Monthly Archives: April 2010

What Will You Be Doing 7 Years From Now?


This is a special article written by Augie Mendoza and re-posted from Bob Proctor’s Insight of the Day. This story connects to graduating high school students of today. As you will read, Augie graduated from high school in 1972. Read the story to get some insight into how career planning was addressed “back in the day”.


by Augie Mendoz,
I graduated from Brazosport High School in Freeport, Texas in May 1972. Not dressed in white (honors), but I graduated.

That summer like the previous summer, I worked as a longshoreman loading corn, flour and corn sacks weighing 50 to 140 lbs. and 900 lbs. caustic soda drums on freight ships bound to other countries at nearby Brazos Harbor and Dow Chemical A2 Dock.

This was one of the better paying jobs in the area. It was grueling, hard, heavy work, but I loved it at the time. My father had been doing this job most of his life since it paid well.

Fall came around and I had already decided that I did not want to make my living as a longshoreman. Work was inconsistent and when it was there it only went to the ones with the most seniority, unless there was too much. There was very little opportunity for a better job when you got older.

I had always heard that a college education would get you a better job and decided to find out. So I went to nearby Brazosport College and set up an appointment with a counselor.

I got to his office at the appointed time and he asked me what work or profession interested me the most. I had taken Auto Mechanics I & II during my junior and senior years in high school and asked him if Brazosport College had an auto mechanics program.

He said “no.” I asked him if they had anything similar to it. He said that the Machine Tools Technology program was very similar and described the program to me.

I was very interested and asked him how long it would take if I went full time. He said “4 years.” I said I couldn’t go full time since I am working (whenever work was available).

I asked how long would it take if I go part time? He said “7 years.” I was shocked. I said, “Man, I’ll be old then, I’ll be 25 years old. I don’t thing so.”

He asked me, “what did you say you did for a living right now?”

I told him again that I worked as a longshoreman throwing bags and manhandling drums. Then he bent over his desk and looked me square in the eye and asked me the most significant words I will never forget in my life:

“IF YOU DON’T TAKE ANY CLASSES. WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING 7 YEARS FROM NOW?”

These words hit me like a ton of bricks! I sheepishly told him that I would be doing the same thing. I signed up for the classes right then and there.

These prophetic words have inspired many of my relatives and friends. The sun will rise and fall 365 days a year. What you choose to do in between will determine many things in your life.

This story alone has inspired relatives and friends to realize an age-old truth: Time will go on regardless and it waits on nobody.

Years later, I told a co-worker this story. He got inspired enough that he went on and got 3 different degrees in computers in less than 7 years! He said afterwards, “7 years ago I would’ve been saying to myself, ‘If only I had the opportunity.'”

TIME WILL PASS REGARDLESS!
Augie Mendoza


My impression is that there are millions of Augies graduating this year – in 2010. Yes, some kind of career planning efforts are going on in high school. Yes, career interest assessments are being offered. Yes, the Internet has opened an entire world of opportunity to all students. Do college admissions counselors care today, yes, very much. Based on job satisfaction surveys, people are very effectively getting college degrees and going into “jobs” but too few are finding their passion. Finding your passion and immersing in that passion is like getting a 50 point boost in your IQ. Are you engaged in your own career planning?

So how is today’s career planning different than it was “back in the day”?
Let’s put it this way. If you are wanting to learn how to cook would you go to your local certified mechanic or would you look for a culinary class. Receiving career counseling from teachers and counselors in high school is certainly a good start. Receiving educational advice from a college placement office is also good to do. But if you want to seriously explore careers and create the plan that positions you for success, wouldn’t it be best to utilize a career coach who has extensive knowledge and experience “outside the academic world”? Career Coaching for Students™ is delivered by professional career coaches that have a passion for helping students and the right expertise to help you to create a strategic career path that leverages your passions. The program’s internet resources save considerable time finding the information that is most useful for you. To see what a career coach looks like, check out the Career Coaching for Students™ Career Coaches Profiles.

What is the Primary Reason Students Don’t Receive Career Coaching?


Getting a college education has been the #1 advice from school counselors and parents. “Go to school, get a good education, and get a good job” has been the advice for many generations. But what does this mean for the high school student?Student Career Coaching? What a Concept!

Career counseling is offered in most high schools today, but actual career coaching (more often referred to as career planning) is virtually nonexistent. Students go to college and obtain degrees only to discover that they have climbed the wrong mountain. After all those years of work, they find that they are either unhappy with their career choice or can´t get a job in the career area they’ve selected. Many graduate from college without really knowing what they want to do with the degree that they have earned.

Unfortunately, many of those students will go on to climb another mountain by getting another degree, only to find that yet again they can´t find a job in their chosen field or they don´t much care for the career options they have selected. Many people have multiple college degrees they have obtained through a trial and error process. Some of these students may be attracted to the learning environment and have chosen to hide out in the academic world until they find the right career. Instead of spending time up front researching and planning, they just begin climbing the mountain and figure they´ll make their plan once they get to the top. But there is nothing there.

Today´s educational planning is akin to building a house without any purpose and design in mind (and obviously without an architectural rendering of the house plans). Sure you can look at magazines and online resources to get some ideas about what the features of the house might be. Can you imagine the look on the delivery guys face when he shows up with a truck load of concrete and asks where to pour it only to be told you’re not sure but maybe pour a little over here, a little over there and some back here? Likewise, many students spend time planning what college they are going to go to, how they are going to pay for it, and even what they are going to study, without actually planning what they will do with the degree once they get it.

As a management consultant specializing in organizational development and hiring, I can say with confidence this is all too common in today´s society. Employers are baffled at the lack of clarity around career direction shown by graduating college students. Having a “I’ll take any job I can get” strategy for job search after college is a strategy but it won’t generate the desired results.

So what is the answer? A more in-depth career coaching class for high school students would be a way to introduce the topic and the importance of making a plan and begin the journey with confidence. Offering career coaching at the college level would allow students to follow through with the actual planning process that was started in high school. Both high schools and colleges have done a good job of presenting an image of providing career coaching. Very few are really doing it.

It is essential that young people learn the value of career coaching and actually plan their careers before deciding on education. And it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a little bit of life skills development that will give the student a leg up when they actually arrive at college or in their first job or summer internship.

Of course, no plan is set in stone and gets implemented as is. This is the main reason so many people don’t spend time planning. But when it comes to career and college, not planning is a very expensive strategy. Any career plans can be modified throughout the journey and should be modified to fit a person’s evolving interests and knowledge (I refer to this as focusing). Introducing career exploration and coaching at the Freshman level in high school has significant potential of impacting the student’s academic performance throughout high school and into college. But most importantly, career coaching reduces the likelihood of students climbing many wrong mountains and significantly increases the likelihood of finding the right path without getting lost in the forest.

There is a perception that true career coaching that results in making great personal choices and following through to see positive results isn’t possible. There used to be a perception that a person’s success couldn’t be predicted. Today, employers are using highly sophisticated yet simple talent assessments to determine “job fit” of applicants. This same science is being used by only one career planning program: Career Coaching for Students™.

To readers: What is the primary reason high school students don’t receive career coaching?

Student Career Exploration Requires HARD Goals


In my last article, I discussed traditional goal setting, that the concept comes out of the world of business management and MBA programs and how goal setting needs to be addressed differently for students to set goals that truly enable them to achieve great things?Students: Combine a vision with some small steps and you have forward

I converted the wording of a Leadership IQ study findings (see my previous article) to be applicable to a high school student’s situation, and made the focus specific to career exploration and career planning that leads to “achieving great things“. HARD goals look like this:

Heartfelt — My career goals will enrich the lives of somebody besides me in a way that I can connect with
Animated — I can vividly picture how great it will feel when I achieve my career goals
Required — My personal goals are necessary to help me
Difficult — I will have to learn new skills and leave my comfort zone to achieve my career goals

I went on to argue, like the study’s findings in the corporate world, that students fail to use career counseling, and parents don’t search out career coaching independently, for the same reasons employees report that using techniques such as SMART goals is “not helpful for achieving great things“. The aha moment about this is “Why pursue something that doesn’t work (the school’s curriculum around career counseling)?

Does the career planning program at your high school (or college) incorporate a strategy to generate HARD career goals? Are students engaged in their own career exploration. Are they driving their own achievement? Based on the four HARD goals listed, if you were to measure the effectiveness of most career planning and development programs offered to teenagers, would the program pass the test?

If you didn’t complete our Student Priorities Survey in the previously article please help us collect research data …and see how others have responded as well.

Parents: Want your teenager to better understand and communicate with you? Take the Family Insights parent behavioral style assessment (we call it the Parent User Manual). Complete the information form at bottom of home page to receive instructions.

So how does Career Coaching for Students™ align with and support the concept of using HARD goals and what results are we seeing with students going through the program? Here are the main bullet points:

  • Our assessments speak to the student (and parents) in a way that provides incredible insight, validation, confidence
  • Our exercises are tangible yet enable the student to have a heartfelt and animated experience throughout the program and beyond
  • Students are taking the vivid picture they develop from the program beyond the exercises. They come away with a new and sustained energy that says “I’ve found my passion, I have to do this, I can do this”. Sound too rosy? In our post workshop evaluation research, we found every student we talked with actually felt this way – even for those students that were less confident at the end of the workshop or non-committal, with parents present (choosing a career by the end of the workshop is not the goal of the Career Coaching for Students™ program).
  • The “difficult” part actually turns out not to be so difficult. We work on action planning in small increments that are very doable. Combine a vision with some small steps and you have forward movement. Students can never dream too big. We also recognized that having the soft skills necessary to be successful is just as important as making a good career choice. We addressed soft skill development as an extra module in the program and called it Life Skills for Students™.

Just for reading this article, thank you! As a sincere show of appreciation, we’re offering to you the Life Skills for Students™ 12-week e-learning module. To get this program started for your student, go to Life Skills for Students™ 12-week e-learning module registration and for coupon code enter ccfshardgoals. Once you complete the registration form (you will not need to enter any credit card information) you’ll begin receiving the 12-week Life Skills for Students™ program via e-mail. Be sure to check your “junk folder” if you don’t receive the intended e-mails.

And let us know what you think!

Should Students Have Career Goals? What We’re Learning About Career Goal Setting


Traditional goal setting comes out of the world of business management and MBA programs. In my work with corporations and coaching adults in career transition, I see the greatest success stories when people connect with their personal passions. Notice, I didn’t say …when people do better at goal setting. This article summarizes a recent study about goal setting and transfers the learning to high school (and college) students. Do we want students to set goals that truly enable them to achieve great things? If so, how do we do that?

Leadership IQ, a leadership training and research company, studied 4,182 workers from 397 organizations to see what kind of goal-setting processes actually help employees achieve great things. There is great potential here for a connection to “helping students achieve great things”.

The study discovered that, in organizations, people’s goals are not particularly helpful. In fact, the survey found that only 15% of employees strongly agree that their goals will help them achieve great things. And only 13% of employees strongly agree that their goals this year will help them maximize their full potential.

The study and analysis revealed 8 statistically significant predictors of whether somebody’s goals were going to help them achieve great things. In other words, if you want employees to say, “Wow, my goals this year are really going to help me achieve great things”, there are eight characteristics that their goals should have.

Here’s are the Top 8 Factors for predicting a goal will help a person achieve great things, in order of statistical importance:

  1. I can vividly picture how great it will feel when I achieve my goals.
  2. I will have to learn new skills to achieve my assigned goals for this year.
  3. My goals are absolutely necessary to help this company.
  4. I actively participated in creating my goals for this year.
  5. I have access to any formal training that I will need to accomplish my goals.
  6. My goals for this year will push me out of my comfort zone.
  7. My goals will enrich the lives of somebody besides me (customers, the community, etc.).
  8. My goals are aligned with the organization’s top priorities for this year.

A few things jump out of the analysis according to the authors:

  • Whether goals were specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (businesses call these SMART goals) had no unique predictive power in the analysis
  • For people to achieve great things, their goals must require them to learn new skills and leave their comfort zone
  • So we’ve just learned that the typical goal-setting processes companies have been using for decades are NOT helping employees achieve great things. And, in fact, the type of goal-setting we SHOULD be doing (assuming we actually want our employees to achieve great things) is pretty much the OPPOSITE of what organizations have been doing for the past few decades.

  • Another insight from the analysis is that goals need to be much more than just words on a little form. For a goal to help people achieve great things, that goal has to leap off the paper. It has to be so vividly described that people can feel how great it will be to achieve it. It has to sing to them, to touch the deepest recesses of their brain. When’s the last time your goals did that?
  • And statistically, to achieve greatness, a goal also has to be bigger than ourselves. We have to identify whose lives will be enriched by our goals. And those goals had better be absolutely necessary (and also aligned with our organization’s top priorities) or they just aren’t going to help employees achieve great things.

To summarize briefly, HARD goals are:

  • Heartfelt — My goals will enrich the lives of somebody besides me—customers, the community, etc.
  • Animated — I can vividly picture how great it will feel when I achieve my goals.
  • Required — My goals are absolutely necessary to help this company.
  • Difficult — I will have to learn new skills and leave my comfort zone to achieve my assigned goals for this year.

Applying the learnings to Students

Let’s convert the wording of the study’s findings to be applicable to a high school student’s situation, and make the focus specific to career exploration and career planning that leads to “achieving great things”.

Heartfelt — My career goals will enrich the lives of somebody besides me
Animated — I can vividly picture how great it will feel when I achieve my career goals
Required — My personal goals are absolutely necessary to help me
Difficult — I will have to learn new skills and leave my comfort zone to achieve my career goals

Does a student need some kind of goal setting? Of course. But I’ll argue, like the study’s findings, that students fail to utilize career counseling, and parents don’t search out career coaching independently, for the same reasons employees report that using techniques such as SMART goals is “not helpful for achieving great things”. Why pursue something that doesn’t work?

Does the career planning program at your high school (or college) incorporate a strategy to generate HARD career goals? Are students engaged in their own career exploration. Are they driving their own achievement? Based on the four HARD goals listed, if you were to measure the effectiveness of most career planning and development programs offered to teenagers, would the program pass the test?

Complete a Student Priorities Survey and see how others have responded.

Parents: Want your teenager to better understand and communicate with you? Take the Family Insights parent behavioral style assessment (we call it the Parent User Manual). Complete the information form at bottom of home page to receive instructions.

In my next article, I’ll address how Career Coaching for Students™ is totally aligned with HARD goals and what results we’re seeing with students going through the program.

Abusive Teaching or Inspiring Leadership


An article posted by Harvard Business Review and written by Gill Corkindale addresses Gordon Brown’s leadership style. The title of the article is Gordon Brown’s Leadership, Passionate or Bullying?

For the average student in U.S. high schools, Gordon Brown may be known only as a political figure. He is Britain’s Prime Minister. However, he represents something that is found in almost every organization, including schools and some family structures.

In the article, Ms. Corkindale states “For many of us, there is a disturbing familiarity about these reports [of bullying behavior], which stir up memories of our own bullying bosses, teachers and colleagues. Unfortunately it is all too easy to visualize the disturbing picture of Mr. Brown as a leader prone to “volcanic eruptions of bad behavior,” outbursts of anger, black moods, permanent states of rage, and a boiling temper. And some of us will recognise the panic and mayhem in his office from our own experience, with stressed staff running around, lashing out at each other, and an inner circle divided and in flux.”

She raises the question: Do  the best leaders have some bullying tendencies?

Ms. Corkindale states the obvious when she says that bullying is unacceptable. Bullies are frightening, destructive and a drain on resources, time and energy. “I well recall the boss who had to be appeased constantly, whose moods changed like the weather, who regularly put staff under the spotlight or dressed them down in public, and who believed that all problems were caused by the incompetence of others. Such “leaders” demean people, lower morale, and create cultures of fear. Sadly, I have coached too many people who have had to work for such people over the years.”

In Mr. Brown’s case, elections can remove him from the privilege of leadership. In the case of teachers and school administrators, contracts may not be renewed. In the case of managers in an organization, I’ve seen many abusive managers be tolerated by upper management because they may generate short term results. I’ve also seen those same organizations fail.

Everyone is under pressure and occasionally events conspire to make us lose our temper. But that is different than creating a culture of fear, allowing emotions to consistently overcome us and disrespecting others. Then it becomes an abuse of power — and the leader remains one in name only.

For you students who have either seen abusive behavior in school or have yet to see it, it will happen – unfortunately. If the behavior is negatively effecting you, I strongly urge you to ask the person for a “closed door” meeting. In that meeting, tell the abusive person what they are doing and how it is effecting you. Tell them that you want to grow and learn but that you will not accept abusive treatment. Explain to them that the next time they treat you disrespectfully you will take it further. Do this with confidence. I promise you it will work to improve your situation and it will help that person be a better leader. If it doesn’t, the person will have created their own demise and will be removed from the organization.

Leadership is a privilege. Abuse of the privilege should always be dealt with directly and timely. Executive coaching is an effective tool for those that have potential and show a sincere desire for personal growth. Teachers and administrators are no different from executives and managers in an organization. Leadership inspires greatness in others. There is no evidence that a bully leader is effective at creating greatness in others or has created sustained success for an organization. A bully leader is effective at creating low self-esteem in others. Many times this is due to a need to boost their own self-esteem.

If you are a parent or a school board member who hears repeated stories of bully leadership, meet with that person one-on-one. Give them feedback that you are aware of the bad behavior and that it isn’t something you will accept going forward. On the flip side, students and parents need to be careful not to punish a good teacher that has standards of excellence and gives students a low grade for mediocrity. A great teacher knows what a student is capable of and has many approaches to inspire greatness in the student. Giving a low grade to someone who is putting half-effort into their work is extremely important. Giving a high grade for mediocre work because of fear of parental retaliation is the worst thing that can happen to the student. They will suffer, possibly for the rest of their life.

Inspiring greatness includes holding and demanding high standards. Allowing a student, parent or an employee to manipulate a leader’s right to demand greatness is just as wrong as a bullying leader. There is no room for either. A truly great leader inspires everyone from students or employees to parents and stakeholders.