Welcome to SixFigureStart®

Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

In time for the holidays, my CNBC piece on the power of gratitude


Yes, gratitude sounds good, but as my above article in CNBC.com’s Executive Careers mentions, there is actually a very practical reason to adopt gratitude as regular practice.  Optimism stands out in the best way in down markets.

Filed under: philosophy, resource recommendation, , , , ,

The Exceptional Presenter by Timothy J. Koegel

The Exceptional Presenter, by Timothy J. Koegel, is a book that is extremely helpful to anyone who wants to become a better presenter.  It teaches the basics, and gives you an outline of every step in the presentation process with tips on how to succeed.  Here are the highlights:

If you aren’t passionate about what you are presenting, why should anyone else be?!   How many of us remember the enthusiasm of a great speaker, versus the boring, monotone delivery of others. 

You need to be organzed, and this book includes a presentation prep list that helps you to structure any presentation.  The prep list helps you to be prepared and ready to take charge of the audience and the setting, and be poised and polished while doing so.  Exceptional presenters prepare in advance and the audience can feel that and in turn, respect what is being said. 

You need to be engaging and connect with your audience.  You do this by understanding what motivates them and this can be captured by spending some time informally with the audience before you speak.  Always get there early so you can meet those that arrive early. 

You need to practice because the more your practice, the more you improve!  This is true with any sport:  practice that tennis backhand and it only gets better.  When you see an actor in a Broadway show, their delivery is smooth and their acting becomes second nature.

If you concentrate enough on the material, you can “forget yourself” and the nerves that come with presenting.  You need to focus on your audience to get your message across.  Exceptional presenters make it look easy, but it’s only because they’ve invested the time necessary to make it look that way.

Filed under: book review, career coaching, , , , ,

SixFigureStart results in StartUpNation business contest


Thanks to everyone who voted.  We were not among the Top 10 votegetters (featured in the above link) but we appreciate that you put us in the higher ranges on the popularity meter.

Filed under: Company news,

You Are Not Doomed At Birth Part 2: Success Traits Can Be Developed


In my Nov. 19 post, I wrote about how good interview technique can be learned and interview success can be had by anyone, even the shy ones, with enough practice.  Apparently Malcolm Gladwell extends this belief to success in general in the above Fortune Magazine article, a precursor to his upcoming book, Outliers:  The Story of Success.  Gladwell talks about the link between success and practice.  He also alludes to people taking advantage of their circumstances, with Bill Gates as his sample case.

I will make this required reading for my clients.  Practice is key to the job search — practicing interview responses, practicing your pitch, practicing general communication skills and good follow-up.  Seizing opportunities as they arise is also key — following up regularly so you stay front of mind for employers, networking so you hear about openings first, stretching out of your comfort zone so you take advantage of new industries or changes in the market. 

All this media coverage about the recession and layoff after layoff can make even the most optimistic person fearful and anxious.  But you can be proactive about your search and make your own success.  Thank you, Malcolm Gladwell, for highlighting the role we actively play in our own success.

Filed under: career coaching, resource recommendation, , , , , ,

Good Interview Skills Can Be Developed, You Are Not Doomed At Birth

Recently, I coached a client (we’ll call her Jane) who was quiet, seemed unethusiastic, and resonated very low energy.  The person who recommended Jane (and knew Jane very well) even suggested that he wasn’t sure if I could do anything to help — Jane was just not good at interviews and that was that.  Still he wanted to do something for Jane so here I come into the picture.

Connie and I did three mock interviews with Jane.  Prior to seeing us she was assigned questions to practice.  After each interview she was assigned more items to practice and adjustments to make.  The adjustments related to conveying enthusiasm, being specific with details, explaining things in clear and concise terms, and handling unexpected questions or turns in the interview.  We reviewed her responses line by line and checked her examples for relevance, interest, and completeness.  In other words, we helped her practice and designed the practice so that her results would improve.  Much like learning a sport or a musical instrument, Jane learned to interview.

Many people believe that you’re either good at interviews or you’re not.  Good interviewers can think fast on their feet and handle those unexpected questions.  Good interviewers are extroverts who effortlessly develop rapport.  Good interviewers are great orators.  This is all true.  If you are spontaneous, easily get along with people and have good communication skills already, then you will probably find interviewing easier than people who do not come at these things naturally.  However, if you don’t know the structure and protocols of an interview, you can gave great natural ability and still not do well.

Conversely, if you tend to get flustered or nervous, are shy, and prefer written to verbal communication, then interviewing will demand the best of you.  But there are common questions to practice so you don’t get flustered, there are techniques you can use to alleviate stress, and communication skills improve with rehearsal.  You can develop the skills you need to master the interview, regardless of where your innate abilities lie.

Filed under: career coaching, , , ,

Susan Roane Tips For Sticky Networking Situations


The latest BNI newsletter has an excerpt from networking guru Susan Roane’s upcoming new book Face To Face: How To Reclaim the Personal Touch In a Digital World.  Roane provides tips on how to deal with people who make snide comments.  Do you let it slide?  Do you say something?  What if you sound defensive or lacking in humor?

Roane advises us to set boundaries and call the offender or his/ her behavior.  I agree with this stance and think her tips are particularly helpful now because in this volatile and anxious market more people will be on edge.  The chance of seeing boorish behavior will probably rise.  Stressful times are no excuse to get nasty, however, and you set yourself apart when you can remain gracious and assured.

I always advise my clients that in tough markets especially you need to be the calm in the storm.  Anxiety feeds off of anxiety.  Conversely, calmness begets confidence.  When you set boundaries and expect to be treated with respect by  (junior or senior, nasty or nice), you take control of your environment.  This ability to remain in control is invaluable in a job search.  We all gravitate towards that person who has that calmness, control, and confidence.  Be that person.

Filed under: career coaching, resource recommendation, , , , , ,

Career Tips From Life Threat Survivors


I haven’t read Laurence Gonzalez’ book “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” but it’s at the top of my To Read list.  12 of the tips are summarized in the above article, and they have parallels for jobseekers.  Here are some of my faves:

Deep down, true survivors know they’ll win.  You have to believe that you’re getting a job, making a career change, landing that promotion.  If you don’t, you won’t try or try hard enough.

Survivors quickly organize, set up routines, and institute discipline.  A steady, persistent and thoughtful approach is the hallmark of a good job search or career plan.

Survivors break down large jobs into small, manageable tasks.   Sometimes I ask my clients an innocuous question like, “Give me an example of when you used Excel” and they launch into a tirade — I’ve never really used it much, I don’t have the right experience, I knew it…Whoa!  So you won’t get an Excel teaching job, but there may be others.  Let’s just get the facts first and see what we have to work with.  In other words, take your search step by step, keep moving forward, and don’t make every single action about landing the furthest end goal.

Survivors take great joy from even their smallest successes.  One marker might be the new job, the new career or the promotion.  But along the way, there is more confidence, clarity, and new people that you meet in the course of your career development.  There are many benefits along the way to managing your career proactively.

Filed under: career coaching, resource recommendation, , , ,

SixFigureStart Interview with Liz Lynch, author of Smart Networking

I highly recommend Liz Lynch’s new book, Smart Networking.  I’ve been a subscriber to Liz’ networking newsletter for awhile, and she has put her best advice and examples in the book.  Covering both in person and online, the book is great for people new to networking as well as the experienced networker.  I especially loved her emphasis on doing what feels comfortable to you, while at the same time encouraging us to stretch.  Liz graciously answered some of my questions about networking and Gen Y specifically:

When if anytime is your networking advice different for Gen Y (or X or Boomers or Traditionalists)?

My advice to networkers is pretty universal because the fundamentals of building relationships and tapping into them are the same whether you’re 25 or 65. What might be different, though, are the tools that different generations are comfortable using. I have some older clients who can’t understand why they need to be involved with online networking, and by the same token, Gen Y’ers might think there’s no need to ever meet someone face-to-face. But I really think we’re at the stage where there are enough people in both camps that being able to integrate both in-person and online networking strategies and to do both well, will help you succeed much faster.
Are there specific networking protocols you recommend when dealing inter-generationally?

You always want to be mindful of your audience and adjust your communication style. Think about how differently you might ask your five-year old to close a door than you would ask your boss (well, maybe it wouldn’t be THAT different!). Keep in mind that making the decision to help you will be determined by that other person, so if you can make them comfortable with you by communicating with them in the words and in the methods that they’re most used to, you’ll have a greater chance of getting their cooperation.
What is the biggest networking pet peeve you’ve heard about Gen Y?

That they want instant gratification and expect things to happen quickly. Sometimes it does. You meet someone, hit it off and there’s a perfect fit. They’re able to help you right away because you happen to be at the right place at the right time. Usually, though, relationships take longer to build, and it takes a few conversations before someone gets to know, like and trust you enough to put their own reputations on the line to help you.
What is the biggest networking success story you’ve heard about Gen Y?

One of the stories in Smart Networking is about Mike Germano, who was fresh out of college when he ran for town council in Hamden, Connecticut in 2005. Being very social networking savvy, he used Facebook and MySpace to find like-minded students in his network and in his voting district, and to create support groups and fundraising events. He won by a landslide, making him one of the youngest politicians in Connecticut’s history, and throughout his term, continued to use social media to communicate with his constituency. He’s since parlayed that expertise into his own social media consulting firm, Carrot Creative, helping clients like Major League Baseball.

If someone is new to online networks or doesn’t have time to follow all, which one do you most recommend for Gen Y jobseekers?  Why? 

For jobseeking, start with LinkedIn. More and more, recruiters and hiring managers are using it to fill positions by sending job postings to their networks. Having your complete profile up on the site and building out your connections with people you already know, will help you be in the flow of that kind of information when it comes up. You can also use it for active job searching by researching companies you’re interested in working for and seeing who in your network might be able to provide an in.

Filed under: book review, career coaching, , , , , , , , ,

Positive In, Positive Out

I cannot stress how important it is to surround yourself with positive people, at all times, but especially during the job search process. 

The search for a job is a process that requires you to be at the top of your game at every stage.  You must research the firms you are most interested in, you must craft an amazing resume, you must practice your interview skills, and your follow up skills, and more.

When a friend or family member has a bad attitude, or when they are negative or critical, they drain your energy which in turn hurts your chances of doing well. 

Tonight, my partner and I attended a silent auction held by a great organization called Savvy Ladies.  One of the speakers there was Kim Kiyosaki, author of Rich Woman, and married to Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. 

Kim is a positive force and speaks often about how  women must be proactive to build and maintain their wealth.  She writes about how women and men are different when it comes to money and investing.  Kim wants women to find the “Rich Woman in you … a woman rich in spirit, rich in life experience and rich in all ways financial.  To that Rich Woman”, Kim says “Let her soar!”.  Who would not want to be around this person?!  It was a cold rainy night but we wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

If you are in a job search, make sure you find time for energy boosters.  Being in the company of such people can only help you do well and ultimately succeed.  Keep your spirit up and your activity high and good things will come your way!

Filed under: book review, career coaching, life coaching, philosophy, , , , , , , , , ,

This Is No Time For Traditional Job Search Methods

The Wall Street Journal is predicting fewer jobs and lLower salaries for 2009 graduates:


The entire market is suffering, and new graduates are no exception.  This is not the time to rely on campus recruiting and other traditional job search methods.  It’s simple math that you will have to do something different — there are fewer spots, but more graduates. 

In competitive job markets, a key differentiator is research.  Know the top companies, emerging trends, innovative ideas, and business problems of your target industries.  Know the competitors of your target companies.  Know a day in the life of your target job, so you can walk and talk like you have the skills and background required.   Now more than ever you need to go to market with an advantage — research leads to a knowledge advantage.

Furthermore, good research requires time and effort.  Most people will not do this.  With everyone chasing after the same spots, you can differentiate yourself with good research. 

This is why research is one of our six key steps in the job search process.  It is not something you do the night before an interview.  It is not something that just entails perusing the website.  Good research is thorough and thoughtful.  In boom times you might not have to do as much research and the jobs still might find you.  But this is no time to do what you did before.  This is a different market and no time for traditional job search methods

Filed under: career coaching, , , , ,

Follow us on Twitter