Latest Entries »

June 2005, I stepped into my first corporate job eager to learn, eager to start my career.  9 years later, I look back and I’m still that eager professional but just slightly older.

My first year as an intern taught several great lessons–most of which I still remember today.  Here’s a tribute to my original successful intern post and a recap of my tips for all interns starting their career this year.


 

How To Become A Successful Intern

1. Always be willing to take on new projects, the “Yes I Can” attitude

  • *This allows you the opportunity to show your skills and build TRUST with your co-workers
  • *Every new project teaches you something new and this broadens your skill set
  • *Even if the project is tedious, do it. After all, you have to earn your position

2. Challenge Yourself to NO end

  • *Step out of your comfort zone
  • *Network with your co-workers, introduce yourself, find out what they are working on
  • *Finish projects fast and accurately, then ask for more work

3. Ask questions, Be curious

  • *If you are unsure of something, ask for clarification
  • *Make sure you know what needs to get done and when
  • *Ask questions about your department and the overall business

4. Communicate with your team

  • *Always follow up on emails and tasks
  • *Keep your managers informed on your progress with current tasks
  • *Let your team know of any hardships you are facing, perhaps they will have a suggestion

5. Do not be afraid to fail

  • *As an intern you will make mistakes, but take responsibility and learn from it
  • *Do not let failure hold you back from challenging yourself
  • *Remember that as an intern you are not expected to know everything, so make an effort to learn

6. Prioritize Your Work

  • *Be careful you do not miss deadlines, so prioritize your tasks so you do not fall behind
  • *Ask your managers to help you with this…”What is most important?”
  • *Set your own deadlines/timelines for completion of tasks (preferably 1 day before the actual due date)

7. Find a Mentor who is willing to help your career growth, perhaps the most benefical learning experience

  • *LEARN everything you can from this person
  • *Use this mentor as a resource for questions and learning new skills
  • *Refer to your mentor for advice (especially during hardships)

8. Figure out how you can ADD VALUE to your team

  • *What does your team need? Figure that out, and make it happen
  • *Exceed expectations on your work, never just settle for the minimum
  • *Be an over-achiever…pay attention to details and exceed expectations

9. SHINE!

  • *Shine above everyone else
  • *Make your presence known
  • *Smile, dress professionally, and perform!

10. Be a human “sponge”

  • *Soak in all of the new skills and knowledge you are gaining
  • *LISTEN carefully to your coworkers, mentors, and managers…they ALL can teach you something
  • *Observe your team and company. How do they work together? What can be improved?

Good luck to all interns starting their careers this year and cherish every moment.

Best Companies To Work For – What Do They Offer To Employees

Billiards (Pool) & Basketball @ Hitachi Data Systems

All of the 100 Best Companies to Work For have similar offerings that make them appealing to current and prospective employees.  Not everyone can offer the crazy perks of Google and Facebook, but most companies can offer the bare minimum.  Employees are looking for a wide-range of company characteristics that will enable future professional growth and even provide a fun atmosphere to work for.

In 2006, I provided the top things employees want from their jobs, but the time has changed.  The market has changed.  Our world has changed.

Let’s face it, a company’s biggest asset is their employee base now.  The employees are the work horses who produce results and make or break the product.  Companies now need to focus on keeping their employees happy and not just how to increase profitability, market share and increase shareholder value–they need to become a best place to work.

If you’re looking for a new job or are trying to compare two different companies, take these into account.  If you want to keep your employees happy and productive, this is what you should offer (at a bare minimum):

  •  Benefits/Perks – There’s stiff competition here:  Most employers offer benefits, but how do they compare to the rest of the market?  Aside from the standard 401k, healthcare and vision benefits, employers need additional incentives.  Companies shouldn’t be afraid to use some creativity here and think outside the box.
    • Suggestions:  in-house services like Onsite Haircuts and mobile dry cleaning can be very attractive to working professionals.  Of course, quarterly bonuses can be a nice perk–you’d be surprised how many companies still only do the year-end bonus.  Higher than normal employer 401k contributions show that employees are taken care of.  Employee discounts on common items like phone carriers, clothing and electronics are nice too.
  • Make Work Fun – Keeps employees motivated:  Driving to the same building and working in the same cubicle every day can get boring and become routine, but an added “fun factor” will spice up your professional life.  At the very least, employers can make work tolerable–and at least that’s a start.
    • Suggestions:  on campus “employee appreciation” events are a great way to make work fun, especially if they include music, food and beverages (soda, beer, wine).  Everyone needs a break and time to regroup, but not everyone gets that chance at home so work events fit in well.  Holiday events, on campus vendor food tastings, employee social mixers and health facilities (gym, basketball courts, etc) offer ways for employees to like where they work.  Hitachi has a nice sports court.
  • Career Advancement – Help employees move up the corporate ladder:  Moving up the corporate ladder is tough, but companies who provide ample opportunities will not go unnoticed.  If an employee is a star performer, help them advance in their career.
    • Suggestions:  Helping employees define their growth plan is key to ensuring milestones are set and promotions can be earned.  Very few individuals like staying in their current position forever and instead are motivated with the opportunity to be recognized and promoted.  Companies that provide internal growth opportunities will be successfully at retaining talent–those who provide very few opportunities will see their brightest assets taking opportunities elsewhere.
  • Work-Life Balance – Have to be flexible:  It sounds cliché, but companies must emphasize and encourage work-life balance.  This means not requiring/allowing employees to work during vacation, holidays and excess hours.
    • Suggestions:  Offer events and services to help employees balance their time.  Discounted tickets to amusements parks, shows, concerts, etc encourage employees to take time off and enjoy other facets of life.  It’s important that high level managers and executives speak the same language and illustrate work-life balance as well–if they’re doing it, you can too.
  • Challenge Employees – Create the environment:  Star employees thrive in a challenging environment; it’s what keeps them motivated and focused.  Sometimes when jobs become too easy, it’s easy to lose motivation and just do the bare minimum; that becomes boring after a while.

    • Suggestions:  Know your employee and push them by providing opportunities that will require hard work and perseverance.  The best companies to work for are some of the most challenging and fast-paced in the world and that’s what fosters innovation.  Creating the right environment will push employees even further and help them reach new heights they never thought were possible.

Becoming one of the best companies to work for takes a significant amount of investment in the people.  In today’s economy, there is a surplus of star professionals who are looking for jobs and are in positions to pick and choose where they want to work.  Most likely, the top performers have choices and want to see that the company offerings match or exceed industry standards.  Companies around the world should take note and create environments that are attractive–after all, a company’s biggest asset is their employee base.

android-vs-iosWho is the leading mobile company for consumers?  Is Apple still the biggest force in the industry?  Short answer for both questions:  not sure.  Now, more than ever, it’s unclear who has the competitive advantage between Google and Apple.  Apple’s iPhone used to be the “coolest” phone available–it became an accessory that everyone needed to have.

That’s until Google took the driver seat and started innovating.  With bigger screens, faster processors and cool OS names like “Ice Cream Sandwich,” Android devices are becoming a serious threat to the iPhone.  Early adopters are becoming Android curious (at least at SXSW) and even some of Apple’s “loudest” fans have made the switch to Android.

What does Apple need to do?  They need to kill it with IOS 7!  These are the key areas Apple needs to make improvements in for the next iOS:

  • Basic iOS Functionality - All phones will soon look the same and consumers will begin to make buying decisions based on operating system.  The iOS has become stagnant and boring.  Give us the ability to customize, create apps on the fly and reinvent how we use phones.  Take some notes from your Mac iOS and bring that experience to the iPhone.  
  • Siri - Siri created some initial buzz, but by now its gone.  Siri = Apple; no other device has it.  Turn this into an opportunity to make Apple a leader in technology again.  It’s not just voice recognition, but how can Siri improve online shopping (a billion dollar industy), everyday chores and even our professional lives.
  • Passbook - I love this app, its cool, different and easy to use.  But, its currently limited with the number of apps I can use it with.  Expand Passbook and let me use it for everyday purchases.  Department stores…who has a department store credit card?  I don’t but I do want a Passbook Department Card–make it easy for me to make purchases and manage spending + give me rewards.
  • Maps - Regain faith with the Maps app.  It’s a MUST.  I’m not saying we will all switch to Apple Maps instead of Google, but at least we will feel confident that Apple can create apps that will work–for now, I don’t have a lot of trust in Apple.  Trust is important.  I trust Google.
  • Look & Feel - It’s time to give the iOS a face-lift and make it “cooler.”  Android devices with retina screens look beautiful and I’ve seen what Apple can do with their desktops/laptops–let’s figure something out Apple.  Make something nice to look at.
  • Take Note From Jailbreakers - The jailbreak community has been cooking up some great apps/tweaks that Apple should look at.  There are a lot of lessons to be learned and instead of back lashing against the community, maybe there’s an opportunity to work together.  If users are taking the time to tweak their devices, it means they’re happy with Apple; why not learn from them?

The last few iPhone product launches (4S and 5) have lacked the buzz and excitement we became accustomed to.  Yet, Google keeps innovating and Android devices are slowly becoming the cool accessory.  Looking at all the leaked photos of the Samsung Galaxy S IV, I’m now curious and willing to give Android a try.

But, I’ll wait a bit on Apple, hopefully they get back to being cool again.

Samsung Smart TV Refrigerator – Apps On Your Fridge

samsung-smart-refrigerator-lcd-display-tvSamsung Smart TV refrigerators are the new trend now.  With apps on your fridge like twitter, pandora, weather, recipe books, wifi and smart notes, who can’t resist?  A few years ago in 2006, I wrote about if smart refrigerators were a good buy and although I still believe they aren’t the best product, they’re intriguing.

I can see value in displaying photos, weather, recipes and even shopping lists.  With today’s technology who has a pen and paper anymore?  Would be so easy to update the LCD on my refrigerator and have it synced with my phone (in real time?).  Rotating photos are a nice touch to any kitchen, especially for those who are tech savy.

But, what about maintenance/repair costs?  These refrigerators cost $3000+ and compared to a standard unit at $1500, you’re paying for the extra gadgets.  Extra gadgets means extra items that can break and cost you money in repair costs.  Electronics, in general, are expensive to fix and replace and what’s going to happen when your $3k refrigerator costs $1k to repair it?  Are you going to dump it and buy a new one?  Probably not.

These are all factors to consider, but if the Samsung Smart TV refrigerators develop a good reputation for reliability they will become more attractive–even for me.  In 2006 I advised to NOT buy these, but now in 2013 I say “proceed with caution.”  Hey, they’re growing on me now.

How To Become A Leader In Business

How to become a leader in businessLooking at how to become a leader in business?  Exemplifying leadership qualities is key to professional success and will create new opportunities for growth and to move up at your company.  But, you must be a leader first.  Illustrating leadership qualities will facilitate your lateral growth in business and will enable others to follow your same path.  Some are innate leaders and others can learn how to become a leader in business.

A leader is defined by someone who “others follow” or someone who has “social influence.”  All leaders possess the same qualities and are devoted to success.  Everyone has their own tips for becoming a leader, none are wrong, but some may be more important than others–some may be more beneficial to your success in business.

From experience, here are my top tips on how to become a leader in business:

  1. Efficient Problem Solver:  Solving problems efficiently by saving your company time and resources is vital.  Everyone can problem solve, but reaching resolutions while still increasing productivity is difficult.  Those who illustrate the ability to quickly solve problems and allow more time to maximize profits will be quickly promoted to a position that influences their company’s success
  2. Think High Level:  Perhaps one of the more difficult tips, thinking high level will help move you from thinking day-t0-day and instead quarter-to-quarter.  Understanding the “big picture” will help you align your team’s goals with the overall company strategy and how you contribute to the company’s success.  Think top down and how your strategy affects day-to-day activities.
  3. Communication:  Communication is one of the most important characteristics of a leader, although it seems easy, it’s one of the toughest skills to master.  Knowing how to present new ideas, how to suggest a different direction and when to speak up is important.  Leaders possess the ability to articulate their thoughts and persuade others that their way is right way–obviously with facts to back up their reasoning.
  4. Visionary:  Leaders are visionaries.  Leaders have a vision, make others believers and run with it.
  5. Perfect Execution:  Leaders have the ability to execute their vision perfectly.  In order to this, they must be able to problem solve, think high level, communicate their thoughts and execute their vision perfectly.  They understand the critical path, engage others and produce results.  They accept perfect execution and nothing less.

Leaders are in all positions and not just executive level.  If you’re a leader, make it know that you have a vision, can get others to follow you and really can make a difference.  The more you aspire to become a leader in business, the more opportunities will arise and you’ll achieve your professional goals.  It’s not easy, it’s not hard, but it does take perfect practice.  Start now!

Check out Forbes’ 2012 List of the Greatest Living Leaders Today

presenting to senior management executivesPresenting to senior management and executives, especially at Fortune 500 Companies, can be career-defining.  Very few get the opportunity to interact with senior executives, therefore, following tips and best practices on how to make the best presentation is vital.

There are many useful tips on the web, but some of the best tips are from Nancy Duarte at HBR Blog Network.

Here are my tips for presenting to senior management and executives:

  1. Stay High Level – It’s easy to get too detailed and share everything, but just like anyone else, senior management and executives won’t remember every detail.  High level details are easy to remember, especially if they are successes. Keep it simple.
  2. Establish A Theme – Start off your presentation with key points make sure to refer back to them throughout the presentation; this will establish a theme.  You want senior management to remember the key points of your presentation after they leave and sticking to that theme will instill it in their mind.
  3. Be Interactive - Not all presentations can be interactive, but if the setting is informal and allows for senior management to interact during the presentation, make sure it happens.  This is one of the best ways to stay relevant and keep your audience invested.  This is your chance to engage with executives, make sure you’re not the only one talking.
  4. Manage Your Time - If your presentation is set for an hour, make sure you set time aside from questions during and after the presentation.  If you have an effective presentation, you will prompt questions/feedback, make sure you set time aside.  If you presentation is 1 hour, set time aside for 10-15 minutes worth of questions/feedback.  Plus technological difficulties always happen, don’t forget to have some buffer time.
  5. Rehearse - Nancy Duarte (from Harvard Business Review) and I agree that rehearsing is important and should not be overlooked.  Always run your presentation by colleagues or even a direct manager to get feedback.  This will help you confirm that your presentation flows and you’ve covered all areas.  Checks and balances are always good.

Setting yourself up for success is the best thing you can do when presenting to senior management and executives.  This is your chance to show your worth and make a name for yourself.  Getting a promotion is tough, but this is the first step to moving up–here are some other steps on how to move up at your company.

Leave a comment and share your tips and experiences.

success moving up at your company and in the corporate ladder

success moving up at your company and in the corporate ladder

Want to move up at your company and in the corporate ladder…but how do you do it?  Most people should always be thinking about ways to keep them relevant in a company and to keep moving up in an organization.  It’s not easy and needs to be earned, but how do you set yourself in the right position?  The steps to getting promoted may be different at each company, but what remains the same is the person’s attitude and work ethic.  Everyone should share the similar traits and attitude to put them in the right position to be considered for a promotion.  Keyword:  considered

The stars need to be aligned in order to move up at your company and in the corporate ladder, but here’s what you can do to put yourself in the ideal position:

  1. Work, work and work - This is the time that you should be working your hardest to show your worth in your organization.  Work efficiently and to the best of your ability so you develop those habits and prove you’re ready to move up in the corporate ladder and get your promotion.  Document “wins” and keep earning more.
  2. Get in the right mindset - Do you want to be a manager?  Director?  Or even VP?  If so, “pretend” you’re currently in that role and ask yourself what would you do?  Upper management positions need to come up with their own ideas and if you can start contributing at that level, your management will take notice.  Act like you’re already a manager, Director or VP…become independent and produce results by creating your own opportunities and taking risks.
  3. Communicate with your management team - Let your managers know you are looking to advance in your career and share with them your short and long term goals.  Part of their job as managers is to help you advance in your career–use them as a resource.  If they know what you’re striving for they will be able to help put you on the right path.  Building the open-communication with your manager is key.
  4. Expand your network and reputation - Most often, managers constantly seek feedback from peers on your work.  How others perceive you does play an important role in your advancement.  Continue to expand your network and earn a good/honest reputation by working hard and producing results.  The more people that support you, the more qualified you become to move up at your company.
  5. Be ready to “prove” why you deserve the promotion - Make sure you have hard facts on why you deserve a promotion and how you’ve significantly contributed to your company.  Your manager knows this already but coming to the table organized and ready to provide examples of your success is a great way to prove by you’re ready to move up.

Advancing in your career is important and you should always be striving for the next big opportunity.  It’s not easy but can be done with hard work and perseverance.  Setbacks may occur but if you follow these steps you will align yourself to be next in line–before you know it, you will have taken several steps in the right direction.  If no promotion happens, at least you know you’re giving 100% and doing everything you can.

Take a look at my other “How To” and “Best Practices” posts:

Instagram Feed Facebook Web

Instagram Feed Facebook Web

Definitely looks like Instagram is working towards the mainstream audience and by their new “web feed” they take a big leap forward.  The look is appealing to newbies and definitely offers a good look into some of Instagram’s functionality, but not all.

At first glance, the new “profile web feed” looks VERY similar to Facebook profiles, which we would imagine since the tool is owned by Facebook.  Instagram is merely teasing the mass audience with this feed in hope to acquire new mobile users.  Here’s a look at the key features Instagram is offering on the web:

  • Likes:  We now have the ability to like pictures on the web, which is key to engaging new users.  Scroll bar makes it easy to browse through dozens of pictures in seconds.
  • Comments:  As you would expect, comments are enabled and this helps both ends of the user base.  Current users are always looking for more engagement, what better way than this?  For new users, this is Instagram’s way of sucking you in.
  • View Photo Page:  In a click of a button, you can easily view a user’s photo stream to view all comments/likes on a specific photo
  • Report Inappropriate Pictures:  Definitely a key feature to make sure images stay clean and safe for all audiences
  • Profile Page (screenshot above):  Current users have the ability to edit their profile on the fly and make changes.  Easy enough.

Instagram and Facebook are doing their homework and figuring out new ways to engage users.  Uploaded pictures are now part of everyone’s online identity which is very cool, but also alarming.  Now, many users will use caution when uploading new pictures–after all, anyone can see them now.

This is a giant leap forward, but what’s missing?

  1. Ability to upload photos via the web  – this IS intentional b/c its “all about producing photos on the go, in the real world, in realtime” but it may deter some users who want to both consume and produce on the web
  2. Integration with Facebook - this is a tough one, but we still have not seen any kind of integration with Facebook…will there ever be?  If Facebook can figure out how to integrate the two and it makes sense, this will be a game changer
  3. #hashtags - these are still present in pictures, but they are NOT functional on the web feed (mobile app they are).  We heard yesterday on Techmeme about the Super Bowl numbers, so we know how important #hashtags are.  The web feed is about “consumption” right?  ENABLE #HASHTAGS to help users consume data -its the future

STwitter Hashtags Facebook Super Bowluper Bowl Spoiler Alert:  If you haven’t already seen the Super Bowl, the Ravens beat the Niners 34-31.  Aside from the big game, we learned a lot about the use of social media.  Besides text messaging, social media was the preferred way to talk about the game to peers; whether that be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.

What was the top social media tool used?  How did Twitter square up against Facebook?  What did ads/commercials use the most in their strategy?

Let’s take a look at the numbers to figure out how social media played a role in the Super Bowl and what we can learn about brand strategy.

  • 75% of brands integrated social, mobile, #hashtags or apps in their ads/commercials (Source:  Jeremiah Owyang-Altimeter)
  • Twitter mentioned in 50% of commercials, Facebook 8% and Google+ 0% (Source:  Marketing Land)
  • Beyonce vs the Blackout – Beyonce Google searches rose 7236%, while “the blackout” was the most searched item of the Super Bowl (Source:  Search Engine Land)
  • #Hashtags were used in 38% of ads/commercials (up 31% compared to 2012) (Source:  Jeremiah Owyang)

Aside from Corporate URLs to continue the conversation, #Hashtags were the most used social tool throughout the Super Bowl (while Facebook was only used 7%, a mere 4% DECREASE).  The Super Bowl is one of the most watched cable event of the year with advertisers paying ~$4M for a 30 second commercial spot–you bet brands did their research and used what they feel is the best social tool.  And…I agree. 

To continue the conversation or add input, #hashtags are easy to use and easy to follow.  To find out more information about a specific topic, most search #hashtags, NOT Facebook posts.  In fact, most don’t even use Facebook search (except to find people/groups).  Facebook Graph Search usage will vary from user to user, but I still don’t see it being used to find trending topics, but instead to find people and research data amongst friends.

Facebook needs to figure out either how to utilize #hashtags or help users continue/discover the conversation.  How else can I figure out “what’s trending” on Facebook?  Try using #hashtags on Facebook posts and nothing happens.  Most people use #hashtags to find new content (its the new-age “tag”) because its easy, convenient and accurate.  How will Facebook bounce back?  We should expect them to react fast…they need to soon or else they’ll see a decrease in usage next year.

 

Creating a successful environment for a team is difficult and rewarding.  Managing different personalities and habits in itself is a gift, but how do you create an environment to win?  Winning doesn’t necessarily mean getting first place, selling the most or becoming the most recognizable team at work.  Instead, winning is about getting everyone involved and figuring out how to use the best qualities from each team member.

Every team has a captain or manager to navigate towards success and produce results.  I’ve recently stepped into a leadership role and understand that the success of the team is on my plate.  Not only does a capatain/manager need to worry about their own production but how successful the team is.

Here’s a list on how to “Manage for Success” and win:

  • Create an encouraging and positive environment
    • Positive energy is contagious, but negative energy spreads like a virus – in with the good and out with the bad
    • Keeping the negative energy out and focusing efforts on creating an environment that is positive will encourage all members to take risks and be happy with their work – taking risks is something all team members should try
  • Communicate with your team
    • I’m a strong believer in over-communication because it creates an open door policy between individual contributors and managers – this policy encourages feedback that will benefit the team and help the manager focus on areas for improvement
    • Communicating strategic and tactical goals for the team is key to success b/c all members will understand what they’re working towards and how they’re contributing – goals help keep a team aligned with their success plan and offer a
  • Know the strengths of the team
    • Each member of the team serves a purpose and identifying how their strengths contribute is one of the most difficult tasks of a manager – utilizing everyone’s capabilities and allowing them to work independently with their strengths will deliver a complete product
    • In addition to knowing the strengths of individuals, the manager must understand the overall strengths of the team and figure out how to make the team better as a whole – a team is a unit…a unit that must work together and contribute to the overall goals
  • Recognize and Reward  
    • Goals are established and often times met; therefore its important to recognize high achievers – this will encourage others to work harder
    • Recognition and rewards create a competitive nature that is positive and it will reflect on the overall success of the team – competitiveness is important and it will keep each person within a team pushing themselves to succeed

These values have helped me bring the best out in my team and succeed.  More and more I understand the importance of a leader and how significant their actions are.  Every individual is important and its up to you to figure out how they contribute to the overall success.

Copyright 2013: Chris Salazar (eBizz) | Theme: Motion by volcanic.