12 Months to a MIT Degree

With independent learning on the brain, so to speak, as we finish myGreenlight’s Course III (the Learning Action Plan), we came across this blog and thought it was interesting enough to share. Scott Young is currently undertaking what he is calling the “MIT Challenge”, wherein he is independently completing the coursework from the 4-year MIT Computer Science program and plans to complete all of the material within 12 months.  The vlog here where he reports on his progress to date gives a really interesting perspective on the benefits of goal-directed, independent learning.

Check it out.

Relationship Roundup

It’s the last Roundup of the year, it only seems appropriate to hone in on the thing that makes this the most wonderful time of the year – the people we share it with. Happy Holidays to you and yours from everyone here at myGreenlight.

Prioritize People – As you appreciate the people in your professional life consider that the top performers on the 2011 World’s Best Multinational Companies list are companies with strong cultures. Investing in your team, colleagues and employees pays off in brand equity and profitability. Read the HBR post here http://bit.ly/tQKY4T.

Take care of #1 – Whether you stay-cation or vacation, the holiday break is the time to schedule a no work zone and congratulate yourself for a year well done by honoring yourself a break. If you have challenges unplugging from work during time off, this CBS Moneywatch article can help you clear up the space to check out.  Read more here  http://bit.ly/tK1BEO.

Business manners make a difference – Putting good manners to use pays off in business interactions. The basic manners outlined in this CBS Moneywatch are small acts that make big positive impressions when used. Practice them while engaged in this years holiday parties and remember them throughout the new year. Read the article here http://bit.ly/uhwrKI.

An annual tradition — Every year I enjoy the work the Trendwatching staff goes through to bring us their predictions on how social trends will shape the coming years business opportunities. Read the 2012 line up here http://bit.ly/21ZvNH.

Something to look forward to – I don’t know about you, but I’m highly anticipating something amazing from whatever the future LinkedIn iPad App delivers. Senior LinkedIn Executive, Deep Nishar gives some insight on what a future Linkedin App might look like based on user patterns. View the video here http://bit.ly/rtxVFl.

Kibibi Springs is myGreenlight’s Community Manager.

The Greenlight Highlight: Keith’s Executive Assistant Shares the Value of Building Relationships with Gatekeepers

MyGreenlight’s monthly community member spotlight interview.

Shannon Stewart
Executive Assistant to Keith Ferrazzi
Los Angeles, CA
Ferrazzi Greenlight Team Member Since:  August/2009

Elevator Pitch:These days, my entire elevator pitch is about my son. He’s such a cool kid and I love spending time with him. He’s really into art right now and I’m really into art so we are all about anything that has to do with art exploration.

What incident from your past do you recall being the moment it clicked for you that relationships make the difference to your success in business?

10 years ago I recognized that business is about who you know. My partner works in the entertainment industry and the dinner parties and events that must be attended to manage staying employed brings it all home for you. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, connections make things move a lot smoother.

Favorite Relationship Mastery Mindset and why:

For me, intimacy and generosity go hand in hand. Those two qualities in a relationship allow you to be most accountable towards each other. I always strive to develop a rapport for delivering generosity. It’s allowed me to develop partnerships with other executive assistants in various organizations. Our collaborations become an easier process because we have taken the time to get to know each other.

What still presents a challenge for you in building relationships that you continue to work on?

When I really know and care about someone, candor still presents a challenge for me. The closer I am to you, the more difficult it is for me to tell you what you need to know vs. what you want to know. My innate pleaser personality, squelches the willpower to be truly accountable to someone I care for and tell them the really harsh truths. I’m working on it.

What’s the coolest things you’re working on at home or at work right now?

At home, I’ve been creating an art space for my son because he’s really shown an interest in it lately. It’s a great space for him to get messy with minimal boundaries.  At work, I’ve been very engaged in the development of the new GM project.  It has allowed me to connect with some new individuals within and external to the organization.

How has putting a thoughtful process around your relationship development benefitted your business?

What I do for Keith has greatly facilitated and accelerated by my ability to put relationship development into practice. With so much distance and time between interactions with some of my colleagues, staying on their radar can be challenging.  I like to fill time gaps with gifts. I make sure that I pay attention to our conversations and pick up on hobbies, favorites, children and grandchildren’s names, but at the minimum most of us executive assistants can bond over one must-have of the job, Starbucks gifts cards. We can’t get through our day without a coffee run, so these are always appreciated. These small tokens add up to a ready-to-assist collaborative partner when it’s time to coordinate our next project together.

What advice would you give to new members of the community that you have found to be best practices for relationship mastery?

My normal state is to stick to myself.  If you’re like me, first decide, what is it that you want to do? Vague doesn’t work. Know who you want to build a relationship with and WHY. If you’re not clear in your mind, you’ll never do it. It will make the difference in how you feel about the networking and focus you towards some clear objectives.

Give us your best opening line for starting a new relationship.

If I find that I can use humor with someone, I will always go that route.  If I can get them to laugh, I can get them to talk and if I can get them to talk, I can get the call. Nine out of 10 times for sure.

Set Your Goals for Success in Six Steps

You probably have plenty of experience setting goals. But for whatever reason, you haven’t often followed through. It happens. They weren’t the right goals, or you didn’t have support to keep you on track. Or perhaps your goals changed over time, and now you MUST re-evaluate. Six Steps to Set Your Goals For Success will provide the tools you need to set commitments that matter, and achieve goals with consistency and focus.

Do you have your goals for set for 2012?

The RAP that Made Keith Ferrazzi a First-Time CEO

In this video, Keith Ferrazzi describes the relationship strategy that transitioned him from CMO of Starwood to CEO of an innovative startup of its day. Hope you enjoy it!

Have you ever sat down and consciously written out a relationship strategy to achieve specific goals? Did it help?

Five Ways to Win Over Your Boss

There is no way to overemphasize how important it is to maintain a good working relationship with your boss. A boss can make or break you; this Monster article sheds some light on how to cement your position in the company.

Follow these tips to make sure that you’re doing the right things and acting appropriately in the office:

  1. Watch your boss and learn.
  2. Communicate the way your boss wants to.
  3. Look and act professional.
  4. Demonstrate initiative.
  5. Do great work.

Some of these tips are self explanatory, but others may need some context. For the first one, Peter Vogt suggests, “keep your opinions to yourself until you understand the company culture well and know what people will look upon with favor and what they’ll look upon with disdain.” This doesn’t have to mean that you never try to influence your company’s culture with your actions – but first you need to understand the rules of the game.

An important point brought up with tip number two is “whatever your supervisor’s style, typically it’s up to you to establish and maintain the lines of communication between the two of you.” Your boss may manage several people, therefore it is essential for you to keep him/her informed.

Your relationship with your boss continues to be important even when he or she isn’t your boss any more. Keith Ferrazzi blogged earlier this year about why that’s the case — take a look.

What’s the best strategy you’ve used to improve  a relationship with your supervisor?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Mini Mission Monday

Many of you are probably planning to take some time off in the next week or two. Much of that time is likely to be filled with family and celebrations. Think about taking some of your “free” time and spending it with friends and colleagues. Fit in some relationship building activities amidst the holiday bustle.

Your Mission:  Schedule some quality time with your contacts during the upcoming holiday weeks.

Here are 5 ideas:

  • Schedule coffee or lunch.
  • Share a walk or workout.
  • Throw an impromptu happy hour.
  • Volunteer at a local charity with a friend. Serve dinner, distribute gifts, be of service.
  • Invite someone to join you for last minute shopping OR to keep you company in the return lines.

Aiming for Excellence in 2012

Our featured community member guest post is from Mark Goulston, M.D., a high stakes executive coach, international expert in conflict mastery training, former FBI and police hostage negotiation trainer, and a UCLA professor of psychiatry for more than twenty five years. He writes a weekly Tribune syndicated career advice column, blogs for Business Insider, Fast Company and the Huffington Post, and is a #1 international and kindle best selling author of five books including the international best seller, Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone. Contact Mark at: mgoulston@markgoulston.com. — KS

Something I have observed in the work place is how impressive and how impressed people are with what I call “relevant excellence.”  Relevant excellence is greatly exceeding the expectations of people in doing something that is important, if not critical to them and that few others can do. Being excellent at something that isn’t important to them is irrelevant.  I think people are more impressed by your excellence than what you’re excellent at. Maybe it’s because there is a great deal of mediocrity in the world or because you are just that good.

After people become impressed with your excellence they will often ask you what other skills or capabilities you possess. Or they may ask you if you know people who are as excellent at what they do as you are in what you do. And that then becomes the basis of making referrals to others which has a way of coming back to you as they start to think of you.

But don’t leave it at that. Instead think of the people and places you have worked for and at. What is something you did or do that they would say is excellent, important to them and was something that few others could do? Next, reach out to those people and send them an email or letter saying: “Dear xxxx, Hope you and your family and company are doing well. You seemed more than satisfied with the job I did for you regarding x.  I am trying to determine what my greatest value to you was and I am too close to look at myself objectively. I would like to buy 30 minutes of your time (that demonstrates that you see their time as valuable, and most will just give you it) or take you out to lunch/dinner/drinks to pick your brain about the work I did for you and what to call it. Thank you for your support. Best regards, yyyy”

After they help describe what your special ability is, choose that as your “brand.” Think of companies and jobs where what you are excellent at is mission critical to their success.

Then, think of your network and who might help you get an interview with people at those companies who most urgently need what you offer.

Interestingly, when you meet with those people who have experienced your excellence and after they, and you, recall the service you provided them, they will often re-experience their appreciation and gratitude towards you. In fact, a fair number of them may even say right on the spot, “Let me make a call,” to make an introduction to someone they know you could help and who will be thankful to them for making the connection to you.

Relationship Roundup

With the annual holiday break upon us, I thought now would be a good time to remind everyone of the power of the accountability buddy. If you don’t have an accountability buddy or lifeline support group, working towards a coaching or team support model can be a game changer for you in 2012. Now, some generous bits of advice to leverage your networks and gift ideas that will move your relationships forward into the new year.

Traits of leadership – Former CEO Doug Conant argues in his new book “TouchPoints, for a “head, heart and hands” approach to leadership that draws on logic, emotion and personal commitment as the conductor for successful leadership. Read more here http://bit.ly/rJy9v3.

Small Groups deliver big innovation – Companies like Glaxo Smith Kline and others are betting on smaller team sizes to deliver faster velocity and greater agility for innovation decisions. Read the HBR blog here http://bit.ly/uNfI2w.

Dignified Cultures – This SmartBrief on Leadership article about leading with dignity highlights what it means to embody treating others well, what to do with people when their dignity has been violated and the steps to take when others violate the respect line in the workplace. Read the article here http://bit.ly/vmZyJB.

Social Media Your Way through the Holiday – Don’t overlook the opportunity to use holiday social gatherings to expand  your network and show others how much you value their presence in your business and personal life. Read it here http://bit.ly/tdK9jg.

Gifts that give all year – This holiday season, consider business gifts that will be memorable beyond the holidays. Magazine subscriptions in an area of  interest to the receiver, hobby of the month clubs, online services for music, travel and entertainment. Not only are they easy to send via email or in a card, but every month when the subscription arrives, a thought of the giver (you) will naturally come to mind. Here’s one reference point to get your creative thoughts flowing http://bit.ly/tZi3kU.

Tell us your favorite subscription services to gift.

Kibibi Springs is myGreenlight’s Community Manager.