What Cambodian Kids Can Teach Us All

SR School

I recently spent a super weekend with friends in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

As part of the trip we took a day out to visit some schools built by the literacy charity Room To Read. Regular readers will know that I’ve undertaken fundraising for the charity – and so I wanted to see their work in the field.

With approximately 50% of the population living on less than USD $2 per day, Cambodia is a very poor country. So travelling through the rural landscape to visit the schools was a real eye opener. Cambodia also has a shocking problem with the trafficking of young girls.

So learning to read and get an education provides the next generation of Cambodians with a passport out of poverty and the subsequent problems it creates.

Humility and Inspiration

As you can imagine, visiting the schools in this part of the world was both humbling and inspiring. But also a lot of fun.

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Woman In Business: Why We Need You

power-woman

“Woman are the world’s most underused resource”

- Hilary Clinton

I was recently at a graduate assessment centre evaluating some MBA graduates.

It was the usual type of assessment event where a room full of MBA’s in their shiny suits and bright smiles are grouped together to perform tasks and presentations against the clock. Meanwhile, a bunch of (supposedly) wiser and older managers/recruiters observe their behaviours and select candidates for final interviews.

Before the group tasks began, one particular group caught my eye.

The group had a great energy about them with lots of laughing and banter. Given that we’re in Singapore there was a complete cross section of nationalities in this group; Singaporean, Chinese, Indian and western countries. Along with a good male/female mix.

Men Taking Over

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Creative People: How To Make Sensible Career Changes

Question

“Sital, 

I’m not sure what career I want to pursue, being an Engineer for the past 15 years, all I deal with are dry technical stuff and lots of Excel. I want my next step to be of something a bit more creative, a bit more artistic…but I’m one of those unlucky souls who do appreciate art but not blessed with an artistic talent myself. Any suggestions..?”

Answer

Let me answer your question with suggestions for the short term, mid term and long term timescales:

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Be Valuable, Not Visible

 

Crowd

 

In today’s hectic, noisy , attention-starved world busy people no longer have the time for your “stay in touch emails” or “quick coffees”

You can no longer be visible in the crowd.  Instead you need to be valuable.

Which means you need to provide value to your senior leaders, your contacts and your recruiters.

The value or benefits could be:

  • A fresh idea to help them with a business challenge
  • A new networking contact
  • A referral to a future employee
  • An interesting blog post
  • A relevant Tweet  or a useful status update on LinkedIn or Yammer
  • A connection to a networking group
  • A recommendation of books that are relevant to their current goals and challenges (Better still, buy them the book)

By focussing on being valuable , you’ll get repeat business, referrals and the chance too deepen relationships.

So step away from the noise and the crowd to focus on being valuable to the key people that will have biggest impact on your career this year.

Inspiration from Vietnam

Viet.Steet

I’ve just returned from a festive trip to Hong Kong and Vietnam.

It was my first trip to Vietnam – which was amazing. Amazing history, amazing sites, amazing food.

But what impressed me most was the amazing people that I met:

  • I met a group of students in Hanoi who take tourists around the sites and sounds of the Vietnamese capital for NO payment (not even tips). They do it purely so as to help improve their English and better themselves.
  • I met an amazing tour guide who told us how he’d turned down a well paid secure graduate job with the government. Instead he took a risk by following a career in the tourism industry where he’d instinctively felt drawn to. He now tells amazing stories about the history, culture and people of Vietnam….and is the best tour guide I’ve ever come across. And unlike his friends that took the safe career path, he loves what he does.
  • I met a 25 year old driver who told me how he’d left his life on a rural farm to move to Hanoi. He spent 5 years working in a factory to save funds to get a drivers license. Now he drives guests from various hotels whilst saving up for formal English lessons so that he can secure an even better job and save up to get married. All whilst sending funds home each month to support his family
  • I met an amazing team at my hotel. Everyone from the front desk team to the restaurant staff knew me by name, took an interest in how my trip was going and even knew how I liked my tea. And on leaving they asked “Mr Sital, we know that we’re not perfect, what can we do better? What can we do to improve our service?”

Vietnam has a troubled past. And a number challenges of today. But it’s a developing economy with a bright future – not least because of the amazing attitude of it’s young workforce.

Looking to 2014

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Your LinkedIn Headline: What, Why, How?

LinkedIn

What is it?

It’s the headline title at the top of your LinkedIn profile – just under name, next to your picture. By default, LinkedIn will automatically populate the headline title with the title from your current position.

This is fine when you first set up your account – but it’s really a critical part of your profile and I’d suggest you change it so that it does NOT simply show your current title.

Why is it so important?

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Career Shifters: Define Your Target Role In 30 Minutes

30 Mins

 

Grab 4 sheets of paper.

Or maybe use a spreadsheet with 4 worksheets……or the notes section of your smartphone (whatever works for you).

Follow the instructions below with a strict time limit of 30 minutes. It’s really important to stick to the 30 minutes timeline as it forces you to write quickly and honestly. But also gives you quick progress.

Sheet 1 – Define your desired lifestyle 

- Go back and review the questions I set out in yesterday’s blog post on defining your lifestyle

Sheet 2.  Define your “Ideal next role”

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Pick The Lifestyle, Not The Career

Hammock laptop

It’s the start of a new year and it’s very likely that you’re busy setting goals – career goals, relationship goals and the obligatory plans to get fit and healthy this year.

But before you start making any decisions about your career – it’s important that you are very clear about the future lifestyle you want to create – and then ensure your career goals are aligned to the lifestyle.

Your lifestyle goals are far more important than your career goals. Your career, job and business (if you’re self employed) provide the fuel for you to live the lifestyle you want. So take a few moments this week to think through the questions below:

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2014 Habits: The Seinfield Method

Jerryseinfeld

Brad Issac was a software developer looking to build a new career as a comedian. Constantly on the look out for mentors and experienced comedians to learn from, Isaac was fortunate to meet with Jerry Seinfield one evening at a comedy club – just around the time that Seinfield’s TV series was taking off

Given such a great opportunity, Isaac asked Seinfield if he could share some tips and advice for new comedians.

As you can see from Isaac’s summary below, he learned a great lesson:

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Nelson Mandela’s One Big Lesson

nelsonmandela

In recent days much has been said and written about the late great Nelson Mandela.

People far wiser than me have made assessments of his life and his legacy.

But the one lesson that I will take away from Mandela was his ability to not “tolerate” situations which he believed to be wrong. No matter how scary the implications were to resist the status quo.

We all tolerate and accept the status quo in a variety of situations. Situations which are not even in the same league as far apartheid.

In our professional lives there are some common areas we tolerate:

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