How to Stay Cool Under Pressure

It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned industry veteran or a novice entrepreneur, there will be times in your career when you encounter stressful situations. You will be required to perform under pressure, and it’s how you respond to this strain that can truly define who you are to other people. If you’re someone who reacts with anger at the slightest provocation, people will learn not to bring negative news to you. If you’re someone who crumples under pressure, you’re not going to make for a very effective leader.

Staying calm and proactive in times of great stress can help you collect your thoughts, process a plan of action, and move forward towards a solution. Here are some tactics you can practice to help you stay cool when the situation starts heating up:

Practice proper breathing.

That statement sounds a bit silly: ‘proper breathing’ is something we must be doing all day every day or else we’d be dead, right? While your breathing is no effective, proper breathing necessitates a bit more conscious thought. Regular breathing is typically shallow, meaning that the diaphragm muscles aren’t being utilized. By inhaling with your stomach using a method called belly breathing — where instead of breathing with your chest you inhale and exhale by pushing out your abdomen — you can relieve tension and help bring yourself to a more calm state. Repeating this exercise a few times during a stressful situation can help to calm your nerves and clear your mind.

If it’s a planned event, rehearse!

The old expression ‘practice makes perfect’ has stuck around so long for a reason: practicing something helps you to be better prepared and perform more effectively. If you’re giving a speech or a presentation that really has you on edge, run through it whenever you have the chance. If you’re prepping for a huge meeting, make sure you go over any points you have and study any material until you understand it thoroughly. The best chance you have for remaining calm in these anxiety-ridden situations is to make sure you’re prepared the best that you can be.

Focus on finding a solution, not on negativity.

If something has gone wrong, the last thing that anyone needs is a round of the blame game. Instead of perseverating on what went wrong and how there’s a problem to be fixed, look instead for solutions and ways that you can improve the situation rather than add to the issue.

How to Ask for a Raise

Navigating your way as you climb the ladder at your job can be tricky. You want to fight for what you feel you deserve so you don’t sell yourself short without pushing too hard or overselling yourself. That can be a difficult rope to walk for those who want to advance in their careers without feeling like they’ve overstepped their boundaries. No, you shouldn’t ask for a raise your second week at the company, but you also should be compensated for tenure if you’ve remained with the company for a long time. If you’ve assessed the situation and truly feel as though you deserve a raise for all the work that you do, here are a few ways you can approach the subject of salary negotiation with your employer.

  • Prepare for the conversation.
    • Conversations about money are always a bit uncomfortable, so the worst thing that you can do is walk into the conversation unprepared and spring the question on your employer. Take the time to prepare before launching into a salary negotiation. You’ll be able to bring more solid points to the table and be able to defend your request.
  • Do not present your request as a complaint.
    • One of the worst things you can do during a salary negotiation is dredge up resentments to back up the fact that you want a raise. Been there for over a year? Gone a while since your last raise? Shouldering some extra work lately? All of that is fine and perfectly valid for wanting a raise, but it’s likely that your employer is already aware of this fact and for one reason or another hasn’t responded the way you’d prefer. Instead, bring to light accomplishments that may not have received a lot of attention or recent successes that you’ve had.
  • Show them the value you bring to the team.
    • If you want to earn more money for doing the same job, or want to undertake more responsibilities for greater pay, you need to make sure that you can actively demonstrate the value you that you provide to the company at large. Have you skillfully handled any difficult clients? Have you successfully increased profit margins for your department? Did you develop a system to streamline productivity and save the company time and money? Highlight the reasons why you feel as though a raise is deserved and help them see what you bring to the table.

Interviewing Pointers

Sometimes the most difficult part of getting your dream job is convincing the employer that you’re the perfect employee for the job. You could have all of the necessary qualifications, excellent experience, and great references, but if you perform poorly in the interview you could negate all of your great qualities. That’s why it’s incredibly important that you take the time to adequately prepare for each job interview that you’re granted. If you aren’t sure where to start, take a look at these pointers that will help you present your best self every time you interview.

  • Dress for the part.
    • First impressions are made within the first seven seconds of meeting someone new. That means that your interviewers will likely have already crafted an idea of who you are before you even have a chance to introduce yourself. That’s why it’s always important that you come to each interview well-dressed and properly groomed so that you can always start off with your best foot forward.
  • Do your research.
    • You should never walk into an interview for any position without adequate knowledge of what the position requires, the goals of the company at large, and how your role will play into helping the company reach said goal. If you’re asked by the interviewer, “Tell us what you know about the company,” and your answer is inadequate at best, the interviewer will see that you came unprepared and will likely not give you a second thought post-interview.
  • Bring strong answers with you.
    • While every interview is different and you never know what the particular questions you’ll be asked are, there are a number of questions that are routinely asked during the interview process. Questions like, “What do you consider to be your greatest strength/weakness?” and “Tell us how you’ve overcome difficult situations” are fairly typical, so be prepared with real answers. Take the time to analyze your greatest professional flaws and consider how you’ve worked on them in the past and how you plan on working on them in the future.
  • Bring strong questions with you.
    • At the end of the interview when they ask, “Do you have any questions for us?” you may be tempted to call it a day and leave on a high note, but don’t overlook the importance of this opportunity. This is your chance to show your already existing knowledge and your eagerness to learn more. Bring along questions like, “Where do you see this position in 5 years?”, “If you could change one thing about this position/department/company, what would you change?”, or “How has this role changed over the past 5 years?” This will show an interest in the company and a desire to grow with the business, indicating that you’re already thinking about a future with the company.

Thought Leadership and its Impact on the Workplace

In today’s world, the phrase thought leadership has been overtly used within the business, private, and nonprofit sector. While the title itself has fallen into the dark hole of private sector jargon, we cannot stand by and overlook the impact that these key drivers have for tomorrow’s innovation. For many future businesses, thought leaders are innovators that play a strong and integral role in creating growth and motivation within a thriving economy. Much of their mentality and drive comes from their inventive ideas and unrelenting energy and ambition to spark and inspire growing ideas and individuals for the future of any businesses. While we can continue to throw the phrase around, I believe it is important t to analyze this trait and its overall impact on businesses and professionals alike.

At its core, thought leadership can be a very difficult concept to grasp. With so many great leaders, how can we differ an effective manager of an office from a thought leader in an entire industry? The answer is actually quite simple if you think about it. Thought leaders are not just managers. They are pioneers who look to go beyond their goals and exploits in order to share their wisdom and knowledge with the rest of their peers. These informed opinionated leaders are those that we commonly refer to as the ‘go-to’ people within any field of expertise. They are the trusted source that not just executes at the job, but also shows and shares how to replicate success in every which way. In its truest form, thought leaders tend to be the most successful individuals. Furthermore, they are the ‘rainmakers’ if you will that can significantly change the face of any business in a positive and lucrative manner. So, with that, one question comes to mind: What characteristics make up a thought leader?

The Experts

While it may seem obvious, I feel like it is imperative to stress their expertise within their field. For thought leaders, they are not simply noticed or recognized because of their name. Instead, they are highly acclaimed because of what they bring to the table. To put it simply, these people are an incredible asset to whatever company or organization they are affiliated with. From their resumes, work experience, and overall work ethics, these leaders provide a high level of exceptional knowledge and natural ability into their work. They understand the ins-and-outs and the best approaches and practices within the day-to-day operations. Without that level of success, they would not be seen as highly as they are.

Born Leaders

Leadership can be a hard skill to develop. But for thought leaders, managing, sharing, and connecting with a group of individuals is something that is second nature. For these individuals, they are not simply looking to retain the number one spot. Instead, they look to create a vision that will inspire and motivate others to work and grow each and every day. That style of collective and communal thinking is something that is rare, especially in competitive businesses. But, for the sake of the greater good, that philosophy and rational of a thought leader are what truly distinguishes them from the other individuals who are looking to just make a name for themselves.

Approachable Mentors

As a thought leader, you will need to know how to communicate with a variety of different people. While it does not require you to be an extroverted individual, it will involve a strong line of communication and personality. In many cases, these individuals will be looked to as the examples and mentors of the business. Because of that, you will have a variety of individuals, from all different departments approaching you on specific ideas and topics. This is an opportunity where friendliness and approachability matters. Whether you are networking, blogging, or writing an email, all of your lines of communication as a thought leader should foster a sense of approachability. Even if it is for the simplest advice, that amicable personality is what truly personifies the leadership and vision that makes a person a thought leader.

Sharing Openly

Thought leaders are seen to have a consistent habit of being pretty transparent about their history and backgrounds. In many cases, their story of self is what fosters their perspective and their success. By understanding a thought leader’s story, you will be able to internalize the goals and reasons for what makes them go above and beyond each and every day.

Persistent and Well-Driven

This goes without saying, but for anyone who is at the top of his or her game, they have to have a willingness to be persistent. They want to make sure the world will move forward and that it will move there even faster with them by their side. For what drives them, that is a different story. The only thing that matters is their determination and belief to stay focus.

Take Action

When it comes to thought leadership, the title comes with action. It is about creating and making a change. This is not to say that it will not take time or effort to succeed. In fact, a culmination of their success is tangent with their overall sacrifice to said task. What we really need to understand is the grand scheme of things where the most effective thought leaders are those who are out in front of their cause and are continuing to show and grow other individuals to their collective goals.

The Three Styles for Leadership Success

Unlike other traits, leadership plays a major factor in operating the work of the day-to-day smoothly and seamlessly. Without leadership, all other aspects within the day become obsolete. Because of this simple reason, it is absolutely vital that we understand the ever-evolving trends and changes that go within this practice. In the grand scheme of things, leadership is not a one-size fit all entity. In fact, there are variations of styles and approaches to this skill that, in itself, depend on the internal and external factors within the workplace. In this blog, I will begin analyzing the three common approaches to leadership and how you can best implement each one of them into your office.  

Now before I start, let’s understand the concept and entity of leadership. When we think about leadership, we first and foremost have to comprehend the impact it can have on an organization as a whole. With strong, efficient, effective, and consistent leadership, organizations and companies are able to overcome times of peril and solidify a sense of success within their professional fields. That type of management and well-oiled culture is what allows organizations to foster and thrive even when times are tough. The only time it becomes a problem is when there is an absence of leadership. In most case scenarios, this can lead to a negative ramifications and effects which can range from a slow and stagnate movement within a business to a total loss of revenue and company culture at a company. Whatever is the case, it is imperative that we understand how important leadership is at every level of the day.

Much of these reasons can be attributed to the arduous decisions business leaders make on the day-to-day basis. For many people, they are unable to conceptualize the risk of putting thousands, maybe millions, of dollars all solely on a deal. For business leaders, these are not just asked, but decided upon. While no decision will ever be easy, the various tradeoffs within these decisions are what make great companies successful. These individuals understand the ramifications, but look surpass them for the overarching goal of their company’s goals and the overall livelihood of the hundreds or thousands of people working at their business.

So what represents leadership? How can you be a defining figure and game changer for your company and your company’s goals?

When it comes to leadership, it is important to understand the variations and approaches to the workplace. Keep in mind, your approach all begins with your employees. To be frank, people are different. They learn differently. They have different personalities. And they operate differently. Because of this, you as a business leader need to adapt various approaches and managerial tactics in order to get the best out of each of your workers. This requires you to holistically understand their personal and professional goals as well as their strengths and weaknesses within their positions.

Now because leadership differs on every level, I have outlined three style of leadership that you can utilize and leverage within the office. At the end of the day, leadership is more of an art than anything else. It needs to be reflective of who you are and what you believe in. But most importantly, it needs to look at the goals and benefits of your employees so that you can optimize every minute within the day.

Leadership 1: Authoritative Leadership

An authoritative leadership style is when a leader dictates and manages every policy and procedure at the workplace. In many cases, this leader is usually driven by the intrinsic goals he or she has for the company. While this style does have strong benefits, it also risks the sense of company culture and manager-employee relationship. Be aware of which individuals and which fields you can utilize this leadership. The overall corporate style of the ‘dog-eat-dog’ mentality can have some strong backlash if you are not careful and cognizant of your workers’ feelings.

Leadership 2: Democratic Leadership

Democratic leadership is a style of leadership that welcomes participative and collaborative values amongst their team members and peers. Similar to our society, this leadership requires a collective decision making though process that can provide different perspective in cultivating and strategizing a concept for success. But like authoritative leadership, this style does have some negatives. For any directors, supervisors, or managers, they know all to well that there will be a day where they will have to play the bad guy. Leverage their strengths, but do not forget your title.

Leadership 3: Transformational Leadership

This style of leadership depends on high levels of communication from management and employees in order to meet specific and necessary long-term goals. For many startup companies, this style of leadership and management maybe best in sparking ideas and driving productivity. Similar to democratic leadership, this does take a strong sense of collaboration. The work culture and managerial involvement needs to be clear and precise if you want to grow and develop your business.

Dave Ramsey’s Best Money Advice

If you’ve ever been drowning in money problems, you’ve probably heard of Dave Ramsey. He’s a personal finance expert, radio show host, author of numerous best-selling books (like “The Total Money Makeover” and “Financial Peace”). In this YouTube Segment, Dave Ramsey goes over briefly six personal finance principles you should be utilizing each and every day. The first step, of course, is to be cognizant of your spending habits. Start by evaluating your financial status holistically by looking at your income, your expenses (especially unnecessary ones), and your financial goals to get you back on track. By acknowledging and understanding where and what your money is going to, you will be able to gain the necessary reigns in moving forward in saving for your future.

TedTalks: Saving for Tomorrow

It’s easy to imagine saving money next week, but how about right now? Generally, we want to spend it. Economist Shlomo Benartzi says this is one of the biggest obstacles to saving enough for retirement, and asks: How do we turn this behavioral challenge into a behavioral solution?

4 Types of Retirement Accounts

It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. There are various types of retirement accounts that allow you to start saving for the future your way – so when you retire, you can hopefully keep living the lifestyle you’re used to.

Lessons on Financial Literacy for Your Children

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Parenting has always been an adventure without a manual. During the course of your children’s lives, you will be expected to teach, raise, and develop your children as the future leaders for tomorrow. While personal finance never becomes a priority between teaching them how to ride a bike or preparing them for college applications, instilling a strong money management mentality and skill for your kids can play a large roll in their lives. This deeper understanding of financial literacy can help your kids make better financial decisions during and after college so you do not need to worry about their future.

Let’s start by first understanding the concept of financial literacy. Financial literacy is the ability to use knowledge and skills to make effective and informed money management decisions. This covers things from the concepts of earning, spending, and saving to the ability of opening a bank account. While these are noble financial skills, knowing these everyday money management notions increases a persons overall financial success. In education today, the system focuses much of their attention on reading, writing, and math. While these core skills are imperative in the growth of our youth, financial literacy, especially as secondary classes, can become a game changer in transforming our children into leaders and forerunners for our society.

It is clear that finance, especially personal finance, is an important topic in all of our lives. But with its importance, why do many adults veer away from the topic when it comes to their kids? Wouldn’t they want to share their knowledge to help get their children on the right path for success? As much as we want to say yes, many adults, however, avoid talking about money because of their own financial struggles and lack of confidence of their own personal finances. While it is understandable why they might be embarrassed, they need to know that they can make that much needed impact in changing the course of their kids. First and foremost, they have the experience and perspective needed to aid their kids to a perfect track record. In addition, they can steer them from any mistakes that they have made in the past. This type of knowledge can absolutely go a long way. Even if you do not know the more higher level practices, introducing and sparking interest and awareness can help empower your children to take control of their financial lives.

To help teach your children about money management, start off by showing them the relationship between earning, spending, and saving. This can be done through a simple weekly allowance. This type of approach will allow your child to gain the overall foundation of the value of money. From there one, especially as they get older, teach them more about a savings account, balancing a checkbook, and creating a personal budget. Some approaches many parents have used is to actually show the their own personal finances at work. The key for this to be affective is to have them try it themselves. Allow them to make the mistakes now, than later when it counts. At the end of the day, we want to give our children the necessary resources to be successful in life. While financial literacy will take time, it will be the biggest impression your children can take away when they get that first paycheck and provide for their family.

Transition into a Long and Happy Retirement

Retirement, Scott Storick

For years, you have asked yourself when this day will come. There have even been times where you have doubted that it will come at all. But like many Americans who have experienced a long and fruitful career, retirement is always just around the corner.

Now, what you may not know is that when it comes to retirement, preparing for the transition is just as important as saving for the transition. Yes, having the financial funding plays a vital role in the activities and opportunities for your golden years, but the biggest hurdle is the starting point. Many experts have even recommended easing out of work and into retirement with a planned and measured approach than going about it cold turkey. The reason why is because we are use to working. For thirty or so years, you have played a vital role at your companies. The transition from the daily 9-to-5 hassle and bustle will more and more difficult, especially when it comes to your personal activities when you do enter into your retirement.

But fear not! Below, I have provided some crucial and helpful steps to ease you into your golden years. These tips will provide the much-needed buffers as you begin enjoying the rest of your life.

To start off, begin your process by cutting back on your work hours. Weeding off the routine of the 9-to-5 is never an easy thing to do. You have seen this first hand with your weekends, especially for those young professionals coming out of college. But considering part-time hours can help you prepare your physical and mental transition each and every day. This will allow you to get accustomed to the leisure hours as well as new activities for your future golden years.

Once you cut back on your hours, begin cutting back on your expenses. While before you could splurge on things on a daily basis, retirement, in itself, limits your financial holdings to whatever sum you have saved for your future. To get acquainted with your new budget, begin altering your lifestyle that is more pragmatic and tangible to the funding you will have in the future. Now I am not saying for you to cut those morning coffees. Instead, maybe cut those bigger expenses such as clothing apparel or unnecessary trips.

Now with all the new extra time, you want to make sure you are utilizing it to its fullest. For that to happen, begin thinking about your own passions and interest. Some elderly enjoy watching television. Others, however, enjoy other activities such as sports, biking, traveling, etc. Whatever is the case, be sure to optimize your hobby! This will force you to stay active and youthful!

Once that is done, try and gain a holistic understanding of your day-to-day schedule. By managing your time efficiently and effectively, you will be able to develop a stronger and more tangible schedule for your future.

Now, like anything in life, this will not always be easy. But by identifying these roadblocks will allow you to ease your way into your new lifestyle. This in turn will promote a more happier and joyful welcoming when you finally retire.