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10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Savvy

Posted on 14. October 2009 by JasonSeiden

Here’s a cliche you’re probably familiar with: give a child a toy and he ditches it for the box it came in. (Apparently, the same is true for animals. In the video, I caught Lenny, my bulldog, after she had dumped all her toys out of the plastic box we keep them in so she could chomp on the box itself.)

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Now here’s something you’re probably not familiar with: as grown ups, our fascination with containers and boxes does not go away… the boxes just become less cardboard and more conceptual.

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Ever overpay for a shirt because it had a particular logo on it? Sure you have. We all have, even if we didn’t want to… because sometimes, it just isn’t worth it to have to explain to everyone that we actually don’t care. And you probably know where this is going, right? That logo is the container. Just as a big ribbon frames a child’s experience with a present, providing secondary enjoyment and making the object inside the box seem more special, the logo frames our experience with the shirt in exactly the same way.

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A brand is a box. You know what else is a box? Interpersonal savvy is a box. Seriously: the way in which you approach others frames others’ experiences with you the same way a brand frames your experience with a shirt… and the framing—the box—still matters.

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The funny thing is, in my experience, people agree with this principle dearly when talking about other people, but not so much when focusing on themselves. They want other people to present themselves crisply, but they want other people to understand when they themselves are running late and don’t have time to “wrap the gift,” so to speak.

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Sorry, Charlie! The box still matters. You need to ditch the ugly interpersonal wrapping paper you sometimes use. Here are 10 statements that, if you eliminate these from your repertoire, will help you improve your personal brand immensely:

  • “He should have known I was kidding.”
    Never push responsibility for a conversation’s success to someone else. Take full control for your own success. Bad outcome? You can only fix it if the problem is within your control—that means assuming it was your own fault.
  • “I would think people would want someone in my job to be so busy that I don’t have time for pointless pleasantries.”
    You’re still a human being, and no matter how busy you get, you’ll never be more of a man than I. You may forget that, but I promise you: I won’t.
  • “Let me try to explain this to you one more time.”
    Wonderful. Now, not only are you an arrogant prick, but you’re projecting your inability to communicate onto me? I think we’re done here. If you’re a salesman, you’re really toast.
  • “And maybe you’re too sensitive!”
    Just one more way in which people push responsibility for a conversation to others. The problem here isn’t my sensitivity, it’s that you failed to consider your audience before opening your big fat mouth. (Oh, don’t tell me you found “big fat mouth” offensive?! Get over it, you’re being too sensitive!)
  • “Hey! I’m the boss around here, you just do what I say, got it?!”
    Huh? Did I fall asleep and wake up in 19th century France? Give your Napoleon Complex a rest before someone hands you your Waterloo.
  • “How is it possible that you still don’t understand what I’ve been telling you for the past half hour?”
    Maybe because you haven’t shut up once in 30 minutes long enough for me to ask you the one question I need answered?
  • “That’s actually not a bad job… coming from you.”
    And that’s actually a pretty a**holish thing to say… even coming from you.
  • “That’s funny… coming from someone with an seven foot cube.”
    Thank you for confirming for me just how petty you are. I’m sure when they put “She had a 96″ cube” on your tombstone, everyone’s going to be really impressed.
  • “Can I have a promotion? I deserve it.”
    Hmm. The irony of the first sentence is the deferential way in which you are asking for power—you want power, yet the framing here keeps you below me on the totem pole even if you get it. The irony of the second part is the lack of awareness of the irony in the first.
  • “Everyone in management is a total idiot.”
    By the transitive property then, if I made you a manager… you’d be an idiot, too. Right? I guess you won’t be getting that promotion after all… I’d hate to undermine your intelligence like that.
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Only One Way to Learn

Posted on 14. October 2009 by HR Bartender
Learning fascinates me.  Many people only know one way to learn.  The hard way. Forget all that stuff you’ve read about Malcolm Knowles, adult education, and andragogy.  You know, the stuff about how adults need to be motivated, training has to contain a WIIFM, the topic must be relevant to work, and employ a problem solving approach.  The truth is most people learn not by listening to the advice of their friends/mentors/colleagues but by making mistakes.

Of course, I’m being a little tongue and cheek here…don’t completely throw Knowles and his theories out the door.  But indulge me for a moment.  There’s something to be said about people who can only learn the hard way.

Here’s a true story a colleague and I were chatting about recently.  A manager is really struggling right now.  Maybe they know it; maybe they don’t.  At first, you offer up some very sugar-coated pearls of wisdom.  Something like, “I remember when that happened to me…this is what I did.”  Manager doesn’t get it.

Then you try the tough love tactic.  Have a one-on-one with the manager.  Maybe you take them out to lunch or try to chat over drinks.  Your goal is to get them to realize there’s a train wreck coming and they need to get off the tracks. You’re a little more direct.  The manager still doesn’t change their approach.

Last try.  You get mad.  You figure the shock of seeing you so upset will give them an epiphany.  You tell the manager that they’re absolutely blind not to see this coming.  You paint the picture that the world just might come to a grinding halt if they don’t get their act together – and fast. Of course, the manager doesn’t listen.  They might even think you’re a lunatic and begin to distance themselves from you.

Until, of course, they discover you were right.

The challenge these two people face is a common one:

For the Manager, do you try to re-engage the colleague who forewarned you?  Enlist their expertise in fixing the predicament?  Will your ego allow you to do it?

For the Colleague, do you continue to offer help?  Knowing it’s likely that, whatever you suggest will be ignored a second time?

For most of us, the ability to learn from others is an acquired skill.  It means paying attention to what happens around you, opening your mind to new ideas, taking risks and trusting others.  Believe me when I tell you, developing the ability to learn from others is well worth the effort.

You May Also Like:

  1. Leadership Superman
  2. Restaurant City

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Courage, Gratitude, A Stroke at 30, & A Book of Poems

Posted on 9. October 2009 by JasonSeiden

Courage, Gratitude, A Stroke at 30, & A Book of Poems is an original piece from Seiden Leadership.

Were you grateful when you got yourself out of bed this morning? Did you thank the heavens above when you shuffled yourself over to the shower?

My friend Jeff Winicour will tell you, “You should be thankful. You’re lucky.”

Did you deal with some “major tragedy” today at work? Avert a “crisis”? Get caught up in “drama”?

Jeff doubts it. He’ll tell you, whatever your problem is, you should consider yourself lucky to have it.

Jeff knows what he’s talking about. He’s in a wheelchair, has been for about six years, thanks to two consecutive strokes he had, courtesy of AVM. The second stroke nearly killed him.

Jeff probably knows better than you how lucky you are to be alive. Are you taking your life for granted? Not appreciating every breath? Not giving thanks for every single moment of your life? Do you feel entitled to the ability to feel, to see, to speak, to walk… to express yourself outwardly, to joke, to be mobile, to make your own decisions, to eat, to go to the bathroom by yourself, to be understood when you speak, to have the power to overcome your own boredom…? Do you whine about every little thing, as if what someone says about your choice of pants today impacts you even one iota?

If he could, Jeff would knock some sense into you.

But he can’t.

Because he’s not lucky like you. He can’t walk (yet.) He can talk, but some days are better than others, and often he can’t do much more than whisper a few words at a time. He can turn his head, but some days, he gets stuck. Jeff’s lucky to be alive—and he knows it. He’s lucky to have the motor control he has—and he knows it. Jeff’s lucky to be surrounded by friends who love him—and he knows it.

Feel like pitying Jeff because he had a stroke? He’ll be the first to tell you: “Stroke this.” Then he’ll tell you to stop focusing on him and learn to appreciate your own life.

That’s what Jeff’ll tell you.

Now here’s what I’ll tell you:

Jeff has more courage than most of the people I see in business… all combined. For months, Jeff made use of his time in his wheelchair to express himself through poetry: he worked on regaining motor control in one hand and typed out, slowly, a number of poems. That right there is more courage than most people have.

But Jeff wasn’t done. Through a group he spends time with, he found the opportunity to have his poems performed on stage. He handed his work over to an acting troupe, and they developed interpretative acts and readings and they amplified Jeff’s words and delivered them to a packed house.

Personally, I don’t give a hopscotch if you’re a fan of poetry or not; that’s not what this is about. What strikes me is that here is a young man in his 30’s, with a nine-year-old son, who has been confined to a wheelchair for six years, and this guy took his pain, his frustrations, and his triumphs, put them on paper, gave that paper to someone else, and said, “Here, this is a window into my heart. Do you think you can open it and invite a few hundred people to come see what’s inside?”

Would you do that—would you make yourself that vulnerable? Would you carry the idea of authenticity to the point that you’d literally invite hundreds of people to share in your life? Because that’s courage.

Do you have that courage? You think, “Yes?” OK, then, tell me: what have you done with it. You think, “No?” Why the hell not—what’s holding you back?! Jeff’s stuck in a wheelchair. What are you stuck in, a “mental rut?”

Jeff’s not lucky like you. He doesn’t have arms and legs that respond to his every call. His voice doesn’t carry. Imagine what Jeff might do, if he could couple his courage with the gifts you have.

Imagine what you could do.

You don’t owe Jeff any favors, nor do you owe me anything. But I think, and I think Jeff would agree, that you owe yourself one thing: the willingness to live your life.

In my parlance, that means having the courage to risk failing spectacularly. In Jeff’s, that means looking at your biggest problem and saying:

“Stroke this!”

Jeff is now converting his poems into a book. His friends and I are helping him self-publish. If you’re interested in supporting this initiative, click here. (The funding link is not yet active, but should be within a day.)

The video includes my rendition of one of his poems, “Blue is as Blue.”

Jeff, all my love.

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Handling Ambiguity

Posted on 5. October 2009 by JasonSeiden

Handling Ambiguity is an original piece from Seiden Leadership.

What Handling Ambiguity means

Handling ambiguity—and it’s close cousin, handling uncertainty—means being able to move forward in spite of unclear or non-existent direction. Uncertainty comes about from poor directions, such as “Fold the piece of paper in half,” which leaves one guessing as to which direction—lengthwise or crosswise—the fold should be made. Ambiguity is a bit more strategic, and has to do with a lack of context. For instance, if I say hello to you and you respond with a half-smile, you are being ambiguous: there is no mistaking the half-smile, but I have no context for it… are you angry with me? Annoyed? Is your mind elsewhere?

I define “the ability to handle ambiguity” as a combination of problem solving and initiative: it’s (1) the ability to tell the difference between things that should be dealt with literally and other things that require interpretation, (2) the ability to conduct the interpretation, and (3) the initiative to act on your conclusions. The ability to handle uncertainty is the same, but with less emphasis on the first part.

How to spot the ability to Handle Ambiguity

When determining someone’s ability to handle ambiguity, look for comfort with social ambiguity, intellectual curiosity, a willingness to take action in the moment, and good judgment when taking action. If you have someone you wonder about (not yourself, obviously; I mean, if you have a friend who’s ability to handle ambiguity is in doubt), then watch specifically for the following:

  • Comfort with unclear social settings. Does the person get visibly nervous during social silences? Can s/he tolerate a pause in a conversation? How does s/he handle it when left alone at a social function—does s/he introduce him/herself to others? Stand comfortably alone? Look about nervously or latch on desperately to someone else? Look at both what the person does as well as how s/he does it… and don’t tell me that introverts stink at social interactions. Baloney. Introverts who are good with ambiguity go out and learn the social skills necessary to survive social ambiguity.
  • Intellectually curious. Look for comfort with unclear problems and issues. Does the person become visibly agitated when presented with a new, novel, or challenging problem? Does the person start to make excuses before even attempting to solve it, or does s/he dismiss the problem? Does s/he jump into action without doing the proper analysis? Again, look at how the person approaches the situation, not just what s/he does: someone who is risk averse may analyze a problem and then opt out! Pay attention to the level of stress associated with dealing with the issue; someone who can’t handle ambiguity will likely show a spike in nervous energy.
  • A strong and demonstrable action orientation. I don’t care what people say. I watch what they do. Given poor instructions, does the person cry that s/he can’t move forward for want of clear directions, or does s/he formulate a hypothesis about what’s expected and then move forward? In a social interaction, does the person provide structure, for example by introducing people to one another, asking questions, or suggesting activities for the group? When discussing issues, does the person leave issues on an academic plane or naturally end conversations with an action plan? Does s/he then follow up?
  • Good judgment.Does the person show awareness of his/her sphere of influence? Does that awareness translate into an ability to define issues in terms of elements that can be controlled? Does the person show the maturity to focus most of his/her energy on those controllable issues… or does s/he waste time complaining about the parts s/he can’t impact? People who handle ambiguity well focus on moving forward by defining issues on their own terms. They tend not to worry (too much) about things they can’t control.

Unfortunately, I generally assume an inability to handle ambiguity until I see otherwise for myself. And again, I don’t care what people say about themselves. The “default setting” for human beings is to claim to be good at taking initiative… while actually being quite poor at it.

Developing the Ability to Handle Ambiguity

If you haven’t seen this video yet, now is the time to watch it:

To develop your ability to handle ambiguity, focus on reducing your need for externally applied structure. You can do this by playing little games at work, including what I call the “100% responsibility” game, which goes like this: whatever your problem is, assume that you have 100% responsibility for solving it. Mom and Dad are in the other room and just gave you the “We don’t care who started it, you end it” speech. On a sheet of paper, write down what you need to solve the problem, and then go do those things—regardless of what other people are doing. Now, there are three rules about what you write down that will make this simultaneously challenging and rewarding:

  1. You cannot be reliant on someone else changing who they are; you must accept everyone exactly on an “as is” basis. If you can express your thought as, “I could solve this problem ‘if only’ so-and-so would…” then you need to erase it. No “if only” allowed.
  2. You cannot rely on someone else to do something out of the goodness of their heart. If you need someone’s help, then you must figure out how you are going to get it. Asking “pretty please” and putting sugar on top won’t cut it. Rationalizations that a 2nd grader could see through don’t count. You need to provide real value in exchange for what you need.
  3. You cannot be waiting for anyone to do something. Whatever the plan, YOU must control the next step.
  4. BONUS: Expect the list to look pretty simple and straightforward. Don’t worry about that. But once you have the list, put more thought and effort into figuring out the best way how to execute your plans as you put into determining what the plan would be in the first place.


In today’s world, the ability to handle ambiguity is arguably the single most important skill we all need to develop. If you run a company or department, use the lists above to help guide your hiring decisions and development planning. If you are an individual, use these lists to improve yourself. Either way, you will not only give yourself an edge in your job and your career, you will also find yourself better able to absorb what the world throws at you without one of those knee-jerk reactions that sends people too far toward one extreme or another.

And we could all use a little more freedom from knee-jerk reactions!

This is a repost, with some edits and updates, of a a piece that originally ran December, 2008. I’m dusting it off because the way 2009 has been going, this seems even more relevant today than it did a year ago… this is adapted from my presentation and training module on the same topic.

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5 Things Corporate VPs Should Not Care About

Posted on 1. October 2009 by JasonSeiden

5 Things Corporate VPs Should Not Care About is an original piece from Seiden Leadership.

I’m walking the aisles of the HR Technology Conference, and I’m feeling good and bad at the same time. On the good side, there are some really great individual people here, and a few companies doing great things. On the bad side, a lot of companies here are “playing it safe,” showcasing their 3/5/7 module solution with the iPhone-looking marketing and Access database-looking implementation. Everything’s “customizable,” which means you can turn modules on or off. There’s very little novel use of social media technologies, and very little to put decision making power where it belongs: with the team manager.

(Sure, all these companies say they do that, but then they sell enterprise-wide solutions that force all client users to conform to the same standard… hardly empowerment when the only choice is how many tabs the talent management software will have across the top.)

Which got me thinking: too many people here are focused on the wrong thing. Too many people are wrapped up in the minutia. This type of thinking once caused a client to ask if I’d co-author a book entitled, “‘I’m from Corporate & I’m Here to Help,’ and Other BullSh!t You Hear at the Office.” While I’m not quite ready for that assignment just yet, what I’m seeing here at the conference did compel me to put together this list of 5 things no corporate VP should ever spend a minute focusing on:

  1. The font on a document. You have a design team. Use them.
  2. How to customize any piece of software. You are excused from this item if (1) you are an IT VP and (2) the customization is part of an actual purchase negotiation.
  3. The size of your—or anyone else’s—cube/office. Unless VP now stands for Very Petty, all I can say is, OMFG, don’t you have work to do?
  4. Reserved parking. You worked your whole life for what, so you could park close to the front door? This is what you want on your tombstone, “What an amazing person, she negotiated for a great parking spot?” How do you take yourself seriously?
  5. Who on your team gets credit for the work. Newsflash: it doesn’t matter, they all work for you anyway. If you’re ego is that fragile, the UPS store sells bubble wrap.

If you are a corporate VP and I’m describing you, consider firing yourself. There is real work to be done in corporate America, and you are in the way.

If you work for a corporate VP and I’m describing your boss, I have to wonder, what do you do all day? Corporate strategy?

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A Mentoring Frame of Mind

Posted on 25. September 2009 by Lisa Rosendahl

This blog post is a collaborative effort between Lisa Rosendahl and Jennifer V. Miller. Mentoring is a fascinating topic that can be approached from many perspectives. In this post, I approach mentoring from the perspective of “what attributes can Human Resource/Talent Managers look for in potential mentors,” while Jennifer approaches mentoring from the perspective of a potential mentor and addresses the question ”at what point does a person feel ready to mentor?”

So, let’s say you are reviewing your Talent Management initiatives. You’ve identified a need for strengthened leadership development programs for employees and you look to the mentoring program. You have employees seeking mentors and although you have staff interested in being mentors, you know being a mentor is not for everyone. You begin to wonder about your mentor candidates. They are willing - but are they ready?

In your book, a mentor is a wise and trusted advisor and guide. So, what attributes can you seek in potential mentors to reach this end? Let’s take a look.

Like a fine wine, mentors develop over time. Early in a person’s career, they seek to learn and gain knowledge. They build relationships, set goals, and turn plans and ideas into action. Sometimes things go the way they expected them to and sometimes they don’t. In the big scheme of things, their early success rate is not as important as the experiences they gather and the lessons they learn.

Over time, and this time can vary greatly from months to years, a person learns from their experiences and takes this knowledge gained to move themselves forward. They build on their interpersonal skills and their solid professional foundation. They develop expertise.

Some people continue on this path and are very happy and successful. For others however, a shift begins to occur. Once very satisfying to them, gaining, gathering and developing for self is no longer enough. They begin to feel that it’s not about having the answers so much as it is having the questions. And, they decide, they want to help others.

“If knowledge is the piling up of facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.” Martin Fischer

I’ve posted about wisdom before and in the comments to one post, a very smart reader defined wisdom this way, “wisdom blends education and experiences with listening and learning, with your open mind and willingness to respectfully assimilate different perspectives.”

What do you think of that? The word wisdom often brings a mental picture to my mind of a person on a mountain top, a rising cloud on a sunny day, or the owl from Winnie-the-Pooh. For many, wisdom is associated with age, but wise doesn’t mean old.  Wisdom is not received, it is discerned and can come from very “young” sources like tech-savvy Millennials, graduates of the school-of-hard-knocks, or even the words of a sassy and a very inquisitive third-grader.

Where ever it comes from, wisdom is an essential attribute of a mentor (and of a mentee). Mentoring without wisdom is a coffee table conversation that may help sort things out but won’t necessarily propel a person forward or provide a them with the tools to continue on their own.

When asked where does wisdom lie, another reader (I learn so much from my readers!) commented, “where ever it wants to I suppose. It’s up to all of us to look for it and have those conversations. Life is a dialogue!”

Yes, life is a dialogue. Identify people willing to engage in that dialogue and you know you’ve found your mentors. Settle for nothing less.

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Business Writing 101 (Because Your Writing Sucks Big Time)

Posted on 24. September 2009 by JasonSeiden

Business Writing 101 (Because Your Writing Sucks Big Time) is an original piece from Seiden Leadership.

Based on what I’ve seen as an graduate school instructor, what I’ve witnessed as a coach, what I’ve heard as a member of some expert societies, and what I’ve been shown by others, I have calculated that there is a 94.8% chance that you can’t write. At all.

(I used the rectal database to calculate this figure, it’s very accurate.)

For example, below is an actual cover letter (identifying details have been altered), sent to me by its recipient. This could have been an office memo or client correspondence, it wouldn’t have mattered. It still would have sucked. Swift, merciless, point blank critique of the writing—designed to help you go from awful to awesome—follows:

I am, as you are a graduate from Indiana University. For a number of years I have been associated with some of the largest national real estate firms located in the Chicagoland area. I am an experienced project manager, which has managed large complex projects up to $80million. I am detailed orientated, hard working and know how to manage processes, while reporting P&L and enhancing the bottom line. My career has spanned through a broad range of different markets, each involving mastering new procedures and taking on greater amounts of responsibility. As you might know the construction industry has drastically slowed-down. My company went through some staff reductions and I am now seeking new opportunities.

I take pride in being successful in the construction industry and feel that my work ethic and skill sets can bring me success in any industry. I’m not looking for a temporary fix; I’m looking for a career change. I want to find a new position where I can make the best use of my expertise. I would appreciate your help.

A copy of my resume and a detailed summary of my background, along with recommendations can be viewed at my Linkedin profile,…

Summary Writing Analysis

Not good. Unfortunately, the poor grammar must be dealt with as an afterthought… you’ll see.

Now begins the swift and merciless deconstruction, because inarticulate is neither cute nor cuddly:

Let’s Break It Down

From top to bottom:

I am, as you are a graduate from Indiana University.
I happen to know that the corporate recruiter who received this letter went to Western Michigan. Getting this detail right wouldn’t have resulted in a job, but it likely would have saved you from being sacrificed on the alter of For the Good of Mankind. Always double check facts shared in the first line of a letter—few people skip the first line.

And when you use a comma to set off a phrase, don’t forget a second comma to close said phrase.

For a number of years I have been associated with some of the largest national real estate firms located in the Chicagoland area.
I think I know what you mean. I think. But if you’re going to take the time to write to someone, don’t you want them to know for sure what you mean? Try this: “I spent XX in the real estate industry, working for ABC and DEF.” If these firms are not well-known outside the industry, add, “two successful national firms.”

I am an experienced project manager, which has managed large complex projects up to $80million.
“I am a person who…” “This is a thing which…” People are “who.” Things are “which.” Or “that.” But it doesn’t really matter, because this sentence needs to get scrapped. Try this: “As a project manager, I was responsible for complex, $80 million programs.” And don’t forget the space between “80″ and “million.”

I am detailed orientated,
BULLS#!T! Detail oriented, you say? Oh, no you’re not. Not even close. Detail oriented means no typos, and that just ain’t you. And when I say “typo,” I’m also including things that aren’t really typos at all, such as your use of the non-word “orientated.”

hard working
BULLS#!T! (That’s twice. One more like this and we might have to turn this into a drinking game.) Hard working people find the resources to make their work great. They don’t turn out twaddle like this.

and know how to manage processes, while reporting P&L and enhancing the bottom line.
Again, I have to ask, what the hell are you talking about? A few things: first, I don’t believe you. Did you mean that you have experience managing a P&L? Second, assuming you have legitimate P&L experience, why would that be listed fourth instead of first—don’t you think running a company is more important to an employer than detail orientation?! Seriously, here you claim to have a real skill and then you bury it under some factoid that we’ve already shown to be a figment of your imagination. Just wonderful; now I have to wonder about your ability to prioritize, too. Finally, we get to the grammar: when making a list, make sure everything “matches,” so that each item on the list could complete the sentence all by itself. Like this: “I am detailed oriented, (I am) hard working, (I am) adept at managing process, and (I am) experienced running a $200 million P&L.”

My career has spanned through a broad range of different markets,
Avoid important-sounding words that you are likely to misuse… like “span.” Spans go across, not through. Sounds like a little thing, but if you’re involved in real estate, this is one of those words I want to see you use correctly, lest I end up with roof beams that span through my ceiling.

Plus, as long as we’re here, “different” is implied by the word span, so is unnecessary. Try: “My real estate experience has spanned a number of markets.” Even better, tell me why I should care: “Working across a variety of markets, I have learned to recognize and adjust to subtle differences in clients’ needs.”

each involving mastering new procedures and taking on greater amounts of responsibility.
Holy Nonsensical tripe, Batman… huh?! Are you trying to say that you had to master new procedures each time you landed a new job? Or that each time your career spanned through a different market, mastering new procedures was involved? Because this second thing isn’t a real sentence. Heck, it’s not even a real thought. Keep it simple: “I held jobs of increasing responsibility and difficulty, culminating with me leading a $80 million project.”

As you might know the real estate industry has drastically slowed-down.
Whaddya mean, “Might?”

And what’s with the hyphen?

My company went through some staff reductions
Yeah, you know, we ordered some lunch, talked about some new movies, did some layoffs… typical Tuesday stuff.

and I am now seeking new opportunities.
I’m not surprised.

I take pride in being successful in the real estate industry
BULLS#!T! (Drink.) I haven’t heard boo so far about any single accomplishment you’d take pride in. If you’re going to claim to be successful, tell me by what measure. Because remember how you listed your detail orientation before your P&L experience? That little decision says to me that your definition of success probably hinges upon your ability to get the small things right… which you clearly don’t. So, I’m not seeing this “successfulness” you speak of.

Generally, people who take pride in their work don’t so cavalierly assume that their success will transfer to over industries, nor do they go looking for career changes so easily. They have deep understanding and appreciation for the hard work required to achieve greatness, which comes through in their communication. Pride creates attachments, yet I get no sense of regret for what’s being left behind here. I get only the sense I’m being played.

Note well: if you think it’s unfair that I am reading so much into single little comments, it is. Life is unfair, and other people will similarly judge you by little things you’d wish they’d overlook. Don’t get angry, just get more perfect.

and feel that my work ethic and skill sets can bring me success in any industry.
BULLS#!T! (Drink.) Mmmm… I have the distinct impression you are relying more on luck than any particular skill.

I’m not looking for a temporary fix;
BULLS#!T! (Drink.) This phrase has no business being here. Laid atop everything else, is a tip off that this is precisely what you want. When writing, stay positive. Focused on what you do want, not on what you don’t want.

I’m looking for a career change.
BULLS#!T! (Drink.) Your career change came looking for you. OK, fine, maybe it’s a semantic issue. Still.

I want to find a new position where I can make the best use of my expertise. I would appreciate your help.
Help? You want “help?” What kind of “help?” Do you want an interview for a specific job? An introduction to a particular person? Speak plain.

A copy of my resume and a detailed summary of my background, along with recommendations can be viewed at my Linkedin profile,…
Oh, no! Tell me you did not do that! This is as bad as getting her alma mater wrong up there in sentence #1! Didn’t you say a few sentences ago that you have a great work ethic? Well, where is it? Why didn’t you go the next step and attach the documents I’d need… rather than push the work to me by making me click through for more information? See, now I don’t even believe your work ethic. Once again, I can’t even get to the grammatical problems because the underlying approach is itself a disaster.

Now for what’s missing: you know what’s missing? Anything that indicates that you took even a moment of your time to research my company before you sent this over. Tell me: why on earth would I hire you if you were too disinterested to do even that much? If you were hiring for a personal chef, what would impress you more: the glitzy chef with the amazing history who talks exclusively about himself, or the great chef with the solid history who shows up to your interview with your favorite dish, which he learned about from a review you’d posted to Yelp?


A little bit of initiative goes a long, long way.

Writing skills are no joke. Learn to express yourself. Get help. Have others look over your work. If your friends are as bad at writing as you are, get new friends. Or take a class. Or get so good at using video that you can send video emails and not worry about writing. But do something, because this is unacceptable.

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Using Email (Alpha Style)

Posted on 13. July 2009 by JasonSeiden

People often want me to help them master the art of writing perfect emails listen to their stories about how other people send awful emails.

Stories like these:

What I think: I understand that you are a jerk. I understand that you are not in control of your emotions. I understand you expect me to be perfect, yet tolerate errors from yourself; I understand you are a hypocrite.

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I thought I’d do a quick follow up on my post about taking action with a real-life success story about how the process actually works.

This comes from an email that I got last Friday morning. I picked it up while waiting for a connecting flight at LAX, and immediately called the person who sent it. I think she was a bit surprised to hear from me, but she shouldn’t have been. Her email was great.

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Huh? Jase, What advantage are you talking about?!

I’ll tell you. As news of an economic recovery starts to trickle in here and there, corporate rookies should be licking their chops. Everyone else should be on edge.

Here’s why:

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Summer’s here… a time for visible tattoos, bathing suits, and outdoor alcohol consumption. Under normal conditions, we know these to be the ingredients for that popular dish, The Summer Fling. But add in a tension-filled (read: romance-free) economy, and don’t be surprised if people find even a brief courtship too filling. And that’s OK; people have proven they can live without romance.

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When it comes to the job search, everyone’s with the lists: how to get a job; mistakes people make; ways to ace an interview; things you need to do today.


There is a problem with all these lists. The problem is not that there’s not some good insights in some of them. It’s that no list will ever get you a job. Ever.

Know what’ll get you a job?

One thing: action.

Let’s do an experiment:

Right now, open a new browser tab/window. Go to your social networking site of choice. Think of a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile—someone you don’t have anything important to talk about. Take however much time you need… when you think of that person, send him/her an invite to connect and a note that reads something to the effect of: “Just thinking of you; would love to connect when you have a few minutes and hear how you’re doing.” Then come back to this page.

I’ll wait while you go do that…

OK, now let’s review the experiment: did you actually do it? What would you have learned from a list, awareness that you should call? Hey: this ain’t “life appreciation class,” this is life itself. If you want something, you’ve got to move!

Others may care, but personally, I don’t give a hoot or holler about the proper etiquette for re-introducing yourself to an old acquaintance. I don’t give a flying fish about thank you notes or emails, either. Nor do I care about how awkward this all must be for you. All I care is whether or not you act. Because when you act, messing doesn’t matter. (As much.) When you mess up in your head, you stress; when you mess up in real life, you try again and improve. It happens without thinking about it whenever you refuse to give up!

I recently called a friend I hadn’t seen in 19 years. Out of the blue, just to say hi. That was awkward… for about a minute. Then we clicked and now I’ve 200 more people in my network. I called another friend, too… that conversation didn’t go as well. So? I lost nothing on that one. Ten minutes, maybe.

Now it’s your turn again: put down the list and go make that call. Bungle it. In fact, try to mess it up. You know what you’ll find? You’ll find you can’t. No more thinking about it, go do it!

Because they only way to guarantee that you get a job is to go out and get the job!

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In addition to being managers and executives, many of my corporate clients also happen to be parents. If they happen to not only be parents but parents of college-aged kids or recent college graduates, what with the number of unemployed college graduates hitting historical highs these days, they can also, on occasion, be… kinda stressed out.

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In addition to being managers and executives, many of my corporate clients also happen to be parents. If they happen to not only be parents but parents of college-aged kids or recent college graduates, what with the number of unemployed college graduates hitting historical highs these days, they can also, on occasion, be… kinda stressed out.

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Sometimes, the truth is a pig.

Insisting that it wears lipstick, and then gushing over what a gorgeous shade those lips are, without acknowledging that they’re attached to a stinking pig, doesn’t change the fact that the truth is going to make a big ugly mess in your house.

Ha, ha, right?

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