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Last night I attended the GLBT Executive Networking Event hosted by Boston Spirit Magazine. It was a good event which had a number of companies with booths, break out sessions, and a keynote speech by Robert Kraft, Owner of the New England Patriots (American football) and New England Revolution (international football or soccer) teams. He spoke of teamwork and how he turned the Patriots around to be one of the most successful sports franchises. It was a nice night (and especially those that like to see handsome men in suits.)

I had a client that I was coaching at this event and there are lessons that I’ve found are almost universal for everyone who comes to these type of networking events. This individual was laid off and has been paralyzed by fear in starting the job search. This event was the first tangible action taken in months. As I stated, just coming and showing up made this a success!

Too often people get completely overwhelmed with the emotions and magnitude of the job search and shut down completely. My recommendation is to just think: “What is the one small action I can take now?” (Those of you who know GTD will not be surprised at this). When I’m coaching clients about networking events, I recommended that people have a goal for what they can get done at an event to know it’s a success.  This can be as simple as “find someone who knows something about Google as an employers” to “find the names of 3 resources for a graduate degree or certificate in graphic design that I can take online” to “talk with one person who will introduce to another person”.  By setting yourself an achievable goal, you are more likely to feel successful and actually do more than that.  The important thing is just to move forward, and you can only do that one step at a time.

So, what’s the one next thing that you can do right now to move forward in your goals?


Boston Spirit LGBT Executive Networking Night, 02-23-2011

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’m a big proponent of people getting out and talking to people face to face.

No matter how charming you are on line, you will always be more impressive in person. Additionally, I say that you should have a goal when you go to events, and those that have a focus intrinsic to them are even more likely to find like minded people. To that, I’m attending the Boston Spirit Magazine’s GLBT Networking event at the Copley Marriott. Its from 6-9 pm and it will have break out sessions and have Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, as the keynote speaker. I encourage anyone who can to attend. They have 1200 RSVPs, so there should be a lot of people to meet. If you see me, please come up and introduce yourself!

Wondering if you’re utilizing this event to it’s fullest?  Check out my comments about networking. My goal is to let as many people know about my Finding Your Calling Career Exploration retreat at Easton Mountain on March 18-20, 2011.  Been thinking about what you want to do with your life?  This might be a good way to move that forward.

So, what are you doing to let others know about you?

I’m riding the train this morning with a whole bunch of other people heading into the city, and I’m scanning their faces. Some look quiet and serene. Some look focused and tense. What is similar with all these people is that they are all heading somewhere for a purpose. For most, the purpose is to get to work.

The question of what gets you up in the morning is what motivates you. The word motivate makes me think of a car engine starting. It’s that initial spark that that initiates all other actions. For many, that spark is missing and coffee fills the void. Usually, what gets you going is something that answers one if your core needs. It could be the need to help another, complete a task, or to have motivated others to make a change that affects the world. We are all very individualistic in our motivations. That is why we gravitate to certain areas if work. I’m motivated by making a difference in people’s lives and having them acknowledging that with me. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be motivated in the field or architecture or engineering.

Many times when I work with clients, the issue of motivation if central to them feeling stuck. They can be successful in their current careers, but it doesn’t get them up in the morning. My sign in identifying that is what subjects make them talk more excitedly and get them to smile more. And it’s not just that they want to do those things, but the reasons behind them. This is another opportunity to work in your own personal power.  What do you want?

So, what gets your heart racing?

Note: To discover more about your motivations, consider coming to my career exploration workshop at Easton Mountain, Finding Your Calling: Making Connections Between Your Spirit and Your Work on March 18-20, 2011.  Please let your friends know about it!

For a few years, speed dating events have popped up across the country. For those of you who have never experienced it, it’s where you are seated with a random stranger of the persuasion that you are searching (straight, gay, bi, etc.) and you have a few minutes to talk with that person and see if you’ve got a first impression that you’d like to get to know this person. If both of you indicated that you are interested, the people organizing it will supply you with each others contact information and you can take it from there.

Recently, I’ve been seeing more calls for Speed Networking. The idea is you get to talk with lots of people and that you are more likely to find someone out of the crowd who you actually have something in common with. I have been asked many a time to organize a Speed Networking event, and it just goes against just about everything that I teach as a career management professional.  In fact, I did one last night. It was called Speed Networking, but I did it the way I think is more effective. 😉

Here are my issues with Speed Networking:

  • It’s Not Intentional: My big recommendation for any networking event is that you go into it with an intention of what information you want to get out of it, and to be specific about what you want.  If you know what you want and can state it clearly (e.g. “I want a job in publishing” versus “I’m looking for information about the need for editorial assistant positions within the textbook publishing industry”) you are much more likely to get the information you want.
  • Don’t Practice Approaching People: One of the major acts of networking is to approach people you might not know and be able to relate to them how you are similar.  That’s a tough one, and one that we all need practice with.  If you are placed with someone randomly, you don’t have to bring all that fortitude to actually make it happen.  To be successful in this world, you need to learn how to do that, and a networking event is the sandbox where you should practice it.
  • Chances Are High That You Won’t Meet Who You Want: By randomly being sat with people, the chances are much lower that you will talk with the people who have the information you are looking for. Granted, you should hopefully learn some skills about how to get some information out of random people, but I think that most people just turn off when they see that someone isn’t in the same field as them.

My whole goal in helping people with their careers is for them to get a sense of their own personal power to affect their futures, and “speed networking” makes it seem like they are powerless to the natural forces of the business world.  I like to have what I call “focused networking” where I give enough structure to make it safe, but also put them in the situations where they are more likely to get the information they need.  If you think that you will go to an event and hope that magic happens, you are probably going to be disappointed.

So, what is it that you’re looking for, and where are the places you can go to talk with those people who know something about it?

Today is the annual day that people in relationships feel forced to do something to make a love statement, many single people want to hide, and others just don’t think about it much.  As someone who’s been single for about five years (and that’s a whole story that I won’t be telling on this blog.  Get me to go out for a drink if you want that conversation!), I thought to myself what would be the best and most appropriate action for me to do today.  I saw 5 individual clients today and led a workshop (nothing says romance like talking about interviewing and networking) and was feeling rather fried at the end of the day, so I decided that I needed to show some love for someone that I know needs it, namely me.  I ended up going to the gym and having a pretty good workout.  I’m leaving for Florida in 3 weeks for a vacation, and I need to lose about 5-10 lbs. if I’m going to fit into my summer clothes (which will be what I need to wear down there!)

On this Valentines Day, I ask that you look to yourself (even if you are in a relationship) and see what you could do that would be really loving.  One of the kindest things that you can do for yourself is to ask “What do I want? What would make me happy?” and then work towards that.  If we can envision a goal and work toward it, we gain in our own self confidence and see that we can have the personal power to do anything.  I wish that for all of you.

So, what gift are you giving yourself today?


I’ve been lucky enough to be interviewed on three different shows over the past year where I can share my thoughts about career development and how it interacts with the other aspects of people lives, and I thought that many of you might not have heard these and would like to get a better sense of my approach. Take a listen to these and let me know if anything resonates with you!

  1. In March 2010, I was the guest speaker on the Getting Things Done Virtual Study Group (GTD-VSG) Podcast where I talked about “Utilizing GTD in Career Development“.  It was a great time with some great questions from the audience. If you don’t know anything about GTD, it’s a productivity philosophy developed by David Allen and I highly recommend it to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed and wants to get control of your life (or at least feel less anxious about it.) Listen to it directly.
  2. In December 2010, I was interviewed by Harry Faddis on “The Quest of Life” radio show out of WRPI-FM in Troy, NY, where I discussed “Connecting Your Spirit & Your Work“.  Harry asked me question about how people make decisions about where their careers are going and how you can make choices that serve you better.
  3. In January 2011, I was again a guest on The Quest of Life, and here I discussed “I Could Do Anything I Wanted If I Only Knew What It Was“. A big part of my work is helping clients with career exploration and assessments, so this was to clarify what people can do to help them get more clarity on what it is that makes them happy and how they can increase their chances of working in areas that make them happy.

Note: The workshop that I mention in the last two interviews (Finding Your Calling: Making Connection Between Spirit and Work) has been rescheduled to March 18-20, 2011, so you still have a chance to register!

I have a great time doing these interviews and am considering doing a podcast/audio/video blog to answer questions that people would have.

So, what questions would you like to ask me?


I have many people who come to me to ask me questions about their resumes and how to make them better.  From this, I’ve especially noticed that most people have a lot of ideas about resumes that I usually have to debunk before we can actually get to the real work of improving it.  Here, for your benefit, are the five main truths about resumes that I tell my clients. As with everything I (or anyone else) says, your mileage may vary.  It’s only right if it’s true for you.

  1. A Resume is More An Art Than a Science: There is no one right way to write a resume.  It’s the opportunity for a document to speak for you when you’re not there to talk for yourself.  If you have someone who says that a resume can only be a certain way (e.g. must have all bullets, must be in Times New Roman 12 point, etc.), don’t believe it. Take the information and see if it works for you.
  2. A Resume Is Not About You: A resume is about the person reading it and what they need to know about you in order to make a good decision about talking with you further.  There’s no one right way to word your resume, but think about who the audience is.  Write in the way they write.
  3. A Resume Is An Advertisement for You, Not a Short Story: No matter how well the resume is written, you will never be able to relate your entire life in a resume. Don’t try.  It’s job is to just get them interested enough in you to want to bring you in.  Tell me enough to get me interested (Note: most people’s resumes are boring and not interesting), but don’t overwhelm me with details.
  4. A Resume Shouldn’t Be Like a Buffet: Don’t throw everything you have at me and force me to figure out how you can help me.  Know what’s important to me and just give me that.  Think about it more like a plated dinner.  You’re being served just what you need, but let them know there’s more in the kitchen if needed.
  5. A Resume Is a Better Confirmation of Who You Are Than a Calling Card: Most people lead with their resumes (sending them into posted jobs and hoping they get called).  No matter how well your resume is written, you are more persuasive and can speak to your value.  It’s best if people hear about you and your resume confirms that you are all that.

These are just a few things that I say.  I’ve got a lot more! 😉  Keep coming back and reading my thoughts, or better yet, join the Spirit-Work Connection Fan Page on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

So, How does your resume represent you?

Note: My career exploration workshop at Easton Mountain, Finding Your Calling: Making Connections Between Your Spirit and Your Work,  has been rescheduled to March 18-20, 2011.  Please let your friends know about it!

This recent article in the Harvard Business Review by my colleague Priscilla Claman brought back to me many discussions I’ve had with people about how to prepare for interview questions. Everyone is scared of the interviewer asking wacky, out-of-left-field types of questions that leave you stumped as to the “correct” answer to such things as what kind of vegetable are you, etc. The most troubling of these seems to be “Tell me about your greatest weakness?”

I think that Priscilla gives some great advice in her column, but here are some suggestions that I always tell my clients when we prep for interviews:

  1. While some people are trained in interviewing skills, there are many that aren’t and don’t do it enough to feel confident. Be easy on them and know that they will sometimes ask unusual questions. They are probably nervous too!  You can ask a clarifying question if you need to. And remember to smile and don’t take it like it’s life or death. Many times they just want to see how you react in awkward situations.
  2. When more skilled interviewers do ask about you weaknesses, I would assume that they are looking to see how well you know yourself, and what you are doing to fill in the gaps. None us can be perfect at everything, but we can know the areas where we need to call on other resources. I recommend that people answer this question by picking an area that you know is not your strongest (and not integral to the position you are interviewing for!) and describe what you have done to improve in that area.

    An example could be: “I’ve always had difficulty speaking in front of groups, and I never felt the most confident about it.  I knew that this is something that I would need to work on, so I’ve taken some presentation workshops and also started going to Toastmasters meetings.  I’ve definitely learned some skills and don’t feel as nervous. I know I still have more work to do in this area, but it’s helped me to move from rather woeful to decently competent.”

    Note: As it has been widely reported that most people fear speaking in public more than death, this is one the most people can relate to.

As with any interviewing issue, the best that you can do it to prepare as best as possible, even for the unusual question.  Granted, you are also interviewing them, and you might decide after getting a question like this that you don’t want to work for them.

So, How do you handle weird interview questions?



Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

I am a career consultant who specializes in the connection between what your spirit wants to do in the world, and how to marry that to the work that you do in order to support yourself. While I work with people in all fields, I specialize in working with "creative entrepreneurs" and the LGBT community.

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