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Tag Archives: Kathy Caprino

Happy Thanksgiving and Many Thanks To You

 

I love Thanksgiving time.  It’s a fabulous opportunity to bring gratitude and appreciation into focus, and to think not only about the blessings we have in our lives, but also the challenges, bumps and tribulations — and to cherish them all.

I read somewhere recently that we should be very thankful for our challenges, as millions of people would be thrilled to be experiencing the challenges we have.  That struck a deep chord with me, and thinking of that everyday helps me remember that no matter what I am facing in my life today, I can learn, grow and heal through it, even the hurt and disappointment.

I’d love to take this opportunity to send my deepest thanks and appreciation to you for being an important and valued member of my community.

This year has been an incredible one, full of learning and insight (and some sizable stretching too!).  Receiving your open and generous feedback, support and diverse perspectives has been so meaningful and helpful to me.  I’ve learned a great deal from all my colleagues, readers, and followers, as well as from the powerful challenges and opportunities this year has brought.

I look forward to continuing to learn and grow together in 2015 and the years to come.

Wishing you a beautiful Thanksgiving and holiday season with your special friends and loved ones.

With love,

Kathy

Grappling With the Idea of Going Back To School? Here’s What To Consider

At least once a week, I hear from a professional woman who is in a job or career she dislikes intensely (or is failing at), and wonders if going back to school for a new career is the right step. Today, many mid- to high-level professionals feel ill-suited to their work, and others have launched small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat. When they reach out for help, they share some version of this question:

“Kathy, I’m in a career (or I recently launched a small business) I just can’t stand anymore. My husband says I’m not cut out for this, and should go back to school. What do you think?”

Having coached thousands of women through every career decision you can imagine, I’ve observed 6 common reasons behind people’s contemplation of going back to school. These reasons may be legitimate for some, but for many (perhaps most), the path to another degree is not the right choice. How do you know if it’s right for you?

The top 6 reasons mid-career professionals give for contemplating going back to school are:

– The job I’m in feels like a complete dead end. I think I have to start over.

– I’m just not cutting it in this field. More education will give me more credibility, clout and authority.

– I really don’t know what else to do. I hate my work.

– I’m not earning enough in my current profession/business. I’ll make more money and be more secure if I have more education.

– My colleague went back to school and it made a great difference for him. I want to do what he’s doing.

– I’m failing in my new business, and I think getting a new degree is the only way out.

To know if going back to school is the right move for you, you need to become very clear on what you want in your life and work. You also have to understand yourself intimately (what you’re passionate about, and what motivates you to succeed, for instance) and evaluate your life and situation with eyes wide open. This is not the time to be in denial or to pretend you’re someone else. This is the time to figure yourself out with honesty, awareness and insight. (Take my 6-day Amazing Career Challenge to learn more about what you really want.)

Once you become clearer on what’s important to you and your most burning life goals, ask yourself these five questions:

1. What do you believe another degree will give you?

Often, we project all sorts of misguided notions about what a shiny, new degree will give us, but we don’t really know anything about it. Do exhaustive research about the educational path you’re considering. Interview department heads and faculty at the institutions you’re considering. Shadow professionals who’ve earned this degree and are applying it in ways that interest you. Learn more about the careers this degree can lead to, and how people land exciting work after their degree. Examine the curriculum and course of study – do you find it compelling, something you feel really jazzed to learn? What are the common trajectories of people who’ve earned this degree, and do these career paths seem to be a good fit for what you really want? Finally, ask, “Is it realistic for me to take this path at this time in my life?”

2. What will it cost you – emotionally, financially, and professionally and personally?

Higher education today is expensive, to say the least, but there are other significant costs as well.  You’ll need to commit a great deal of time, money, energy, resources, and focus to succeeding on this educational path.  Do you have access to the necessary resources, and can you tap into them in a way that won’t turn your life upside down?   Can your current employer help pay for your degree? When I earned my Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy over a three-year period, it exacted a much higher price than I ever imagined.  I’m so grateful I did it, but don’t do what I did and pursue a degree without understanding concretely what it will demand of you. And evaluate what the return on investment must be, specifically and measurably, in order for you to feel it is worthwhile.

 

>>CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE<<

In the end, if you’re considering going back to school, understand what it will give, and demand, of you. Do the necessary legwork to explore it thoroughly, and don’t jump until you can say with 100% surety that this is the right move at the right time. Be clear about where the road will take you, and if this path will give you, in reality, what you’re truly longing for.

(To move toward building a happier, more rewarding career, take my 6-day Amazing Career Challenge).

Moving Beyond Anger When People Ask For Free Help

This week, my colleague Ashley Milne-Tyte, who publishes a fascinating blog and podcast series The Broad Experience, reached out to ask me my thoughts about women who are beleaguered by people asking for free help, and how to best handle it.  The question got me thinking more deeply about the situation, and when I did, I realized that over the past few years, I’ve evolved beyond my initial anger and resentment over people reaching out with their hand out, asking for help.

I remember when it first started to happen in a bigger way to me – that strangers by the hundreds would ask for free help. Two years ago, a Forbes post of mine about LinkedIn and busting the 8 damaging myths about what it can do for you, went a bit viral, and that week, I heard from over 900 people asking for help to review their LinkedIn profiles, resumes and career directions. I was stunned, and frankly, really pissed off.  I thought, “Don’t they understand that this is how I make my living, as a career coach and consultant?” And I also scratched my head at the audacity of people to reach out to a stranger asking for help, hoping for it quickly, without offering anything in return.

Now, I feel quite differently.  After speaking with Adam Grant and reading his amazing book Give and Take, I was struck by the shame and sadness I felt at not being willing and happy to help more people in deep need.  I realized that I didn’t just want to be of service to the affluent; I long to help people of all socioeconomic levels and all walks of life.  So I got going building free and low-cost programs and resources that anyone and everyone can take advantage of, and be supported.  And I feel so much better because of it.

Many of us who run service-related businesses (and many who don’t), want to be of help in the world.  Yes, we run businesses and need to earn money through these ventures, and we have to learn how to charge fairly and appropriately for what we offer, but we also want to use our talents and abilities to move the needle in some important way. I’ve found that creating free and low-cost programs (that cost me very little to produce) as well as offering my top-level services is the way I can move the needle.

Below are 5 key lessons I’ve learned these past few years about how to view, experience, and handle being asked to give free help:

Stop being mad – it’s a waste of energy.

It’s best to simply get over being mad and resentful that people reach out for free help.  We need to realize that people don’t necessarily understand our business model, and aren’t trying to be disrespectful when they ask for help.  We need to educate them on what we offer and what we don’t, and be clear, without apology.

We actually can be of great help in just a few seconds or minutes of time.

Judy Robinett (author of the great book How To Be a Power Connector) demonstrated to me that you don’t need to spend hours with someone to be of help.  Just a few minutes, an email intro, a powerful connection, an opened door  – that’s all it takes.  Finding ways to help people without exhausting yourself to the bone is the way to go.

No, I no longer let people “pick my brain” for free, but where I can, I offer quick tidbits, insights and ideas.

Developing free or low-cost programs that help people who can’t afford your services is a WIN/WIN.

I’ve now created an array of great free and lower-cost resources that I point everyone to, when they’re asking for free help. I’m excited about these resources because I’ve seen that they move people forward. The free materials include Career Path Self-Assessment, Career Success Readiness Quiz, Resume Guide, LinkedIn Primer, Study Guide for my book, etc.). I also have more affordable training programs that a larger number of professionals can take advantage of.

I’ve found that having these resources to point people to allows me to be of service at the level I wish to for folks who can’t pay my coaching fees.  It also allows me to protect my private time and my private coaching work, which comes at a premium. I recommend this step — developing great, free materials that you’re happy to give away — a teleclass, newsletter, an audio, a video, downloadable guide, etc. —  to all folks in the service business who want to help people in the largest way possible. And the kicker is that the free materials always generate a great return of some kind for me as well.

Craft an authentic, personal response that works.

Because I hear from hundreds of folks a month, I can’t respond personally to each one. But I’ve developed communications that I’m able to customize and send out to folks who reach out to me wanting free help, explaining that due to the high volume of requests I receive for free help each week, I’m unable to offer tailored recommendations to folks who aren’t my clients, because to provide effective help I’d have to know much more, and that requires time and commitment. But I’m happy to point them to my free and low-cost resources that will be of service.

I value connecting with my community and with most everyone who writes me, but I’m not developing each response from scratch.

Helping people who need it doesn’t make you a doormat.

Read Adam Grant’s book Give and Take and you’ll see that many of the most successful people in the world are the most outrageously generous givers.  Giving something for free doesn’t make you a loser, it makes you a giver. The key, however, is to give in ways that nourish, enrich, and support you, not break you down.  That requires clarity, commitment, systems that work for you, a well-defined vision of what you want to achieve in the world, and powerful boundaries to support that.

In the end, I’d ask this: What would you rather feel – resentful and angry or happy to be of service in bigger ways than you ever imagined?

What’s your biggest challenge in addressing requests for free help?

 

 

Don’t Let Yourself Forget Who You Were At 16

At16

Part of the work I do in helping women feel happier and more successful in their work, is excavation – digging deep and peeling the layers to uncover the richness and the amazing natural gifts inside. And one critical dimension of that process is remembering who you were when you were just starting out in life.

When I look back at what I loved to do when I was 16, and the natural talents that began to flow forth, I see that everything I enjoy in my work now is exactly what I felt joyous and exuberant about then. I loved to write (I became an English major and studied journalism, and was a reporter for my school paper), I was a singer and a performer, I loved psychology and figuring out what made people tick, and I enjoyed helping my friends (boys and girls) sort out solutions to problems they were grappling with. I remember my beloved dad too commenting about my nature. Once day, when I was trying to sort out why someone was behaving really badly to me, he said “Honey, you really love to get to the bottom of things – figure out what drives people to do what they do. You love to know why.” He was so right.

I didn’t realize then – or for 20+ years more in my unhappy corporate life – that we’re all happiest and most alive when –

“…we’re demonstrating in physical reality what we know to be true about ourselves, when we we are giving form to our Life’s Intentions in a way that contributes to others.” – Maria Nemeth, The Energy of Money

I love this quote, and I feel that no truer words have ever been spoken.

In your adult life, have you ever demonstrated behavior or spoke in ways that you later realized were NOT you at all? That were jarring, hurtful, disrespectful, catty, destructive? If you’re in touch with your emotions, you’ll feel a jarring pain when you’re being your lowest self – you feel it in your soul. Or have you ever struggled with a problem (like chronically being unable to repay your debts or not telling the truth on something critical) and you know that what you’re demonstrating in life is not true, good, or worthy of your self-respect? I have, and it’s a horrible feeling. We are terribly unhappy when what we’re creating in life is out of alignment with everything we know to be true about ourselves.

Secondly, I’ve seen through 10 years of career coaching that the most alive and joyful people on the planet are those who feel that their natural gifts are useful to others – to a great company, an important cause, to people in need, or to their community and world. I believe that’s why were on the planet today – to find a way to use who we are in benefit to those around us.

But life is challenging and exhausting today, and most of us are so beleaguered with what’s on our plates that we’ve forgotten who were when we were young, and what we’re capable of. We’ve lost sight of how amazing we are, and the gifts we are supposed to be sharing.

How can we reclaim those talents and capabilities and find new ways to utilize them?

Here’s a challenge for you. Every day for the next 21 days, when you get up in the morning and are washing your face or taking a shower, take 3 minutes to think about what you loved about yourself at 16 (or pick an age where you were shining). Think about:

- What people noticed about you, and raved about
- What made you feel joyful, free, and alive
- What made you feel strong and confident
What you did that made others say, “Wow! I could never to that so beautifully or well!”
- What your friends and family adored about you
- And finally, what you thought was pretty darn amazing about yourself

Just bring these things to mind each day, and get back in touch with yourself – who you were, and who you are, deep down.

Do this for 21 consecutive days and you will experience a shift. You’ll remember more clearly what you’re capable of, and you’ll start believing that it’s time to shift your life and work so that you’re using more of your natural gifts and talents, and finding more joy and satisfaction in your life and relationships.

It’s time to dig deep, find your right work, and illuminate the world with it. It’s YOUR time to shine.

For some inspiration to build a happier, more satisfying career, visit the Amazing Career Project, and watch my new video Time to Shine.

How To Write Articles That Become The Most Popular In Your Field: 7 Critical Steps

So you’re publishing now on your own blog or on LinkedIn, and you’re excited.  It’s a wonderful opportunity that, when done right, can open hundreds of exciting doors for you as an expert and a writer. But you’re noticing something that confuses you – other writers’ posts are getting thousands more views than yours do, on the very same topic. No matter what you try, you can’t get the attention you feel your writing and ideas deserve.

Why is that?

I’ve been following and interviewing influential writers and thought leaders now for three years on my Forbes blog “Career Bliss,” and have observed what these generous givers and experts do that others don’t. In my own writing too (and in my work on the LinkedIn publishing platform since June), I’ve learned a few critical lessons about writing posts that have the potential to go viral and reach an audience far beyond our expectations.

I’m very grateful that my post 6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away is now the most-read post ever on LinkedIn, at 2.7 million views, and truthfully, the success of that post surprised me more than anyone else. I have some ideas about why it was so successful, but it’s not a science (as much as content marketing consultants want to tell you it is).

When you take the time to study what influential writers do differently from other folks (and I’d highly recommend you do), there are eye-opening lessons you can learn about how to stop “marketing” your content, and instead, start connecting more deeply with an audience you love.

Here are the top 7 tips I offer new writers, “experts” and thought leaders who want their content viewed at the highest levels:

1. Do a superlative job at the basics.

Content

To reach a large audience, you have to tackle topics and issues that grab hold of the reader, making them feel that they would be missing something critical if they didn’t read your article. Don’t write about the same old topics – leadership, management, social media, marketing, sales, careers – in the same old way. Uncover completely new angles that are truly your own. Share powerful ideas that move, educate, and entertain. Use everything you are and you know. But your articles have to share more than just your personal opinion. To strike a chord in many, you have to know what you’re talking about intimately, and that insight comes from experience, research, and ongoing intellectual curiosity. It has to be more than you pushing yourself into the spotlight.

Headlines

Your headlines have to be very powerful and compelling, strong enough to make people say, “Oh shoot, I’ve got to stop what I’m doing and read this now,” even if they feel they have no time to read another post in their entire lifetime. How to make your headlines irresistible? Think about the core theme of the story, and find a way to articulate the emotional heart of it so that even you would have to stop in your tracks and read it. What would make YOU stop what you’re doing and click the link to open it?

A great colleague of mine told me that his content marketing consultant friend said “Use numbers in your headlines, and odd numbers work better.” That advice irks me to no end, because now we see thousands of writers producing empty and useless listicles that read like shopping lists (but with odd numbers).

Yes, numbers do work in headlines, and often odd numbers work better, but rules are meant to be broken (as my 6 Toxic Behaviors post revealed). Use numbers when that’s the best approach (I use them frequently, but not invariably) for the content, but often it isn’t. Don’t be lazy with it.

Images

Make sure you’ve found an image that grabs the reader by the collar, and touches them deeply, reflecting the heart of the story. That usually requires an investment – most free sources simply don’t offer images with high enough quality or impact you need (I use iStock photo and love them).

2. Reach the broadest audience possible within your area of expertise.

When the 6 Toxic Behaviors post started to go viral, I asked my 19-year-old daughter, “Honey, why do you think this is capturing so much attention?” She said something so wise and savvy. She shared, “Well, it seems that people will want to read this because, 1) they want to figure out if they’re toxic, and 2) they want validation that the person in their life who SEEMS so toxic, really is.”

Wow, there’s truth to that. If we think about the number of people on this planet who either wonder if their own behavior pushes people away, or wants to confirm that someone in their life is crazy-making, we’re talking about millions of people.

To go viral, you have to reach a large audience that says, “YES!!” to your material, even if it’s a hard pill to swallow. Think about how you can expand the interest level of your pieces by touching on more expansive themes, observations, and behaviors.

3. Learn to sense the “energy” of your messages and your style.

In my training as a therapist, energy healer and career coach (after my 18 years in corporate), I learned that everything is energy. We feel it, process it, and react to it, often without being aware. The energy of your messages can make or break an article. Try to sense the energy of the words and ideas you’re sharing. If your writing smacks of condescension, arrogance, or snobbery, your post won’t get the exposure you want (or at least it won’t be the kind of exposure you want).

4. Base your work on a solid understanding of what you’re talking about, and research, research, research.

Don’t make your writing just about you. Your story is interesting, but it’s not enough. I remember when I embarked on writing my book Breakdown, Breakthrough (about the 12 hidden crises working women face and how to overcome them) I thought I knew everything there was to know about professional crisis for women. But I was encouraged to do more research, and I spoke to over 100 women around the country about overcoming professional challenge, and it rocked my world. I’ll never make that mistake again, of thinking that my experiences were enough to have a solid understanding of a topic. What you know is great, but reach out to others to learn much more.

5. Create authentic discussions and engagement around the topic – don’t just push it out there.

When you post an article, don’t expect it to fly by itself. Start meaningful discussions on LinkedIn and elsewhere that will continue and broaden the conversation, even if folks never read your article that spurred these discussions. Don’t push your material – just engage with people about an intriguing question that your material brings up. Then be highly active on the discussion threads. It takes a great deal of time, but if you want connection, you have to be present, open, and thoroughly committed to conversation.

6. Build a large list on your website of loyal followers who love what you have to say.

One key ingredient that has helped me so much in my business and writing is building a large subscriber list (50,000+) and doing the work of growing it by 1,000 subscribers a month. There are numerous ways to do this, and they’re not overnight steps, but the result is powerful. Build your tribe of people who resonate with and connect authentically with your messages. (Check out my prosperity marketing coaching for more about building an ever-growing tribe of folks you love.)

7. Always – be of service first.

Finally, come from a mindset of helping and supporting others. Be a generous giver and don’t publish articles with your hand out asking “What’s in this for me?” Follow what your community cares about, and give them potent info that will move them forward. Brainstorm new ways that your expertise will help people thrive, grow, enjoy life, make more money, build healthier habits — whatever it is that you want to help with. Turn your “mess into a message” but keep uppermost in your mind that your writing should be a way of expressing your unique voice in ways that are of service to others.

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If you’d like to learn more about this topic, let me know. I’m developing a teleclass this Fall on this, and would love to hear your questions. And take my new Career Success Readiness Quiz to learn if you’re paving the way for more success.

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