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Are You “Settling” In Your Career?

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Founder & CEO, Powerful Purpose Associates – New Website!
Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner.  Click here to read about this service.

I would like to make an argument that way too many people settle for less than they deserve in their career. I understand that this argument may hold less water in this economy, where people are just happy to have a job, but I still intend on making the argument.

Do you enjoy going to work each day? Are you challenged, engaged and/or inspired in your career? If you are not, then I would ask you why not?

Unfortunately our culture has forced many of us (not all of us) to adopt the belief that work isn’t supposed to be enjoyable – it’s all about getting a paycheck. I believe that all of life, personal and professional is meant to be interesting, exciting and joyful. That doesn’t mean that we don’t encounter challenges in our life, but most of the time these challenges present new opportunities for learning and growth.

During my graduation ceremony when I received my masters degree, the keynote speaker was the CEO of Harley Davidson. He rode into the ceremony on a beautiful chrome Harley. He stood up at the podium, in jeans and a pony tail, and started his speech with the quote, “This isn’t a practice life!” He then spent the next 15 minutes delivering an inspirational speech on how we only get to go around this merry-go-round once and it is our choice as to how we embrace it! That speech and quote had a profound effect on me and I hope to spread some of that inspiration to you through this post.

I challenge each and every one of you to take a good look at your career and ask yourself, “Is this really where I want to be?” If the answer is NO, start setting new career goals today and start going from where you are, to where you want to be. You deserve it!

Remember, “This isn’t a practice life!”

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July 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm 6 comments

Is an “Open-Door Policy” Really That Open?

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner.  Click here to read about this service.

Hello all.  Today I thought I would write a post in response to two questions I received from one of the members of my LinkedIn Group Civil Engineering Career Development group.  I would ask that you please leave your feedback below this article so that this individual will get information from various sources on this topic.  Thanks!

1. What is the best way to go for “Leadership Certification”?

This is a question that I have been asked several times through my blogging efforts and unfortunately I don’t really have a great answer.  I know that there are many coaching and training programs out there that will help you develop your leadership skills but I don’t know of a specific leadership certification.  I have heard excellent things from engineers about the Dale Carnegie Training course; however I have not done it myself, although I certainly plan to do so.

Do you know of a leadership certification out there or can you recommend a specific leadership training course like the Dale Carnegie Training course?

2.  In your opinion, when a company has an “open-door policy” what does that mean?

According to About.com an open-door policy guarantees that employees can go above their boss to seek assistance from the boss’s supervisor. An open door policy provides employee access to any manager or supervisor including the CEO. This is pretty much how I would have defined an open-door policy, however whether or not companies with these policies enforce them is a whole other story.

Personally, I would guess that 9 out of 10 companies that say they have an open-door policy do not practice it regularly, or should I say the employees don’t practice it regularly.  Unfortunately today, because of the way many supervisors manage, and of course because of the economy, people are just scared to speak their mind.  They are afraid 1) to lose their job and 2) that speaking out will stunt their career advancement.  In my opinion there is a lack of trust between co-workers in most companies throughout corporate America and this lack of trust prompts people to either say nothing or partake in negative workplace gossip which is not the same as an open-door policy.

I believe that special leaders will rise to the top regardless of whether or not a company has an open-door policy.  If there is an issue or a challenge, they will address it with the proper person in an effort to resolve it as quickly as possible.  These kinds of leaders do not fear conflict, in fact their high energy approach typically doesn’t attract conflict and they are able to resolve challenges quickly, maximizing results!

Please consider the following questions in leaving feedback on this post:

Do you or have you worked at a company with an open-door-policy and if so was it really utilized as it is defined?

Did you ever utilize this policy, and if so were the results beneficial to you and your career or would you have been better off staying quiet?

April 20, 2010 at 9:37 pm 4 comments

Less Stressed and More Productive Starts with Being Organized!

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a soon to be launched FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner.  Click here to read about this service.

Just recently I was asked to give a 7 minute talk to a group of professionals and small business owners.  I believe that when you speak to a group, everyone in the group should walk away with good information that they can apply immediately to start to increase their potential for success, however they define it.  What can you discuss with a group in 7 minutes that will help them move forward in their careers…..ORGANIZATION!

Organizational skills are critical to career success for several reasons.  First of all, people that are more organized tend to be more productive.  They typically get a lot of things accomplished in a small amount of time.  More importantly, organized people are less stressed because they tend to be physically organized which leads into them being mentally organized.  For example, instead of thinking to themselves all day, “I need to call so and so,” they have it written on their calendar which will remind them at the proper time.  Hence, no need to worry or stress over things that have to get done.  This factor is underrated as people fail to recognize how stress can amazingly decrease productivity.

I recently read a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen in which David takes his readers through a thorough process of getting organized with many specific steps and recommendations.  So based on my own experience as well as information I picked up from the book, I offer the following:

Notepad: Write down everything you do throughout the day in a bound notepad.  Whether it’s notes from a phone conversation, a meeting or a seminar, this forces you to have all of this information in one spot whenever you need it instead of writing it in 10 different pads or on different sticky’s which get lost.   If a client or your boss asks you about a conversation or meeting you had a week ago, just flip back a few pages in the notebook and you’ll have the answers (assuming you took good notes).  This is a cheap, simple way to start to get organized.

E-mail: E-mail is like air today, we can’t live without it in the workplace.  Regardless of the e-mail system you use, keep your Inbox as empty as possible.  If an e-mail comes in that can be dealt with quickly, deal with it and then delete it or save it in a project file.  Don’t let your e-mail pile up to where you need hours to go through them.  Not only will you have to spend a lot of time going through them, but you will start to get that dreaded “I am so overwhelmed” mindset which can really stress you out and slow you down.

Contacts: Keeping an organized contact list is key to success.  As soon as you meet someone, enter him or her into your rolodex system; a digital system would be preferred.  Too many people go to meetings and then come back with some business cards which get lost or thrown out and lose important information.  Soon after writing a phone number down in your NOTEPAD, be sure to enter it into your contact system.  Organize your contacts by category if the system you use allows it.  For example, clients, prospective clients, consultants, contractors, etc.  Then when you need a contractor or consultant you can browse by category, saving time.

Calendar: Similar to contacts, as soon as you make an appointment put it on your calendar with a reminder and be sure to digitally invite anyone that will be attending when feasible.  Again if it helps you, categorize your calendar (i.e. personal is green, work is blue, vacation is gray).  Programs like Microsoft Outlook allow this color coding which helps you to get a quick read on how the upcoming weeks look.

To Do List: We all have tasks and things “to do” but how do we keep track of them?  Whether it is handwritten or on the computer, create a to do list with two columns.  The left column should have the task and the right column should indicate the next step to be taken towards completing that task.  Don’t leave out the next step column, that is how “to do” items get stalled.  To avoid your list becoming overbearing you may want to place items that are due on a certain day, like phone calls or meetings, on your calendar with a reminder.  As long as it is somewhere other than in your head, you will prevent stress from building!

Desk: This may be obvious but it is good practice to keep your desk as clean as possible.  Take a few minutes at the end of each day to organize your desk so that you don’t walk into a mess the next morning.  If you do walk into a mess you will waste a half an hour trying to figure out what to do first.  You will be surprised how co-workers, staff and your boss may tie the cleanliness of your desk to your work performance, which could start you off on the wrong foot with someone.

There are many ways to stay organized, but these tips above are some things that you can implement immediately to start to get organized.

Remember this equation Organization = Less Stress and More Productivity!

March 25, 2010 at 8:23 am 4 comments

Career Goals: Don’t Sell Yourself Short!

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a soon to be launched FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner.  Click here to read about this service.

I have said in the past that it is extremely important to have career goals, which act as a destination for where you are taking your career.  It is important when setting your goals, to take the time to figure out exactly what you want, nothing more, and nothing less.

Clearly defining your goal is extremely important.  Use an analogy of driving to a destination.  Is it easier to get somewhere if you only know the city or state or if you know the exact street address?  Your goals act as that street address that constantly tells you where you are going.

In setting these clearly defined goals, you really need to figure out what you want.  Many people will water down their goals during this process because they believe they are too lofty.  By doing this, you are giving up on your goal before you even attempt to achieve it.  Why?  You have the ability to achieve absolutely anything you want to in your career.  When you are setting your goals, just think about your current situation as scenario “A” and the goal you are seeking as scenario “B” AND DO NOT TRY TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET FROM A TO B AT THIS POINT.  When people think about the route they will have to take, that is when they often start the “watering-down” process.  You can worry about action plans and steps you may take later, but when you are setting your goals focus on your desires, regardless of how unattainable you may think they are.

For example, let’s say you have a clearly defined goal of being promoted to Project Manager in the next 18 months.  Attached to this goal is a rule that you set for yourself to work no more than 45 hours per week so that you can maintain your work-family balance.  In reviewing that goal, you might say to yourself, there is no way I can get that promotion if I only work 45 hours per week, so you change it to 50.  You have now altered your true goal and compromised your values by giving up your work-family balance.  This decision was based on a LIMITING BELIEF.

In coaching, we help people with limited beliefs on a regular basis.  A limiting belief is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a belief that you hold, that limits you in some way, shape or form.  Limiting beliefs typically stem from your past.  They may have developed from interaction with someone specific or a certain situation that deeply influenced you.  In the above example, the limiting belief is that you cannot become a project manager by working 45 hours per week.  Why not?  Couldn’t you work more efficiently and delegate more?  Limiting beliefs often prevent us from not only achieving our goals, but from setting true goals.  When you run into a limiting belief, the best way to beat it is to question it!

Where does that belief come from?

How can I let go of that belief?

Now that you are aware of limiting beliefs start to identify, question and overcome yours today.  Doing this will help you tremendously in achieving your lofty career goals!

What limiting beliefs are currently holding you back from achieving your career goals as a civil engineering professional?

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February 16, 2010 at 8:20 pm Leave a comment

How About Asking Yourself What’s Right?

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a soon to be launched FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner.  Click here to read about this service.

I recently completed a certified professional coach training program at the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) and it was an amazing experience. I have to say I was extremely nervous going into it, being a civil engineer with a technical background, however I instantly fell in love with coaching and it is now totally natural for me.

As part of the training, one of the books we were required to read was “Breaking the Rules” by Kurt Wright.  The book focuses on being your best and how people and organizations can achieve their maximum potential.  The author states that being at your best cannot occur until you gain real-time access to your intuition or your “right brain.”  This was extremely scary to me being a civil engineer who operates mostly from the analytical portion of the brain or the “left-brain”, however as I read the book I became fascinated with the message.

The left and right hemispheres of your brain process information differently.  The left side of the brain processes information linearly, from part to whole.  It processes in a logical order; prior to drawing conclusions. The right brain processes in reverse from whole to part.  It starts with the end-result or solution.  It sees the big picture first, instead of all of the details.  Everyone tends to have a dominant side of the brain; however, the thinking process is improved when both sides of the brain participate equally known as whole brain thinking.

Engineers, and pretty much all of human civilization are always looking for “What’s wrong”? We are always analyzing situations to try to identify a problem so that we can fix it.  The author of the book states that by asking “What’s wrong?” questions, you cause all of your thinking to be done by the analytical part of your brain.  Asking “What’s wrong” questions constantly puts you into a negative state of mind.

So what’s the alternative?  How about start by asking the question “What’s right?” For example, let’s say you meet with your team on a certain project that is taking much longer than it should and likely will be over budget.  We are programmed to ask the team “What’s wrong?” and start discussing all of the problems on the project and try to figure out how to fix them.  What if you were to start by asking the team “What’s right?”  By reviewing all of the things that are working for the team, you can focus on applying some of your success to the lacking portions of the project, while maintaining a positive attitude and atmosphere within the team.  This brainstorming exercise will foster use of the right brain and move the team members towards whole brain thinking.

The thought behind the “What’s right?” mentality is that people are at their best when they are doing what they are good at and what they love to do. By focusing on people’s strengths you can ensure that they are extremely productive and engaged in what they are doing and thus the organization will be more effective as a whole.  So next time you are faced with a problem or a challenge, stop, be creative, access your right brain and explore all of the things that are right about the situation and see where that leads you!

Do you or anyone that you know follow the “What’s right?” mentality regularly?   How has it worked for you?

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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

January 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm 12 comments

The Key to Success Starts With Listening not Answering


Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Certified Professional Career Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Read The Career Development Blog – A Newly Created Support Forum for Civil Engineers

Ernest Hemingway one said, “When people talk, listen completely.  Most people never listen.”  I believe this quote to be so very true.  Until I attended coaching school and learned how to listen, I was often guilty of selective hearing.  I believe this was in large part due to my engineering background.  Engineers as well as other technical professionals are always geared towards problem solving.  Therefore when we listen, we listen for “answers” needed to solve problems.  Once we have these “answers” we tend to tune out the rest of the conversation as we are already solving the problem in our heads or we start looking for the next problem to solve!

Why don’t people listen?  People like to hear themselves talk.  Admit it, we all do!  We have a lot of thoughts and experiences on our mind and we want to share them.  Sharing your thoughts is great but engaging and listening to those we are speaking with is important to your relationships both personally and professionally.  Do you find yourself cutting people off before they finish their sentences?  We are all anxious to keep moving forward, so much so, that we sometimes don’t hear important messages that people are trying to tell us including managers, co-workers, clients, friends, spouses, children, etc.

There is  a very valuable skill called Acknowledging.  Acknowledging is when you repeat back to someone the words they just told you.  For example, a client may say to you, “This is our largest project and it means a lot to us.”  You would acknowledge the client by saying, “Bob, we understand that this is your largest project and that it means the world to you and that is why we have our best civil engineers working on the project non-stop!”  This shows the client that you are listening to them and as trivial as acknowledging may sound, it can be extremely powerful in building relationships.

How many times have you heard someone attribute a problem in the workplace to “mis-communication?”  Do they mean “mis-communication” or do they mean someone wasn’t listening and missed out on what they were supposed to do?  I believe many times it is the latter.  Communication is a two way street, it has to be!  If someone tells you something and you don’t listen, what’s the point?

Over the next few weeks, make it a point to listen.  Even during the holidays with your family, try acknowledging them, you’ll be surprised at the response you get.  Companies lose money, projects and employees when people repeatedly don’t listen.  By improving your listening skills you will set yourself apart from other professionals and your professional and personal life will be much more rewarding!

Remember the key to success starts with listening not answering!

Happy Holidays!

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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

December 15, 2009 at 8:58 pm 7 comments

Are You Delaying Taking the P.E. Test or Getting Another Certification….Why?


Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Certified Professional Career Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Read The Career Development Blog – A Newly Created Support Forum for Civil Engineers

 This down economy is providing many of us with some down time due to lack of work.  Whether there is some down time at the office or you are currently unemployed.  What are you doing with that down time?  Why not spend it pursuing a license or certification that will add value to your credentials?

I know many engineers that have the work experience required to take the P.E. test, and have even passed part one of the exam (the F.E.), however they just won’t fill out the application and sit for the exam.  People make all kinds of excuses like, the application is difficult, no time to study, I don’t really need the license because my boss signs the plans, etc.  The same goes for other certifications like the LEED AP.  I hear people saying that the LEED exam takes too much memorization and they don’t have time for that.

In the coaching world, we call these excuses “blocks” because they are blocking you from achieving a goal.  There are two kinds of blocks, interior and exterior blocks.  Interior blocks are things like self-doubt and fear.  For example many people won’t sign up for the test for fear of failure.  They think about what would happen if they failed, what would people think, etc.  On the other hand, people may have fear of passing, yes that’s right passing.  They fear additional responsibilities or attention that they would rather avoid.  So how do you overcome these blocks without a coach?  You can do some self-coaching by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is holding me back from taking the next step to achieving this goal?
  • What can I do today to help me overcome that challenge?
  • What would my career look like if I passed the test? 
  • How would it affect my salary, my job standing, my family?
  • What will my career look like in 5 years if I pass the test?  If I don’t pass the test?

Write out the answers and be very descriptive and specific.  Then re-read the answers.  Many times seeing the value of the certification in these terms will help to eliminate these inner blocks.

Exterior blocks would be things like time and money.  To overcome exterior blocks you will most likely have to put an action plan together.  For example if you say you don’t have enough time to study, set up a detailed study schedule.  Maybe you study a half an hour each day before or after work or dedicate lunch a few times a week for studying.  If you establish a plan and stick with it, you will eliminate the exterior blocks.

I hope this article was helpful in moving you closer to your certifications, now go sign up for that test!

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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

November 18, 2009 at 7:16 am 8 comments

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