Urgency

Urgency doesn’t sound as cool as “hustle”, “grind” or any of the other popular phrases we hear so often, but that doesn’t make it any less important. If you want to become successful, then a sense of urgency is essential. Putting essential tasks off until later, so that you can watch a movie now, won’t help you get to where you want to be. It just delays your progress.

Do you think Richard Branson and Elon Musk take a laid-back approach to business, frequently putting off until another day those things which they could do now? Of course not. They understand that the world of business is fast-moving, so they act quickly and decisively.

Unlike most of us, successful people are not selective in what they approach with a sense of urgency. They adopt that same approach with everything, so as to avoid the disappointment of missed opportunities. How do they manage to do this and still find time for their families and personal interests? They prioritise.

In order to be of service to others, you need to take care of yourself first. This means guarding your time. Throughout the day, every day, we get bombarded with requests for help from other people. High achievers, however, don’t stop to deal with each one but they have the courage to say no when that task would distract them from their own goals. They take care of their own priorities first, and then serve others if they have enough time and energy left.

Successful people have to-do lists for their days, which helps to avoid distractions and getting side-tracked. They also prioritise their activities to make sure that if they don’t complete everything, at least the most important tasks get completed. Most of all, though, they act with urgency in everything they do. This means that that by the time that they sit down to relax in the evening, they are able to reflect back on the day with satisfaction because they have taken positive steps towards their goals.

If, for example, your goals are to get a new job, lose weight and become debt-free in 2018, you need to give your all, in all 3 areas, every day. This is what helps you to achieve more, because you are constantly striving for improvement. Rather than taking one at a time, you fire yourself up and tackle all 3 because there is no time to lose. Momentum builds, experience is gained and progress is made. This, in turn, keeps you motivated and the fire burning to keep going and challenging the limits of what you are capable of achieving.

Better yet, when acting with a sense of urgency in all you do becomes a habit, it benefits you in other ways too. Of course, it has the potential to bring quicker results from your efforts, but it is also a great way to build momentum and boost your confidence. You will find yourself becoming more driven, focused and productive. You will find your work ethic increasing, and as a result, opportunities for personal or professional development will present themselves. Best of all, you stop procrastinating or deferring important tasks to another day. Your mindset changes, and you strive to complete as much as you can today, in order that you can push yourself harder and achieve even more tomorrow.

All of this is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Create a to-do list for the tasks that will get you a step closer to your goals each day. Then attack each one with an equal sense of urgency, and watch the magic happen.

Remember, a rolling stone gathers no moss.

The January Job Hunt

Every January, alongside improved health and fitness, a new career or job which pays better comes high up on a huge number of peoples’ priorities for the year ahead. It can be for several reasons, of which money is one. After all, it stands to reason that if you want to have more money than you have now, then you need to find a way to earn more, while also saving more of what you earn. More money coming in combined with less money going out will leave you with a bigger bank balance. Others, however, are comfortable financially yet still want a new job. Why? Because money isn’t the only motivator to change jobs or careers. Some people will change because they do not enjoy what they are doing and want a new challenge, or need a new job which can fit in with their other commitments.

Whatever your reason for changing jobs, January is the perfect time to get started. Regardless of your desired role, and the industry which it is in, you are almost guaranteed to find plenty of roles to apply for. This tends to be the time of the year when people have been promoted and their former role needs to be filled, or new roles have been created. The rest of the year, the number of vacancies will fluctuate depending on your industry. So, that’s why if you want a new job, you cannot afford to waste any time this month. Start as you mean to go on, and when you get started, please remember the below, which I have learned through bitter experience;

Hustle. Never stop working for whatever it is that you want, but also develop a thick skin in order to be able to deal with rejection and setbacks without losing your momentum or hunger for progress.

The above applies to all areas, not just job hunting. Whatever you want in life, you have to work for it. Hard. More importantly, you have to want it with every ounce of your being. This will keep you going through both the good and bad times. You will learn to ignore the negative voices who tell you to admit defeat and move on. You will learn to brush off rejection and keep going. Which brings me back to today’s topic.

First of all, a reality check. Landing a new job is hard work and it won’t happen overnight. For every role you apply for, there will be tens, hundreds or maybe even thousands of others applying for the same job too. You will spend countless hours working with recruiters only for them to go quiet all of a sudden. You will also encounter generic rejection letters or emails, or even no response at all. This is why you need to develop a thick skin and not take any of it to heart, because taking it personally can hurt your confidence and derail your progress.

Now…about the actual job search..

  • Use a number of approaches. If you have an idea of which company you would like to work for, check their website for vacancies. Send a cv and cover letter to the hiring manager, whose details you may be able to find via LinkedIn. Sign up with recruitment agencies. Check job boards, newspapers, magazines and social media such as LinkedIn. Do not rely on job boards, or any one approach, alone.
  • Network. Sitting in front of a computer firing off applications may give you a warm fuzzy feeling of achievement, but alone it won’t get you a job. You need to get up, get out and talk to people. Don’t just sign up with a recruitment agency, go to their offices and speak to them in person. How can a recruiter confidently put you forward for a role if the only contact they have had with you is a few emails and phone calls? Meet them, talk to them and forge a working relationship. Don’t just stop there. Now that you have ventured outside and away from your computer, attend networking events relevant to your industry or personal industry. You never know, the next person you speak to may have the perfect role for you, or if not, they might know someone else who does.
  • Develop an elevator pitch. This is something which can help you greatly in your search. You will be meeting and talking to countless recruiters, hiring managers and figures within your chosen industry, so it’s best to have a well thought-out introduction prepared. Keep it to around 30 seconds, and if the other person wants to know more about you they will keep the conversation going. For this to be effective, you need to be clear about who you are, what you want and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. The best way to master this? Practice. Keep practicing and amending your introduction until you feel that you can do no better.
  • Ensure that your CV and Cover Letter relevant and up to date. For a recruiter, there is nothing worse than receiving a cv and cover letter which is full of jargon and business buzzwords, but very little information about why you believe that you are a good fit for the job in question. Without fail, these cvs and cover letters go into the shredder. If you can’t take the time to update your cv and cover letter to reflect your suitability for this particular role, then you don’t deserve to be considered for shortlisting. You have to make some effort and show that you want this in order to stand out from other candidates. So, while a ridiculous amount of people still insist on having one generic cover letter and cv which they use to apply for every job, be the exception and take the time to tailor yours to the specific role. If the job advert lacks some information which you need to tailor your application, take the initiative to contact the recruiter and speak to them about it. That effort will work in your favour.
  • Be relentless. Don’t just apply for 2 jobs and then put your feet up for the rest of the day, or week. Apply for 2 more. And another 2. Keep going until you have applied for all the relevant roles which interest you and for which you are a good fit. The job hunt is a game of numbers, and personal experience has shown me that you should expect a response rate of around 10% from your applications, depending on your skills and experience. So, if you apply for 50 roles, expect to hear back from around 5 of them. If you’re lucky, all 5 might want to interview you. On the other hand, if you’re really unlucky, all 5 might reject you. Regardless of whatever happens, keep going. You have interviews lined up? Great, but don’t stop searching for other roles. Keep up your job search until the moment you get the right offer and sign the contract. Then you switch your attention to the relentless pursuit of excellence in your new role.

So, be realistic about what you want. Don’t apply for every job going, but focus on the area which interests you. Take each application seriously, and tailor your cv and cover letter to show that you are interested in this role and why you believe that you are a good fit. Accept that you will meet with setbacks and rejections, but don’t give up. Keep the momentum going and keep applying for suitable roles and keep networking. It takes a lot of hard work to land the right job, but if you want it deeply enough, you will find a way to make it happen.

 

Dear students..

For students with a place at one of the countless universities in the UK, this week is arguably the most exciting. It’s Fresher’s Week, and after the formality of the enrolment process to get through, the fun starts. Not only do you get to meet your tutors and classmates but you then get bombarded with free stuff before making new friends at one of the many social events and parties.

Having studied at undergraduate and postgraduate level at university, as well as working in one for several years, I have experienced and observed the student journey from both sides. Today, I would like to share some of my observations, experiences and advice in the hope that it might provide some value to those embarking on, or continuing, this exciting chapter in their lives.

University, for many, is a first real taste of independence. You have the freedom to express yourself and be whatever you want to be. Moreover, you have the freedom and responsibility to manage your time and workload. Turning up to lectures, seminars and workshops on time is your responsibility. Completing any reading or assignments is again your responsibility. Universities have plenty of support and guidance available to help students with any challenges which they may face, but each student’s journey is ultimately their own responsibility. It really is up to you what you make of it.

University is not for everyone, and a lot of people will opt instead for a job or an apprenticeship. Degree courses are not free, either, with a year of undergraduate study in the UK costing a little over £9000. With that in mind, I would recommend that you strive to find balance in your student life. Enjoy the social and recreational aspects of university life, but please do not neglect your studies or overlook any opportunities which may present themselves for personal development.

While at university, you have the perfect opportunity to hustle for a headstart on your peers. There is no guarantee of a job after graduation, and the job market is very competitive, so it stands to reason that you should look for and take advantage of any opportunities to develop your knowledge, skills, abilities and network. This will place you in a stronger position than many other job applicants later.

Aside from the standard libraries and online resources which all universities have in common, the resources and opportunities available to you will vary depending on your faculty and course of study. As an example, I will share what was available to myself while studying for a Master’s in Human Resource Management at Middlesex University in London.

  • Membership of professional organisations. As a student, I was supplied with memberships to the CIPD (Chartered Institute fo Personnel and Development) and the CMI (Chartered Management Institute). The membership fees were paid by the university, and I gained access to countless online resources and support.
  • Journals. As with other subject areas, mine gave me access to the latest professional journals which offered the opportunity to stay up to date with the latest research and developments within the industry.
  • Visiting lecturers and networking. Throughout the course, there were a number of lectures and workshops led by experienced professionals within the field of Human Resources. Alongside this, there were countless opportunities to network with people working in the industry as well as fellow students.

The above is just a glimpse of what was made available to myself and my fellow students on this course. There were ample opportunities to gain knowledge and, even though the course was largely based in theory and research, there were plenty of opportunities to develop skills and abilities. As with other courses of study, all the ingredients for success were provided. This then raises the question as to why, if every student has the same access to the same help and support, why are some more successful than others? The answer comes down to how much work they are prepared to put into their studies, how many opportunities they take advantage of and how hard they hustle.

While it may, at first glance, appear counter-intuitive to advise hustling while studying it actually makes perfect sense. The biggest challenges that you will face in this are in managing your time and being organised, but if you can master both, you will be able to work on your personal development while giving your all to your studies. As well as a small income from any work which you do on the side, you will gain valuable experience, and experience is essential.

When you graduate, and start looking for your first role, experience is a brick wall which you will continually come up against. This is a challenge because alongside strong educational backgrounds, an increasing number of employers also want at least 2 years’ experience. It is here that your extra work while studying will pay off. This is because you will be able to describe to an interview panel how, while studying, you also launched a side business (for example, reselling items on Ebay). With many other students working part-time to fund their studies, this is potentially nothing new. That is, until you are able to highlight the time management and marketing skills which you learned, stressing too the ability to prioritise tasks, organise your workload effectively and meet tight deadlines.

If you don’t feel that the entrepreneurial route is right for you, there are other ways in which you can help yourself. Take advantage of the professional networks which you are exposed to as a student. Offer your services for free in exchange for experience in your field of interest and study. This could take the form of an internship over the summer months, or volunteering. Whatever it is, if you are prepared to give up some of your time, you will gain experience and knowledge of your potential future career path. Furthermore ,you will discover bigger and better opportunities for networking which could be a great help at a later date.

Whether you choose to attempt a side business, an internship or perhaps a part-time job relevant to your studies, your time and effort will pay off massively when you graduate as you will likely have a strong network from which to draw advice and support, a good knowledge of the industry and plenty of relevant experience.

Good luck with your studies, and please don’t waste the opportunity which you have been given.

Quote Of The Day: Work Your Butt Off (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Today, i’d like to share with you a call to action from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Through grit, determination and relentless hard work he has achieved greatness, and this is his philosophy;

“​It is so important that you work your butt off. Don’t ever look for shortcuts. You have to recognize that there are 24 hours a day. We sleep six hours a day. I know there are some of you that say, “Wait a minute, I take more time to sleep.” I say, “Just sleep faster, okay? Because you should only spend six hours in bed because otherwise it’s a waste of time, and then you have 18 hours left.” 

Most people work, let’s say, eight or 10 hours. So now you still have eight hours left. 

What do we do with these eight hours? is really the question.

So this is when you have to study and learn something new. The key thing is, is to keep in mind what is your goal, and keep looking at that as you get up and dust yourself off. Okay?”

In his own inimitable way, Arnie reminds us that we should embrace lifelong learning and strive to improve ourselves every day. My favourite line, however is “get up and dust yourself off”. This is a reality check, and an important one, because things will not always go according to plan. It is, therefore, crucial that you become resilient and better able to persevere through the challenging times. This is what will allow you to get back up and move forward having learned from the experience.

Rather than binge watching the latest box set or going out, spend your downtime working towards your goals. Hustle, grind, work…whatever it is that you call it, that is exactly what you should be doing. This may mean networking, building your brand, creating a website or drafting a business plan. As hard and tiring as it may be to give up your free time in order to chase your dreams, in the end it will be worth it. After all, while others are at rest or play, you have the perfect opportunity to steal a march on them. Don’t waste it.

Hustle

“Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you”

Mark Cuban

You have the power within you to go from good to great. Don’t wait for a spark of inspiration to motivate you. Don’t wait for the offer of a reward. Don’t wait for a push. Don’t settle when you become good, but use that as a springboard to greatness. Even when you think you have achieved everything, keep going and be relentless in your pursuit of greatness. What am I talking about? Allow me to set the scene and put it into a business context…

So, you’ve carried out your research, set your goals, planned and put in the hard work. It’s been a bumpy road, but you have reflected and learned on your experiences and, as a result, have continued to adapt and grow. Now, comes the most challenging point of all. Your effort and dedication is starting to pay off and you are tasting sweet success in your chosen arena. What do you do next?

The temptation is to take a holiday or treat yourself to a shopping spree in Harrods. Or maybe just to take some time off to recharge your batteries. Appealing as each of those options may be, they could do more harm than good to your progress and stall the success of that which you have created.

As your strategy and hard work pay off, things start moving in the right direction. This isn’t the end point, but rather the perfect opportunity to create some real progress. Don’t leave it to chance, but work for it like you have never worked before. Rather than taking a step back to savour your success, build on what you have created. In getting attention and successfully launching your venture, you have opened a door and taken the first step. Now is the time to build forward momentum. Keep growing and developing your business, until you reach a point where you have enough market share that you can’t be unseated or replaced by a competitor. This will take different forms for different people but there are some general steps which anybody could benefit from;

  • Re-evaluate your situation. On a personal level, reflect on where you are at the moment and where you would like to get to. Identify your strengths and areas for improvement. Update your goals and how you plan to achieve them. Now, with a renewed focus, carry out exactly the same audit for your business.
  • Spread the word. With the knowledge that you have a successful product or service, and a clear idea of the direction in which you want it to go, make sure people know about it. Network. Get out there and meet people. If you don’t have one already, think also about a marketing and social media strategy. How will you be engaging with people? Which social media outlets will you be using? Will you be using influencers to increase awareness?
  • Hustle. Do that which brought you success in the first place; work hard with passion and determination. Of course, the goalposts have moved and your business is in a better position but if you want to remain successful and build on what you have created, you need to keep working at it. Keep pushing forward, be bold and take calculated risks. Take note of what works well so that you can do more of it, and learn from bad experiences so that they won’t be repeated.