Human Resources Today

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Nashville

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What's Your Place?

I had a great discussion over dinner last night with some friends about the "place." The one place that makes you feel most at home--the place that is the core of who you are. For one it was Prague, because that's where she fell in love. For another it was Vienna because that's where he was born and spent his formative years. For me, it might be Nashville or Geneva for two very different reasons. But the core of the conversation, was about where you feel most you, most impactful or most impacted.  What if we took that sentiment and applied it in another way? Let me explain. I was in Nashville to get my MBA. I'd been living in DC for nine years until then--in the city, taking public transport everywhere. I hit museums, bars and restaurants on a regular basis. When I applied to B-School I was at a crossroads personally and professionally and decided I wanted to apply to schools all in places I thought I'd never live (Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, Ann Arbor). And Nashville won out.

I thought it would be funny, a great joke to later tell at dinner parties: "I lived in Nashville for two years, ha!" But then it became my place. For the first time in nine years I was a full-time student again. In a laid-back city full of culture, live music and great food. I fell in love with learning, new music, new people. It became my place.  Now when I go back to visit, I literally long for those days.  I was at my best, in my place with life.

What if we did that with our careers? What if you stopped and asked yourself, "what's my place?"

Do it. Think back throughout your career. What's your place? Are you there? Were you there? When (if ever) did you feel most at home in your career. When (if ever) have you looked around and said "I can't believe my luck?"

I'm in the middle of looking for my place. And that's how I came here, with Exaqueo. It's mine, and I'm at home. I'm working with individuals to find their home through personal brand creation and management and career coaching. I'm working with companies to help them define their talent and brand strategies.  And I'm slowly coming back to my place.

What's yours?

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Quitting Is Good For Your Brand

I can say no to camping, spicy food and bug retrieval.  But yet I can't seem to say no to work.And when I take on something else, the only thing left to cut seems to be sleep.  With toothpicks propping open my eyes today after a paltry 5 hours of sleep last night, I'm reminded that quitting can be a good thing.

In 2005 I went back to get my MBA at Vanderbilt. Two music, bacon and case-study filled years later, I finished but had a hard time letting go of Nashville. This Philly girl loved, loved, loved the city and being back in school. So I couldn't resist when they asked for my help leading the Alumni Council.  I give back, looks great on a resume, and I have the privilege of attending the Alumni Board meetings with some pretty amazing alumni. But I just quit. Yep, I am a quitter.  I was feeling bad about it until Stephen Dubner told me (and all of radio land) that it's not such a bad thing.

Inn my role as Alumni Council President, I launched an alumni-led survey and gave some fantastic feedback to the school. I reached out to my own class and shared some cool ideas to energize others. But this year, frankly, I've sucked at my job. I'm taking longer to respond to email requests for help, and I haven't been innovative, interesting or proactive in the least.

I felt bad about quitting, but after the Freaknomics therapy, I realized it's actually better for my brand.  When you overcommit, you take away from something. And no matter what that something is--family, hobbies, day job--you feel guilty about it. And that hurts your brand.  For me it was sleep. And when I'm tired, I'm super cranky and I don't think well.  Which is important since a big chunk of what I do involves strategy and innovation.

So while I hate to let the responsibility go, I know in the long run it's better for me, better for my brand and for Vanderbilt. I can sleep tonight knowing that giving up breadth of focus means I'm getting much more depth.  And it's the depth of the brand that matters. Sounds caffeinating to me.

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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