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Tag Archives: Kathy Caprino

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

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
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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.

* * * * * *

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.

9 Core Behaviors Of People Who Change The World For The Better

Look around you and you’ll see three kinds of people – those who dislike their work, and complain bitterly, those who just tolerate their work and see it as a paycheck and aren’t looking for more (or feel they can’t have more), and finally, those who love their work, and relish it. The third category is a small subset of all professionals globally, but this group stands out because these are, most often, the people who change the world for the better.

My work as a career success coach and writer connects me with people who’ve made a true and measurable impact in the world – including well-known experts, authors, researchers, journalists, scientists, innovators, business geniuses, and entrepreneurs. But among this group of world influencers there are also everyday people who have found a special niche in which they’ve contributed at the highest level.

It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch. Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above these circumstances (and their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them.

Researching these makers, shakers and disruptors, and working with my own clients who shape the world around them in powerful and constructive ways, I’ve observed 9 core behaviors that set them apart – habitual ways of behaving and approaching life and work that distinguish them from those who long to make a difference but can’t or won’t find the way.

The 9 core behaviors of people who positively impact the world:

They dedicate themselves to what gives their life meaning and purpose.

Thousands of people today don’t believe in meaning and purpose as something to discover or pursue in life. But those with positive influence feel otherwise. They have found that there is a purpose to their life, and that purpose usually involves some aspect of turning their “mess into a message,” or using what they’ve learned (often the hard way) as a means of being of service to others. People with a sense of purpose are driven, focused, committed, and lit up from the inside – unable to be deterred or distracted from what they believe is the reason they’re on this planet at this time. This sense of meaning and purpose gives them inexhaustible drive and offers guideposts to follow along the path – it informs them of what they wish to attend to in life, and what they need to walk away from because it doesn’t support their higher purpose.

They commit to continually bettering themselves.

People who impact the world for the better know that they are not perfect. They understand how their knowledge isn’t “complete” – there are always gaps, biases, limitations and prejudices, and new places to go with their expertise.

Yes, there are powerful narcissists aplenty, but their influence isn’t positive or helpful in the long run – it’s damaging and destructive. Innovators who positively shape the world come from a “beginner’s mind” and a loving, compassionate heart – with an openness to see, learn, and experience new things on the way to being a better servant of the world.

They engage with people in open, mutually-beneficial ways.

Those with huge positive influence understand the power of relationships, connection, and engaging with the world openly. They’re not afraid to get “out there” – connecting with others, sharing their knowledge and talents, offering their authentic and often contrarian viewpoints and opinions. They’ve pushed beyond any introversion, shyness or reluctance to be who they are, and have learned how to relate well with others and build mutually-supportive relationships that catapult both parties to a higher level. They know that positive, supportive and authentic relationships are the foundational building blocks to anything and everything they want to achieve.

They invest time and energy not in what is, but what can be.

The people I’ve interacted with and interviewed who’ve made a huge positive impact in the world don’t settle for conformity. When they see something that agitates and disturbs them, they strive to know more, get to the root of the challenge, research and understand the contributing factors, and arrive at new solutions. They observe gaps and mistakes in common thinking and behavior, and trust themselves in their belief that it’s time to push the boundaries of what’s accepted.   They want to affect change because they believe change will bring a better way to live.

They embrace critique.

The most powerful positive influencers don’t need or want to be “right” – they want to grow and be more effective. For that to occur, they walk right into critique, and they embrace challenge. They’re not afraid to put their work out there for others to poke holes in.   They are strong and confident in the face of opposition, yet know how to integrate constructive feedback to strengthen their work and ideas. They engage in open dialogue and welcome scrutiny.

They spread what they know.

We’ve all met authors or “experts” who keep their knowledge secret, close to the vest. They’re afraid to let it out for fear someone will steal it or make money on their ideas. This is the opposite of the positive influencer’s mindset. Those who make a true positive difference can’t help but share and teach what they’ve learned. They don’t see their knowledge as just some commodity to sell, as a meal ticket or a money maker – they see it as information that has to be shared with the world for its betterment. They believe their ideas and innovations are of use and value to others, and can’t help but share those openly, and teach others what they’ve learned. They understand the universal principle at work – “the more you give, the more you get.”

They uplift others as they ascend.

You’ve experienced, as I have, scores of “leaders” and high-achievers who’ve gotten where they are by stepping on the heads and backs of those in the way. These are not true leaders or influencers because their power is a sham – it was obtained unethically and is shallow and weak, and can’t be sustained over the long haul.  I have encountered power-mongers who were crushing and cruel to their subordinates and I wondered when they would finally reap what they’ve sown. Over the long term, this day always comes.

On the other hand, people who positively impact the world not only obtain amazing results in their work, but their process of obtaining these results – how they operate in life — is also inspiring and uplifting. They are happy to help and support others, and have an overflow of positive energy that enriches the lives of everyone they work with and connect with. These positive influencers want others to grow. They walk away from “success-building” opportunities that will be hurtful and damaging to others. They know that those unethical, demeaning or destructive approaches go against the very meaning and purpose they’re committed to.

They view the journey as the goal.

Positive influencers don’t take short cuts or go for the quick buck or easy answer. They don’t view some arbitrary goal or outcome as a destination, because they believe there is no end – it’s all in the journey. It’s about what they’re learning, experiencing, and building that helps others, and for that, there is no defined end point. They embrace failure more readily than others as “information” that guides them. They are more fluid and flexible, and more open to the “how’s” because their ultimate goal is not about upholding their title, salary, reputation, stature or power, but about new ways to help and share what they know.

They use their power and influence well.

Sadly, it’s a common occurrence in business today to witness power and influence being wielded as a weapon. It hurts and destroys. Positive influencers use their power well and wisely. They understand the widespread influence they have, the power they have to build up and elevate, or tear down. Those who impact the world for the better are careful and judicious with their words, actions and behaviors. They care deeply about their leadership and communication process and style, and the influence they have. They take it seriously, as a special honor and responsibility not to be flaunted or misused. They understand their special role, and accept it with grace, compassion, and care.

Are you longing to make a positive impact in the world?  What can you do today to shift your behaviors to make more of a difference?

(To build a more rewarding and impactful career, check out The Amazing Career Project.)

Are You Toxic To Deal With? How To Tell, and How To Change

 

Last week, I posted a piece on LinkedIn about toxic behaviors that I see everyday in the work I do, and the response has been quite amazing.  Here’s the post:

6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away: How To Recognize Them In Yourself and Change Them

When I write an article, I truly never know how it will be perceived and received. I just write about what matters to me, and what emerges on the forefront of what I’m thinking about and focusing on that week.  In this case, I felt compelled to write about behaviors I see daily (and that I’ve engaged in as well), that wreak havoc in our lives and careers, bringing with them unhappiness, pain and suffering to those participating in them, and to everyone involved.

What’s shocked me about this post is that it went viral (1.8 million views to date), and that some of the direct responses I’ve received were evidence of the exact same toxic behaviors I’ve described.

I’ve heard from people who:

1) Attacked me for my views, and called the post dangerous

2) Accused me of thinking I was “better” than other people

3) Put me down for not seeing their “specialness”

4) Demanded I help them now

5) Criticized me for not having more time and ability to personally help everyone who needs it

6) Called me judgmental and haughty for pointing out toxic behaviors

The lesson I’m learning in my life and work right now (and it’s an important one for me) is that when something reaches millions of people, there will be just that many different types of responses (good, bad, and the ugly), and my boundaries need to be sufficient to withstand that.  And I need to focus on the positive and be grateful that the post had an impact, and made people think.

About toxic behaviors, my wish from this piece is that people can begin to identify these 6 toxic behaviors in themselves but from a loving, compassionate standpoint, not to beat themselves up about it.  I believe we’ve all engaged in some form of these behaviors throughout our lifetimes – they’re universal.  The key to increasing your happiness and having more satisfying human connection is gaining greater awareness of when you are hurting yourself and others. Greater awareness equal greater choice.

The six toxic behaviors to watch out for are:

1. Taking everything personally

2. Obsessing about negative thoughts

3. Treating yourself like a victim

4. Cruelty – lacking in empathy or putting yourself in others shoes

5. Excessive reactivity

6. Needing constant validation

Once you can recognize these behaviors in yourself, and accept that you have the capacity to be self-obsessed, negative, self-limiting, cruel, emotionally reactive, and overly needy, you can do something about it.  But if you continue to hold yourself above self-scrutiny, you can’t change or grow.

Thank you for looking at yourself in the mirror today, and being honest and open in identifying what you see, both the things you’d like to change, and the things in yourself you’re grateful for and appreciative of.  Writing this piece has deepened my commitment to identifying these toxic behaviors in myself — and also appreciating what is positive, loving, and helpful — and doing something about it.

Let me know what you think about these 6 toxic behaviors. Do you see yourself in any of these? What have you done to shift away from them?

 

Career Path Self-Assessment

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Kathy's CAREER PATH SELF-ASSESSMENT SURVEY!

 

Finally, gain the self-knowledge, insights and answers you need to improve your career today!

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