Category Archives: best career

What motivates someone to be happy at work every day?


by contributing writer, Dave Clark, TTI Success Insights

Looking for a new job can be a lot like buying a car. It can either be an invigorating, exciting experience or it can suck the lifeblood out of you. Depending on how prepared you are during your job search, you can help determine which direction the job search goes for you. While assessments such as DISC (behavioral style) can help explain “how” someone does what they do, it’s his or her underlying Driving Forces, also known as values or motivators, that explain “why” a person does what they do.

Why you do what you do, if aligned with a career choice’s intrinsic rewards and work, will generate much high personal job satisfaction.

Understanding the forces that drive behaviors can give a person true insight into what careers they are best suited as well as those that may not be a good personal fit. This can extend to jobs and companies within a career direction you’ve already invested in.

StudentSupportDirectionSignsConducting a job search with a plan

Sometimes we go into our job search without having a plan. Maybe there is an urgency to find a new position due to monetary needs or displeasure in a current position. But going into a job search with a plan can completely change the outcome of finding a job versus a career.

When it comes to leveraging assessments to help with career matching, an assessment that predicts behaviors doesn’t paint a complete picture. By adding the personal motivators (values, driving forces) behind the behaviors, matching career options become much easier and more accurate. The person also sees what jobs or career direction is not a good match, especially in the long term.

These motivators, also known as Driving Forces, are based around six keywords that describe how a person approaches a particular situation. The six areas of focus include: knowledge, utility, surroundings, others, power and methodologies. Each keyword contains two driving forces that addresses the keyword from a different, if not opposite, perspective. Understanding these Driving Forces, and how they apply personally, and in those you work closely with, is key to success in the workplace. Keep in mind there is no right or wrong side to be on regarding Driving Forces; the two sides are simply different ways to approach the same topic.

12 Driving Forces defined

The two sides of the knowledge continuum are Instinctive and Intellectual. The Instinctive person does not do a lot of casual reading for fun, instead they seek out knowledge when it is pertinent to a specific purpose. The Intellectual person, on the other hand, considers learning a sport and cannot get enough of it. Both are addressing knowledge but in very different ways. The Intellectual will be motivated in a job where there is opportunity for continued learning and may want to avoid jobs that do not present these situations. The Instinctive person uses their “street smarts” to handle a situation as it arises, learning as much as they need to know to accomplish the task at hand. An instinctive person may become very well versed in a particular subject where needed, and attain expert level qualifications. Trades showcase Instinctive learners who may specialize in a specific area of expertise such as plumber, electrician, architect or brewer. A college professor will likely be an Intellectual. The main difference between the two knowledge related Driving Forces is learning with a specific purpose versus continual general learning.

When it comes to utility, our two sides of the continuum are Selfless and Resourceful. Selfless describes people who are driven by completing tasks for the sake of completion, with little expectation of personal return. They might be known as “team players” or “worker bees.” Their opposite group is the Resourceful group who are driven by practical results, maximizing both efficiency and returns on investment of time, talent and energy. A Resourceful person always operates with the bottom line in mind, while the Selfless person is not concerned with the bottom line much, if at all. Many entrepreneurs will be strongly resourceful while members of their staff may be more Selfless. A great example is found in a restaurant setting. The owner better be focused on the bottom line or he or she is destined to fail. However, the kitchen staff knows they need to put out a certain amount of plates over a specific period of time and approaches the task as something that needs to be done systematically to completion.

The surroundings keyword discusses how people perceive the things around them. An Objective person is all about function over form, concerning themselves with everything having a practical reason for being where it is, even if it is not visually appealing. The Harmonious person always prefers form over function and seeks beauty and balance in their surroundings. The Harmonious person is likely to be very unhappy in a cubicle setting or a place that is visually unappealing. The Objective person may not even notice what his surroundings look like, as long as he knows where everything is located. A Harmonious person would excel in a position of interior design, a national park ranger or as an artist or musician while an Objective person may excel as a call center representative or a computer programmer working from a cubicle.

When viewing others, we have the Intentional person who is driven to assist others for a very specific purpose, not just for the sake of being helpful. And, if this purpose may be of some use to this Intentional person in the future, all the better. The opposite is the Altruistic person who is driven to assist others simply for the satisfaction of helping others. They do not pick and choose who to help and are willing and energized to help anyone they can. A social worker or customer service rep who is Altruistic would be a natural fit while a business owner who needs to focus on specific tasks and has limited time may lean much more strongly to the Intentional side.

Regarding power, we have those who are Collaborative and Commanding. Collaborative people are driven by being in a supporting role and love to contribute to the betterment of the team. They seek very little individual recognition for the work they provide. The Commanding person is driven by status, recognition and control over person freedom. It’s safe to say that Gene Simmons of Kiss would be the poster child for Commanding, as he is driven by status, wants to be recognized continuously and has complete control over the empire he has created. Collaborative people are energized by being part of a team and knowing that their contributions have made a difference to a project. Workers on an assembly line may lean toward the Collaborative side while company presidents, rock stars and movie stars may often be found on the Commanding side.

Career Coaching for Students article imageThe final subject is methodologies and the Receptive and Structured folks operate in a very diametrically opposed way. Those who are Receptive are driven by new ideas, methods and opportunities that fall outside a defined system of living. These are the doers who like to dive into a project, usually before they have all the information needed to complete the task. They rebound quickly and make many spontaneous judgement calls, often trusting their gut feelings. The Structured person loves traditional approaches, routine and proven methods. They live by the mantra “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Structured people believe what they believe and they are willing to go to great lengths to defend it. Change, especially quick and regular change, makes a Structured person uneasy. A Structured social worker and a Receptive police officer would probably both excel in their respective positions but may not fare very well if their Driving Forces were switched.

Understanding “why” we behave how we do will help us determine what positions we should be seeking in the first place. If the job doesn’t match the primary Driving Forces, chances for success are very limited. And, even if the person stays on the job, there’s no guarantee of happiness. Matching your primary Driving Force with a job’s corresponding driving force will help put a person in the best possible position to succeed.

deap-tng-logoAbout the Author
Dave Clark is a staff writer at TTI Success Insights. The Nielson Group and Success Discoveries are associated with TTI Success Insights.

KeysJPGCarl Nielson uses assessments that measure a person’s motivational driving forces in his work with organizations through The Nielson Group, including team dynamics workshops, executive coaching and hiring for fit candidate analysis. Success Discoveries™, founded by Carl Nielson, offers career and job search coaching and resumSD evolution2e writing services. Career Coaching for Students™, a program developed by Carl Nielson that has helped thousands of students with career exploration and planning, offers high school and college students a step-by-step approach to understanding personal talent design, connecting to high-potential career options and developing an action plan for success.

Why college students succeed. The answer may surprise you.


CoveyJobPassionRoot cause for college student success? We all hear statistics thrown around about all kinds of issues. What is the true root cause of student success?

When it comes to students, college attendance, choosing a major, changing majors, time-to-degree attainment and student debt, there appears to be a correlation between clarity of personal goals and quality of decision making skills at the high school level and the length of time in college, student success and student debt.

But no one is focusing on root cause of student success. They are simply studying what is happening in the general college student population or causes of student failure. In one study, students got it right: it is all about MOTIVATION.

Even a Google search for “Why do college students succeed” produced 65 million hits for opinion articles that were basically “tips” on how to succeed based mostly on study habits. Studying root cause for success is more elusive. Asking students and faculty what causes student failure starts to get at the root cause.

“In short, according to the college students who participated in the study, motivation is the leading cause behind students’ failure or success in completing schoolwork. Motivation influences students’ attitudes, study habits, academic readiness, and so on.” Higher Learning Commission, 2014 Collection of Papers, conclusion of 2011 study of students opinions for success and failure

According to faculty who responded to the survey “Why do students fail?”, the number one reason (37% – 40%) for college student failure was “Not Ready for College“. Other significant reasons listed include Lack of Effort (11% – 13%), Lack of Motivation or Interest (9% – 14%) and Failure of Educational System (14% – 24%).

Not Ready for College

The student-related factor that both two-year and four-year faculty members mentioned most often was students not being ready for college-level work (cited 231 times, or 38% of responses). Faculty members stated many reasons, including the fact that a significant number of incoming students have poor levels of or a complete lack of academic preparedness for college courses, lack of learning and study skills, and/or lack of organizational skills (including time management and setting priorities). More than half of the respondents cited students’ lack of academic preparedness and poor study skills, note-taking skills, reading, and scientific reasoning skills, lack of experience, and more, without directly attributing responsibility. Others specifically blamed students’ K–12 education for this lack of preparedness. It was difficult to separate these two criteria as both dealt with lack of preparation, rendering students not ready for college work. As one respondent said:

They have not been adequately prepared for post-secondary work and may lack foundational skills (such as the ability to write clearly, comprehend readings, follow instructions, etc.) that interfere with their ability to achieve passing grades. For some reason, many students do not learn these skills throughout grade school and high school, and so when they reach college they are not ready for what it demands.

Still others said that students are “underprepared for college-level work in terms of basic writing, reading and thinking skills. For example, they have an inability to think critically, an inability to express oneself in a written format, and an inability to comprehend the nature of assignments.” One respondent said students have a “high school-rooted misconception that one can pass a course without studying,” and several cited the lack of college-level reading and writing skills and other essential study skills.

One faculty member was very specific in pointing blame: “Many of the students (attending) two-year colleges in large cities come from the Urban Public Schools where they have not necessarily encountered a quality education and experienced a deep understanding of real learning as opposed to externalized and superficial learning.”

Another thought that students fail because they have not been exposed to the “academic rigor of college, or the expectations of college work.” Faculty respondents said many students arrive without knowing how to learn, without having the academic prerequisites, or without having the skill set needed to be successful. Many faculty respondents mentioned that students do not know how to be active learners and engaged in the learning process. A number of students do not realize that college requires a higher level of commitment involving a variety of learning skills, such as deep reading, purposeful study, critical thinking, or even asking for help.

Other faculty respondents said students are not aware of the rigors of their chosen discipline. Students can have difficulty in adjusting their own career expectations. Some students have/aspire to become a physician . . . but they do not realize that it is a very difficult and long road academically. Learning is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration . . . some students have not realized this yet.

Respondents saw insufficient academic skills as closely related to lack of time management skills, often mentioning the two in the same sentence. Faculty respondents said too many students do not know how to study or learn, do not know how to organize their time and set priorities, do not ask for help from their instructors or advisors, and do not use available resources, such as the library and tutors. They most likely lack critical thinking skills and other higher-level learning skills so necessary in college. In short, many of them come from high school not yet ready for college-level work and learning.

It was very hard to separate lack of organizational skills from academic preparedness as a reason for student failure. As a separate subcategory, poor time management and organizational skills ranked second as a major roadblock to student success. Faculty respondents said that students could not organize their priorities. They have work, home, social, and school obligations and cannot organize their time to accommodate all of these conflicting time demands. They do not make a plan that enables them to spend the necessary time reading, studying, attending class, completing assignments, and learning. They do not have “contingency plans” in case of illness, child care, work schedule changes, and so forth. As a result, they develop unrealistic expectations and overcommit themselves:

For the most part, students are unrealistic about the time it will require to do the assignments, readings, and problems. They work full time, have family responsibilities, take a full course load, and do not set aside enough time to concentrate on the problem at hand. They are over committed in terms of their time. The data proves out that college students who work more than 20 hours per week in a job have much lower GPAs upon graduation.

In other words, if students have not planned sufficiently to manage their time, they have not got a Plan B in place. They simply “don’t invest the amount of time required or expected” to succeed.

Several faculty members mentioned procrastination as a problem, “waiting until the one before the last to give ‘the best shot,’ forgetting grades are cumulative.” Students start asking for extra-credit assignments, what they can do to make up what they missed, and so on. In short, most respondents mentioned three major problems under this category: overcommitment (jobs, family, and school), unrealistic expectations about the time necessary to do well in college, and the inability to organize their time effectively. Once they get behind, they can no longer catch up.

Will being passionately interested in a specific and “informed” career goal – in high school – change a student’s perspective about academics that lead to that career, time and priority management and personal accountability?

Will high school students be better able to connect the dots and see the bigger picture if they have a personal career goal in mind that they feel is attainable?

Will a realistic and exciting future vision empower a high school student to demand the academic rigor needed to achieve that vision?

Lack of Effort

The next category of student-related issues, ranking third in that area, was Lack of Effort, repeated 72 times, or 12 percent of responses. This category included both Lack of effort and Poor or nonexistent work ethic as subcategories. Many faculty members were disturbed by how many students are satisfied with a grade of C or D instead of working harder to get better grades. A few faculty members stated that even when they give students opportunities to improve their grades by redoing homework, lab reports, or writing assignments, many students do not bother. Some participants stated that students do not exert enough effort and do not bother to find out, either from the instructor or fellow students, how much work is really needed to pass a given class.

Under the subcategory of Poor or nonexistent work ethic, some respondents said that students do not complete assignments but then expect teachers to let them make it up with extra-credit work. Some students expect to pass just because they attend class, and others think that doing ungraded homework is unimportant. Many believe that an open-book exam means they can learn the material while taking the exam. One respondent blamed more than the student: “Work ethic (strengthened by peer behavior AND administration acquiescence) was summarized by the notion, ‘do just enough to get by,’ which is rarely enough to just get by.”

Another said that students expect teachers to excuse multiple missed assignments and absences “based on a student’s circumstances,” which demonstrated a “diminished sense of personal responsibility.” Still another cited a much more serious problem: “They [students] may be collecting financial aid money for living expenses and have no intention of completing a course once they have received all the funds.”

Respondents said failing students come to class late and/or do not show up at all. When they do show up, they send texts or play videos during class or otherwise do not pay attention. They do not read the material before class and do not complete their assignments. Some students do not care if they fail. A few instructors stated that some students do not value education because they do not have to work to pay for it, or if they fail, they can always repeat the course. Bad study habits that worked in high school were also cited more than once; students are unable or unwilling to put effort into learning. This could be due to lack of motivation or inadequate preparation to be successful.

Is lack of student effort or low work ethic a character flaw or an indication the student is disconnected from what motivates them?

By not properly addressing career interest and career matching early in high school, did students adopt a sense of apathy that will continue until career interest and direction are aligned?

Is it possible the student not only lacks a connection to what motivates them but also has a fear of failure that inhibits their ability to pursue goals?

Lack of Motivation or Interest

Lack of Motivation or Interest, engagement, persistence, and “not being active learners” were mentioned frequently in this survey. It ranks third overall, in terms how often it was mentioned, and it was the second most-often-mentioned student-related root-cause factor: 73 times or 12 percent of responses. This category included the following subcategories: Lack of motivation; Don’t-care attitude, or negative attitude; Lack of engagement; Lack of interest, direction, or focus; Don’t want to be in college; and Lack of passion. Some faculty respondents thought that failing students have little understanding of how their education relates to their lives. They do not know what they want in life and have no clear goals as to where they are going. If someone has no idea where they are going, it will likely be extremely difficult to get there.

Other faculty members stated that some college students don’t have a real desire to be in school. Perhaps they are being pressured by family or friends, or perhaps they are drifting in life or repeatedly changing majors.

A few faculty respondents said that even students with passion “often lack the understanding of how specific course(s) fit within the ‘grand scheme,’ especially if they determine (rightly or wrongly) that the course(s) is not on the critical path” to their ultimate goal. Others do not realize the amount of work involved in their majors or cannot decide on a major field of study. Other faculty members said students lack direction, and that “These students attend college with little, if any, goals in mind; education means little to them due to the lack of connection between what they study and their lives.” Finally, a faculty respondent said simply that:

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree is a long-term goal requiring passion, determination, the drive to overcome “hurdles,” and a willingness to do “whatever it takes” to achieve their goal.

If a student comes to college with a clear vision for their future, a vision they have been focused on for at least a year of high school if not since 9th grade, if they see and recognize their talents and interests, if they have created the path for achieving their personal career goals, nothing can stop them. Hurdles become small and student engagement is self-driven.

The statistics are out there. We found the following to be credible references.

Fast Facts: IES NCES National Center for Education Statistics

On average, a college degree takes six years, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says, by Polifact Investigative Reporter Tom Kertscher

Digest of Education Statistics, IES, NCES National Center for Education Statistics

Web Tables Profile of 2007 – 08 First-Time Bachelor’s Degree Recipients published 2012 NCES 2013.1500

Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates, Indiana University, Project for Academic Success

Here is what we know from our experience delivering the Career Coaching for Students™ program, looking at the statistics and talking with high school counselors and administrators:

  • 99% of students’ parents state “I wish I had this when I was in high school.”
  • 99% of students do not receive adequate or competent career coaching in high school or at college.
  • The average time to complete an undergraduate degree is five years and 10 months.
  • 39% of students completed their undergraduate degree in four years.
  • Student debt is rising and is currently at unsustainable levels for most.
  • Going beyond four years to complete a degree is a root cause for rising debt.

Students who receive the Career Coaching for Students™ program

  • …have a higher grade point average going forward, which we believe is due to greater personal motivation that came from having a clearer and valid vision of a future that they wanted.
  • …are more likely not to change college majors
  • …are more likely to pursue and complete a double major in four years
  • …are more likely to have a summer internship and/or study abroad
  • …experience greater satisfaction and happiness in college
  • …are more likely to graduate college in 4 years or less and have less debt
  • …are employed upon graduating college

Goal of the Career Coaching for Students™ program:

  • Provide students with the ability to make better, high-quality decisions.
  • Bring clarity about self, interests, talents that results in greater self-motivation and personal accountability.
  • Save students money.
  • Increase the potential for success and happiness in life and career.

More information for high school students or college students at http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net

Student Career Coaching and the Cure for Alzheimer’s


by Janet Blount, licensed facilitator, Career Coaching for Students™, serving Baltimore, MD and Atlanta, GA

Career Coaching for Students article imageThere are 5.3 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is a debilitating brain disease that robs people of their memories, the ability to speak, read, swallow and enjoy life.

My mother is one of the millions who have Alzheimer’s. I am watching this once vibrant, intelligent woman become a shell of her former self. Those of us who have seen the devastation this disease causes, shout out in despair, that this disease must be cured.

Alzheimer's Effect on the brainSomething that is equally devastating to watching your loved one succumb to this disease is to think that someone who could cure this disease will not because they have not had the opportunity to identify, understand and pursue career paths that match their interests and talents.

The Career Coaching for Students Program is the leading career exploration and planning program that takes a proven approach to coaching students. This program empowers students to gain greater self-awareness and clarity about their strengths and passions, understand the connection between their personal strengths and different career choices, identify high-potential career options that align with the student’s talents and pursue their passion.

The students in the upcoming high school graduating class may invent the cure for Alzheimer’s – if they really know more about themselves. Think about it. It’s about the Science of Self.

Helpful links about Alzheimer’s:

Alzheimer’s Association Website

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA)

To learn more about Janet Blount:

Careers Are Us website

On LinkedIn

Career Coaching for Students

Email Janet

Before you choose a career, Choose to be a Linchpin


Linchpin by Seth GodinSeth Godin published a book in 2010 called Linchpin which quickly became popular. This article is dedicated to his teachings from the book – mostly quotes from the book. I encourage any high school student to buy the book and read it. If you are a parent of a student, read it. If you work in the home or outside the home, read it.

In the book, Godin positions work by first stating “The job is what you do when you are told what to do. The job is showing up at the factory, following instructions, meeting spec, and being managed. Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can. The job might be difficult, it might require skill, but it’s a job.

On the other hand, your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo of your own work, and influencing change in people and processes to achieve goals.

Godin shifts our perspective. He calls the process of doing your art ‘the work.’ It’s possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that’s how you become a linchpin.  The job is not the work.”

Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.

What makes someone an artist? Godin states that he doesn’t think it has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards, or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while swell people, aren’t artists. On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an artist who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.

An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo of their work. And an artist takes personal responsibility.

That’s why Bob Dylan is an artist, but an anonymous corporate hack who dreams up Pop 40 hits on the other side of the glass is merely a marketer. That’s why Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, is an artist, while a boiler room of telemarketers is simply a scam.

Tom Peters, corporate gadfly and writer, is an artist, even though his readers are businesspeople. He’s an artist because he takes a stand, he takes the work personally, and he doesn’t care if someone disagrees. His art is part of him, and he feels compelled to share it with you because it’s important, not because he expects you to pay him for it.

Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.

Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.

The secret to being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal.

Here’s the truth you have to wrestle with: the reason that art (writing, engaging, leading, all of it) is valuable is precisely why I can’t tell you how to do it. If there were a map, there would be no art, because art is the act of navigating without a map.

The dimension of work that has a map isn’t where your art is applied. Your art is applied where the map stops.

Perhaps your challenge isn’t finding a better project or a better boss. Perhaps you need to get in touch with what it means to feel passionate. People with passion look for ways to make things happen.

If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely.

At the age of four, you were an artist. And at seven, you were a poet.

The lizard brain is hungry, scared, angry, and horny. The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe. The lizard brain will fight (to the death) if it has to, but would rather run away. It likes a vendetta and has no trouble getting angry. The lizard brain cares what everyone else thinks, because status in the tribe is essential to its survival.

A squirrel runs around looking for nuts, hiding from foxes, listening for predators, and watching for other squirrels. The squirrel does this because that’s all it can do. All the squirrel has is a lizard brain.

The only correct answer to ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ is ‘Because it’s lizard brain told it to.’ Wild animals are wild because the only brain they posses is a lizard brain.

The lizard brain is not merely a concept. It’s real, and it’s living on the top of your spine, fighting for your survival. But, of course, survival and success are not the same thing.

The lizard brain is the reason you’re afraid, the reason you don’t do all the art you can, the reason you don’t ship when you can. The lizard brain is the source of the resistance.

Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more.

If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you’ll probably have to conceal your true nature to keep that job.

Transferring your passion to your job is far easier than finding a job that happens to match your passion.

…Treasure what it means to do a day’s work. It’s our one and only chance to do something productive today, and it’s certainly not available to someone merely because he is the high bidder.

A day’s work is your chance to do art, to create a gift, to do something that matters. As your work gets better and your art becomes more important, competition for your gifts will increase and you’ll discover that you can be choosier about whom you give them to.

The competitive advantages the marketplace demands is someone more human, connected, and mature. Someone with passion and energy, capable of seeing things as they are and negotiating multiple priorities as she makes useful decisions without angst. Flexible in the face of change, resilient in the face of confusion. All of these attributes are choices, not talents, and all of them are available to you.

The tragedy is that society (your school, your boss, your government, your family) keeps drumming the genius part out. The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.

The problem with competition is that it takes away the requirement to set your own path, to invent your own method, to find a new way.

As our society gets more complex and our people get more complacent, the role of the jester is more vital than ever before. Please stop sitting around. We need you to make a ruckus.

You cannot create a piece of art merely for money. Doing it as part of commerce so denudes art of wonder that it ceases to be art.

…the greatest shortage in our society is an instinct to produce. To create solutions and hustle them out the door. To touch the humanity inside and connect to the humans in the marketplace.

Not only must you be an artist, must you be generous, and must you be able to see where you can help but you must also be aware. Aware of where your skills are welcomed.

When you set down the path to create art, whatever sort of art it is, understand that the path is neither short nor easy. That means you must determine if the route is worth the effort. If it’s not, dream bigger.

I think art is the ability to change people with your work, to see things as they are and then create stories, images, and interactions that change the marketplace.

The combination of passion and art is what makes someone a linchpin.

A brilliant author or businesswoman or senator or software engineer is brilliant only in tiny bursts. The rest of the time, they’re doing work that most any trained person could do.

If you can’t be remarkable, perhaps you should consider doing nothing until you can.

The reason you might choose to embrace the artist within you now is that this is the path to (cue the ironic music) security.


Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Managing Principal of The Nielson Group, an organizational development consulting firm serving businesses ranging from Fortune 100 multi-national corporations to small family-owned businesses. As creator and master trainer of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads, Carl and his team of licensed facilitators across North America have helped thousands of students find a better way through a career exploration process that really works. Professional-grade assessments and co-directed career exploration coaching packages start at $399. Local public workshops, distance-coaching and in-school programs available. Call for more information at 972.346.2892 or submit an inquiry here:

Do I Need to Have A Career Plan in High School?


dream-job-nextexitThe old saying “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” means if you do not know about a problem, you will not be able to make yourself unhappy by worrying about it. That belief is supported by the belief “ignorance is bliss“.

When it comes to creating/having a career plan, focusing on it (worrying about it) will actually create a great deal of happiness, help you avoid major stress and save you (and/or your parents) thousands of dollars. Based on almost daily news, the amount of college loan debt has escalated to levels considered very dangerous for our economy and for individuals. Having excessive education loan debt is a personal accountability issue – not a national economy issue.

How much debt do you want or plan to have when you graduate college? According to an article in the Huffington Post, “the average college graduate obtained a degree in 2012 with $29,400 in student debt, up from $18,750 less than a decade before in 2004, according to a new report.” To avoid unnecessary costs (which frequently ends up becoming debt) during college, avoid changing majors and choose the right college or university for you. If you are unsure about a career direction and go into college as an “undeclared major” you are likely to not have any revelations about a career direction by the end of your Freshman year. Whether you put it off or tackle career planning in high school, the only way to avoid unnecessary expense and find true happiness is to do the career planning work.

So, the short answer to the question, Do I Need to Have a Career Plan in High School?, is that you need to be doing the work of creating a career plan. The Career Coaching for Students program looks at this work as developing Decision Making skills. Decision making is a recognized skill of highly successful people and happens to be one of the weakest skills for incoming Freshman in college. You don’t necessarily need to have made a career decision but you need to be well on your way to identifying and understanding your career interests and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with your career interests.

A career plan is the reward for the work you’ll do to determine your skills and interests, what career best suits your talents, and what skills and training you need for your chosen career.

By developing a career plan, you can focus on what you want to do and how to get there without worrying and without unnecessary expense. To do this well, you must start with a “professional-grade assessment” that helps you understand your personality strengths. Career planning is only one benefit of using assessments to become much more self-aware.  You’ll also find you will have a better understanding of your skills and experiences to discuss with potential employers (on your resume and in future interviews).

To eventually have a defined career goal, get started now.

A career goal can be a specific job you want to do — such as doctor or teacher — or be a particular field you want to work in, such as medicine or education.

Rather than limiting your future, a career goal may help you discover career possibilities you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. There are several job possibilities with any chosen career. For instance, if you choose a medical career, you may want to be a scientist, a nurse, or a doctor.

A career goal can also guide you into doing what you want with your life.

  1. Become Self-Aware.
  2. Identify Career Interests.
  3. Narrow your career interests to a top two or three.
  4. Determine what you need to do to prepare for your chosen career.
  5. Besides the right college major, do you need special training? Some careers need the specialized training but don’t require a college degree. If so, find out what schools offer the training you need. Also, determine what kind of experience will you need to be successful in the career. Consider an internship as a way to get work experience in the career field.
  6. Write your career plan.  Use online tools to help you create a visual career plan.

Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Managing Principal of The Nielson Group, an organizational development consulting firm serving Fortune 100 company clients. As creator of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads, Carl and his team of licensed facilitators across North America have helped thousands of students find a better way through a career exploration process that works.  Self-directed assessment and career exploration coaching packages start at $399. Local public workshops, distance-coaching and in-school programs available. Call for more information at 972.346.2892.

3-D Printing to Energize Student Pursuit of STEM Careers


3D Race Car Microscopic SizeIn March 2013, Harvard Business Review published an article, 3-D Printing Will Change the World. The author, Richard D’Aveni states, “It is a small evolutionary step from spraying toner on paper to putting down layers of something more substantial (such as plastic resin) until the layers add up to an object. And yet, by enabling a machine to produce objects of any shape, on the spot and as needed, 3-D printing really is ushering in a new era.” His article focuses on world markets, the balance of trade among countries and the impact that 3-D printing will have on the China-USA trade imbalance. It certainly looks like many good things will come from the invention of 3-D printing.

The most exciting part of the 3-D printer revolution for me is the impact it will have in our schools, especially in the STEM fields. Students will be able to learn and create new things with the help of 3D printers – at a much faster pace that is more aligned with the speed of information gathering in the Internet era. Using physics, math, and engineering, students can use 3D printers as high-speed feedback tools for their learning. Not only will it help them grasp the fundamental principles of the sciences with greater speed, it will engage the creativity of students like nothing before.

A 3-D printed Jumbo jet? TEDTALK

3D printers appear to have great potential for changing how students can experiment with creating things. Jason Krueger, blogger and founder of StratoStar, a site dedicated to STEM projects for students, states [With 3-D printing,] “today’s students are in a prime stage in scientific and technological development.”

The Motley Fool Report about 3D Printing

Stay tuned on this one. The 3D printer revolution will draw more students into STEM-related fields which is sure to be a great thing. This is where the Apple marketing model of making the product affordable for schools to purchase will be critical in giving U.S. students a competitive edge.

Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Managing Principal of The Nielson Group, an organizational development consulting firm that provides executive development coaching, team development and assessments for hiring. As creator of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads, Carl has helped thousands of students find a better way through the career exploration process that works.  Assessment and coaching packages start at $349 – checkout the Summer 2013 special offer – 30-days coaching support with the Home Study student career coaching package. Summer special ends August 31, 2013.

Countering College Student Objections to Joining LinkedIn


LinkedIn5 COLLEGE STUDENT Objections to Joining LinkedIn

While it is true that some college students may be beyond help, below are some excuses you can meet head on. To support students, my connections exceed over 2,000 which connect me to over 17 million on LinkedIn. I use my connections to help both high school and college students find people in their career of interest as part of the Career Coaching for Students program (high school program or college student program).

Your key to success1. “Creating a LinkedIn profile takes too much time” is a common complaint; however, creating a profile is actually a motivational exercise. Students can easily copy and paste their résumé to their LinkedIn profile and revise it from there. Once their profile starts to fill out, they begin to feel better about their developing profile.

2. “I don’t have time to add a LinkedIn update once a week?” Posting an update once a week is not that hard to do. With most students now on Facebook and Twitter, posting an update takes the same effort. It’s as simple as commenting on a topic such as something interesting being covered in a core course that aligns with your career direction, attaching an article, posting a great quote, letting people know what you are up to, etc.

3. “I don’t think people in my occupation use LinkedIn” might have been a valid point two or three years ago. Some occupations, namely the trades, were slower to jump on the LinkedIn wagon. Today, people in all industries and all types of work are on LinkedIn. With the number of connections I have, I love taking friendly bets on this false perception. I’ve won every bet.

4. “There’s no way I can get 50 connections” is an interesting challenge. LinkedIn allows users to download contacts from their e-mail account from the beginning of registering for membership. One just has to select the members they want to invite and soon acceptances and invites will come their way. An exercise I do with high school and college students is to have them write down on a worksheet everyone they know (friends, extended family, parents of friends, professional contacts). I then poll everyone to see how many they wrote down. In a 5 minute time limit, the average student writes down between 30 and 50 names. I then ask them if it is reasonable to expect each person they wrote down to have the same number of contacts. We then do the math. Using the least (30), the math looks like this: 30 x 30 = 900. Each of us can easily get something between our direct contact count and the 900 within one week. For college students, making this a competitive challenge with a reasonable $$ prize for the highest number of contacts after one week generates amazing results.

5. “I’m just a college student.” LinkedIn will most likely not offer immediate gratification. This isn’t a sprint; it is more like a marathon. The smartest students will invest in the time to begin their lifelong network. They’ll be ahead of their classmates and will most likely receive more interviews and offers when the time comes for the payout.

Carl Nielson is an organizational development consultant, professional career and executive/leadership coach and creator of the nationally recognized program Career Coaching for Students™ . Career Coaching for Students is available as a district-wide high school program, college program and in group and on-one-one offerings through certified career coaches throughout the United States, Canada and other countries. Contact Carl Nielson at carl@successdiscoveries.com or call 972-346-2892 to discuss specific needs. Or visit us at http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net