6 bad habits holding you back from success

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“We all have bad habits, but bringing your baggage along to the office can be the difference between soaring or stalling in your career. Below are six common workplace bad habits to break if you want to continue moving up the career ladder:

1_Being a lone wolf. Collaboration is the key to workplace success. You need to show you can play well with others. After all, managers and those in charge need to be able to lead a team.

2_Saying sorry. Are you apologizing too much in the office? Saying sorry about every little thing implies you are constantly making mistakes, and can undercut your position in the office and with managers.

3_Taking on every project. Do you get excited by new projects? Do you like jumping in with both feet and finding new challenges? These are great attributes to any employee, but it’s time to learn your limits. If you say yes to every single project, you might soon find yourself unhappy, burnt out, and badly overworked. The word “no” is a powerful thing. Be protective of your time and abilities, and know when one more task is just too many.

4_Being negative. Enthusiasm and passion are traits managers look for in superstar employees who get promotions and excel within the company. No one wants to promote someone who looks miserable to step into the office each day. Ask yourself what would make you wake up excited about your workday, and chase after your dreams.

5_Doing things the way they’ve always been done. Innovation is the lifeblood of any company, yet many workers just come into the office to punch their time cards and collect their paychecks. Lack of innovation in companies, it turns out, is a two-way street.

6_Being disorganized. Imagine how much of your work life is being frittered away every time you misplace a report under a pile of desktop debris. People walking past your cluttered workspace are judging you for your organizational chaos.

Your bad habits don’t have to hold you back from career success. If you tackle these habits head-on, you might just find yourself moving on up the ladder.”

Ilya Pozin serial entrepreneur, writer and investor

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12 things bosses should do, but don’t

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“Here are 12 lessons Michael Scott from The Office probably never learned.

1_Be vulnerable. Bosses lead by example whether they realize it or not. Being vulnerable, admitting and working on your weaknesses and disclosing fears all create an environment where others do the same. If you want an organization powered by people who care, exhibit caring for both your employees and yourself.

2_Be an expert in your industry. Bosses are busy managing and leading, so they typically don’t have time to work on positioning themselves as experts in the industry. Creating content, speaking at conferences and building other brand vehicles takes time. However, your employees will respect you more, and you will be able to attract higher quality talent.

3_Clean the bathroom. Everything is your job. Let your team see you doing tasks that might surprise them. It helps them to see you less as a boss and more as someone who’s in it with them and willing do whatever to help make the organization successful. It also helps send the message that they should look around and do whatever they can to help the organization, even if it “isn’t in their job description”.

4_Find employees’ genius zones. As bosses, we get so focused on how to grow the business that we forget to grow the team. Growing a team properly is difficult and sometimes feels like you’re taking a step back or just treading water. Employees have genius zones where they work most efficiently, so developing or tapping into those should be first priority. As soon as your team is working at full speed, you can, too.

5_Offer validation. We all love to be validated. As a boss, I love to be validated. It’s built into our psyche and developed from childhood.
Validating people’s work and contributions isn’t hard to do, but people deeply appreciate it when you take the time to do it genuinely. I’m always amazed at how often/easily this is overlooked.

6_Know when to step aside. A good boss hires highly talented women and men and lets them do their thing. Knowing when to jump in the trenches versus when to step aside is a sign of a seasoned boss. As an entrepreneur and/or founder, this is especially important. You can’t grow a huge business if you’re in the weeds all the time.

7_Buy lunch. One of my favorite things to do is randomly buy lunch for my employees. Sure, we aren’t Google, and we don’t have a massive cafeteria, but I am able to do a surprise pizza (or other food of choice) day in the office about once a week. The cost of the gesture is usually not too high, and it gives everyone something to look forward to — quality time together.

8_Take a holiday. We all need to rest our minds and find inspiration away from our laptops and iPhones. Unfortunately, there’s always something important, the timing is never right or you “just need to do this thing.” It’s unhealthy for everyone, including the good boss who needs to recharge to stay good or even become great. American corporate culture doesn’t appreciate this, but it should.

9_Address problems quickly. Great bosses don’t let conflicts with clients or between colleagues fester. Create an environment where people feel free to bring issues to you early on and have the confidence that you’ll work proactively to address them.

10_Give credit where credit is due. A boss oftentimes wants to take credit for every success his or her company has. A great boss will give credit to a team member where it is due. This is a good way to keep your team motivated, and it really makes them feel valuable.

11_Get to know team members as individuals. Great bosses should take the time to truly get to know their employees. Doing so helps leaders understand each person as an individual (their dreams, fears, etc.), which can be tremendously helpful in structuring work in a way that capitalizes on unique strengths and intrinsic motivations. It also helps leaders give the most meaningful feedback to each employee along the way.

12_Give feedback outside of performance reviews. Managers should not wait for performance reviews to give positive feedback or constructive criticism. Employees can adjust their performance and style faster with more input.”

Ilya Pozin founder of Open Me and Ciplex

the 7 things successful people never say

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“Here are the seven things you should strike from your workplace vocabulary if you want to achieve the success you richly deserve:

1_“That’s not in my job description”. When you accepted your current position, you had a good idea of what the responsibilities and workload of the role would entail. Throughout the months or years since you settled into your job, however, your role has expanded and changed shape. Some of these changes have probably been good, while others have made you wish for simpler times. When a boss or manager piles another responsibility on your already sore shoulders, it might be tempting to pull out this classic gem of work avoidance.
The better option, however, is to schedule a time to talk to your boss about your role. A specific conversation about your place in the organization is a good time to bring up the particulars of your job description, not when you’re asked to get something accomplished. No matter how stressed you are or how valid the complaint, dropping this phrase only makes you look lazy and unmotivated.

2_“It can’t be done”. Throwing in the towel makes you look like a quitter — and quitters don’t get promoted. Instead of giving up on a project entirely, frame your response in terms of alternative ways to get the work accomplished. Very little is truly impossible, and most managers and executives want forward-thinking problem solvers to climb the corporate ladder. If you offer solutions instead of giving up, you’ll be seen as a valuable member of the team.

3_“It’s not my fault”. No one wants to work with a blame shifter. After all, it’s just a matter of time before this person eventually shifts the blame onto you. Take ownership of your mistakes instead of pointing out where others have fallen short. Admitting to a mistake shows character and the ability to learn and grow from problems. Pointing the finger at someone else strongly implies you’ll never truly learn from your errors.

4_“This will just take a minute”. Unless something will literally take only 60 seconds, don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Saying something will only take “a minute” also has the side effect of undermining your efforts. Most likely the reason the particular task won’t take long is due to the benefit of your professional experience and acumen. By saying it will “just” take a minute, you’re shortchanging what you bring to the table.

5_“I don’t need any help”. The rugged lone wolf type might be the hero of most action movies, but they’re unlikely to become the hero at your company. You might think you can go it alone on a project or in your career, but teamwork is essential. Being able to work with others is the hallmark of a good leader; you’re unlikely to climb your career ladder always flying solo.

6_“It’s not fair”. Life isn’t fair, and often your career won’t be as well. Instead of complaining, you should look for specific and actionable workarounds to the problems you encounter. Is it unfair a coworker got to run point on the project you wanted? Maybe, but instead of complaining, work harder and go the extra mile. Finding a solution will always be preferable in your professional life to whining about a problem.

7_“This is the way it’s always been done”. Doing things the way they’ve always been done is no way to run a business. Just ask some of the companies which toed the line, accepted the status quo, and went under. Adapting to an ever-changing marketplace is really the only way to survive in an economy constantly being disrupted by the next big thing.
You don’t have to be a slave to the trends, but you also can’t stick your head in the sand and hope things go back to normal. Instead, come up with creative solutions to new problems and innovate, and you’ll soon be in the driver’s seat taking your organization into the future.

Everyone wants to be successful, so make sure your words aren’t holding you back. These seven phrases are career kryptonite — by avoiding them, you can fly into your future and become a successful superstar.”

Ilya Pozin founder of Open Me and Ciplex

6 ways to fight distractions

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“According to studies, workers are interrupted by distractions roughly every three minutes (shockingly, it can then take up to 23 minutes to get back to the task at hand).

1) Focus on you. In fact, 89 percent of workers are most productive when working alone. Don’t be afraid to shut your office door for a little peace and quiet. This allows you to center yourself and focus more fully on work.

2) Stop multitasking. Every time you stop a task to quickly check Twitter or answer a text, you’re breaking up your concentration. Put your devices on silent and give your full attention to your work for more productive results.

3) Kick your email addiction. Schedule specific times during your day to check your email and only check it then. Otherwise, turn off the notifications on your email and focus on your tasks. Your phone still works, so don’t worry about missing out on something important.

4) Follow the 80/20 rule. Only 20 percent of what you do everyday produces 80 percent of your results. Cut the fat from your workday in order to get the most out of your efforts.

5) Make tough choices. Shut out distractions by being tough and realistic with yourself about your tendencies. This might mean putting locks on your Internet usage and blocking certain sites during working hours.

6) Skip social media and pick up the phone. Instead of wading through a never-ending deluge of emails, picking up the phone can be a much faster and more personal way of getting the information you need. Not only will you be building connections with your coworkers, you’ll be cutting down on your distraction-filled inbox.”

Ilya Pozin founder of Open Me and Ciplex

6 secrets of highly optimistic people

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“Everyone wants to be an optimist, but it’s not always easy when life gets you down. While some folks a naturally sunny disposition, most people have to work to maintain an optimistic viewpoint. It’s worth the work, however, since optimists enjoy better health and even do better in their careers.

1) Optimists are passionate about their work. Do you need to drag yourself to work every morning? Optimists don’t, because they spring out of bed excited to face the day. This is because optimists have chosen to pursue jobs and careers for which they have real, genuine passion.

2) Optimists focus on the good… even though it’s far easier to focus on the bad.

3) Optimists practice mindfulness. It’s easy to get stressed and overwhelmed when you’re always on-the-go. Especially in today’s work reality when we’re reachable at all hours thanks to email, smartphones, and cloud computing. You need to take some “you time” in order to get refocused and let go of negative emotions.

4) Optimists dream big. Dreaming is believing — and if you reach for the stars, you actually will achieve better results.

5) Optimists journal. As we’ve mentioned, it’s all too easy to focus on the negative events in our lives and mentally skim over the positive. Journaling can help you focus on dispelling negative energy and focusing on upbeat emotions.

6) Optimists surround themselves with good vibes. If you surround yourself with supportive people and things you enjoy, you’ll improve your mood and your day. The next time your attention wanders and you find yourself looking at a picture of a piglet, don’t feel so bad about your lost productivity. Research has shown looking at pictures of baby animals actually makes you more productive.

The secret to optimism is that it doesn’t just happen — highly optimistic people have to work on maintaining their sunny attitudes. If you want to get ahead in your career, improve your relationships, and just plain enjoy your professional life, it’s time to give optimism a try. Highly optimistic people aren’t just happier, they’re also more successful.”

Ilya Pozin founder of Open Me and Ciplex

how to kick ass at public speaking

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“Does the thought of speaking in front of a large crowd or even a small group of respected professionals send a chill down your spine? If so, you’re not alone: 74 percent of people suffer from speech anxiety. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is one of the biggest fears of the average human.

Kicking ass at public speaking doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something that takes time and practice to nail down. Here are 10 things great public speakers do, that you can do, too:

1. Find the happy medium between “winging it” and over preparing.
Great public speakers like Martin Luther King Jr. knew the importance of finding a happy medium between these two levels of preparation. The “sweet spot” varies from speaker to speaker, but don’t focus on completely memorizing every word of your speech. Instead, work to understand all of the messages you’re planning to drive home, and your speech will flow naturally.

2. Get to the heart of your audience.
The most effective and captivating speakers are those who can get to the heart of their audience. All great speakers know this trick. Putting together a great speech could be a huge waste of time if you don’t take the time to get to know the audience you’re speaking to and find ways to engage them. Make yourself more approachable and get on the same level as your audience by studying their demographics, interests, values, and desires.

3. Know your end goals.
Every speech should have a clear purpose. Our world’s greatest orators always had their message in mind the entire time they were speaking. Begin writing yours with the end in mind. Maybe it’s to persuade, inspire, or even just inform. Knowing this as you begin writing and preparing is going to work wonders for you in the long run.

4. Get inspired.
Sometimes being more successful at speaking comes down to seeking out inspiration. Many great public speakers thrive on topping their rivals, so why not do the same? Start getting inspired to be a better speaker by watching some of the greatest speeches of all time online, or visit nearby college campuses to attend lectures or speeches from professionals there. Then spend time carefully analyzing their body language, how they weave together their thoughts, how they use accompanying visuals like a slideshow, and how they address the audience. Model yourself to be more like these figures.

5. Record yourself practicing.
No one particularly enjoys watch themselves on camera, but this reflective activity can completely transform the way you speak. You’ll start to realize you tend to fidget a lot or stumble over your words at certain points. Recording yourself speaking will help you to make the necessary tweaks and get you more comfortable with your speaking persona.

6. Get straight to the point.
Avoid overwhelming your listeners by rambling endlessly. The great speakers know the importance of getting straight to the point in their speeches. Keep things as simple as possible and focus on driving home your main message, rather than building up to them in a long-winded or boring manner.

7. Don’t rely on PowerPoint or props.
Sometimes building the coolest presentation to accompany your speech actually takes away from what you’re talking about. In fact, building the best PowerPoint presentation possible can actually confuse and lose the attention of your audience: your message alone should be powerful enough. Having a presentation or props as a part of your speech should only be necessary to back up points or make them easier to remember. And remember to never, ever read directly from a PowerPoint slide. Your audience can read for themselves — you’re there to add and synthesize information.

8. Tell personal stories.
This ties back to connecting with your audience. One great speaker who knows the importance of injecting his speeches with personal stories is President Barack Obama. Almost all of his great speeches drive home personal stories and anecdotes that help better convey the points he’s making. By doing this, you’ll show more passion and make your speech personally relatable.

9. Be aware of your body language.
Don’t forget the importance of nonverbals during your speech. Focus on your facial expressions, where you’re resting your hands, fidgeting, etc. Moving around or using hand gestures is encouraged — it will help you to appear more confident, calm, and collected during your speech. You don’t want to be a stiff, awkward orator.

10. Showcase your passion.
The best speakers are truly passionate about what they’re saying. Aside from the personal stories you may share in your speech, you’ve got to find a way to kick up your passion and let it show. How much you care about your speech will directly correlate to the interest you derive from the audience. People are more apt to listen to someone who truly enjoys what they’re speaking about.

Now, calm your nerves and focus on using these habits of great public speakers to kickstart your transition to a great public speaker.”

Ilya Pozin Founder of Ciplex and Open Me

don’t be a robot

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“Personalized and thoughtful professional habits seem to have fallen by the wayside since the digital technology takeover. The fast-paced nature of our workplaces requires instantaneous communication that’s starting to leave us stiff. So drop your robotic ways and save your professional image with these thoughtful tips:

1. Use your phone
Email and instant messaging seem to have taken precedence over the traditional phone call. Sure, it may seem more efficient to shoot someone a quick email, but you run the risk of engaging in a long and unproductive email chain. Instead, pick up the phone and give your customer, client, or coworker a call. Not only will you be able to get to the bottom of things in a more timely manner, you’ll also initiate a more engaging and personalized approach to your communication.

2. Send thank you notes (a thank you email doesn’t count)
Break away from the robotic monotony of sending off less-than-thoughtful emails and start using thank you notes as a part of your professional routine. You’ll leave a more personalized and thoughtful impression on whomever receives them.

3. Personalize your networking endeavors
The point of networking is to build valuable professional relationships, but this can be a challenge if your approach lacks personalization. Find time to meet in person on a more regular basis, whether you catch up over coffee or take a half hour to discuss projects in the office. Facetime is far more personal than regular email and social media correspondence.

4. Lend a hand
Sometimes we end up getting too focused on managing our own work and forget to reach out to our coworkers. Boost the thoughtfulness around your office by lending a hand whenever you have a moment of downtime. Even if someone needs help with something that isn’t directly applicable to your role, you may save them a great deal of time — and learn something for yourself — in the process. They will also be more likely to return the favor in the future.

5. Listen
Tuning out your work environment has become a rule for reaching productivity on a daily basis. But you may actually be missing out on more than you think. Listening to what’s going on with your managers, coworkers, and your company will help you to be a more thoughtful employee and leader. For example, spending more time listening may help you to recognize someone for their work on a particular project.

6. Don’t forget to keep in touch
When the pace picks up at work, keeping in touch often falls to the wayside. Break this thoughtless habit by scheduling a time each week to touch base with the important people in your professional life. This may mean sending a note to valued customers, calling your clients to see how they’re doing, or even taking a coworker out to lunch.

7. Be courteous
Leave your mark on everyone you interact with professionally by increasing your level of courtesy. Picking up the tab, creating a calendar invite before your coworker, or offering to meet at your client’s office rather than having them travel to your own will never go out of style. It’s the little things that will send a more thoughtful and courteous message.

8. Give credit where credit is due
Have we lost the ability to give compliments? Today it seems that we’re so focused on perfecting and promoting our personal brand online that we rarely give credit to others. Step away from promoting your personal work on your social media platforms and give some credit to friends, coworkers, and even your potential competitors. For example, share an article you love and praise the author directly.

Having a professional image doesn’t mean going overboard on the stiff formalities. It’s never too late to make your professional interactions more personalized and thoughtful.”

Ilya Pozin founder of Ciplex and Open Me

unlimited vacation days: treat employees like adults

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“If you’re looking to improve your company culture and impact employee retention, it’s time to consider dropping your standard vacation day policy and taking a more flexible route. The unlimited vacation day honor system is sparking a wave of positive interest across companies and industries.”

Ilya Pozin CEO of Ciplex and Open Me, columnist for Inc, Forbes & LinkedIn

8 things productive people do during the workday

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“Truly productive people aren’t focused on doing more things; this is actually the opposite of productivity. If you really want to be productive, you’ve got to make a point to do fewer things.

1. Create a smaller to-do list
Getting things accomplished during your workday shouldn’t be about doing as much as possible in the sanctioned eight hours.

2. Take breaks
Go take a walk, grab something to eat, workout, or meditate – give your brain some resting time.

3. Follow the 80/20 rule
Did you know that only 20 percent of what you do each day produces 80 percent of your results?

4. Start your day by focusing on yourself
If you begin your morning by checking your email, it allows others to dictate what you accomplish.

5. Take on harder tasks earlier in the day
Knock out your most challenging work when your brain is most fresh.

6. Pick up the phone
Email is a productivity killer and usually a distraction from tasks that actually matter.

7. Create a system
If you know certain things are ruining your daily productivity, create a system for managing them.

8. Don’t confuse productivity with laziness
While no one likes admitting it, sheer laziness is the No. 1 contributor to lost productivity.”

Ilya Pozin founder of Ciplex