November 2011 - Posts

Failure: One Stepping Stone to Success
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 8:33 PM

Celebrated British Prime Minister and quote-maker extraordinaire Winston Churchill famously said, "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

The brilliant life of Steve Jobs is just one such example of this philosophy in practice. Jobs created breakout technologies and the biggest brand on the planet, but not before stumbling publically along the way. Jobs was famously ousted from Apple, the very company he helped launch, before eventually returning to the fold and leading it on to greater glory. For more on this chapter of Jobs' storied history, read Steve Jobs: Why His Biggest Success Was Learning from Failure.

For more on the link between failure and success, you may be interested in reading:

How do you convert failure into a learning experience? Has experiencing failure lead to greater success down the road for you? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

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Not an Optimist by Nature? Tips for Faking It
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 8:28 PM

Good news, pessimists of the world: if you weren't born wired with a positive, sunny worldview, optimism can be learned. Experts believe that learned optimism is a talent that can be cultivated, just as you would any other skill, with deliberate, conscious effort.

When you consider that optimists enjoy better health and enhanced work success, cultivating optimism makes sense, even if you are a bred-in-the-bone pessimist.

Practice Makes Perfect: In How to be an Optimist, outlines five exercises rooted in scientific studies to help train your brain.

Rule of Thumb: In Learning Optimism with the 24 x 3 Rule,  the author suggests training your brain to avoid negative thinking by using the 24x3 rule. The next time you encounter a new idea or person; try to wait 24 seconds before saying or thinking something negative. Next, work up to 24 minutes. Finally, work towards waiting 24 hours - one single day - before thinking or verbalizing the cons.

Lead with Optimism: The ability to create and instill optimism is a crucial component of leadership, says leadership expert and author John Baldoni. Given the recent flood of bad business news, instilling optimism and confidence amongst the ranks is more critical than ever. In Craft a Narrative to Instill Optimism, Baldoni suggests that leaders take time to communicate a narrative that allows employees to make sense of their work and future in a hopeful manner. Even challenges and obstacles can be recast in a manner that inspires hope and resilience without subverting reality.

Practice Realistic Optimism: For pessimists who view sunny optimism as akin to denial or unrealistic thinking, read From Despair to Hope: How to Become an Optimistic Pessimist. The author makes the case that true optimism is not putting lipstick on a pig, but rather the ability to recognize the current reality for what it is, imagine a better future, and then summon up the strength to dig in, make tough choices and do the work necessary to bring about desired outcomes.

How do you cultivate optimism in your life? Do you have tips for staying on the sunny side even when confronted with obstacles or challenges? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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How Optimism Fuels Success
Monday, November 21, 2011 7:55 PM

Lucky optimists, they not only see the world through rose colored glasses, they enjoy better health and greater work success  than their pessimistic counterparts.

The link between optimism and health is easy to understand: A positive worldview adds up to less stress and its attendant ill health effects. But why does a glass-is-half-full outlook result in enhanced work outcomes for those disposed to the sunny side of life?

Optimism Breeds Success: Optimistic employees, who view the proverbial glass as half full, succeed at work in greater numbers than their pessimistic half-empty counterparts says expert Susan Segerstorm, author of Breaking Murphy's Law: How Optimists Get What They Want from Life - and Pessimists Can Too. Segerstorm argues that optimists have significant advantages in the workplace over pessimistic colleagues since work success is fueled by motivation and optimists are more naturally motivated to reach their goals. Pessimists on the other hand can't foresee success and are less likely to invest time and energy in ambitious projects and goals.

Optimism is the X Factor: Harvard Business Review Senior Editor Jeff Kehoe also is an optimist advocate, calling optimism the crucial ingredient for the success of a business. Kehoe defines optimism as "the simple, clear, energetic belief in the potential success of an idea" and argues it must be present to achieve success. Without this X factor, businesses aren't created, talent isn't hired, and good ideas wither on the vine.

Easy Does It: Interestingly, optimism itself can sometimes be a negative. In Lean Towards the Sunny Side, But Don't Over Do It,  the New York Times examines the down side of life on the sunny side. While optimism garners benefits, extreme or unrealistic optimism can have a negative effect that impairs judgment and ends in disappointment. Pessimists will also be relieved to learn that some careers call for a pessimistic outlook: lawyers do well by always preparing for the worst.

Do you agree that optimism play a role in creating work success? Has an optimistic nature give you a leg up? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Wellness at Work: What You Can Do
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 9:06 PM

Work is increasingly the place where people spend the bulk of their day. So it makes sense that wellness and exercise, once solely the province of leisure time, are now often incorporated into the work day.

While many offices offer comprehensive wellness programs, many smaller offices do not. Even if your office doesn't offer wellness programming, you can still boost your healthy lifestyle quotient at work with the following tips.

You Are What You Eat: Don't succumb to unhealthy office eats. Refuel regularly through the day to maintain energy levels and to stave off binge eating. For more, read Healthy Office Eating Made Easy. 

That's a Stretch: Logging too many hours at the computer is a recipe for backaches and a build-up of physical stress. Release tension and get your circulation flowing with simple desk stretches and short walking breaks through the day. Commit to a regimen of our Easy Desk Stretches and do your body good.

Relaxation Round Up: Energy is not limitless, and your batteries will run low if you don't take time to recharge them from time to time. We rounded up tips for replenishing your energy in our post Relax, its Only Work. 

Stress Mess: Stress causes numerous health problems, from heart problems to high blood pressure to depression. Take steps to keep stress and its ill health effects at bay with the tips in Stress Less: Keeping Work Worries in Check. Ideas include practicing effective time management, organization and decluttering, all tools that help alleviate stress.

Do you incorporate health and fitness into your work day? What are your tips for avoiding stress and unhealthy food while at work? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Looking Ahead: Navigating a Career Path as a Young Woman
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 8:58 PM

There is a reason why hindsight is 20/20: looking back is a heckuva lot easier than guessing what's up ahead. Smart women beginning their careers can take the guesswork out of what lies down the road by learning from the women who went before them.

Been-there, done-that insight from talented women further along the career path can help up-and-comers shorten the learning curve and avoid common pitfalls.

While no two women will ever tread exactly the same path, savvy women everywhere can glean fabulous advice from our round-up from across the web.

Facebook Advice: We've blogged in the past about the smart, succinct advice for young women from Facebook powerhouse Sheryl Sandberg. It's worth another look here; Sandberg suggests that working women must take three steps to advance in their careers:

  • Sit at the table. Take your rightful place among the players, negotiate your salary and own your power. More than 50 percent of men negotiate salaries while less than 10 percent of women do so.
  • Make sure your partner is a real partner. Women wind up shouldering a majority of the child rearing duties and house chores, even when they work. A true 50-50 split is needed.
  • Don't leave before you leave. Women often stop gunning for promotions and projects when they contemplate having a family. Sandberg says women shouldn't "lean back" but should rather keep full steam ahead and not undermine their careers even before the take a break for family.

Ten Women, Numerous Tips: Women's Day magazine interviews ten dynamic women with careers ranging from CEO of a skincare company, to foreign relations expert to dentist, for their take on the best way to achieve a work-life balance, how to make opportunities out of setbacks, and more.

Smart Cookie: The unofficial first lady of New York State, celebrity chef Sandra Lee, heads a multimillion dollar business she created from scratch. Lee dishes up smart financial advice for working women  including: know your market worth, negotiate your own contracts and ask for the salary and raises you deserve. Lee also reveals that she negotiates all her own contracts rather than using an agent.

Feedback Vs. Perfection: Author Hannah Seligson, who wrote the book "New Girl on the Job: Advice From the Trenches," uses this NYT article  to distill her advice to women starting off in the corporate word. In a nutshell, Seligman advises women to jettison perfectionist tendencies and instead court feedback to learn how to become a more valuable employee. Seligman also encourages women to view a job as a two-part process: first, do the actual work, second, talk about what you've done, preferably in bottom-line terms.

What would be your advice to your younger self if you were just starting out in the work world? What is the number one thing young women should think about as they navigate their career? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Organizing to Do Good: Working Charity into Your Life
Thursday, November 10, 2011 8:47 PM


When your days are jam-packed with the competing demands of work and family, finding time for volunteer work often falls by the wayside. Make volunteering time a priority: when you volunteer, you not only do good, you feel good.

Creative thinking and careful planning are the keys to working volunteering into your life. We've rounded up some suggestions to help you add volunteering into the equation. Ideas include:

  • Make volunteering a family event. Volunteering as a family is a rewarding way to spend quality time with your kids, while simultaneously passing along your values.
  • Explore your company policies regarding volunteering during the work day; many companies give their employees time to volunteer throughout the year.
  • Make it social; many community groups emphasize volunteering. You can meet friends, expand your network and contribute to your community.
  • Not all volunteering needs to be formal or done through an organization. Snow days present opportunities to shovel for elderly neighbors or offer to grocery shop for a new mom. The possibilities are endless.
  • Maximize spring and fall cleaning to donate gently worn clothes and household items that are no longer needed.
  • School holidays such as Veterans Day and MLK Day are wonderful chances to schedule volunteer time with your children.
  • Consider a volunteer vacation, where you travel to another part of the world to tutor or build homes with groups such as Habitat for Humanity.

Finally, we leave you with a useful article from the IRS with tips for claiming charitable deductions to lower your tax bill. Who doesn't want a lower tax bill? Talk about do good, feel good.

How do you work volunteering into your busy schedule? Do you have any tips for making volunteering a family activity? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Same Office, Different Generation: What Younger Employees Can Teach
Wednesday, November 09, 2011 8:43 PM


Whoever said "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," obviously never conceived of a world where a generation of workers raised in the pre-Internet era would make daily use of smart phones, software, apps, etc. A more accurate maxim might be, "It's never too late to learn something new."


Given that new tricks are the tools of the trade in the business world, a commitment to lifelong learning is a smart career strategy. Who better to teach older employees what's new and next than the newest generation of workers?


Young millennials can teach older employees valuable lessons including:


New Technology: Younger employees are incredibly tech savvy. Older employees can keep abreast of the latest trends in technology by checking in with their knowledgeable young colleagues. Ask frequently about apps and social media; the landscape changes daily.


Diversity: The newer generation is more diverse in background and ethnicity resulting in a more multicultural, diverse worldview. Social norms change from generation to generation and spending time with younger colleagues will help older workers stay current not only on cultural trends but on changes in social mores.  


Risk Taking: Younger people are traditionally more entrepreneurial and less bound by convention. The "sky's the limit" worldview often fades with time, so recharge your "anything is possible" mojo by spending time with forward thinking millennials.


Flexibility: Younger workers tend to be more malleable, willing to acquire new skills and open to different paths in their career. In today's tough economy, it is crucial for older workers to adapt as easily and nimbly as their younger counterparts.


Cost Effective: The unhappy truth that older workers must often confront is that younger employees are often willing to work hard for less money. While it is illegal to fire someone because of their age, as companies look to save costs, they often look to buy out or retire older workers. And when a company looks to hire for a vacant role, a younger hire is generally preferred to an older one. Smart older workers will look carefully at their younger competition and continually work to make the case that a seasoned employee is a cost-effective hire, one that can contribute to the bottom line.


What is the best lesson a younger employee ever taught you? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Same Office, Different Generation: What Younger Employees Should Know
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 8:41 PM


For young employees transitioning from dorm room to desk job, one of the biggest challenges can be interacting in a multigenerational setting. After all, during the school years, people are generally in lockstep with their age group. Workplaces, with a community of mixed ages, are a different story.


Smart millennials can take advantage of the diversity of experiences in a work setting by learning valuable lessons from older employees. Older employees can offer:


Experience: Older workers know the ropes. Smart newcomers can shorten their learning curve by both emulating older workers and tapping into their deeper reservoir of information about company policies, politics and industry information.


Perspective: Seasoned workers have a big picture perspective that younger workers lack. They have experienced cycles at work and in life and can provide a valuable road map for younger counterparts.


Interpersonal Skills: The previous generation developed interpersonal skills without the benefit of social networks and newer technologies. While almost all workers now make use of newer technologies, the previous generation also recognizes the value of face-to-face interactions and polite conventions such as thank you notes and in-person phone calls. Younger millennials would do well to acquire the same breadth of interpersonal skills.


Independence: Older workers generally were raised with an emphasis on self-reliance.  Workers in their 40s and beyond often demonstrate greater independence and require less hand-holding than a generation raised by helicopter parents to expect constant attention and feedback. Younger workers should try to emulate the independent style of older workers.


Work Ethic: Experienced workers, who have steadily and progressively risen through the ranks, generally have a strong work ethic and are conscientious employees. They understand that an excellent work product, loyalty and hard work are necessary to get ahead. Savvy millennials will take a page from this lesson: diligence and hard work are necessary to achieve success.


What is the best lesson an older employee ever taught you? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.



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How to Head Home While There's Still Daylight
Monday, November 07, 2011 8:44 PM


Hurrah! Daylight savings has arrived to add a few extra hours of light during the waning cold-weather days. But what good are the extra hours if you're spending them with your nose to the office grindstone?


Do yourself a favor and learn to get out of the office on time: working late is a habit that gets harder to shake the longer you do it. We have seven tips that will help you leave work at a reasonable hour each night.


Make it a Priority: To begin, make heading home at 5pm, or an appropriate quitting time, a priority. You can't meet a goal you haven't set, so pick a time and stick to it.


Manage Your Time: Leaving the office at a reasonable hour requires managing your time well during the day. Too much time spent in idle chit chat, surfing the web, or in putting off must-do tasks will derail a timely exit each evening. Need help managing your time effectively? Read our tips for time-blocking


Say Good-bye to Guilt: Don't feel guilty about leaving work on time. If your colleagues are still toiling away, it's easy to feel embarrassed about heading out. But you may be a more efficient or focused worker than your peers. As long as your work isn't being shortchanged, leaving on time is okay.


Farewell to Face Time: Some office cultures unwittingly encourage or reward "face time" making it harder to head home at a reasonable hour. If this is a problem, take time to talk with your boss or colleagues. Demonstrating how efficiently and productively you use your time makes it easier to head for the door.


Ask for Help: When faced with an overwhelming amount of work, rather than burning the midnight oil, consider talking to your boss about redistributing the load. Prep for that conversation by spending time keeping track of your hours so your boss understands the scope of work and hours required.


Baby Steps: Start incrementally; shoot to leave work by 5 or 6pm one night a week and then add a day at a time. Starting small betters your odds of success.


HomeWork: When all else fails, plan to finish work from home. Bringing work home isn't an ideal solution, but sometimes you just want to put the kids to bed or meet a friend for dinner. So head out the door to attend to your personal needs and commit to wrapping up the remaining work at home.


Do you consistently head out the door at a reasonable hour? What are your tips for leaving work on time? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Relationships Matter: Creating Career-Boosting Alliances
Monday, November 07, 2011 8:39 PM


To land a plum assignment is it more important to a) have a proven track record, b) have a strong work ethic, or c) have a good network? 


Trick question: the answer is all of the above. Many people might assume that a proven track record and a robust work ethic is enough but what truly distinguishes two proven performers is their network. Strong alliances can be career differentiators for strong performers.


Given the choice between two first-rate performers, smart employers choose the person who is a proven relationship builder. After all, relationships are the pipelines through which information flows and projects are moved forward. If your pipeline is weak or broken in spots, your ability to effect change and drive momentum is compromised.


How to build strong alliances:


Network: Build (and maintain) relationships at your current and past jobs. Schedule time for networking just as you would any other task; send e-mails, have lunch with colleagues and try to attend conferences and seminars in your field every few months. Join industry associations but don't overlook your personal life: be active in alumnae associations and in civic and community groups.


Mentor: Take time to mentor up-and-coming colleagues. A mentoring relationship can be incredibly rewarding both personally and professionally. Successful mentoring is a two-way street: mentors pass along their knowledge and perspective and mentees share fresh outlooks and a younger generation's knowledge of hot trends and technologies. Plus young mentees will grow and move on, expanding a mentor's network.


Partner: Seek out opportunities to collaborate with peers both within your company and more broadly, within your industry. Look to work across departments within a company or join a steering committee of a trade association that will allow you to meet industry peers. Consider partnering with another business on a joint venture. Opening a door to a new group of people grows your network and expands your perspective.


Ally: The bedrock of any relationship is built on trust. Look to have the back of the people you work and interact with every day. By acting as an ally to your colleagues and clients, in matters both large and small, you forge a strong bond. Cultivate a reputation as a trustworthy, loyal, people person. When you extend yourselves to others, that trust is generally repaid in kind.


How do you cultivate valuable career alliances? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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