Five Minute Friday: Belong

Belong. The sense that you feel a part of something, somewhere, some group. Several of us discussed this very subject yesterday in the context of being without a job and feeling the loss of belonging somewhere.

You have a badge or a key that lets you in the door. You have an employee number assigned to you. You are part of the family of the company, no matter how dysfunctional a family it is – you belong to it.

So when that is gone, where do you belong?

If the definition of belong is to FIT somewhere… what causes you to feel that you belong? Is it a feeling of being accepted? Of being liked?

I have more questions than answers about this word. In a lifetime of moving and environment disruption, for me it is less about a job than it is about the location of that job.

What makes you feel like you belong?

I link up with Lisa-Jo Baker every Friday and we write intensely for 5 minutes.
Usually we meet here: Five Minute Friday.
However today, Crystal Stine is hosting here.
Join us! #FMFparty


Who are you hanging around?

Jim Rohn said that “we become the combined average of the five people we hang around the most”.

So how do you delete the toxic people from your life and surround yourself with positive people? I have no magic answers, but in my case, I had to sever communication. Written and verbal – all communication. First though, I had to let go of any notion that I could help them change. Most frustrating is when they keep asking for advice but ignoring everything you offer.

It can be particularly difficult if they are related to you, and it may be impossible to complete remove them from your life, so mitigate their negativity with other positive people. Make it a 4 positive to 1 negative ratio at least.

If we become a combined average, be sure you surround yourself with as many positive, uplifting and growing people that you can find. That includes the ‘people’ that you allow into your mind – all input counts.

Will you share the ways you increase positivity in your life?

The Year Made Up of Days.

Again this morning I read my scribbling on the 3×5 notecard on my desk that I have read every day this year so far:
Everything you will do in this year will come from what you do every day. Your year is made up of days.
~ Chris Brogan.

And then I remind myself that the focused activity must be on the right things to reach the goal, not just busyness spread out over multiple 25 minute Pomodoros that have no real purpose.

I know I have written about that quote at least once already and I’ll likely write on this same subject frequently. You see, I have spent all of my work life with deadlines and quotas and KPI’s to reach, with contract expiration dates and weekly team meetings and one-on-ones with a manager.

Now in this new writing season I am the team and the manager, and I have no contract expirations in view. My current projects do not involve pricing contracts based on accurate aircraft configuration and getting renewal quotes out early enough for the client to renew on time. And I am not selling training classes that might cancel if I can’t find enough customers by Tuesday at 3 pm.

Instead, these writing projects involve words and concepts, truth and bold transparency with deadlines that I have set for myself.

Do you use a time management technique like a 25 minute Pomodoro or how do you keep yourself focused on the day’s goal?

Please share.


Are you a hiring manager without a budget for the personnel that you need to make your goals? Has your company resorted to contractors in lieu of employees to eliminate the need to provide benefits, and save on labor costs as many have?
From what I’ve seen in this job market in the past year or more, these are realities. And according to this article the “risky new trend of replacing employees with independent contractors” has been developing. So to mitigate that risk, instead of hiring individuals as independent contractors, some companies are using staffing firms to provide the contractors to them, where the staffing firm hires the employee, and contracts them out, so the company is still accomplishing the same goal but not risking the scrutiny of labor laws.
This Career Profiles blog breaks down the numbers of the ‘true cost’ of hiring an employee. Sometimes a contract position will lead to full-time employment (it has in my case), and it is a great trial period for both the company and contractor to find out if it’s a good fit.
So I’ve created a small business with project mavens who have expertise in multiple areas, and various industries, to step in and work within the confines of those realities.
What type of help do you need?
Do you need a tool to track a project’s profitability?
Have you started a small business because you know how to do what you do, but you don’t have experience getting the business itself set up?
Do you need marketing materials created to help you launch?
Have you written a book and want to indie publish but need an editor?
Maybe a project consultant is the workaround you need.
What is the biggest obstacle you have right now that I could solve for you?

It Is A Choice

We get to choose. Even if we are not the one choosing our circumstances, we are able to choose our response.

Easier said than done, I know. Especially if we have to respond in public, out in the open where others see our reaction instead of our action. So how we respond must be an intentional, active choice.

Last year I intentionally chose to resign my position in one state to join my husband who had accepted a new position in another state. At first we were going to try the long distance marriage route, at least until the house sold, but it became evident within 3 weeks that creating new lives without each other was not conducive to continual growth together. And growth apart is important and good for awhile, but not best practice for a solid marriage.

So I made the choice to join him, despite the fact the house did not sell, despite the fact that I did not have a new job lined up. It has always been our deal in two decades of marriage that we will follow whichever of us has the best opportunity. The past two times we have moved, his was unquestionably the best.

When being interviewed I am asked, “So, why did you move here”?

So I answer honestly that I am what some call a ‘trailing spouse’… that I resigned from my job to relocate for my husband’s new one… that I am searching for my next opportunity and simultaneously enjoying a deserved sabbatical.

I actually hear the shift in tone of voice even on the phone interviews, more often from women than men. As if I had just said out loud that my husband’s career is more important than mine, even though mine has never suffered as I have honored his.

We have been best friends and partners for many years now, and ours has always been a 110%/110% marriage. It’s not an egalitarian thing; it is unconditional love in action.

And that is always a choice.

So I continue my search for a company to serve that understands that core belief.

What Chris Brogan said…

I rarely read a blog post that has more to share in it than a line or a paragraph here and there. But on Sunday mornings Chris Brogan emails his online friends and today I want to share the entire post, not just the one tweetable line he identifies.

There are many good lessons in his words today. Especially when it has been a couple of weeks of personal branding work and resume tweaking and networking perfecting. It all feels exhausting when it’s not natural and doesn’t feel comfortable tooting your own horn. I’m much more comfortable as a First Follower, and having found a few really good leaders I could be proud to follow and promote, the challenge is to be the leader others want to follow.

But anyway – back to Chris’ lesson. Here it is. I echo… ‘what he said’.

Are You Turning People Off?

Self-promotion is tricky!

My grandfather was a candy salesman in Augusta, Maine. He was honored several times with being one of the top salespeople for Pine State, his company. Yet, when I went on his sales route with him, I never once saw him sell.

He’d stop and see Flo from Flo’s Variety on Sand Hill, and ask how her granddaughter did on her spelling test. He’d exchange hugs with Mr. Dupuis and tell clean jokes (while I was in earshot), and there’d be a lot of red faces and back slapping. I never once heard him ask for a sale. I saw him connect, commiserate, and learn what was happening in his customers’ lives.

My drink at this very moment is a hot cup of water with some lemon. What’s yours? My Gramps? He used to drink Coke. Plain Coke. (He once crashed a Coke truck and made the front page of the newspaper for it.)


I spend a lot of time chatting up people online, but that’s only part of the experience. I have to make connections. I have to get relationships going with the smart up and comers, as well as the folks who are currently most interesting to my you. So far, that’s similar to my grandfather’s world.

But what about when I need more reach? What about when I have to start stretching beyond the people I know? What about when I’m seeking to grow influence? It’s time to self-promote, and this is fundamentally different than the offline world in some ways, and sadly quite the same in others.


Imagine you are at a cocktail party on the night before a conference. Some people in the room know each other, and are clustering in clumps that way. You’re the newcomer to the group. You walk up to a circle of people, smile, and say…

That’s the heart of what you’ll have to know, right? If I freeze this moment in time, and if you think about it, here’s the analog to self promotion in the digital space. Because what you say next is how you will be received. Let’s press play a few times:

You say, “Hey there! Mind if I join your group? I just wrote a great blog post about how career planning has to get more social. It got a ton of comments. Care to add your two cents?”

Them: * blank stares*


You: “Hi! My name’s Chris. Would you take my business cards and hand them out to everyone? You might as well pass on that I say that I’m awesome.”

Them: *grab sharp implements*


You: “I know we haven’t met before. A long time ago, my life was really boring and mundane. My dog had tapeworms. We lived in a bad part of town. Then, my nana got sick. Then I…”

Wait. Where’d everyone go?


People have a hard time knowing what to do in that exact moment where they know they need to build relationships on the web, and it’s not entirely anyone’s fault. We just haven’t really thought through any other ways to get the word out in a method that would be more effective.

Let me list the problems at hand, and then we’ll go right into a recipe for a better chance at getting absorbed into that group and benefits made.


* People don’t know you yet, so have no idea why they should interact.
* You’re so worried about not being seen that you pounce too fast into your story.
* You believe there’s only one chance.
* It’s a loud and crowded space (even virtually, this is often true).
* Your story doesn’t really have good entry points yet.


Here’s what I know to work for self-promotion more often than not.

1.) Start with them. As you “approach the small group,” even (especially!) online, start by commenting on their work, and just “being there.” The people I notice the most in my own community are those who have a point of view, and who always seem there to interact.

2.) Add connective tissue. I made friends with Michael Sampson from New Zealand over our mutual appreciation for Batman. What excites someone that overlaps with what you also love is a great bridge.

3.) Be helpful to them far before you ask for something. Tim Sanders, author of the amazing book Love is the Killer App (and also grab Today We Are Rich!) is the master of doing a TON for someone without ever asking for anything back.

4.) Always have a condensed and simple story to retell about you.

This one needs a little story. I was once sitting in the bar at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York, and a guy who knew no one there besides his girlfriend came up and shook my hand. He said, “Hi, I once sold a joke to a professional comedian.”

Holy cats. What an amazing first line. I NEEDED the story. And the joke is hilarious (or was to me). If you want to hear it, hit reply and ask me for the joke.

Having a story to tell that’s quite simple about what you do and most especially who you serve, is great. Mine? “I deliver tools and smarts to folks who want to work better.” It’s like an elevator pitch, only it’s something you could say out loud to someone.

5.) Make your first “ask” small. If you and I have a brief interaction online and then you ask me to write the foreword to your new book, it won’t happen. If you and I have a great conversation and you ask if I’d want to do a quick Q&A for your blog over email, that might work. (Note: do NOT reply to this email and ask me. I’ll say no.) : )

6.) Above all else, EARN the right to move the story over to you.


John Jantsch is the Duct Tape Marketer. If you meet him at an event, you’ll find out that he’s personable, that he never talks about what he’s doing until you beg him, and he is friendly and approachable. I promote John all the time because he’s never asked for it.

Charlie Green cowrote a masterwork book on Trust that Julien Smith and I have liberally quoted TWICE in TWO BOOKS. He never asks anyone for a thing. He deserves mountains of promotion. When he shares his own work, you want to read it.

Sir Richard Branson, when I interviewed him, kept asking me more questions about me. He was very inclusive. This man owns an island. He doesn’t talk about it that way. Sure, on the air, he’s VERY self promotional, but that’s the bombast. As a person one-on-one, he’s very humble.


You have a lot going on. People want to know about it. But it’s how you approach it that will make or break what you get from the effort.

My personal efforts all err on the side of providing a lot of value before I extract any for myself (thank you, Anthony, for that language). I also do a lot to nurture the networks I serve, so that when it comes time to ask, people feel like it’s the least they could do to participate and help.

That’s the gold standard. That’s the rich dark soil into which to plant the seeds of growth.

If you want to self-promote, earn it by nurturing the community with no expectation of reciprocation. (tweetable)

And with that, I invite you to get going on the work that needs doing.


So… now I get to work on it! How will you apply it?

In. Real. Life.

Penelope Trunk writes today:  “The blog is a conversation where I am useful to the reader in exchange for me having someone to talk to.”

I’m taking her advice. I hope I am useful in writing this, since there have been some days that I talk to myself. A lot. It causes me to feel introspective and sometimes very alone. Most of the time I enjoy the solitude of this sabbatical and I have the luxury of doing what I enjoy.

I love TED Talks and usually watch them daily. Today I stumbled upon a treasure – a poet named Billy Collins. He shared several of his poems that had been animated, for those who prefer to watch the poetry. I closed my eyes to just listen to the artistry. In doing so, I met him. Virtually, not ‘IRL’, but through his words.

But then some days, like today, I get to meet new people in person. Today I enjoyed lunch with a group of business women, in the ‘Connected Women of North Carolina’ group I have joined. Women gathering to meet like-minded women and to network. The buzzword of the year.

For some people, networking is simply about finding the next career opportunity. Millions of us in the U.S. are certainly doing that as we struggle to shrink the unemployment numbers. But sometimes, like today, it’s also just about meeting people. In. Real. Life.