Archive for September, 2008

100% Success trial – Concluding thoughts

September 25, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

Now that I am at the end of this 100% success journey ;), it’s time to reflect on what’s been happening to me for the past 30 days. The goal was to see if bringing success into my life would trigger a virtuous circle of success, ultimately bringing unexpected (or wanted) bigger results.

Clarifications

By choosing to undertake only tasks I know I am sure to succeed, I didn’t give up on ambition and trying to reach things that are out of hand at the moment. The goal was certainly not to only undertake projects I am sure to succeed, therefore not trying to stretch myself to try and reach goals that seem far in the distance. The goal was to formulate each and every action I undertake in a reachable way, to make sure that I would succeed this action.

I’ll give you an example. Numerous times this month, I have talked about a speech I had to do for a wedding. Before the trial, everytime I thought about working on the speech, I told myself: “I have to write a great speech that will make everybody laugh”. Then I started this trial, and so when working on the speech, I asked myself what I could be sure to do, and I decided it was: “Work 1/2 hour on the first draft of this speech”. Easy enough. No other pressure.

That’s what I meant by 100% success trial. Formulate every single action in a way that I am sure I will succeed it. But it didn’t prevent me to work on the speech about which I didn’t know the ultimate outcome (make people laugh, or bomb!)

Long term projects and 100% success actions

About these projects, I think they are actually essential to the success of this experiment. They are like the magnetic north for me, and every morning, I take out my compass and look in which direction I should go. If I didn’t have this sense of direction, I would find it meaningless to plan for daily actions, even if I’m 100% sure that I will succeed them.

What are these projects, and how did they came about? In the trial I did before this one, I hit the lowest point in my morale, where it was very questionable whether I should still be existing on the surface of this planet. The day after, I made a decision to seek hapiness in everything I do, and I decided that my happiness came through 6 things, in no order of preference: Make a good living – Make an artistic contribution to the world – Have relationships with other people (friendships, love, family) – Discover other people artistic’s contribution – Lead a healthy life – Increase my knowledge in diverse topics

These are the lines that decide what I will do when I plan my day in the morning. These are what I would call infinite goals. I can always stretch the goals further. They are kind of ideals, but I made the decision that everyday was going to be a day where I take steps towards these goals.

Focusing on the future and the hits

This trial made me focus much more on the future and on the possibilities, rather than dwell on failures and non-achievements. For example, let’s talk about “making an artistic contribution to the world”. Sometimes I stress about the fact that I am not the international known artist I’d like to be; or that I haven’t really published a book yet. Now, I ask myself: what am I sure to do to walk into that direction? And at first I started to tell myself every morning that I would write 100 words, then I increased to 200. Most of the time, I write much more, but I have my minimum quota everyday.

Same with the job search (right now, “make a living” and “artistic contribution” are separated, but I hope that they will merge one day)… so I was saying, job search. Like in the artistic world, I feel like I haven’t achieved anything major in my professional life. Throughout this month, I received some rejection letters and emails (when I received ones). Sometimes it hurt, but this experiment always made me think: “what achievable step can I take towards my job search?” This attitude made me focus on the successes I was having and made me look towards the future.

Achievements in a relaxed attitude

Ultimately, this experiment made me let go of everything I cannot 100% control. I mean by that: whether somebody wants to work with me, whether they find my joke funny, what a person is feeling about me, current market conditions, the quality of my own inspiration… By focusing on the controllable elements, I was able to feel more relaxed. As a consequence, my inspiration has been much better and I have connected better with people at interviews.

A month later, what have achieved exactly?

Jobwise, I don’t have my perfect job yet. However, my hit rate with recruiters has been better. I have also done better interviews. I have networked with more people than before, and have been recommended for several jobs. And also I have found a job posting that actually made my heart bump and thought: “wow, this would be absolutely amazing!” Coming from a man who’s not been excited about careers for 6 months, it’s an achievement!

Artistic wise, I have crossed the bar of the 10,000 words on the first draft of my novel- and I am happy about my characters, what they’re going through, their reactions to events, etc.

Healthwise, I must admit, I haven’t found how to apply this on working on my health, since this is a topic that you have to work on 24/7 for the rest of your life, and I can’t see the 100% success actions I could take towards this goal.

Learningwise, I have brushed up on my German, and I’ve learned about 80 verses of the play “Andromaque” by Racine.

As for discovering other people’s arts and relationship with others, I enjoyed both in a much more relaxed attitude because I knew that I worked on the whole rest. It felt nice to go out partying with no worries about things I should have been doing!

Since I talked about the wedding speech, I ended up writing it in two 1/2 hour sessions, i.e. one hour, and it was a hit with the audience. Coincidentally, it brought me two unscollicited job referrals!

Conclusion

A person commented on one post: “you learn from your failures”. In a way, yes. As I said, I’ve given up on the things I cannot control, like the reaction of others. But what I can certainly do, for example, is to make sure I sell myself the best way I can at job interviews. I can work on connecting with the person at first, shake hands and my selling points. The rejections make me learn about trying to have a better selling speech, about trying to ask better questions. So in that way, you learn from rejection. But for now, I have stopped seeing the negative reaction of others as failures, because it does not 100% depend on me.

I will definitely continue to work like that, because it’s putting me in positive spirits and it seems to be bringing good results.

PS: as I was about to hit “publish” on the blog interface, the recruiter from the salesteam management job in Paris called me to offer me the job. So, yes, in conclusion, “success breeds success”!!

PPS: this is not a joke, it actually happened at the second I was going to make the post.

100% Success trial – Day 29 and 30

September 23, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

Spent the last two days going to an interview and then networking at an e-commerce fair in Paris.

First, the interview. It was prepared according to my 100% success methodolgy! Just focused on the things I was 100% sure to succeed (i.e. questions to ask, selling points about myself, structure my speech when talking about my background). It helped me be relaxed, and I think I connected with these people well. Weird thing is, the day after I wrote on my blog: “somebody gives me a job managing a salesteam”, I got called for this interview, which consists partly of managing a salesteam. It’s for a position in Paris, which is not ideal for me, as my city of choice is London. But there is a time when a man has got to start working and stop playing around !!

Second, the e-commerce fair in Paris. I first went without a strategy. Just to get info on the latest trends of e-businesses, and maybe with the back of the mind idea to network. After a couple of hours, there were 3 companies I wanted to talk to. One because I have an interview with them on Friday (for their Brussels office) and I wanted to fish for info. The other two because they are interesting companies that I would enjoy working for.

I was nervous about going to meet them, but I prepared a list of points that I was sure to do, like say hello, shake hands, and then a few ideas and questions to place in the conversation. The two networking encounters went well, as they both gave me their business cards and asked to receive my CV. One suggested that I go and look on their website for opportunities.

Which is what I did, and there I saw THE perfect position. A position that is appealing in the job description, in London, for an awesome brand name company, in a sector that highly interests me (traditional and new media). A position for which I don’t feel underqualified, nor overqualified. What can I say, it just felt right!

It’s a shame this job posting comes on the last day of the trial, because I would have liked to conclude the 30 days by saying: “hey, I got the perfect job!” Part of me doesn’t want to feel too excited, lest I shouldn’t get the interview… but part of me is feeling jumpy, like I haven’t felt about careers for months!

Anyway, the faithful readers will of course be updated… Concluding thoughts at next post.

100% Success trial – Day 27 and 28

September 21, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

Following up on my last post in which I talked about training my body to obey me (especially my arms), I went to look for information about training animals. I ‘m not sure where this is going to lead, but it was surely an informative read. The page I visited mentioned that organisms learn a lot by mimicking, and I know it’s by watching my parents that I learned how to overeat, and it’s funny how this habit of the body is so hard to fight with the mind.

In a nutshell, the readings were saying that positive behaviours should be associated with a reward and negative behaviours should trigger a punishment. I don’t know whether I want to take this a step further; First, I would need to find a reward for the body that is not a candy (obviously, otherwise it defeats the purpose of being healthy) and then find a body punishment to inflict on myself when having negative health behaviours… this is just getting a bit too weird. If I think of something, I’ll write it here!

Other than that, on the job search front, have been preparing for a couple of interviews next week, so it looks like my work preparing and submitting my applications worked rather well…

Hope you guys had a good week end!

100% Success trial – Day 26

September 19, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

Since, I’ve been talking a few times about the number of words I’ve written on my novel (I’m at 8,500 today), I would like to share with you a quote I got from a novel called “A Tale of Love and Darkness” by Amos Oz. It describes so well the experience of writing (and he talks about the number of words in a book too!!)

“If you write an eighty thousand word novel you have to make about a quarter of a million decisions, not just decisions about the outline or plot, who will live or die, who will fall in love or be unfaithful, who will make a fortune or a fool of himself, the names and faces of the characters, their habits and occupations, the chapter divisions, the title of the book (these are the simplest, broadest decisions);not just what to narrate and what to gloss over, what comes first and what comes last, what to spell out and what to allude to indirectly (these are also fairly broad decisions); but you also have to make thousands of finer decisions, such as whether to write, in the third sentence from the end of that paragraph, “blue” or “bluish.”. Or should it just be “pale blue?” Or “sky blue?” Or “royal blue?” Or should it really be “blue-grey?” And should this “greyish blue” be at the beginning of the sentence, or should it only shine out towards the end? Or in the middle? Or should it just be caught up in the flow of a complex sentence, full of subordinate clauses? Or would it be best to just write the three words “in the evening light,” without trying to colour it in, either”grey-blue” or “dusty blue” or whatever?”

***

On the health front, I’m experimenting something new. I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming to see what action I was sure to succeed in order to become more healthy. At the beginning of the trial, I remember I wrote that I set myself the goal to follow the Paul McKenna rules for 30 minutes, and then at the end, why not continue and do it for another 30 minutes? I did that for about a week, and then one time I failed, so I never set myself this task again, since my experiment is to only undertake actions that I am sure to succeed.

So I set some time to think about it, and two ideas came out. First, I might brainstorm this phenomenon (i.e. my overeating) as much as I want, at the end of the day, it is a matter of the body and not of the mind. The mind can help, but my mind already has known for years that I’ve got to stop overeating. So I need to find actions that concern the body, rather than the mind!

Second, working on your health is not like writing a book. With a book, you can almost only take positive actions. I mean that even if you don’t write for one day, words don’t erase by themselves at night. They stay in the page, therefore, unless you decide to delete everything, you can only work constructively on a book. With health, it’s different, if you don’t have positive behaviours towards your health, it goes away with automatic behaviours (i.e. not exercizing, or not eating healthily). this made me think about a strategy class we had during the MBA. You acquire a capital of health, but it leaks very fast and you have to work on it everyday in order to maintain it.

So where does this lead me? I need to work on the body, and I need to find a way to do it constantly. How do I reconcile this with 100% success trial, since I’m not 100% sure I can hold healthy behaviors 24/7?

This led me to brainstorm further about the nature of negative health behaviours. When I go on an overeating run, I always have the feeling that I am not at the command of the plane; i.e. my brain is sending information to stop overeating, but the rest is not responding. It is a very compulsive attitude, almost as if I was addicted, but the problem is that there is not really a drug involved- otherwise everybody would be addicted to food and therefore overweight.

I tried to isolate this compulsive part. First, I put this compulsive part in my mind. I decided that I had some sort of a split personality problem, and that the Ben that wants to be healthy was sometimes short-circuited by some sort of a saboteur Bizarro-Ben who wants me to be fat (KPK, you know what I’m talking about!) I tried to understand this part of myself, but this path didn’t lead me anywhere.

Today, I tried to look at the problem differently. I put the part of me that wanted to get fat not in my mind, but in my body. I view my body as an animal that has bad habits. It has the habit of extending its arms towards food, take it and puts it in my mouth. So here is what I’m trying at the moment (I know it’s a bit far fetched, but remember it’s all experimental…) I’ve decided to treat my body like a wild animal that needs to be trained (like a lion trained in a circus).

Here is what I’ve done yesterday and today: I’ve decided that, for 5 minutes, I would put my hands on the table, and not move them at all. (I chose to do this, because I know I could succeed). For the past two days, everytime I’ve felt like eating compulsively, I remembered that feeling of being in control of my body for 5 minutes, of choosing to have my hands and my arms not move because my will wanted so… and believe it or not, I didn’t reach for the food I was eager to eat compulsively! So I’ll keep blogging about that to see if it proves successful in the long run.

100% Success trial – Day 25

September 18, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

Had a very disenchating conversation about advertising with the contact I was given yesterday. The reasons why I never looked for a job in advertising all came back to me: bad pay, aggressive behaviours and creativity at the service of soaps, cars and insurance… Is this really why muses whisper ideas in our heads? I lost my motivation to look further down this path.

I’ve been studying whether the entrepreneur opportunity in London could be viable- maybe it is worth taking the risk, because if I do well, I could make a much better living than all the job postings can offer. More to follow.

All right, the blog is starting to turn about my thoughts on making career decisions, but the truth is, after 25 days, this 100% success method has become a second nature. The way I formulate my goals to myself, in ways that I cannot fail, have triggered me to step into action. There is no procrastination, because there is no possibility of failure. Of course, there is the possibility of rejection, but there is nothing I can do.

I’ve been unemployed 2,5 months, but since the past 25 days, I’ve never worked so much in my life. Even when I was employed, I didn’t work as much. I might have shown up my face during long working hours, but I never accomplished so much. I am actually very eager to start working again, to see how this new methodology holds in the business world. I am curious to experiment with a sales team: can you motivate a salesteam by presenting work to them in a way that they cannot fail it? Would it improve their performance? somebody give me a job managing a salesteam please!!!

Anyway, thanks to all the readers ! traffic steadily increases… Keep coming back.

100% Success trial – Day 24

September 17, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

Went for a breakfast today with a friend who used to work in recruitment, and who has a gift for counselling people with their careers. She’s helped many friends who didn’t know what they wanted to do, who knew what they wanted but couldn’t find their dream positions, who didn’t like their current job, etc. She does something completely different today, but does give the help just for fun! She’s also a person whom I would call an influencer; having her adopt something is enough to have it adopted by her whole network of acquaintances… Anyway, since I’m looking for a job, I went to see her.

She asked me a lot of questions about professional experience, then she starts to tell me that she could see me in two areas very well. First as a manager of a salesteam, as she thinks I have the strength to communicate and motivate people. Second, she said I would really have fun in advertising.

Concerning managing a salesteam, the funny thing is that I have been thinking about applying this 100% success trial to the management of people. How do you allow your employees to let go of what is not under their control, your own control, or the control of the company, and make them focus on things they can achieve to let organic success happen ? I’ve been thinking of making something of those ideas, but I don’t want to call it “100% success method” because it sounds extremely cheesy. Maybe “organic success”? Anyway, she made me willing to explore that path and I could see myself doing that.

In regards to advertising, she gave me a contact of a girl with a good position just above account manager at a top 5 advertising agency in London (can’t give the name just yet)… she was at the wedding where I gave my speech. I contacted her, she’s very positive about talking to me tomorrow!

The company I interviewed with in London came back with an offer that had a low basic salary, but the potential for high earnings if I manage to bring good results to the business. It’s a bit like an entrepreneurial risk (with some security nonetheless), but I don’t know if I’m ready to take it today. I’ve worked in start ups and small structures; and I was hoping to bank on my MBA diploma to get a bit more financial security (for 2-3 years at least), until taking new risks. I’m temporarily risk-tired.

Mind you, we looked up to the guys who got jobs at Lehman brothers as the people who got the best and most secured offers (on a financial standpoint)… I guess 100% security is a myth.

***

One thing I ought to mention is that this trial doesn’t completely remove the pain of rejection. I don’t focus on it when I work, I don’t fear it when I write a cover letter, or prepare for an interview, because I know it is out of my control, but I still don’t like it when it hits me.

Both this and Lehman brothers made me think about a little thought I’ve had lately. In microeconomics class, we’re told about Adam Smith’s theories and the concept of the invisible hand that adjusts the economy and that is moved by the rules of the free market. The invisible hand adjusts the supply and demand curves when one moves. I love this concept of looking at the economy as curves adjusting (and I’m being ironic here). Read Grapes of Wrath, and now you’ve got a great description of an adjustment of the labor market supply curve to the left! Economics just ignores all this. Same with the Lehman Brothers ex-employees; I guess they’re feeling the invisible hand slapping them around a bit…

100% Success trial – Day 23

September 16, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

Day 23, I got an email from a woman with whom I did a bit of career coaching. Her company is called Amphi A (in tribute to the largest amphi of the MBA school I just attended). I gave her the address of the blog, she liked it and asked if she could send the link to some of her clients. Awesome! I’m not sure in what capacity I’m able to help these people, but if it’s inspirational enough for them, I guess those messages in a bottle were not sent for nothing!

Spoke with the recruitment agency, and apparently, the company I interviewed with yesterday is keen to make an offer. I don’t have the details, I hope it’ll be good! Went for a networking lunch with a guy working in a Paris marketing consultancy. Interesting stuff… Again, I created a list of achievable stuff to accomplish (very similar to the one I used for the interview), and we had an interesting conversation. To be continued.

100% Success trial – Days 21 and 22

September 16, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

I mentioned earlier that my sending cover letters ended up in booking a few interview and I just had my first one.

On day 21, I had a task that said: “Spend 1/2 hour thinking about what could be 100% successful at the interview”. After the 1st session, I wasn’t completely satisfied, so I did another session later, and was happy with it.

As usual with this trial, I came up with a list of things I couldn’t possibly screw up. It included:

  • show up at the interview
  • say hello
  • introduce myself
  • take out a notepad to take notes
  • talk about 3 specific points (I’m not gonna disclose them here), that are selling points about myself
  • ask the following 3 questions (same)
  • be ready to answer the 3 stupid interview questions (what are your strengths, weaknesses, how do you see yourself in 5 years), but only talk about it if sollicited
  • say good bye

I thought I could manage to succeed in this.

Day 22, I go to the interview, with only one mission: make sure the above goals are fulfilled; that’s it. I don’t care whether they give me a job, whether they like me, etc… Of course, I want them to like me, but I don’t go in with the objective: “I’m going to try and have them like me”. I consider that only the above list is my responsibility.

The interview went very well. I mean, it was one of the greatest interviews I’ve ever had. First of all, I was relaxed. Second, even though they were a lot of unexpected questions, my relaxation attitude allowed me to handle them well. Third, the job description exceeded my expectations. I thought I was going in for something really technical (follow up on search engine marketing campaigns), but it actually involves setting up a whole new section for the company. It is entrepreneurial, but still hedged by a company. It looks like I may get an offer that includes a base salary and some shares of the company. So I get to work for myself, but I also get a bit of security. Really, it was a perfect balance. I really hope we can agree on an offer, as it would be a nice way to finish this job search. If not, i’ll just continue what I’ve been doing for 3 weeks!

On the writing front, I’m at 7,400 words! Can’t believe I’ve achieved that already…

100% Success trial – Day 20

September 13, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

On a completely unrelated matter, I saw the Pope yesterday… It wasn’t scheduled. I knew he was in Paris, but I didn’t go out of my way to see him. I was going to a friend’s 30th birthday party. The party happened right by the church Notre Dame. As I got out of the metro, thousands were gathered in a crowd, they started cheering and waiving their yellow flags. I decided to approach, and in the distance, the pope entered the church of Notre Dame for his mass celebration… How often does that happen??

Anyway, as I am focusing most of my job search on online marketing, I came accross an awesome site on search engine optimization. Equally awesome is his author, that wrote quite an extensive biography in his “About” page. Towards the end of the page, he cites a text in a DVD of Radiohead. The quote goes like that:

If you have been rejected many times in your life, then one more rejection isn’t going to make much difference. If you’re rejected, don’t automatically assume it’s your fault. The other person may have several reasons for not doing what you are asking her to do: none of it may have anything to do with you. Perhaps the person is busy or not feeling well or genuinely not interested in spending time with you. Rejections are part of everyday life. Don’t let them bother you. Keep reaching out to others. When you begin to receive positive responses then you are on the right track. It’s all a matter of numbers. Count the positive responses and forget about the rejections.

I could really relate to that quote, because my success trial has put me into this mentality. At the end of the day, since I cannot be 100% sure of whether a person will have the reaction I want, I don’t measure my success in terms of other people’s behaviours anymore. I give myself attainable objectives and throw my work in the world, in the hope to get positive responses and rewards. I can feel I am building a positive vibration in the world!

100% Success trial – Day 18 and 19

September 12, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

On day 18, I had a bit of a ‘down’ day, hence the reason why I didn’t post a blog, I didn’t really feel like it. I didn’t feel like doing anything. Ok, I actually failed at something! It wasn’t that big of a deal, but it made me very negative, and then wasn’t inspired at all. It kind of made me realize that the spiral of failure can go much faster than the spirale of success. Indeed, it takes me a bit of effort to launch the success spiral, and then each success brings a little more motivation for another success. On the other hand, one failure just created in me a demotivation that led me to not do much yesterday.

Fortunately, I was able to do my “strict minimum”, i.e. anything related to job search and writing my novel. So that’s ok, it wasn’t such a big thing.

On Day 19, however, I managed to get back on track straight away, and to my level of productivity. I was talking about this experiment to an American friend at a bar last night, and she said: “that’s just rewording what you do, it’s all about putting a positive spin…” I agree to an extent: it’s creating a different vision to look at thing, but it’s a bit more powerful in my mind, than just have a positive outlook: it’s about creating actions for yourself that you know you can complete and to force yourself to let go of what you cannot control. It’s great, because completion of tasks gives me a sense of accomplishment that allows me to enjoy myself fully and without guilt when I socialize with people- and letting go of things that I cannot control (I can influence, but not have 100% control on them) gives me a sense of serenity that makes me happier.

VoilĂ  for today!