blog posts, you may know I have a few themes that apply to all audiences.

  • Dream big, then make a plan to reach your goals
  • We are all just one mentor away from becoming our best self
  • Your success is heavily reliant on your personal brand

There are others, of course, but these three apply to students in school and adults in the workplace. They’re things I focused on early in my career. In fact, I am a work in progress and still make time to evaluate how I’m doing in these areas.

You can imagine my delight when I recently had a chance to interview Liz Murray and talk to her about dreams, goals, mentors and personal brands.

Liz is an inspirational speaker known for her acceptance in to Harvard despite spending some of her youth homeless.

She’s the voice behind one of my favorite Ted Talks and has traveled the country talking about her love for what’s possible in life. She seems to thrive on the notion of “what if…” And, she’s proof that your past doesn’t predict your future.

Liz turned adversity into opportunity. Instead of letting her hardships define her, she found someone who believed in her and in what was possible.

Her hashtag may be longer than most, but it speaks of resiliency, hope, and – of course – infinite possibility.

#fortheloveofpossibility

What’s yours?

KCTV5 | Generational Communication Differences

Earlier this month I was on CBS KCTV5 Better Kansas City TV Show for my monthly segment. These segments explore a variety of topics that align with my keynotes. From emotional intelligence and personal branding to this month’s topic: personality and generational differences.

Thanks to technology, there are many ways we communicate with loved ones, friends, co-workers and business prospects. However, it can be challenging to navigate the proper channels of communication as each generation has preferred ways of connecting.

How do you know which method of communication is best? What’s the difference between sending a recruiter or a boss a text, LinkedIn Message or email?

Watch my segment to learn how to effectively communicate with all audiences! After watching, let me know – what was your favorite tip?!

As always, wishing you ALL the best in your life journey. If there is anything I can do for you – whether it’s providing a keynote for your organization or individual coaching, reach out to Brynn or me. We’d love to help make you and your organization the best it can be!

The Go-Giver

CBS KCTV5 Better Kansas City TV Segment | The Go-Giver

“The Go-Giver”, one of my all time favorite books was given to me in 2011 by two individuals I now call dear friends. The premise of the book is that shifting one’s focus from getting to “giving” (in this context, giving meaning constantly and consistently providing value to others) is not only a nice way to live life and conduct business, but a very financially profitable way, as well.

This simple idea has helped me be more successful as well as numerous other folks I have witnessed implement these same principles by Bob Burg and John David Mann. Want the cliff notes version? Here you go.

  1. The Law of Value.
    • This is the idea that your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
  2. The Law of Compensation.
    • This is the idea that your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
  3. The Law of Influence.
    • This is the idea that your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
  4. The Law of Authenticity.
    • This is the idea that the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
  5. The Law of Receptivity.
    • This is the idea that the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

My favorite law is #4 – the Law of Authenticity. I remember early on in my speaking career I had an engagement that required me to speak twice a day for three days. When I first started this profession, I thought I had to be something I’m not – stuffy, basic and ultra conservative. However, by day three of this particular engagement, I was exhausted. I remember I was so tired that the walls I had built up broke down and I started speaking from the heart and authentically to who I was – not someone I thought I had to be. The result? It was by far the best speaking engagement I had to that date. I connected far better with audience attendees than I ever had and since then, I have vowed to never allow myself to be unauthentic again.

My wish for anyone reading this blog and truly wants to be successful in life, is that you will think about the concepts of this book. It is human nature to constantly think about our own needs, but by shifting our mindset and focusing on other’s, it’s proven that we will be much more successful.

3 EQ Strategies to Get A Better Read On Your Boss

3 EQ strategies to get a better read on your boss

When it comes to getting ahead in your career, understanding your boss is paramount for your own career goals. This month on CBS KCTV5 Better Kansas City, I chatted with Alexis about how to read your boss’s behavior using some techniques of Emotional Intelligence.

Here’s a quick snapshot if you don’t have time to watch the segment!

Observe:

  • Understand how your boss uses verbal cues such as tone, inflection, rate, pitch and pauses in verbal communication. Understanding and reading how your manager uses these cues will help you assess how to appropriately respond and emotionally connect (in a professional way of course). Example: Does your boss speak fast because he is nervous? Excited? A different reason? Knowing this will empower you in a way to better connect with him.
  • See if you can identify the root cause of his/her emotions in different scenarios so you are prepared during more stressful moments to still be able to assess and manage the relationship.

Inquire about personality type:

  • Meyer’s Briggs, Strengths Finders, True Colors, etc. See if you can strike up a conversation early on to determine your boss’s personality strengths. Is he highly analytical? Big picture thinker and less interested in details? Rigid? Flexible? Knowing these sorts of personality traits will be helpful in reading his behavior and clue you in to how you can communicate effectively.

Pay attention to details around the office:

  • What are the elements your boss values? Does he value structure? Open office spaces? Does he enjoy weekly pep talks? Pay attention to the details your management cares about. This is an easy way to become more emotionally intelligent regarding your boss’s needs.

 

Being emotionally intelligent has proven to be one of the best strategies to achieving success in your career path. The better you can connect with your boss, the better it will be for your career.

Honoring A Legacy

Last night as I watched many of my friends on social media post in shock, excitement or outrage; I silently pondered what the next four years would look like.

It was an easy answer for me.

Recently, the world lost one of its brightest lights, pioneers and inspirational women and the next four years won’t nearly be the same without her.

Suzanne Mitchell

Former Director of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC)

As you might recall, two years ago I had the incredibly honor of interviewing Suzanne at the National Football League Alumni Cheerleader Reunion in Atlanta, GA. Over 300 women from across the country came together to mingle, network, and celebrate our collective role in the NFL. These women were incredible national sales directors, tv personalities, biologists and lawyers. But one light shined brighter than everyone else, and that was Suzanne.

Suzanne has affectionately been called the “Godmother of Professional Cheerleading” – credited with crafting the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders into what they are today.

Her story is so powerful and inspiring that everyone from The Washington Post, New York Times, Dallas News and many more publications wrote about her legacy. And the turnout for her Celebration of Life event this past weekend makes it clear just how many lives she touched.

Although I only briefly knew Suzanne, I was moved by the powerful words used to describe Suzanne’s legacy and I asked myself: how do you possibly honor such an extraordinary woman who has touched so many lives over the years?

Suzanne’s Celebration of Life was nothing short of fabulous. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and Suzanne’s family did an extraordinary job of honoring her from beautiful bouquets of her favorite flower (yellow rose) to a butterfly release and even a surprise appearance from Lee Greenwood who sang his famous song: God Bless the U.S.A.

There was a group of alumni NFL cheerleaders from several teams who flew in for the celebration. I was honored to be in attendance.

As we look forward to the next four years, no matter what happens, I have to remember the legacy that Suzanne left behind and the example she set for so many.

The words that were used to describe her included things like, “pioneer, strong, self-starter, not afraid, insanely loyal, leader and one of the most inspirational individuals both men and women had known”.

When I think about the legacy any of us leave on this planet, I think about people like Suzanne, or my other cheer coaches Elaine, Stephanie, Linda and Nancy. You don’t have to have a specific title to make a positive impact in the world, but you DO have to care enough to dream big, accept challenges, and be kind to those around you. If I have learned anything in the last 24 hours, it’s that we could all use more of that in our world today.

Rest in Peace Suzanne. You were a tremendous individual I was so lucky to have met.

The Power of Kindness

If you follow my travels on social media, you know that I just finished up 23 presentations in 21 days across Missouri, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Michigan and New York, and also enjoyed a quick trip over to Barcelona, Spain.

I’m exhausted.

Since I got home, it has taken everything inside of me not to hibernate in my bedroom with my cat and do nothing but sleep.

Luckily for me on Friday, I didn’t and instead, learned a lesson on why I will never stop believing in the power of kindness, no matter the circumstances.

Back in my hometown of Kansas City, this past Friday was sunny and 80 degrees, very unusual for October 28th. Trying to be productive instead of staring at my bed and contemplating a nap, I decided to go wash my car and run a few errands. As I finished up a fantastic car wash (my dad taught me right!) and pulled into the vacuuming stall, all of a sudden I heard the loudest bass music that I hadn’t heard since the pounding music and cheering fans at Arrowhead Stadium.

It was so loud and I was already fighting a terrible headache, I couldn’t think straight to simply count my four quarters for the vacuum.

So I stood there, thinking. Should I walk over and say something? Should I ignore it? Should I simply go home? Have I really reached the age where I am having this internal conversation with myself? Ha.

I turned to the fella next to me, who was detailing a very fancy red shiny car and asked his opinion, “I’m thinking of saying something to the fella with the loud music… am I crazy?” To which he replied, “No! It’s obnoxious to me too!” Perfect. This guy was at least eight years younger than me, and he felt the same way I did.

So, I casually walked over to a light grey four-door car. It was modest, an older model with a few dents and scratches. The fella was leaning into the back seat and all I could see were his jeans and white shoes.

“Hi! Excuse me!” I said bashfully.

He popped his head out from behind the back seat passenger door. His arms were heavily tattooed from top to bottom and his head was shaved. The bass was still thumping super loud. My heart started pounding along with it.

I nervously smiled as I approached a little closer so he could hear me. “Hey! SO sorry to bother you…. am I super old if I ask you to turn that down just a smidge?”

He responded immediately. “No! Not at all. In fact, I was thinking it was kinda loud as well! Besides, how old are ya anyways, you aren’t that much older than me.”

I laughed, “I’m only 34, but I feel so old even thinking that I have to ask someone to turn down their awesome tunes.”

“I’m 29. You aren’t that old.” He paused for a second…“Honestly, when you walked over here, I thought I was about to get into so much trouble. I can’t believe how nice you were about asking me to turn it down. Thanks for your kindness! My name is Chris.”

“No problem Chris! My name is Shannon, nice to meet ya. And thanks for understanding!” I started to walk back to my car.

Thanks for your Kindness?

I couldn’t shake that thought out of my head. I politely asked him to turn his music down. Was I really being so kind that it was something he noticed? I wondered, what was Chris’s life like, and how often he had even experienced kindness without bias, prejudice or assumptions?

I started the vacuum still thinking about his words but a few minutes later he startled me as he poked his head into my car from the other side.

He said, “You know, you really made my day. I couldn’t believe how nice you were to me. I just got out of federal prison and moved to Kansas City since I was able to get a job here. And, people aren’t really nice to me.”

Whoa. My body tensed up and my mind was racing. Federal Prison. Did he kill someone? Was he in a gang? Who is Chris and what have I gotten myself into.

I put the vacuum down and walked around to the other side of my car. I smiled and said, “Well, I am super sorry I couldn’t handle the music today. But, I’m glad we were able to have a nice conversation!”

He shared more….

“Being in federal prison for 5 years, I was able to get my GED and learn skills to become a welder. I didn’t have anywhere to go so the state sent me to a halfway house in Leavenworth while I put a resume together and looked for a job. I’ve never had a driver’s license until now. And, I was able to get my own apartment for the first time! And a company in North Kansas City offered me a welding job with a decent salary. I can’t believe I’m actually making something of myself. And I can’t believe how nice you were about the music. Nobody else would’ve walked up to me let alone been so nice while asking me to turn it down.”

Nobody else would’ve walked up to him, let alone, been so nice to him.

I have been thinking about Chris’s words for the last four days.

Despite my raging headache, despite the fact that I’ve been on the road for three weeks straight, despite barely seeing my family or even getting caught up on sleep, I could have just driven away from that car wash and never said anything. Annoyed.

But I didn’t.

And there we were Friday afternoon. Two human beings sharing stories.

In a split second, I was able to remind Chris that there are nice people in this world.

And in a split second, Chris reminded me that we are all still human beings who need love and kindness.

Kindness.

We sat and talked for another 30 minutes about how he is trying to turn his life around, how I became a professional speaker, our families and how the world is kind of a crazy place right now.

I asked Chris if I could take a photo to remember this moment and he agreed. I asked if we could stay in touch and we exchanged information.

I’ll never forget Chris.

As I say in my speeches, I don’t care where you come from, what you have in your pockets or what your past is. All that matters is where you decide to take yourself and ultimately, as human beings we all crave connection.

As I reflected about every detail of my brief encounter with Chris, I looked down at the t-shirt I was wearing Friday and realized it’s the 2013 Oklahoma 4-H Shirt I received after speaking at their state conference. It says, “Waves of Change, Ocean’s of Opportunity”. I smiled so big.

As a world. As a humanity. We all deserve kindness. Life is too short. And we will never create “Waves of Change” if we don’t start somewhere.

Thank you Chris for our brief interaction. You reminded me of the biggest lesson of all in life and I hope you pass the kindness baton to the next person.

Patience is a Virtue

About a year ago, I made a bold decision. After only being a member of the National Speaker’s Association for a short time, I decided to submit a proposal to present a workshop for my peers at the National Convention. I knew it was a long shot – there were people far more experienced or qualified than me.

Well, as the story goes, several months of anticipation later, I received the disappointing email letting me know I was not selected.

It’s funny, because even though I knew I most likely wouldn’t get selected, it still stung. Isn’t that so true in life? None of us want rejection… whether it’s a job opportunity, a potential love interest or even by our kids.

As much as it stings though, rejection has important value in our lives. If we don’t put ourselves out there, if we don’t “try” we never allow ourselves to fully become what we are meant to be. We may never actually accomplish the things we desire if we aren’t willing to take those chances in life.

I’ll admit, I was a little down on myself after receiving the rejection email. I was a bit jealous of my peers who were posting on Facebook that they had been selected. But after licking my wounds for a day or so, I decided I needed to move on to the next “risk” I was going to take. What was next? I was reminded of the motto I learned in 4-H, “To Make the Best Better”. It was time for me to move on and keep improving so I could continue creating the life I wanted.

A few months later, I received a phone call from someone I deeply respect and admire. John said, “Shannon, would you consider speaking at the National Convention for the Celebrity and Athletes Speaker Workshop?”

What the Heck?!

How could this be happening.

Of course I said yes, but I was terrified.

This was an even greater opportunity than the one for which I’d been passed over earlier in the year. As a former NFL Cheerleader, the audience would include speakers and athletes I look up to tremendously!

To speak in front of NFL Hall of Famers, Pro Bowl Stars, Super Bowl Champions, former NBA players, Olympians and even the first female to climb Mount Everest from both sides felt like the ultimate challenge!

Looking back on that experience, I will be forever grateful. It was such a simple reminder that sometimes our “plan” isn’t always “The plan”. Sometimes we have to put ourselves out there several times before we strike gold. And sometimes, you just get lucky and land an opportunity you didn’t even know existed.

If you aren’t failing in life, you aren’t trying. Patience is a truly a Virtue.

PS: Something incredibly important to me in this photo that was taken right before I spoke for the athlete’s workshop, was that I could wear my 4-H pin on my name tag. I gave my first speech at the 4-H County Fair when I was 8 years old. 4-H introduced me to one of my greatest loves (speaking) at such an early age, so this was a full circle moment for me.

What risks are you taking today? And, do you have the patience to wait for your moment? Happy Monday!

Why You Should Use SnapChat

Do You Snap?

SnapChat isn’t just for your tweens anymore. The Wall Street Journal, ESPN and President Obama Snapchat, and you should too!

Snapchat has evolved and, it’s continually updating features and adding users, making it the fastest growing social media app across all demographics today.

Gaining Popularity

  1. Disruptive technology.

Disrupters are popping up in every industry. Look at what Uber did to the taxi industry. Or what Trump is doing to politics. Like ‘em or hate ‘em, disrupters create curiosity and the people and brands behind them often go viral.

  1. Faster results.

Our attention spans are changing. As advertisers compete for our attention, we crave small bits of content at fast speeds. If you have 5 minutes to click on the CNN app, you can get the content you are looking for quickly.

People of all ages are using Snapchat, but data shows its core user group is 13-25 year olds. If that’s your audience, Snapchat may get you in front of them faster.

  1. Highlight reels.

Most people and brands we follow on other social media sites only post “highlights” of their lives. Instagram made it popular to only post one really “attractive” photo to showcase your event the night before. Facebook now curates the content they think you want to see.

Snapchat is attractive because it’s real time updates. You can’t upload a photo from two weeks ago that you processed through photoshop – it has to be right that moment. With this, we are getting back to real life, and turning off the highlight reels.

  1. It’s easy.

The app is user friendly and provides fun for all ages. Open the app, take a photo and send to your followers. If you want to spice up your videos and images, get creative by using their geo-filters and creative

See for yourself!

The 88th Annual Academy Awards debuted its web player just before the event which allowed users to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Oscars. The Oscars 2016 Snapchat Official Video.

Individuals and charities are purchasing filters that allow them to crowdsource photos from their personal event.

Building your Personal Brand for 2016

No matter your age or your occupation – chances are good that you’re being hit from all angles with messages from several mediums.  Social media helps us stay in touch with our audiences – but it can also hurt our personal brand if we’re not sure how to communicate who we are and what we do!

How can you stand out and get the competitive advantage in 2016? This month on CBS – KCTV 5 – Better KC, I share a few tips to help strengthen your personal brand.

– Become the go-to resource in your area of expertise.

– Make sure your brand is consistent. Do what you say you’re going to do.  Stand for what you share with others.   

– Make sure your brand is recognizable. 

– Pick a social media platform and go all-in.

– #Hashtag it.  Play around with hashtags. Understand what you stand for and use that to your advantage to crowd-source.

Today’s challenge:  Create a personal #hashtag.  Share it with me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and tag me! I want to know what you stand for!