Seth Godin wrote one of the best business books of the last decade. The book I’m referring to is Purple Cow. Related:What Taylor Swift Can Teach You About Success In Your Career Purple Cow is a metaphor for distinguishing a point of differentiation. In his book, Seth goes on to mention that if you were to drive down a farm road and you saw a field of brown cows, nothing would stand out. You wouldn’t notice one cow from the hundreds of others. However, what if you saw a Purple Cow? Your eyes would immediately light up in amazement. You would instantly notice the purple cow and you’ll do everything in your power to get a closer look. The idea behind Purple Cow is that businesses should approach their marketing in such a way that they stand out from the competition. If a business defies conventional wisdom and redefines the way they market their products and the creative that’s associated with it, they will stand out, leaving customers and prospects in awe. Apple does this better than anyone. Think about how this can be applied to your career. Your average person is just one of hundreds of millions of people looking to get a job. As employers sift through the sea of brown cows, how will you stand out from the competition? Having a distinguished degree and a slick resume isn’t going to cut it anymore. That’s no longer good enough. In a day and age in which competition for jobs is at an all-time high, you have to put tactics into place to ensure that you continue to have a seat at the table. After the Great Recession, many people spent months and years complaining about how the recession ruined their job and destroyed their lives. That very well could be true. It’s unjust and it’s unfair. However, after the dust settles, all you can do is move forward. The best way to move forward is to be preemptive. It’s time to think different. If you want to become a Purple Cow in your industry, you have to build a personal brand and market yourself in a way that goes above and beyond the mediocre tactics of the Brown Cow. That is the only way you stand a chance of getting the job of your dreams and building the career you’ve always desired.
Have you interviewed for a job and got caught off guard with the salary question? Do you struggle to identify a reasonable salary range that you feel comfortable with? If so, we're here to show you the right way to conduct salary research!
These days, the hiring manager or recruiter will most likely ask about your salary expectations in the first or early round of the interview process. If you aren’t ready for this conversation, it can make you look unprepared, diffident, or worse….costing you the entire job opportunity.
So, let's show you how to avoid that and talk about your desired salary with confidence!
In this training, you’ll learn how to:
- Figure out the correct sites to explore while doing salary research
- Identify the tools you need to figure out your market value
- Choose a salary range that you feel comfortable with
Join our CEO, J.T. O'Donnell, and Director of Training Development & Coaching, Christina Burgio, for this live event on Wednesday, September 28th at 12 pm ET.
CAN'T ATTEND LIVE? That's okay. You'll have access to the recording and the workbook after the session!
How do you know if you understand something?
I am a non-technical person working in an IT company. My colleagues will often tell me something technical. Sometimes I understand what they are saying. Sometimes I have no idea what they are talking about. Sometimes I think I understand what they are telling me when they are telling me, but then later I realize that I don’t understand it at all.
Understanding is complex. As communicators and trainers, we need to think about how understanding works to communicate and train effectively.
We are all communicators and trainers at one time or another.
What Is Understanding?
A quick Google search of “understanding” does not provide a clear answer.
Researchgate, quoting “Newton, 2000,” says, “Understanding implies being able to think, act and apply the knowledge in different ways in various situations.”
Robert Ryshke, writing in “gse.harvard.edu,” states, “Understanding a topic of study is a matter of being able to perform in a variety of thought-demanding ways with the topic.”
Artseducator.org says something very similar: “Understanding is a matter of being able to do a variety of thought-provoking things with a topic.”
Let’s Ask Again: How Do You Know If You Understand Something?
If someone explains something to you and then asks you if you understand it, you will probably reply based on how you feel.
As a trainer, you may well look at your trainees’ faces to see if they understand the material. When they don’t understand, they may look uncertain or give you the “What are you talking about?” look. (My two-year-old niece is very good at that!)
The feeling that you understand is sometimes deceptive. This is why educators use “output activities” or tests to see if trainees really understand.
How Can We Test Understanding?
The worst thing you can do is ask: “Do you understand?” It puts the burden of understanding on the trainee. If he doesn’t understand, it’s the trainer’s fault. She needs to explain the content in a different way.
When learning in groups, trainees may not say they do not understand for fear of looking stupid in front of their colleagues.
There are a number of options you can build into your training plan. These options are based on Wiggins and McTighe’s “6 Facets of Understanding”:
- Ability to explain the content: This has to be more than just repeating the material verbatim. Let’s imagine you are teaching sales agents a new sales script. If your trainees create a mind map to explain the material they received in a PowerPoint presentation, they are reformatting the information and engaging with it at a deeper level than they would by repeating it.
- Interpreting the content: To see how well your agents might understand the sales script, ask them to explain it to their colleagues as if the other person was five years old, their grandmother, or to an alien from another planet. Their challenge is to explain it to someone who does not have the same contextual knowledge that they do.
- Applying the content: When teaching your sales team the new script, this will include getting them to role play it. One trainee will be the salesperson and the other the customer. Role plays can include “what would you do if…?” scenarios to practice dealing with different types of customers and handling different objections.
- Having a perspective based on the content: You can build this into the role plays by asking the “customer” to play a specific kind of customer and behave as this kind of person might behave. In a business-to-consumer scenario, this might involve playing roles representing different demographics. In a business-to-business context, this might mean playing the roles of customers in different verticals who have different requirements and different ways of behaving. Builders have different needs and behave in different ways from bankers.
- Empathize: When adopting roles in the role-play training, ask trainees to imagine how customers might feel and put those emotions into the training. This could include angry and aggressive customers. This gives trainees playing the salesperson’s role the chance to test their skills in handling an angry customer, while it gives the trainee playing the “angry customer” the chance to imagine how the angry customer is feeling, and adjust how she handles him accordingly.
- Have self-knowledge: Some trainees may find this uncomfortable since trainees need to examine their own reactions and feelings towards the content. For salespeople, particularly after they have role-played a demanding conversation, this may help them to understand and manage their own emotional responses when facing, for example, angry customers.
The Ball’s In Your Court!
Are you planning some training? How do you know that you understand the content well enough to train it? What questions are you afraid people will ask? How do you plan to test your trainees’ understanding?
I’d love to hear more about it! Drop me a line!
The following article may be both relevant and useful: Explaining How Things Work: How To Do It And Why It Matters
If you're wondering how you're going to get where you want to be in your career, there are some simple steps you can take that will help you create your own career development plan.
Let's not be confused by the word “simple." Sometimes the simplest of concepts or steps can be tough to do because they require some intense thinking and effort. Yet, your think time and effort are an investment in your future and career happiness, which make it all very worthwhile to plan your career growth today.
1. Figure Out Your Destination
As with all efforts, you must be clear about your direction when you create your own career development plan. You don't take a road trip without knowing where you want to end up. You also don't need to overly complicate this task. I think the following questions are helpful in thinking about your destination.
Where do you want your career to be in two years?
I like this question because this window is close enough to your current reality that it's easy to visualize.
Where do you want your career to be in five years?
If you see that your two-year goal is merely a step in an overall direction, then this question helps you define a longer-term career growth goal. Sometimes it's difficult to see that far out in time as life and different opportunities present themselves and can cause you to reset your plans. That's okay, but it's good to be looking "two steps ahead."
What makes these targets resonant for you?
Don't make a goal just for the sake of making one. You need a goal that helps to motivate you into action. If you're making a goal based on what someone else wants, it also isn't going to be that compelling for you. Being clear on your direction means being clear that this direction is inspiring and motivational, and knowing what is driving you to it.
2. Do A Gap Analysis
A gap analysis is where you figure out the differences in the qualifications between where you are right now and your two-year goal or next step. Using a job posting or job description for the position you are aiming at is a good way to get specific information about the skills and experience that are expected. I think it is good to get more than one job description (perhaps one from your company and one from a competitor) in order to ensure you aren't missing any key items during your analysis.
Go through the job description line item by line item and rate your current state of skills, education, or experience to what is listed. Your rating system can be as simple as 1-10, with 10 a perfect match and one being completely missing. As you rate, make notes about your thought process for future reference.
Once you have completed this exercise, identify all of the items where there is anywhere from a fair amount to a substantial amount of development that is needed. Look for commonalities and clump those together as a category. You will discover that there will be themes to your gaps.
Also, don't get too compulsive about where you don't think you're a perfect match but think you have fairly developed skills. If they are mostly present, they will make you a competitive candidate and shouldn't require too much development attention. You now have a list of development items.
3. Create Your Development PlanBigstock
You are now fully armed with a clear two-year goal and all the details of where and what you need to develop to get you where you want to go. Your plan will be best if you can consult with your boss and/or a mentor to help you with ideas on how to get the skills you need to add.
There may need to be some logical order to a few of the items on your list. Sometimes you need to do X before you can do Y. Make these among the highest priority items so you can accomplish these things and move on to others. Usually, there are multiple ways of accumulating the skills you need for career growth.
You may also want to have multiple ways of beefing up your skill set to add depth to it. An example is if you want to move to a project management position, you may want to get a certification and also ask for project responsibilities. Initially, these may be small, which is fine; they will give you an opportunity to grow and learn. In addition, you may need to research various ways to get the skills you need to grow in your career.
Once your research is done, it will give you ideas on how you can approach these items. You need dates. You need to keep yourself accountable to your plan. And the best way to do that is to give yourself a "start by" date.
You can't predict how long or how much work you will have to do in order to develop the skill at the level you need, but you do have control over the action you take to get started. Keep track. You need to pay attention to your career development plan a minimum of twice per year. This will allow you to stay focused on your progress and remind you of next steps.
Career development is the sort of thing that you can easily forget about until you wake up one day to realize you have gone nowhere and aren't having fun. You are responsible for where you go in your career. With a little bit of planning, you can accomplish great things.
Need more help with your career?
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.