4 Ways to Stand out at Work
I am not asked to attend certain meetings where I believe my input would be helpful. I don’t know what to do.
I am being slighted at work. I don’t get the good assignments. And I need those skills to move up in my organization.
These comments and others from my seminar participants suggest that some people believe they are being overlooked at work. Yet there are often two sides to a story. As the quote below illustrates, sometimes when people are given opportunities to be noticed, they don’t make the most of them.
I was nervous when I attended the senior management meeting. I stood by myself and didn’t talk to anyone. My boss was furious at me. She said it was my opportunity to get known and I blew it.
Regardless of which side you identify with, here are some general guidelines to help you stand out – in a good way:
Don't make it easy for people to ignore you.
Walk into a room like you belong there. Go up to people and introduce yourself, shake hands correctly, and make conversation with others. Pay attention to your nonverbal communication. Look people in the eye when you speak. Don’t cross your arms. Speak loudly enough to be heard – many people don't. And dress professionally. Your clothes need to be clean, pressed, in good condition, fit well, and be appropriate for your position.
Speak up if something is bothering you.
If you don't bring up situations that you believe are unfair, others may assume you are passive, and it’s unlikely anything will change. The key is to pick situations that are important, and to voice your concerns assertively. "Boss, I haven't been asked to attend the marketing meetings, yet I believe my suggestions on the budget would be helpful to the team. I would like to attend next week's meeting."
Make use of your network and mentors.
Talk to people you trust about your specific situation. Get their suggestions. If you don't have mentors or a network, start developing them. (Additional information on building your network can be found in my new book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.)
Have “fire in your belly.”
Have a powerful sense of determination – of working hard to succeed. Some people seem to be born with this attribute; others have to develop it. To ignite that blaze, go above and beyond. Do more than what is expected of you. Help others. Show initiative and do good work. Make sure you have all the necessary schooling and/or certifications. Convey enthusiasm for your work. Meet or beat your deadlines. When you can, solve problems. Get to work early, and don’t rush out the door at the end of the day.
There are many other things you can do to enhance your career, but these four items are key to helping you get noticed – an important part of any professional’s development.
What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?
We’re in an era of extremes. It seems a day doesn’t go by without the word “historical” popping up in the financial news.
The equities market and consumer debt are at historical highs. Interest rates and high-yield credit spreads are at historical lows. We haven’t seen even a 5% pull-back in the market this year—for the first time since 1995—and the DJIA is exhibiting its narrowest trading range in history. These are indeed historical times. And whether this fact has you filled with extreme optimism or extreme pessimism, you have some important decisions to make going forward.
There are theories about how we landed in this particular era of extremes, and most are rooted in the significant changes that have impacted both how we live and how we invest. At the top of the list are globalization, automation, and the largest aging population in history (yet another “historical” to add to the list). It’s said that the most dangerous words in investing are, “it’s different this time,” yet one has to wonder if, in fact, it really is different this time. Not just because of the historical market highs. After all, there always has been and always will be a new market high waiting around the corner. What’s different today is the sheer number and confluence of these extreme highs and lows—and their duration. It’s a situation no investor has experienced before, which can make these waters feel pretty daunting. History repeats itself, and investment strategies are largely built on that conviction. But what do we do when it doesn’t? When history fails to repeat itself, how can investors plan for tomorrow with confidence that they are positioned to protect their assets and gain a reasonable level of yield?
The first step is to recognize that, at least in many ways, the investment landscape really is different this time around. All you have to do is look at the numbers to be sure of that fact. And the catalysts I mentioned before—globalization, automation, and the aging population—aren’t going anywhere. If anything, the impact of each will only grow as time moves on. What that means is that there’s no way to predict what’s coming next. The only thing we know for certain is that predictability is a thing of the past (if it ever really existed at all). The result: you need to approach your portfolio differently than you ever have before.
Your goal, of course, is to find return given a risk tolerance. Current yield is an important part of total return and getting it is an elusive proposition in today’s market. If, like many people, you’re less than confident that the four major sectors that currently drive the equities market—healthcare, discretionary, tech, and financial—are poised to continue to rise at even close to recent rates, it may be wise to seek out alternatives to help drive yield without adding more risk to the equation.
But if alternatives are the wise path forward, which alternatives are the best options?
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Business Development Companies (BDCs), and energy stocks, traditionally the favored “non-correlated alternatives,” defied expectations when the stock market crashed in 2008, inconveniently revealing high correlations just as the equities market began its freefall. Anyone who was invested in these alternatives at the time knows all too well the devastating impact “non-correlated investments” can have on a portfolio, especially when they fail to do their job when it matters most.
Luckily, there is one alternative that can be counted on to remain uncorrelated to the traditional financial markets and, ultimately, deliver that precious yield: life insurance-based investments. And because this asset is literally built on one of the irreversible catalysts of change, the aging Baby Boomer population, owning life insurance may in fact be the ideal alternative to help investors generate non-correlated returns, regardless of where the market turns next. Even better, these investments typically deliver those returns with very low volatility.
What makes life insurance different is that, unlike typical alternative vehicles, secondary life insurance returns aren’t based on the economy. Instead, they are inherently non-correlated because returns are based solely on the longevity of the individual insureds.
As much as we would all love for the bull market to continue on its merry way, one thing history does tell us even today is that a bear market will come. It’s only a matter of when. As you strive to hedge your portfolios and prepare for the inevitable, life insurance-based investments are one tool that can help you achieve the three things you need most: diversification, low volatility, and yield.
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