Complicated Past? LinkedIn Can Help. [video]

Let’s say you’re a private equity information specialist. And a dancer. An unlikely pair of professions for one person, yet this is exactly the scenario we addressed recently while giving a talk to dancers about how to develop a wholly representative profile on LinkedIn.

While writing the “headline” on her LinkedIn profile, meaning the space directly under her name, a participant asked if it’s OK to write “Private Equity Information Specialist and Dancer.”

You see, she’s a client of Career Transitions for Dancers, an organization that helps dancers take their first steps toward second careers, because the physical tolls of dancing make it practically impossible to be a lifetime professional dancer.

So how did we respond? We offered that her inquiry really felt like the question “Is it OK to be who I am?” The answer to which would be “Yes, it is. Always.”

A fantastic thing about LinkedIn is the expectation that you’ll have only one profile, because you’re only one person. Also, you’ll synthesize your complicated background into a single headline, and then outline it within the various sections of Summary, Experience, and Education. Creating a profile on the “professional” social network becomes an exercise in identifying the breadth of your achievements and interests, organizing your story, and then revealing yourself in a coherent framework.

Watch how things unfolded, starting at 6:00, below:

Image via

Craig Ferguson is Happy to Fail. Are You? [video]

It’s easy to feel anxious on the job: the pace moves too fast, it moves too slow; people get in your way, people avoid you; you fear success, you fear failure. Sometimes that’s just before 10:00am.

While the nature of anxiety is complex, we know that a fear of failure tops many “What Makes Me Anxious at Work” lists. Although not Craig Ferguson’s. His would probably be alcohol.

The host of The Late Late Show was recently the subject of Eric Spitznagel’s “Playboy Interview” where he opened up about his approach to work, and how his alcoholism influences it:

There are nights I go out there [on stage] with nothing. Sometimes I can sell the sh’t out of it, and sometimes I can’t. The difference for me, how I’m comfortable doing it without the alcohol, is I’m quite happy to fail. Failure is always an option. That’s why I fell in love with MythBusters. When those guys took two big rigs and spray-painted failure is always an option! across the sides and then crashed them into each other, I thought, These are my people.

You hear that? Ferguson’s happy to fail. And he’s wildly successful! He’s won a Peabody Award and his talk show will likely be renewed through 2014.

How is this possible?

When you’re comfortable with the potential for failure in your work, you know you’ll be OK with the outcome. In fact, your “failed” outcome will likely be instructive: perhaps you’ll learn something, or feel a certain way that helps you grow, or in Ferguson’s case, maybe hilarity will ensue.

To be open to the possibilities of post-failure is to be confident in your creativity and your skills of analysis, which together can move you forward from a setback. You analyze the situation, then creatively determine your path forward.

As a bonus, the relief you experience from being unafraid helps you relax in general, and ground you in the present moment.

Failure has always been an option for all of us; Craig Ferguson is wise to work with this fact rather than repress it. If you embrace the potential for failure, note how your approach to work changes. Then enjoy the success that follows.

Image via

7 Secrets to Center Your Self at Work [video]

It’s one of the most underrated ways of doing work.

In the course of a day, we tend to chase appreciation and approval of our work, and avoid confrontation and criticism. Problem is, it’s almost impossible to feel secure and grounded when these things come from outside of our selves.

We need ways to feel more centered in the workplace. Webster’s dictionary defines being “centered” as being “emotionally stable and secure.”

What does that mean?

Alicia Graf Mack has an answer. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Company dancer was recently interviewed by William C. Rhoden about the dancer as athlete (video below), and along with Gia Kourlas’s interview in TimeOut New York, we see an outline of Mack’s insight about how to be more emotionally stable and secure on the job.

Here are the dancer’s 7 secrets to center your self at work:

1. You can tolerate pain. Writes Kourlas:

[Mack] suffers from an autoimmune disorder classified as reactive arthritis, which led to swelling and pain in her joints … [She] began teaching dance… What happens when you start teaching? You start dancing again.

Alicia Graf Mack loves to dance so much, she willfully works through her physical pain to do so. Really, for what kind of work would you accept physical pain?

2. You can’t tolerate pain. Read more

How to Bring Whimsy Back [video]

Oy, work can be so serious sometimes. We’re guilty of looking at the sober side of things — well, because we take work seriously, too.

Just as Joseph Herscher does, and yet the product of his efforts brings about serious smiles.

Herscher is a kinetic artist who creates Rube Goldberg machines, contraptions that delight viewers with their silly premises and whimsical movements.

His work was recently featured in the Daily Mail, where you can see still shots of “Page Turner,” an installation that–you guessed it–turns a newspaper page. By tapping into his sense of whimsy, he’s created a complicated machine that prompts viewers to experience wonder, joy, and exhilaration.

And he’s wildly popular. The Internet has played “Page Turner” about 5 million times and counting. Herscher has attracted significant media attention, which will likely lead to more commissioned work. To be sure, this artist’s star is rising.

What would result if you were to reveal and engage the extent of your whimsical nature in the workplace? At least, you might bring some levity to your surroundings. And levity, wonderment, joy, and exhilaration are all things that can lead to increased engagement and productivity.

What are you waiting for? You, too, can help bring whimsy back to the workplace.

Watch his very watchable work below:

Image by Fletcher Lawrence via

Come Out at Work: As a Student [video]

Unless you’re still pursuing your formal education, you’re probably thinking “my student days are over!”

Oh, but they aren’t.

Our student days die only when we do, so you may as well come out at work as a lifelong learner.

President Obama agrees.

In a recent interview with ABC News‘s Diane Sawyer, he spoke about his experience at work:

There’re always things that you’re learning in the job. And I have no doubt that I’m a better president now than the day I took office just because you get more experience.

He came out at work as a student! We’re all learning as we go along at work–about our selves, our colleagues, our task, the world. That the highest executive in the United States’ government openly owns his learning process on the job might inspire the rest of us to do the same.

Yet we know that hurdles abound. Read more

What Sheryl Sandberg Didn’t Say at Davos [video]

Facebook Inc.’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and related important ideas about women in the workplace. She said we need to be mindful of how we’re socializing boys and girls at home, and called on chief executives to implement equal maternity and paternity leave policies.

Great stuff, right? And yet we’re totally disappointed in her.

Facebook recently filed for an initial public offering (IPO) that’s expected to raise up to $10bn this spring, and which could compensate Sandberg $1.6bn, solidifying her place among the most powerful executives in America.

Because of her newfound perch at the top, when she speaks about her professional trajectory and gender equality, it’s time she acknowledges the full range of dynamics that have helped her get there.

What dynamics?

That her Whiteness has played a role in her success.

Ay, that was hard to write. And we don’t mean to target the newest billionaire simply because she’s a woman. We’re critical of representations of White male leadership, too.

Sandberg’s story goes like this:  Read more

Oscar Pistorius Forges New Workplace Culture [video]

Describe the culture of your workplace.

Can you even?

It’s not  easy to pinpoint, since workplace culture typically comprises unconscious assumptions shared by the people involved.

Not easy, unless you’re sportswriter Michael Sokolove, who recently wrote about Oscar Pistorius, the top-ranked 400-meter runner and 2012 London Olympics hopeful.

Pistorius runs with extraordinary athletic ability, and uses prostheses called Flex-Foot Cheetas because he was born without the fibula bone in either of his legs.  Sokolove wrote in The New York Times Magazine about the ways Pistorius is forging a new culture on the track field, and more generally in competitive athletics.  Sokolove talked to a colleague about his experience following Pistorius. In the interview, he says:

In my mind, there is an image of an Olympic-level runner. He is a human thoroughbred, powerful and graceful, like Michael Johnson, the world-record holder in the 400 meters. Oscar is certainly powerful, and graceful in his own way, but I could not look at him and say: this is the highest order of the human form. You can’t. There’s something missing. So I had to adjust my mind and say: this is also a runner, possibly an Olympian, and regard him on his own terms.

Sokolove speaks for so many when he describes this mental image of an Olympic runner, which is laden with assumptions about gender, physical looks, age, as well as ability. These are some of the intangible components of the culture of competitive sports, which Pistorius continues to challenge.

How? Read more