Roy's Blog: Careers

November 12, 2018

How to start your journey to be different

It has been 9 years since I wrote the original book BE DiFFERENT or be dead; since then, at the request of my readers, I have written a number of ebooks taking a “deep dive” on several of the specific topics in my original work with particular emphasis on how to implement my ideas.

Being different; standing out from the crowd has amazing long lasting value. It attracts attention — people are generally used to blandness where everyone and everything blends in and conforms to accepted norms.
And when attention is garnered, magic can happen if mixed with what is relevant to people and what they care about.

Being different in a relevant way is truly the way to achieve sustainable advantage in whatever theatre you are in — life, career or in an organization.

The most common question I’m asked is “How do I get started?”

Journey

A basic precept: accept that there are no silver bullets in the journey to be distinctive and unique; no one single action that will carve you out of the herd and confer upon you the specialness that will last forever.
It’s a journey; a series of acts that collectively over time will slowly give you the centrifugal force needed to move you away from others who find comfort in compliance and plurality.

DiFFERENT in your life

If you want to be different in your life, your challenge is to pick something you value — your life brand — and separate yourself from everyone else.

It starts with an intimate understanding of who you are and what you value the most in your personal life.
— Are you a lover of animals?
— A passionate advocate of protecting the environment?
— A fiscally prudent aficionado who insists that budgets must be balanced?
— A grandparent who wants themselves to be indelibly etched into the memories of their grandkids?
— A world traveler who thinks about their foreign-place bucket list more than anything else?
— An immigration zealot who believes further influxes of people should be curtailed?

Being different in life doesn’t necessarily mean that you take an extreme or “pole” position on your life view; that you choose a contrarian 180-degree view to the commonly held perspective.

The pole position on any topic is often a difficult place to be as your personal ideals and beliefs can easily be seen to be extremely negative to many. The risk of being in this position is that, in your attempt or be different in a valued way, you are seen as a crusader of a minority cause which attracts only extremist attention.

Curve

And so you get people who advocate radical immigration or environmental policies viewed as a bit out of touch and insensitive by a large portion of the population.
It’s not likely that if you chose to be different as a “save the environment at any expense” person you would be seen as someone special to look closely at — as a matter of fact you would only identify yourself with the left environmental herd.

Rather than picking a pole position, being different means that you address your passion in a way no one else does; your angle is like no other so it is noticed by those around you.
Your different narrative is the result of having a broad and deep understanding of your life topic; you have studied and thought about it extensively and therefore have a unique perspective on the matter — your views on what it takes to be an amazing grandparent, for example, are based on years of practical experience creating memories for your treasures.

Decide what’s important to you. Create a compelling narrative that stands out because it is skillfully crafted from a deep understanding of your topic. Have a unique perspective. Don’t get sucked into the poles but avoid complying with the blandness of the herd.

DiFFERENT in your career

If you want to be different in your career, the first thing you have to do is have a career game plan that is highly tuned to execution in the short term.
Aspiring to be a sales executive — full stop! — doesn’t really provide a call to action that will move you relentlessly towards your goal. With this type of objective you can meander for years without knowing whether or not you are taking the actions that will (might) yield success.

Your game plan must be much more precise if it is to define the steps you need to take to move in the right direction.
“I intend to be the sales VP of XYZ company in 36 months” is a declaration that is much more meaningful; it will open up the specific steps that you need to take to achieve your goal. 
It is targeted — the VP position in the XYZ organization — and it is time bound — a 36 month window. These three variables provide the focus necessary to create an action plan that can me measured and tweaked along the way.

The final element of your game plan is to decide on what your personal brand should be — and it must be unique to make any difference.
Without defining how you are unique and incomparable in the crowd, your career path will be an uphill climb.
“Why should you be given the opportunities for the VP sales position over everyone else who want the same opportunity?” is the question your brand must answer and if you can’t define your persona so that you separate yourself you won’t be able to answer the question.

Unique person

Have a short term game plan that defines your distinctiveness and is granular enough to drive you to execute. Don’t get sucked in to lofty helium-filled goal setting.

DiFFERENT in your job

If you want to be different in the role you have been assigned, challenge yourself every moment of every day to be different — you must look at everything in front of you through a BE DiFFERENT lens.
“How can I do this differently?” must dominate your mindset and guide your actions, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Stopping to ask yourself this question is a great way to start applying the concept. It keeps the desire to be different first and foremost in your mind and deeds and will become automatic once you get into the rhythm.

This approach REALLY worked for me! Every project I did, every presentation I gave and every leadership act I took was premeditated; I designed everything I did to be different than the way the herd approached things.
It’s not difficult to do; most people tend to adopt a common approach employed by the masses — a best practise or a principle espoused by academia or a subject matter expert.  And, people tend to do the minimum amount required to get the job done.
Knowing this, I first, focused on the practise I thought others would use and then decide on another way to do it with overkill as my guide (https://www.bedifferentorbedead.com/blog/item/1039).

Ask your self the “different” question every moment of your day to embed it in your thinking and actions. Don’t get sucked into copying best practices or a herd mentality.

There’s no end point in this journey; it’s a process of doing stuff; learning from the actions you took and adjusting your way forward.

But it won’t happen unless you take steps NOW to start.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

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  • Posted 11.12.18 at 04:43 am by Roy Osing
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October 29, 2018

9 reasons you should talk about “cut the CRAP”

The world around us is filled with CRAP.

CRAP describes the stuff that gets in the way of getting things done; obstructions — the grunge as Tom Peters
refers to it
— that impedes progress towards a stated goal.

In business, CRAP could be projects and programs that are no longer relevant given the new strategic game plan developed by the organization.
For example, if the new marketing focus were shifted from consumers to businesses, customer communications and social media programs targeted at the consumer segment would fall into the CRAP category and could be scrapped or at least significantly reduced.

In our personal life, CRAP could be the distractions and red herring that cost us progress towards our ultimate career or life goals.
For example, if your career ambition were in business and you were tempted to take an extended vacation just after graduation, the vacation time you intend to take that could be spent on advancing your career could fit the CRAP definition.
Or chasing many potential opportunities rather than focusing on a selected few that were closely aligned with your desired end game is a CRAP activity.

Too much

CRAP is a critical ingredient in the progress equation and it gets relatively little attention as compared to the new stuff that should be done — doing new stuff is more sexy than eliminating old stuff.

CRAP is vital to our growth ambitions and should be talked about for these reasons.

No time

There is insufficient time available to both take on new things and continue to do current things. Everyone has limited bandwidth and a sharp laser-like focus is essential to success.
The problem is that we are comfortable doing yesterday’s tasks and so we want to perpetuate them; the prospect of taking on something new is risky and uncomfortable.

Make room

Old stuff needs to go and make room for new stuff; it’s the only way we can stay fresh and relevant given the changing times we are in. And we don’t have enough resources do do both the old AND the new.
Governments should heed this and stop throwing money at old programs — like the medical system — expecting that improvements will miraculously appear. There comes a time when you need to reinvent the old; blow it up and start with a clean sheet to create something new.

The right choices

People need to make the right choices. Parents constantly hound their kids about making healthy food choices, for example, and avoid stuff that is harmful to them.
Ironically, some of these parents go to their job the next day and continue to hold on to the comfortable ways of the past rather than shedding the “unhealthy”.

Baggage

New people; new skills

Organizations must constantly refresh themselves with people who possess the new skills and competencies necessary to survive and thrive in a new uncertain context. Releasing or retraining people who are busy doing CRAP is a good way to ensure a good flow of new employee skill sets.

No money

Financially, no one can afford to take on new stuff while at the same time perpetuating projects — however comfortable — that might have been necessary yesterday but not today.
There are no money pits with infinite resources available that enable this behaviour and it needs to stop.

Leadership

The whole concept of cutting CRAP is a powerful lesson on leadership.
I would estimate that over 80% of leadership strategy teaching goes to topics such as these: how to develop new customer solutions, how to decide which new market segment represents the best growth potential and which new partner should be acquired to deliver new sales capabilities.
Not much time if any is devoted to the fact that stopping stuff is just as strategic as starting stuff, and leaders need to pay attention to this if their organizations are to be both effective and efficient.

Paying for new things

Cutting CRAP is an efficient way to fund new activities. Stop doing a project that doesn’t contribute to the way forward and cut the funding for it.
Expenses are reduced and are available to reallocate to the incremental activities that must be undertaken.
As president of a data and internet organization, I was constantly asked for dollars that were not budgeted to fund new projects. My answer was always the same: “Stop doing something no longer needed given our new direction, achieve the savings and reallocate them to the new project. There are no added funds for you.”
Over time, these requests dwindled away and CRAP elimination behaviour took their place.

Excess

The environment

CRAP is an environmental issue. Our business and personal landscapes are too cluttered; there is simply too much waste around us and we need to get better at recycling the old for the new.
Let’s extend the conversation from landfills and pipelines to outdated systems in organizations and unproductive noise that clutters our personal lives.

Inertia

Inertia is a killer and CRAP is the genesis. It’s the force that propels us along a certain course and repels interventions that might change it.
CRAP is the embodiment of inertia that must be overcome in order to achieve a different purpose.
Fighting inertia from the past is arguably THE most critical thing to overcome if we are to change.
If CRAP is not dealt with, we will be stuck in a world with no future.

Refresh. Renew. Regenerate.

Cut the CRAP!

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series
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  • Posted 10.29.18 at 04:58 am by Roy Osing
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October 7, 2018

How to be relevant to people around you

Success is achieved when relevance is present and accounted for; when you are meaningful to those who you deem to be important.

Organizational life

In business, the relevance challenge is to continue to offer products, services and experiences that people find useful as their needs, wants and desires change over time. Failure to be more relevant to the customers an organization chooses to serve is a recipe for not only short term failure; it usually threatens the organization’s survival in the long run.

Avoiding irrelevance requires that an organization keeps abreast of how their customers’ needs are changing and what new experiences they desire so that new solutions can be delivered to them.

Gee whiz

Customer relevance is more about delivering something they CARE about as opposed to the gee whiz technology employed. An organization that continually “tugs at their heart strings” will outpace their competition and ensure themselves of long term success.

And organizations need to learn to let go if they are to remain relevant. Relying on yesterday’s successes will not work in the struggle for relevance; making room for “the new” is essential to moving up the relevance curve.

Personal life

For an individual, being relevant means meeting the needs of family, friends, employers and society as one ages.

As a child, relevance generally means approval from parents and garnering the “good boy/girl” response from them.

To the teenager, relevance is achieved typically by teacher recognition and acceptance — getting good marks at school — being accepted by a peer group and attracting girlfriends because of a cool demeanour.
Some, unfortunately, choose other methods — drugs and gangs — to gain relevance with usually an unfortunate but predictable outcome.

In “early adulthood” relevance is about job performance and family responsibility; get a good job and meet expected family obligations. And surround oneself with friends who are enjoyable to be with and who have your back when things go awry.

Family

Late adulthood — generally described as the retired folks — has its own unique challenges for those who want to maintain their relevance. The challenge one has in this group is primarily to continue being meaningful to the family as they grow, mature and adopt perspectives that are often radically different than “back in the day”.
Having an influential voice, for example, on matters your teenage granddaughter has is definitely not a walk in the park.
Many people in this group find the change practically impossible; they choose to disengage from the relevance journey and step back from the dynamics of society and family.
Their priority is to go inward and “take care of themselves” as opposed to keeping up with what is going around them and engaging with others in the topics of the day.

Maintaining relevance in whatever job or life position you find yourself is taxing; it is not for the faint of heart.

Here are some actions you can take to stay in the sweet spot of those that are important to you.

Be clear in who you are

Build your personal brand around those attributes your tribe values; this is your context for how you intend to relate to your important “others”.
And know how to express your brand values clearly to those people important to you.
Your brand must not only represent something you strongly believe in, it must also resonate with your “audience”. It’s all very well to be a staunch proponent of legalizing cannabis, but if your herd is staunchly against the notion of widespread marijuana use, your voice gets lost.
Find another tribe with similar beliefs if you want to stay with your brand; it’s your only choice if you want to stay true to who you are and what you believe in.

Be current

Know what’s going on; you can’t be relevant if you aren’t “in the present”. Relevance is a moving thing; if you’re not a part of the changes going on around you you fall behind and your belief system becomes to many obsolete (and irrelevant).

Current

To counter this, keep up with the major issues of the day and understand them at least deep enough to formulate an opinion on them. And always check your opinion with your brand for consistency; decide whether your opinion is “who you are” and go from there.
Don’t be a “bouncer” who flits from one opinion to another depending on which way the wind is blowing.

Be flexible

Be prepared to change your views; relevance is a function of new events, opinions, issues and beliefs. To be relevant requires an ability to ebb and flow with the narrative of the day. I’m not suggesting to forsake your brand position, just make sure you keep current so you can position your views in the context of your brand as opposed to a knee jerk response based on emotion rather than thoughtfulness.

Be quiet!

Perversely, know when to say nothing. If you feel you are about to “go down a rat hole” with your views on a topic and incur the unwanted wrath of your tribe, take a deep breath and a pass. There is no crime in staying out of a conversation where you are the minority; in many circumstances it makes sense.
This is a tough one for me. I am constantly wading into debates with my family over controversial matters — like immigration in Canada — and invoking the “that’s old school thinking Dad” response to my position. Sooner or later I will learn to let it pass rather than continue to beat my head against the wall and appear irrelevant to my tribe.
Or maybe not.

Be quiet

Be open

(At least) try to be more tolerant. You have a brand. You believe in specific values. You question new stuff based on logic and your life experience.
And then some issue comes up and everyone’s take on it is the same. They ALL believe marijuana should be decriminalized and they ALL believe unlimited immigrants should be allowed in the country.
Even if our views are different, maybe we should try to be more tolerant of the view that is 180 degrees out of phase with our own.
Perhaps there is an aspect of the issue we haven’t considered and with this new found perspective we may be able to soften our stance while preserving our basic view.
Maybe. Maybe not.

BE ReLEVANT! is the most vital mantra for any organization or individual looking for success; “How can we/I be more meaningful to the people we care about?” should guide our thinking.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 10.7.18 at 07:56 am by Roy Osing
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October 1, 2018

What if this were your last post?

Or day at work? Or dinner with your family? Or holiday to your favourite place? Or conversation with your BFF? Or presentation to the executive leadership team?

You never know if this is the last anything, but if you did what would you do? How would you treat the experience?
It’s like if you knew you had 60 minutes, 1 week or a day left and then it would be over for you, what would you do?

It’s all about priorities and focus

Last moment

When it gets down to your last moment what is really important? What needs to get done?

Organizations and individuals need to start thinking this way. But it’s way too easy to put off stuff till sometime later and not own it NOW.

Everyone thinks they have time on their side but they don’t. Random unexpected events have a habit of disrupting this notion of comfort. You might think you have 6 months to decide on something but WHAM! you now have 2 days or less.

This circumstance is not unusual in the fast pace world we live in today; it’s the new business as usual.

You don’t have time. Period!

Hockey stick mentality leads people to believe they have until year 4 of a 5-year plan to get it done. Young professionals think that since they have just entered the workforce, they have 40 years to sort out what they will do for their retirement.

It’s simply not true. The reality is that all you can influence is the next moment in your life.

Let’s wait

In business, it’s the norm to put things off until there is a better time. A more favourable set of circumstances that would yield a better outcome. Let’s wait until the exchange rates are better. Let’s wait until regulations change in our favour. Let’s wait…

Let’s wait

In careers, people turn down an immediate opportunity because they believe it’s not a perfect match in terms of their career goals and that they should wait for a better shot. Let’s wait…

Organizations and people need to pay more attention to NOW. I know I might sound like a yogi but I’m more of a pragmatist than a spiritual beast.

NOW is all you’ve got. You don’t have tomorrow or next week or next year.

You have to make a call on the basis of the best current information you have.

The important thing is to DO IT NOW

Act on what you know and you will soon find out if you made the right choice. If you did, YAY! If you didn’t, too bad but move on quickly and decide what your next step is. Make that call and see what happens. The truth is you will only know if you did the right thing when you look back on it. When you have the benefit of knowing how things turned out.

But in the moment you made your choice you didn’t know. And regardless of how much research and study you out into it you still wouldn’t know — rigorous analysis doesn’t improve the accuracy of your call it just makes you feel good that you’ve used all tools available to decide. And if you just take a little more time analyzing maybe the risks of your choice will disappear.

Act now

Treat every experience as if it were your last. Bring all of the emotion you have to muster to the table.

Make the call

Be brave. And be comforted with the knowledge that your decision will turn out to be wrong in some respect as future events will undoubtably have their way — imperfection breeds success; there is no positive return on your decision making investment by taking more time to get it perfect.

It’s really a matter of how imperfect your call turns out to be and what you do in the face of falling slightly — or significantly —short of your goal.

NOW moments are gifts to people who are able to focus and act; they have the potential to catapult you forward on your journey.

And if you DO NOW you have the opportunity to step out and be different from the crowd because they will never risk it.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 10.1.18 at 03:16 am by Roy Osing
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