Circle of Change Leadership Conference

My best word to describe the Circle of Change Leadership Conference from this last weekend is simply, “Incredible.”  It was an incredible weekend, and now I feel more empowered and confident than ever to run after my passion in non-profit.

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Now what exactly is this ‘icrediable’ conference?  At the beginning of October, I was selected to receive a full-ride scholarship to attend the Circle of Change Leadership Conference hosted at Cal State Dominguez Hills.  It was two and a half days of inspiring speeches, workshops, networking and relationship building.

It is hard to summarize all of the amazing things that happened at this conference in one blog post.  But here are the highlights:

My favorite workshop – “How to Land Your Dream Job” with Josh Allen

Somehow, I just connected with this guy during his workshop.  Have you ever just got that feeling like you and this other person are on the same brain-wave about everything?  Well I do not get this feeling very often, but I felt like Allen’s words were speaking right to me.  He targeted different points that I had personally been struggling with and points that I had not even recognized about myself yet.

In his workshop, he redefined the word ‘strength.’ Strength is doing things that you are good at and that make you feel strong.  Often through life, we are told to focus on our weaknesses.  That this is were our main focus needs to be in our improvement.  Josh presented the idea that instead we need to focus on our strengths simply because they ARE OUR STRENGTHS.  They are what we are good at, and it is what we should do.  Our weaknesses are still important, and we should be aware of them.  However, the top CEOs in the country are working within their strengths NOT their weaknesses. In other words, CONNECT YOUR DREAM JOB TO YOUR STRENGTHS.  

Favorite speaker – Joshua Fredenburg

This man had such an intensity about him, and he was one of those individuals that you just KNEW through his words that he had good intentions for every individual at this conference.  His speech started with,

“Every time a child is born, a solution is brought into the world.”

He focused on three important points:

  1. Do you Know Thyself – Becoming self aware is important in your path to becoming a successful leader. You need to know your passion, value yourself and understand your personality.  Be focused on what you want and PASSIONATE.  When you do what you are meant to do and you are passionate about it…it will HAPPEN.
  2. Do you have a vision? – Dream of your vision and create a clear, concise and motivational picture.  No dream is out of reach, you just have to believe.
  3. Lead with purpose – Have a heart of purpose and serve others.  Become a humble leader.

The five greatest lessons I learned this past weekend:

  1. Building relationships with your peers is important.
  2. Focus on your strengths.
  3. Be the best version of yourself.
  4. Be the change you want to see in the world.
  5. Dream of what you can accomplish.

Overall, this has been a very reflective weekend, and it has been very inspiring.  I will take everything to heart and continue on into the future.  To further my reflection…

This is my passion:

I have a passion for art non-profits – to bring back the beauty of music to young people in our country that have lost it and to help those in pursuit of an art career blossom to their full potential.  One day in the future, I will create a consulting company where I will travel around the country and world reforming ‘hurting’ non-profits.  Then to help the youth in the arts, I will travel the country giving workshops to artistic students – providing them with tools that they might not learn in college that WILL make them successful in a artistic life.  It is just a dream now but one day it will be a reality.

LINKEDIN it to the Next Level

If you are the type of blogger like me you imagine your social media as an extension of your professional profile.  You want everything to look as professional as possible, but you also want your content to reflect you.  LinkedIn is one of those professional social media devices that should be taken more seriously.  It is not Facebook or Twitter instead it’s an opportunity to connect with working professionals in your field.  It is a networking opportunity.

Well that sounds great does it not?  Take advantage of it and go create your LinkedIn profile now.

After you have created it,  you might just want to take your profile to the next level.  I know I do.  I have had my LinkedIn profile for the last two years, and it has improved.  However, there is always more room for improvement.  Well, like any good business student, I follow the Wall Street Journal.  There is a great article outlining tips on this, and this is what you should take away:

  • Know what LinkedIn actually is and how it should be used.  LinkedIn is not a typical social media website instead it is a professional career website.  You should know your audience and when creating your profile make it as professional as you can.
  • You have created the profile, but how can you really get the most out of it?  Start by simply reaching out to people in your field that you discover on LinkedIn.  When doing this make sure not to come off to strong.  Treat the introduction as if you are looking for advice (and usually you are, how do I get a job with your business?).  Be as professional as possible in the message and grab their email as quickly as possible.  Take advantage of the opportunity.
  • Participate in LinkedIn industry groups.  This is a very good way to reach new people, talk with people in your industry and build those 1st and 2nd degree contacts.
  • Focus on building your connections outside of your normal network.  Ask your 1st degree people to introduce you to someone else in the field.
  • Join Groups!  This is a great way to continue to build those 2nd and 3rd degree connections directly.  However, make sure to participate in the dialogue of the group without jumping straight into connecting.  Bring content to your group first, because then your introduction will be more valuable.
  • Keep your LinkedIn updates professional.  You will get a much better response if your profile is up-to-date, includes a nice picture and is relevant to the type of job you wish to get.

Try these tips out!  What tips would you have for others?

Don’t forget to visit my LinkedIn Profile.

Developing the Art of Small Talk

I have talked to many individuals about their opinion on ‘small talk.’  Americans seem to be notorious at this, but in the end I find most people think it is superficial.  Do you think it is superficial? I can see that.  Some people usually dismiss ‘small talk as a mere chitchat, an unnecessary’ waste of time.  But in many ways, the beginnings of a good ‘small talk’ can help us get connected to friends, colleagues and future employers.  Small talk is the beginning to any relationship process.

What is small talk?  People use this strategy to signal a friendly intent to a new individual.  Basically, it is a way to get the other individual to like you.  (For whatever reason that might be.)  Developing your ‘conversational intelligence’ might be more important for your personal life and future career than you realize.  Why you might ask?  Because small talk is the basics of relationship building and relationship building is LIFE.

The most important point to remember from this topic:  Focus on the Other Person.  People love to talk about themselves.  Make it easy for the other person to get involved in the conversation and make them feel invited.  Besides the more talking the other person does is the less talking that you will have to do.  This will be greatly confronting to individuals that do not usually like meeting new people and developing small talk.

Review these steps before your next social gathering:

  1. Signal your desire to begin a conversation with a simple opening line.  “What do you think of this event?”
  2. Your personal introduction.  This is the best time to state your name if appropriate and provide hints for future conversation.  “New York is beautiful this time of year.  Don’t you agree?”
  3. Look for common ground.  In this process, you are searching for a topic that you both have in common.  Ask questions and build upon what has already been said.  If you find a common topic, run with it!
  4. Keep the conversation going.  Try to build the topic.
  5. The ‘Wrap Up.’  This is the time when you signal that the end is near and show appreciation for talking to that person.  “It was nice chatting with you.”  Show that you where listening by restating highlights from the conversation and make sure to leave on a good note.  Suggest ways to stay in touch: email, Facebook or a business card.  Continue to grow the relationship that you had begun.

The five steps of this process should feel as causal as you possibly can make it.  If you are nervous, remember the other person might just be as nervous.  Many people are not good at meeting new people, but that is what practice is for.  Being able to develop and keep an interesting conversation will greatly help you in career and life.

Two important points to remember:

  1. Ask a lot of questions.  People do love to talk about themselves and many times they will leave the conversation positively if you allow them to do this.
  2.  Listen.  Summarize what the other person says and try to listen as intently as possible.  Everyone has a voice, and they like to be heard.

If you want further reading on this topic go pick up this book, Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  Or visit the WSJ for the original article.