3 Ways to Gain Confidence at Work (or in Your Craft)

aerial_yogaConfidence is so important in the workplace. Without it, your work will be questioned, and so will your competency.

1. Practice Your Craft

This goes without saying, but we really need to get this out of the way. When I was much younger, I believed that if you were a confident person you’d be instantly taken seriously. Not true. People can see right through a cocky exterior if the message you’re sending doesn’t seem credible. If you’re spewing crap, sooner or later someone will catch on.

So, the solution to that is to constantly be practicing and working on refining your craft, whatever it may be. Lately, I’ve been practicing my writing skills (in the form of communication to partners, and just writing at every chance I can).

In the research I’ve done, writing is actually one of the most valuable skills to have. When you’re not there to speak up for yourself, the messages you send in written form will be there to do the talking for you–you need to make sure you’re capable of professional language and getting your message across clearly and concisely. People don’t have unlimited time to be spending on your words. Quick and to the point is exactly what you should be aiming for.

2. Get Down to the Specifics

Instead of saying something like “I think what we did should have affected us positively…”, say “We implemented the process two weeks ago. I’ve taken a look at the data, and it suggests that we’re trending to be more profitable this month based on a 4% higher conversion rate.” Between the two scenarios of ways you could approach presenting the information, one seems tentative and unsure, and the other proves you did your homework.

This approach will help you by leaps and bounds. You’ll not only state your assumption and recommendation, but also back it up with relevant statistics. Because of this approach, I’ve become a bit of a data junkie–so nerdy, I know.

3. Speak in an Even, Controlled Tone

The cadence by which you speak has a large effect on the way people perceive you. If you sound flighty and nervous, but what you’re saying is solid, people will still undervalue you and not fully trust what you are saying. If you are speaking to a group and can compose yourself enough to speak slowly and evenly, you can absolutely gain the ears of upper management.

To get good at this, people sometimes use public speaking courses/clubs like Toastmasters. I’ve never personally joined a Toastmasters, but have been thinking about it for some time.

Alternatively, you could just do it more. Purposefully place yourself in situations where you’ll have to talk a little bit in front of people. Volunteer a story when you’re hanging out with your social circle. Say something of importance or try to prove a point during a work meeting. All of these are opportunities to learn and grow. Take them now, and they’ll slowly snowball into a habit where you feel comfortable presenting information to people confidently.

Either way, best of luck in your journey to becoming more confident. If you have any other tips to share with me that have helped you become more successfully confident, let me know in the comments below.

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The picture above is of me trying out an aerial yoga class. We did some pretty cool and challenging moves that day!

The Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

email_marketingHere are some things I’ve learned over the past year working in the email marketing industry.

There are lots of good, positive, and useful email marketing tactics, as well as shady, unfair, and terrible practices.

If you ever find yourself in the latter, purchasing lists of emails from folks, or sending people email without a functional unsubscribe button, you should get out, and quick!

Now, on to the merry and lighthearted world of good email marketing.

There are a few different elements to email marketing:

1. Content

You’ll need to make sure the message and content of the email is in line with what the reader would expect to receive.

First Impressions
Subject lines are almost directly correlated to open rates. If your open rates are suffering, maybe your subject line and leading text weren’t enough to capture the reader’s attention.

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Book Review: Ikigai

Ikigai CoverThe most recent book I picked up was called Ikigai by Sebastian Marshall. I usually choose books if I think they’ll make me smarter, provide new insight on topics I’ve already considered, motivate me, or introduce me to new perspectives. This book did a little bit of each of those things.

The reviews that I’ve read of this book before purchasing were accurate–the book is a stream of consciousness type writing, and many of the chapters seemed like blog posts lumped together. However, that didn’t turn me off from the book. It was valuable to me even though it wasn’t well-organized and didn’t always flow logically.

It was an extension of the way I like to think. It jumped from one topic to another, but all topics were loosely connected and all fell within my realm of interest.

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Woo hoo!

How to Get a Job Right After College

I’m going to be honest with you—I was lucky. It took me about two months after graduation to find a job. That’s not to say that it’s everyone’s dream, nor is it achievable in every circumstance. But alas, here are some techniques that got me there.

Make Sure You Want a Job for the Right Reasons

First and foremost you need to look deeply within yourself and make sure you’re making this choice based on sound reasoning.

Do you want one because you would like to make money, gain experience, fit in with the rest of society? Question yourself before you decide that it’s really the path you want to take. Do it for you, not to prove anything to anyone else.

There’s not really a perfect way that people secure jobs, but there are definitely things you can do to increase your chances of getting one that you want.

Network

The most unexpected encounters with people can turn into jobs you never considered. People are very willing to help you out if you let them. As was stated in the book The Education of Millionaires, the real test of success is one’s ability to find good mentors. I found mine unexpectedly through an internship I took on during college.

Develop Skills Outside of Class

To be honest, most of the skills I’m using in my current job I gained by working on side projects. I run this blog, which proved to my employer that I’m able to coordinate a project, that I have basic HTML and CSS skills, and that I can think deeply about a topic. On top of that, because my job involves using skills that I developed in my free time, I actually enjoy what I’m working on. Crazy, ain’t it?

College isn’t necessary, but it makes the employer feel safer about hedging their bets on you. In my experience, an employer is looking for someone who can bring projects to completion, and who has the drive to continuously better themselves and the environment around them. One way to prove this is by finishing college. For one thing, the value of going to college definitely depends on how you crafted your experience while there.

Some of the smartest people out there have not completed their degree—some haven’t even tried to. That’s a risk they were willing to take. It was a risk that often times freed up a lot of mental faculty. If they had been in college, they’d have taken potentially dozens of semi-useless classes full of fluff-time and assignments and tests that don’t speak to the true skills of the student.

Don’t Undervalue Yourself

See yourself for what you’re worth. Understand that your time here on earth is precious. Why waste your mental RAM and your emotional resources working somewhere for free in hopes of maybe, possibly, securing a job after the initial grunt work is over? If you’re contributing to a company, they should pay you fairly for your time. There really isn’t an excuse to work for free unless you’re trying to prove yourself.

This also means, however, that I’d advise you not to take a crap-job unless absolutely necessary. If you’ve got a little money in the bank and no dependents, why would you whore out your mind and body to do something you don’t even care about? Use your time to work on something meaningful, contribute to society, and be at peace with yourself by growing your mind in other ways.

Planning

How to Do Something Well: Planning

PlanningLay out your guide

Create a bare bones skeleton of the tasks you need to complete in order to make your goal happen. This is where a lot of people get stuck. Some might say, “Well I don’t know every single step to take to achieve my goal.”

It’s true: there may be some grey areas, or steps that you just can’t seem to imagine the answer to right now. None of that matters. The most important thing to do at this moment is start. You can adjust course along the way.

Plan, but do it efficiently

When starting out for the first time, don’t over-plan. You might waste your time by becoming overly involved with a step in the process that you might not even end up implementing. It’s kind of like editing before you’re done writing the piece. You’re spending precious moments tweaking a phrase that you might end up cutting out completely.

If you spend time figuring out details that you’ll eliminate from your plans later, then you’re not being efficient in how you’re reaching your goals. The path to efficiency in goal-reaching is to identify the minimum plans needed to get you started and then just start.

Carve out dedicated time

If you say that you’re serious about something, and it’s not one of the first things on your mind when you wake up or at least scheduled on your to-do list, you’re not actually serious about it.

When a project/goal/skill is important to you, the best thing you can do for yourself is to consciously plan it into your day. Make it non-negotiable. For example, you can say, “Today I am dedicating two hours to learning how to code,” or “Today I will run three miles without stopping,” because those steps will get you closer to your end-goal of doing that thing well. Without this specific plan, the time in your day will pass you by and you will not have made any progress on what you consider important in your life.