Archive for September, 2010

SECRETS OF NURTURING YOUR HIDDEN TALENTS… by Tom Rath

Posted in General Management, Life Management, Secrets of Nurturing Your Hidden Talents... with tags , , , on September 30, 2010 by Robert Finkelstein

In addition to the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, my own personal and business blogs, the recommended reading list, and information on my consulting business, I would like to share some of the writings of various thought leaders.

SECRETS OF NURTURING YOUR HIDDEN TALENTS… by Tom Rath

No matter how old you are, discovering and developing your hidden talents can lead to greater fulfillment in life — and possibly additional income.

So why don’t more people take advantage of their hidden talents? When people choose careers early in life, the decision is often based less on their talents than on an immediate need for income… or the expectation of high salaries… or on the career paths of family or friends. And, because the job market places a high premium on experience, changing occupations in midlife often means taking a cut in pay.

Later in life, people frequently think about the talents that they haven’t fully used. I spoke recently with a group of government employees. Their eyes lit up when they discussed retirement, a time when they could wake up each day eager to engage in activities that truly give them joy.

UNWRAPPING NATURAL GIFTS

To discover hidden talents…

Think back to early successes and times of great enjoyment. Don’t be afraid to dredge up memories that go far back in the past. The standing ovation from your classmates for that solo you sang in your high school choir, for instance, might be the last time that you used your musical talent before it languished in a career that didn’t require that aptitude. Or how about that heroic moment when you caught a pass in the end zone and won the game for your college football team? Too bad your talent in sports wasn’t needed later in life.

Or in your first job, you may have wowed the boss with your ability to speak Spanish to a group of visiting clients — only to spend the rest of your career in areas where language talents weren’t necessary.

Helpful: Write a list of the talents that you haven’t used for many years. As you write the list, some will come to mind that you haven’t even thought of in quite a long time.

Ask close friends and relatives about your talents.
Others often see our strengths more clearly than we do. If you have any doubts about this, just think about your own friends and the talents that they fail to take advantage of. Friends who knew you early in life can be especially helpful.

Try things that you’ve never done before but perhaps always wanted to.

Examples: Working on a political campaign… doing volunteer work… writing for the newsletter of your house of worship.

New activities often reveal talents and interests that have remained dormant for a long time.

NURTURING 101

It usually doesn’t take long to discover several hidden talents that you would like to develop. To determine which ones are worth nurturing, try several. Then concentrate on the one (or ones) that give you the most pleasure.

You’ll know that you’ve chosen the right one when you lose track of time in pursuing the talent. If you sang in the glee club, for instance, consider taking music lessons or joining a choir. If you enjoy practicing so much that you can barely stop, music is clearly a talent to nurture.

On the other hand, you might discover that singing today isn’t quite as enjoyable as it was several decades ago. If that’s the case, move on to another dormant talent.

Effective ways to nurture hidden talents…

Take lessons. In doing volunteer work, for example, you may discover a talent for leadership. In that case, classes at a local business school could be a way to hone your aptitude. Once nurtured, leadership ability could lead to starting your own volunteer organization or even a profitable consulting business.

Get expert input.
No matter which talent you want to nurture, you probably know people with the same interest who can offer advice. If you don’t, ask around at the clubs and organizations that you belong to. Or ask your friends if they have acquaintances with knowledge in your field of interest.

If you were once talented in sports, for example, talk with friends who have been involved in sports, such as amateur or professional athletes, high school coaches or employees at a local gym. They’ll almost certainly have advice on how to get back into the game — perhaps as a player on a senior circuit or as a coach to an amateur team.

Or say that after working on a community newsletter, you rediscover your talent for writing. Seek out friends who are experienced in journalism, advertising or editing. They’ll know of ways to nurture your talent and could also point you to part-time writing jobs in your area.

Smart move: Consider the experts who advise you as potential partners in a business. If you want to nurture a talent for gardening, for example, your friends might recommend that you speak with a local nurseryman. If the two of you hit it off, you might suggest teaming up to start a landscaping business.

As people grow older, they rarely think that they need mentors. In fact, we can always use the advice of those with wisdom and experience. So when one or more people point you in the right direction, think of them as mentors. Keep in touch, and express your thanks whenever you have a success.

Example: If your hidden talent is painting and a local artist recommends a teacher who guides you on a path to a gallery exhibition, invite them both to the show. Share the credit, and more help will always come your way.

– Tom Rath

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session, for more information, please refer to my Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email me at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. I welcome your comments below. Thank you.

Quotes and Images – Updated

Posted in General Management, Inspirational Quotes and Images, Life Management with tags , , , , on September 23, 2010 by Robert Finkelstein

“It’s never the changes we want that change everything.” – Junot Diaz

My Quotes and Images page is updated daily.

To see the entire list of 100s of great quotes and beautiful images, please click on this link.
Quotes and Images

I invite you to subscribe to my blog, “Behind the Scenes – Operate at a Higher Level” You’ll find the “Email Subscription” box on each page of my blog. If you have any business questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.

THE MYTH OF PREPARATION by Seth Godin

Posted in General Management, Life Management, The Myth of Preparation with tags , , , , on September 22, 2010 by Robert Finkelstein

In addition to the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, my own personal and business blogs, the recommended reading list, and information on my consulting business, I would like to share some of the writings of various thought leaders…in particular, one of my favorites, SETH GODIN.

THE MYTH OF PREPARATION by Seth Godin

There are three stages of preparation. (For a speech, a product, an interview, a sporting event…)

The first I’ll call the beginner stage. This is where you make huge progress as a result of incremental effort.

The second is the novice stage. This is the stage in which incremental effort leads to not so much visible increase in quality.

And the third is the expert stage. Here’s where races are won, conversations are started and sales are made. A huge amount of effort, off limits to most people, earns you just a tiny bit of quality. But it’s enough to get through the Dip and be seen as the obvious winner.

Here’s the myth: The novice stage is useful.

If all you’re going to do is go through the novice stage before you ship, don’t bother. If you’re not prepared to put in the grinding work of the expert stage, just do the beginner stuff and stop screwing around. Make it good enough and ship it and move on.

We diddle around in the novice stage because we’re afraid. We polish (but not too much) and go to meetings (plenty of them) and look for deniability, spending hours and hours instead of shipping. And the product, in the end, is not so much better.

I’m all for expertise. Experts, people who push through and make something stunning–we need more of them. But let’s be honest, if you’re not in the habit of being an expert, it’s unlikely your current mode of operation is going to change that any time soon.

Go, give a speech. Go, start a blog. Go, ship that thing that you’ve been hiding. Begin, begin, begin and then improve. Being a novice is way overrated.

– Seth Godin

If you’d like a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with me, for more information, please refer to my Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email me at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. I welcome your comments below. Thank you.

ACCEPTING YOURSELF UNCONDITIONALLY by Brian Tracy

Posted in "Accepting Yourself Unconditionally" by Brian Tracy, General Management, Life Management with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2010 by Robert Finkelstein

In addition to the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, my own personal and business blogs, the recommended reading list, and information on my consulting business, I would like to share some of the writings of various thought leaders.

ACCEPTING YOURSELF UNCONDITIONALLY by Brian Tracy

Self-acceptance begins in infancy, with the influence of your parents and siblings and other important people.

Your own level of self-acceptance is determined largely by how well you feel you are accepted by the important people in your life.

Your attitude toward yourself is determined largely by the attitudes that you think other people have toward you. When you believe that other people think highly of you, your level of self-acceptance and self-esteem goes straight up.

The best way to build a healthy personality involves understanding yourself and your feelings.

Letting the Light Shine In:

This is achieved through the simple exercise of self-disclosure. For you to truly understand yourself, or to stop being troubled by things that may have happened in your past, you must be able to disclose yourself to at least one person. You have to be able to get those things off your chest. You must rid yourself of those thoughts and feelings by revealing them to someone who won’t make you feel guilty or ashamed for what has happened.

Become Aware of Your Feelings:
The second part of personality development follows from self-disclosure, and it’s called self-awareness. Only when you can disclose what you’re truly thinking and feeling to someone else can you become aware of those thoughts and emotions. If the other person simply listens to you without commenting or criticizing, you have the opportunity to become more aware of the person you are and why you do the things you do. You begin to develop perspective, or what Buddhists call “detachment.”

Accept the Person You Are:
Now we come to the good part. After you’ve gone through self-disclosure to self-awareness, you arrive at self-acceptance. You accept yourself for the person you are, with good points and bad points, with strengths and weaknesses, and with the normal frailties of a human being. When you develop the ability to stand back and look at yourself honestly, and to candidly admit to others that you may not be perfect but you’re all you’ve got, you start to enjoy a heightened sense of self-acceptance.

Do an Inventory of Your Accomplishments:

A valuable exercise for developing higher levels of self-acceptance involves doing an inventory of yourself. In doing this inventory, your job is to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative. Think of your unique talents and abilities. Think of your core skills, the things that you do exceptionally well that account for your success in your profession and in your personal life right now.

Think about Your Future:
Think about your future possibilities and the fact that your potential is virtually unlimited. You can do what you want to do and go where you want to go. You can be the person you want to be. You can set large and small goals and make plans and move step-by-step, progressively toward their realization. There are no obstacles to what you can accomplish except the obstacles that you create in your mind.

Action Exercises:
First, sit down with your spouse, or a good friend, and tell him or her about something that is troubling you and is still causing you unhappiness.

Second, develop perspective on your problem by standing back from it and imagining that it was happening to someone else. What advice would you give to that person?

Third, think continually about the good experiences and accomplishments you have enjoyed in the past. Remind yourself regularly that you are a pretty good person and you’ve done a lot of good things in your life.

– Brian Tracy

Recommended Reading – Updated

Posted in General Management, Life Management, Recommended Reading with tags , , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by Robert Finkelstein

Every weekend, I update my Recommended Reading list with three new books. I think you’ll find my suggestions thought-provoking, inspiring and educational.

This week: Great books on WORK LIFE BALANCE.

To see the entire Recommended Reading list of over 125 titles, please click on the link. “Recommended Reading

*If you’re interested in purchasing any of the books on my Recommended Reading list, for your convenience, I’ve linked all the covers directly to their respective pages on Amazon.*

I invite you to subscribe to my blog, “Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO – Operate at a Higher Level.” You’ll find the “Email Subscription” box on each page of my blog. If you have any business questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.

Quotes and Images – Updated

Posted in General Management, Inspirational Quotes and Images, Life Management with tags , , , , on September 17, 2010 by Robert Finkelstein

“I never remember feeling tired by work, though idleness exhausts me completely.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My Quotes and Images page is updated daily.

To see the entire list of 100s of great quotes and beautiful images, please click on this link.
Quotes and Images

I invite you to subscribe to my blog, “Behind the Scenes – Operate at a Higher Level” You’ll find the “Email Subscription” box on each page of my blog. If you have any business questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.

HOW TO BOUNCE BACK FROM MONEY MISFORTUNES by Stephen M. Pollan

Posted in General Management, How to Bounce Back from Money Misfortunes, Life Management with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by Robert Finkelstein

In addition to the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, my own personal and business blogs, the recommended reading list, and information on my consulting business, I would like to share some of the writings of various thought leaders.

HOW TO BOUNCE BACK FROM MONEY MISFORTUNES by Stephen M. Pollan

You can better cope with money misfortunes if you know in advance the major steps to take. How to handle six common financial challenges…

You can’t pay monthly bills because of unexpected expenses.
Take action as soon as the problem becomes apparent. Waiting until payments are past due and collection agencies are involved will only make things worse.

Divide your expenses into three categories…

Expenses that cannot be delayed. Example: Insurance premiums.
Expenses that might be deferrable if the lender agrees. Examples: Mortgage and car loans.
Expenses that are discretionary. Examples: Eating out and new clothes.

First, eliminate all discretionary spending. Second, contact mortgage and auto-loan providers. Explain that you had an unexpected expense and request “forbearance.” Propose a specific payment plan that would make your debt manageable. Mortgage and auto-loan companies do not want to get stuck with your house or car, so they often will be flexible.

Example: A 32-year-old man faced $3,200 in travel and burial expenses after the death of his uncle. His mortgage lender agreed to accept interest-only payments for three months.

You can’t pay a large, uncovered medical bill. Explain your financial situation to the hospital’s or doctor’s billing department, and ask to set up a payment plan that fits your budget. Next, speak to hospital social workers and local family-service charities to see if any grants or loans are available to people in your situation. Ask family members and employers for financial assistance — big companies sometimes have emergency loan or hardship grant money available to help employees.

If you have health insurance but your insurer will not cover the bill, get a specific explanation why. If the insurance company claims a treatment was not necessary, ask your doctor to write a letter stating why it was necessary. There are multiple levels of appeal possible if your first request is denied.

Example: A 58-year-old widow was hit with a five-figure bill when her insurance company claimed that a colon cancer treatment was not necessary. She negotiated a $200-per-month payment plan with the hospital. Then she asked her doctor to write a letter explaining why the procedure was necessary. Her insurer eventually agreed to pay a large portion of the bill. She paid off the remaining debt in less than 18 months.

You’re dropped by your homeowner’s insurance company. Unfortunately, insurers discontinue various policies — especially homeowner’s policies — all the time for all sorts of reasons. Do not bother trying to get the decision reversed — that almost never works — but do make sure you are given the grace period guaranteed by your contract before it is terminated. Then ask your accountant, attorney or real estate agent to recommend an insurance broker. Unlike insurance agents, insurance brokers work with many different insurance companies and can help you find the best rates. They often have access to better policy information than you can find quickly online.

The policies available to you might be considerably more expensive than your old coverage. Ask your broker for cost-cutting strategies. Increasing the size of copayments and deductibles often can dramatically reduce premiums. Increase the size of your emergency fund as well, in case you need to pay a large deductible later.

A parent dies with bills outstanding. Carefully go through your deceased parent’s papers, and construct a list of assets and liabilities. Keep an eye peeled for any life-insurance policies or evidence of safe-deposit boxes. (For example, the check register in your parent’s checkbook might list ongoing payments to an insurance company or a bank.) Destroy credit cards, and cancel the accounts.

When bills arrive, write “deceased” on them and send them back, with a copy of the death certificate. If bill collectors call, explain that the estate will deal with the deceased’s debts once the funds are in the executor’s control. Repeat this as often as necessary. Surviving family members are not responsible for a deceased parent’s debts (unless the debt stems from a joint account with a surviving spouse or family member). Some debts will have to be paid out of the parent’s estate, but waiting until that stage will at least allow you to sort out financial obligations first. Secured debts, such as auto loans signed by only the deceased, that are not paid off by the estate will result in repossession.

Your adult child needs financial help. First consider your own finances. Would solving your child’s financial problem create a financial problem for you? Would it significantly affect your retirement plans? If you are considering making a loan, rather than a gift, calculate how your finances would be affected if this loan were not repaid. Many loans to relatives never are repaid.

If you cannot afford to make the loan,
explain to your child that you love him/her but cannot give money that you do not have to spare.

If you decide to help, first insist on having a conversation with the adult child about budgets, spending and saving. Explain what he needs to do differently from a financial standpoint. Next, determine exactly how large a gift or loan he needs to make ends meet, and how much you can afford to give. Make it clear that this is a onetime loan or gift, not an ongoing line of credit. If the gift is sizable, inform your other children that the gift will be taken into consideration when you divide your assets in your will. This will prevent concerns about inequity.

Important: Deciding whether to assist your adult child financially could drive a wedge between you and your spouse. Agree in advance to make this decision as a team.

You lose your job. If your employer insists that you sign a release form in order to receive your severance package, don’t do it right away. It often is possible to get better severance terms through negotiation. These negotiations can be quite simple — whatever the company offers, ask for more.

If you have a good relationship with someone high up in your company, ask that person to put in a good word for you with the human resources department regarding your severance package. Insist on credit for unused vacation days and a prorated portion of any annual bonus. Ask if you can keep your company car and/or laptop until you find a new job. Request continuation of health-insurance benefits. If continued benefits are not available, see if you are eligible to continue coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the program that allows former employees to pay out of pocket to continue their benefits for up to 18 months. COBRA coverage may be expensive, but it can be a vital bridge until you arrange other coverage.

Determine how long you can continue paying your bills out of your savings and severance pay, and decide what resources you will tap next if you have not found another job by the time this money runs out. Will you liquidate investments? Borrow from family members?

If need be, consider taking a job that you normally wouldn’t to keep money coming in, even if it has no connection to your previous experience. Sometimes these “emergency jobs” lead people into other career directions. Don’t worry that your emergency job means you will have to schedule future job interviews around your work schedule — most interviewers consider it a good thing when job applicants are working.

– Stephan M. Pollan

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session, for more information, please refer to my Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email me at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. I welcome your comments below. Thank you.