Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Farm Progress Show. This blog isn’t necessarily about the Farm Progress Show, but more about its heart – the people who travel hundreds of miles just to be a part of something incredibly special. A diverse gathering of advocates who believe in and defend the stewardship of our food production.
In the short time I was there, I met two agriculture scientists from South Africa and learned about their challenges and opportunities they face in the Ag industry. I met Carol from Ohio who just celebrated a century legacy of farming and is concerned about losing their land to encroaching development. I met Rachel and John from Ontario. Rachel’s father delivered fuel for FS and died of a brain aneurysm during a delivery and her son Ben desires a future in the Ag world. I met two farmers from Brazil embracing the experience to learn and network with others. I could go on, but my point is simple…saying hello and asking, “Who are you and what brings you here?” provides a wonderful opportunity to listen, to truly listen with an open heart and mind. People love to share their stories and it is a gift to receive them.
Listening is often thought of as something we do for someone. However, listening is about learning to listen to our self – our True Self – getting to know the inner voice of our soul. When we deepen the relationship with ourselves, we develop the sensitivity to listen to others.
Listening is connecting to something beyond ourselves and enriches our lives at the same time. It’s about creating space and sharing a moment of presence with another. Present to receive without judgement or feeling the urge to interrupt. Listening is truly a sacred act of kindness in the most genuine way.
Questions to ponder:
By: Stacey Curry Lee
It’s been awhile since we brought you back to the roots of this blog. I realize there are some new faces here, exploring the purpose and value of this blog. I am here to help! Welcome to the GROWMARK, Inc. Talent Management blog. Our recruiting team has a mission to improve transparency between the company’s people and the public. To improve our communication to the outside world, we have created this blog. Here are a few topics you can expect to find on our blog in the future months to come:
By: Tori Streitmatter
Sometimes when you change your mind that changes everything. In his book, "Six Thinking Hats," Edward De Bono points out that "The main difficulty of thinking is confusion. We try to do too much at once. It is like juggling with too many balls." Emotions, information, logic, hope, obstacles and creativity all crowd in on us. The more people involved in the thinking process, the more confusing it may become!
To counter this state of confusion, De Bono offers a simple process for doing one type of thinking at a time – one of "six thinking hats" that represents a distinct way of thinking or perspective. Individuals or groups put on or take off a “hat” to signal the type of thinking being used. This helps us to be cooperative rather than adversarial. When we "put on" different hats in a sequence it aids the problem-solving process in a shorter amount of time.
The Six Thinking Hats are:
The White Hat - facts and figures
The Red Hat - emotions and feelings
The Black Hat - cautious and careful
The Yellow Hat - speculative, positive
The Green Hat - creative thinking
The Blue Hat - control of thinking
De Bono continues, "The six thinking hats allow us to conduct our thinking as a conductor might lead an orchestra." Groups avoid confusion and the problems of adopting random positions at random times. It helps push individuals and teams beyond typical or habitual patterns of thinking.
Six Thinking Hats help us individually and corporately see opportunities, challenges, decisions and obstacles from new perspectives. When we see our circumstances from new perspectives, very often we uncover possibilities that otherwise we would have missed.
By: Mark Sturgell
12 weeks doesn’t seem like a terribly short amount of time, but a 12-week internship is only 60 work days. Each day at an internship is an opportunity to gain experience and grow as a professional, and with only 30 days left, I’m wondering how the time passed so quickly.
When I began the intern program at GROWMARK, I had minimal prior experience in communications, and I had a lot of doubt over my ability to produce quality content for the System. Fortunately, my supervisor and coworkers did not share the same mentality. They saw through my lack of formal experience to my transferable skills, and found value in my experiences with customer service, teamwork, and time management. My supervisor believed in my capability as a professional and her trust enabled me to build confidence in a new field by allowing me to work independently.
During the first half of my internship, I had a few moments of honesty with my coworkers regarding my lack of experience. They took those conversations and turned them into chances to teach me new skills. Luckily, GROWMARK places a lot of value in training and professional development, and I was given the chance to gain practical experience where I felt particularly lacking. Instead of ignoring the problem areas that I struggle with, my team gave me the opportunity to grow. I am honestly amazed at how much I have learned over the first half of my time in the System.
Ultimately, the projects that I was most concerned about have turned out to be the projects that I had the most fun with. It was difficult to have those conversations in the beginning but the value of the experiences that came from them mean so much more because of where I started from. I continue to be surprised by how much I enjoy my job so far, and I can honestly say that most days it doesn’t even feel like work.
As the old saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun, and that certainly has proved true so far this summer. I am excited to see what else I can learn in the next 30 work days, and I would encourage anyone who interns at GROWMARK to take full advantage of the 60 opportunities for growth.
By: Becca Dwyer
Dove-tailing off other blogs written this year the trend has been, well, rain and frustration. Being new to GROWMARK I never thought much of rain other than what it meant for my yard. Growing up in rural NE Iowa, I was raised in very tight-knit farming community. This has always given me a strong appreciation for farming, but being honest, in recent years through college, starting a family, and a fast-tracked career in insurance, I stopped paying attention to the ag industry altogether.
In my new position as a field trainer I’ve had the amazing opportunity of traveling across Iowa, Illinois and Missouri all this spring. Everywhere I go the conversation is generally the same: frustration about the amount of rain. Which has led to worried farmers, worried crop specialists, worried general managers, etc. This level of frustration by many made me reflect on why I chose to go into ag industry in the first place.
Late in 2018, I was shocked to receive notice that my job (and my amazing team) were no longer needed, and as a result I was laid off. My job search was one of the hardest things to endure as I was dealing with a ton of emotion. I had been a top performer for 9+ years, I was being groomed for director-level leadership roles, my team had outperformed other teams, and our business unit valued our work – how had this even happened? It didn’t compute, it was frustrating, and maddening at times.
Similar to how our companies and their customers are frustrated with the weather you must stop and ask, “what is in my control?” This was my mantra for several months and carried me through a very difficult time in my life. The amount of stress, frustration, angst, was plenty for me, but I kept focus on the long-term payoff. Simply put, it was vital in keeping the faith. Like my job search, we need to be that voice for our companies and their customers. Keeping them focused on what’s in their control and positioning them for the best success as possible – even if it’s a down year we can still make a difference.
Now into my second month at GROWMARK, I have realized this: sometimes you make career choices, but sometimes a career chooses YOU… With that, I’ll encourage you to take pride in the amazing industry you are in, strive to make a difference, stay focused on the long-term, and help people along the way. By doing this, you will always have job fulfillment and a purpose driven career.
By: Joe Wegmann
Have you ever started a new position at a company, only to feel like the job just doesn’t fit? Do you find yourself chasing a new lead, just to end up disappointed with the day-to-day work? You might be making the same mistake I did.
Like many college students, my career path has taken a few unexpected turns. Agriculture has always been a part of my life, but until this past year, I didn’t see it as a career option. I chased after positions with impressive descriptions, like working on the trade floor at Bank of America, only to find myself unhappy and unengaged in that role.
I was trying to build a career based on what I thought was important, not what was important to me. I recently began pursuing a career in agriculture, which led me to the Communications Internship at GROWMARK.
To some, working in communications might not sound interesting at all. To me, working with employees of the GROWMARK System and experiencing their growth firsthand is an exciting opportunity. As a communications intern, one of my responsibilities is to share System stories with employees and the public, and I get to build experience in a new field along the way.
That’s really what an internship is all about: gaining exposure to different roles in a company to find the fit that works for you. Whether it’s your first time in a position or you’ve already explored a few options, taking charge and capitalizing on those opportunities will set you up for a long and engaged career. Stay tuned this summer to find out if communications is the right fit for me!
By: Becca Dwyer
So many times, in life we use the excuse “I don’t have enough time.” Ultimately, we put aside our own personal development. The most important key to your successful growth is your own sense of personal responsibility for your development. Here are 5 steps to help proactively drive your development and establish a cycle of continuous learning. Following these steps will lead to elevating your growth. Development is not a one-time event, it is ongoing.
Elevating your growth has many ingredients that play a big part towards being successful. Are you Sincere? Tough? Practical? Do you stand out? Do you get results? Are you known for something and have a value statement that represents you in your conversations?
Here are 10 Steps to Elevate your Growth:
Development is not a onetime event, it is ongoing. Challenge yourself daily to devote time to your most important asset: YOU!
By: Brian Dennis
I recently came across an article which talked about the appropriate time to have the salary discussion during the interview process. As a recruiter, I quickly opened this article to see if it provided the same advice that I would…turns out, it didn’t! The article advised candidates to wait as long as possible to discuss salary with their potential employer. That is the opposite of what I would recommend. Let’s look at some of the myths surrounding this topic and why it benefits you to have the salary discussion early in the process!
Myth: Recruiters ask for your salary requirements, so they can low-ball you when it comes time for an offer.
Fact: Honest recruiters are not asking for your salary information so that they can in turn offer you the least amount possible. We ask that question to ensure that we can meet your salary expectations and to verify that you are seeking a position within the organization that is at an appropriate level for your skills and experience while also meeting your financial needs.
Another important reason we ask? So, we do not waste your time, the hiring manager’s time or our own time, if we know with certainty that we cannot offer you the salary you require.
Myth: Telling a recruiter how much you make will limit what you will be offered.
Fact: Reputable organizations will pay you market rate or higher. When we look to hire someone for a role, we WANT to offer them enough to incentivize them. Our goal is to ensure you are being paid fairly and commensurate with your experience.
Myth: Wait for an offer to be made, THEN try to get everything you want.
Fact: It is helpful for the recruiter to know your requirements and expectations ahead of an offer. This is not only limited to your salary expectation, but also any expectations you have about paid time off, benefits, bonuses, etc. Again, this is not so the recruiter can offer you the bare minimum, but so that they can make you a competitive offer! Leaving all your requests to the end of the process can cause delays and even the potential for the offer to be rescinded.
I get it - conversations about salary are uncomfortable at best. No one likes talking about it, but it’s immensely important during the recruiting process. What should you do when the dreaded salary question comes up?
Ultimately, the earlier you have the conversation with a prospective employer about salary, the better off you will be. The recruiting process is a collaboration between candidate and employer. Be open and honest and it will serve you well!
By: Megan Peterson
The movie "Hidden Figures" brought attention to the historical contributions three brilliant women made to John Glenn's mission to orbit the earth and provided insight as to what goes on behind the scenes. Spectators see the memorable images of the rocket blasting off and the impressiveness of the event. When, behind the scenes, people were tasked with making such an event come together.
Although on a much smaller scale than a rocket-ship, it is an eLearning Designers job to make eLearning experiences memorable for the learner (or spectator), and we are tasked with the mission to make it come together. To do that, we use software created specifically for eLearning design. For you, as the learner, it may resemble the simplicity of a PowerPoint presentation, but the functionality is different and more complex.
Have you ever played a video game that, based on your interaction, took you to a different part of the game? eLearning design is similar because unlike PowerPoint, it is a responsive environment. The designer is tasked with writing the scripting/coding that tells the program what to do and how to do it based on interaction.
Different than PowerPoint, where all the screens appear in order, eLearning courses jump around within themselves with interaction. You may be at the beginning of a course but clicking on any responsive item might send you to the end of the course where a specific location is housing interactive items. You never see it happen. All you see is that it popped up, and when you closed it, you were back on the original screen.
Because it runs seamlessly, it brings the misperception that eLearning courses can be used as PowerPoint presentations and printed for handouts, but they are not similar in structure or design. For example, when printing PowerPoint presentations, the slides will print in order. On the contrary, eLearning software doesn't offer a print option because the pages are not in order. They function on the scripting/coding behind the scenes and printing an eLearning course from the software would result in a nonsensical order of pages.
When you take an eLearning course, watch the items you click on. Each one is moving you around in a self-contained-environment and you never see it happening. But rest assured, somebody, somewhere, worked behind the scenes to provide you with a memorable, interactive experience.
By: Carrie Harshman
Let's face it: most of us make our New Year's goals around 12:00 a.m. on January 1st and by February we are wondering what we've gotten ourselves into. Each year we look toward the next 365 days and say, 'this year I will accomplish [blank].' Business Insider recently posted an article stating 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by February with some failing as early as January 12th. We get so excited about the New Year and our new selves, but this excitement quickly fades with the busyness of life and discomfort of change.
Sticking to our goals doesn't have to be that complicated if we can understand three simple ideas when making and setting our goals. By following AAA (Accountability, Attainability, and Action) we can crush our goals and see them through January 12th and beyond. I have unpacked in brief detail the AAA's below:
Follow these simple steps and make 2019 your greatest year yet!
By: Brandon Umphrey
It’s 2019, and with the change of the year, certain things will come into and out of style. Self-driving cars are on the rise. The Tide Pod challenge (remember that 2018 story?) is a distant memory. Boot-cut jeans are making a comeback, and tablet devices (when is the last time someone bragged about getting an iPad?) are on the decline.
You know what is never going to go out of style: being the person who creates the world’s best PowerPoints. Being the girl who can identify any weed or pest, just from a picture. Being the guy who can take an underperforming department and turn it into a well-oiled machine. Being “that” person is never going out of style, and here’s why.
The Information Era
Modern technology (mainly the internet) can provide any bit of knowledge we want right at our fingertips. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to learn enough Spanish for our trip to Mexico, or how to tie a couple of fishing knots to impress your father in law, all from our phone. But with all this information at our disposal, we can find ourselves without anything to make us “that” person.
Many people want to take their professional skills a mile wide, but only an inch deep; want to learn everything and impress everyone. In a world where learning a little bit about a lot of things is easy, why not take the other route? Why not learn as much as you possibly can about a couple of things? Be the person at your company who knows everything there is to know about the accounting software you use. Be the person who knows every single customer in a specific trade territory.
Going a mile deep on a couple of topics will separate you from the crowd. It gives other members of your team or company a person to rely on. You become the subject matter expert. And when you are the go-to person on a topic, the undisputed master, you become indispensable. Your knowledge and/or skills are harder to replace, and that can make the difference during lean times.
The Social Media Effect
Social media isn’t going anywhere. It has permeated every aspect of our personal and professional lives and it’s never been easier to communicate who you are and what you do. Although this is a very positive thing, there is a down side: being able to walk the walk isn’t a requirement anymore. 30 years ago, the only way to be labeled a marketing expert was to learn the field, impress clients and gradually work your way up to larger and larger projects until you gained recognition.
Now, it takes no time at all to hop on your favorite social media platforms and rebrand yourself as a marketing expert, regardless of whether you have the experience. “Marketing is my passion and I want people to know that!” Great, just make sure that you can back up that label. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where people look to you for expertise, and you can’t provide it.
Instead, be a breath of fresh air to all the companies out there looking for a marketing expert. Go a mile deep on your topic, and then hit a home run when someone gives you the opportunity to be “that” person.
Make 2019 the year where you find something that makes you “that” person. Your company will recognize your effort, your clients will value your expertise, and your future-self will be very grateful.
By: Tim Callahan
In our communication with other people the challenge is "What do I say?", "How do I start the conversation?", or "What will make a good impression?" Many times, we end up asking 'formula' type questions that lead to limited conversation backing us into a 'conversation corner' and ultimately ending the conversation altogether. The responses confirm our worst fears: that we look awkward, uncomfortable, and lame.
The answer to avoiding being backed into a corner - how we ask questions. This can fall into two categories of questions we ask. The first type of question we can ask ends with a response of 'yes' or 'no'. This is called a Closed-Ended Question. We get limited response, information, or conversation from the other person. You receive 'yes' or 'no' for responses. The Closed-Ended questions we are asking can put us into a 'corner' that is difficult to get out of. It begins to sound like your questions are 'nosy' for information and antagonize the conversation resulting in it ending altogether.
The second category of questions is called Open-Ended Questions that will make you a very interesting conversationalist. Open-Ended Questions begin with key words of who, what, when, where, why, and how. The two easy favorites that will make you an expert conversationalist are what and how. Questions that begin with 'what' or 'how' allows the other person to speak and expand on your question. You will gather more information, gain more insight, and be easy to talk to!
So let's try an example:
Stay out of the 'corners' and be an expert conversationalist with questions that begin with 'what' and 'how'!
By: David Hansen
The holiday season can be such a busy time for all of us! It is easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle and put other things to the side – like your future career! The holidays typically bring people together that you wouldn't see throughout the year – family, friends, spouse's co-workers and many more. These gatherings are the perfect opportunity to network with people you don't normally see, and build relationships that could eventually lead you to a career you've been searching for! As we all know, it is all about your "network." Tips to build professional relationships in your network:
By: Marissa Williams
Since my first psychology class in high school, I have been fascinated by human behavior and how our minds work. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs particularly resonated with me because they made sense. If I am starving, I am going to focus on my empty stomach and filling it before I type another line in this blog. My brain will not let me forget my hunger until it is satisfied, or it is overridden by another stimulus. Once basic needs are met, our brains can focus on higher thinking.
In the early nineties, Maslow's Hierarchy spilled over into the learning world with the concept of brain-based learning. Brain-based learning postulated that our brains can change over time, are affected by diet, stress, exercise, environment, and, most importantly, how our brains work plays a role in how we learn. Simply stated: if I am hungry, cold, or sick, learning will not be a priority. Expecting children, or even adults, to sit in a chair and absorb information does not help them learn. Their minds are way more complex and need different approaches to help make learning happen.
Decades after Maslow and brain-based learning, neuroscience of learning has emerged. Technology now allows us to map brain activity during certain stimuli. We can literally map what our brain looks like when we are hungry! Fascinating and a little freaky. Neuroscience of learning studies how our brains create and respond to learning.
So that is a lovely short story of psychology, learning, and a little peek into mind invasions. Why should learning practitioners care? So that we can create more impactful learning experiences! Neuroscience is another tool that can help us optimize learning. For more information, ATD has a great article on why learning neuroscience matters. Growth Engineering has an interesting info-graphic to inspire your synapses.
By: Michele Hillary
Have you ever had a professional mentor of your own? If you don't have a mentor to help you conquer professional roadblocks yet, I suggest securing one! Though there are many ways to do this, here's the story of how I successfully found my professional mentor!
Real talk, when I first started here at GROWMARK, Inc. just a couple weeks after graduating college, I did not have a professional mentor. It wasn't until one of my colleagues mentioned she was getting lunch with her mentor that the light bulb went off in my head. Immediately I thought to myself "Lunch with a mentor? I need that in my life! How do I identify a mentor in my life? Where do I sign up for that?" I started to think about the people closest to me: family, friends, and my work team. I soon realized if I wanted to get the most out of a professional mentorship, it couldn't be with any of those individuals. Instead it needed to be with someone who would give me honest feedback and not sugar-coat situations. I think we all seek guidance, but it's important to make sure we seek the right kind of guidance.
I started making a list of professionals who had impacted my life through internships and past work experiences. I identified my top three mentor picks. I reached out to my first pick… within 24 hours I had a response verifying that I now had a professional mentor! Immediately I knew this was going to be an excellent fit for both of us I was so excited to embark on this journey! My mentor and I meet for lunch once a month. We each bring a list of questions to ask one another, eat lunch, and then discuss the topics we bring! It's that easy. A year later, we still make a pact to meet every month! It always gives me something to look forward and we never run out of topics for conversation.
After reflecting on my time with my mentor, I cannot imagine my professional life without her. Since I have had someone to seek out for professional advice, I have become more confident in my career leading me to improve my performance in the workplace. I hope this inspires you to seek out a professional mentorship as well!
By. Tori Streitmatter
In the Training Industry there is a great debate on who is "responsible for employee development". This debate seems rather simple at its core, but requires a fundamental understanding of the difference between two key concepts; employee training and employee development.
Simply stated, employee training is the responsibility of the organization. Employee training should incorporate the skills that are going to help employees do their job as it relates to achieving organizational goals. In other words, training should be provided (and required) so employees are able to meet the basic competencies for the job. Likewise, employee training offerings should mirror strategic goals of the organization. By offering programs and learning opportunities that mirror the strategic goals of the organization, we can be sure that employees are receiving the training they need to drive business results. Whether or not an employee takes ownership to learn and then apply the new skill/behavior is dependent on several factors, but the most important factor is the willingness of the employee to apply what they learned back on the job.
Employee development is a shared responsibility of management and the individual employee. The responsibility of management is to provide the right resources and an environment that supports the growth and development needs of the individual employee. It requires an understanding of what skills an employee needs to develop to take the next steps in his/her career, the person's future goals and a desire by the manager to take an interest in developing employees. From the employee perspective, it is important to understand that some key learning opportunities lie outside formal training in a classroom and to take advantage of learning that may not seem "traditional." Some examples include job rotations, job swaps, mentorship, committee participation, etc.
Organizations that understand the true value of employee development also recognize the value of continuously educating their employee base to ensure they are prepared for today and the future. These "learning organizations" are the ones that will be better positioned to adapt to the rapidly changing demands of the work environment. Incorporating professional development within the overall corporate strategy can also be seen as a key for engagement and recruiting.
For employee training to be successful, management should:
For employee development to be successful, the individual employee should:
By: Andy Schuster
As parents, coaches, managers, leaders we all have certain things that we value and expect from the people who are looking to us for leadership. Often, we refer to these values as our 'standards' whether they be for performance, obedience, action, follow through, etc. How we set these standards matters in respect to how successfully they are met. But how do we define these standards? Where do they come from? More importantly, how do we put standards in place that people will actually adhere to?
I would like to offer 3 tips for setting standards that will be upheld no matter what role you are in.
Keep it simple - The first one is pretty basic. Make sure that your standards are simple. Simple means easily explained. The more complicated the standard, the less likely it is to be lived up to. You should be able to explain it clearly and articulately to your people. "But my standards are complicated. We have a very technical environment. Our team deals with high-level information. The safety standards include so many steps, the manual is 3 inches thick!" Ok. Break it down into steps. Have simpler standards that combine to your overall standard. The activities that we want to be held as a standard must be actionable and realistic. Unrealistic standards will frustrate your people so quickly. Not only that, but unrealistic standards get talked about. Or worse yet (but a better way to say it) they get complained about. Just as quickly as people get frustrated, the complaints spread, and morale goes down.
Let's look at an example of the impact this has.
A new employee who begins working for a manager who has high, unrealistic, complicated standards for behavior is defeated. They feel like they can't live up to the expectations and are constantly letting down their boss. It could be hard for them to take on new challenges or push themselves to try new things. If left in that environment long enough it can have long term effects on their self-value and work performance. If the standards are too high, you get underachievement and loss of confidence or high turnover. On the flip-side, if your standards are too low, you will see complacency and lack of drive which has a similar effect on morale and drive.
Know the WHY - Standards are most effective when the purpose is well known. People are motivated by WHY. Simon Sinek talks about the power of WHY in his TED talk. It's a must watch for any leader.
The purpose of your standard should drive the definition. It puts value on the standard. With value placed on the standard the result is that much more satisfying and it creates buy-in for the people expected to meet it. They will likely be motivated to not only meet that standard, but exceed it because they are now invested in the outcome and understand it's impact.
Tell Show Observe Verify - In order to ensure people truly understand the expectations placed on them, it's important to follow this simple model.
First Tell them what is expected. Clearly articulate the standard, being sure to explain the why behind it and the impact it has.
Now Show them what you mean. This may be doing sales calls with an employee, leading a meeting, or developing a report. Show them how the work needs to be done or how quickly you would like them to respond when a customer calls. With each example, you must model how to perform the task/behavior at the level you expect. People will do what you show them. Keep in mind that your standard is what you're willing to accept.
Next, observe them performing the behavior at the standard level you model and expect. Provide feedback and coaching. This is your time to make sure they really understand what the standard is and fine tune their performance.
Finally, verify that they are performing at the standard level. Come back after some time has the past and observe again. Ask people who are close to their work. Follow up with one of their customers or review survey data. Or simply go check their work. We need to inspect what we expect!
This is not a time for shaming when you find that the standard hasn't been met. Rather it's a time to praise when you find the standard has been met and reward when the standard has been exceeded. If you find the performance lacking, this is a coaching opportunity. Ask questions. Find out why they missed the mark. Encourage them.
Love your people and set them up for success by providing realistic standards that have a true purpose and value. Then hold them to it.
By: Andy King
You've done it!
You got the call asking you to come in for a face to face interview – you've received the kickoff.
You've done your homework and researched the company's website thoroughly – You're at the 50 yard line.
You've thought about what behavioral questions could be asked of you, and you've prepared several great examples – The 30 yard line.
You've written down a list of questions that you'd like to know more about regarding both the company and position – The 20!
You've taken a test drive to see where exactly to park and enter the building – The 10!
You've dressed for success, and your confidence is sky high – The 5!!
"Thank you for coming in today, please tell us about yourself." – FUMBLE!!
As a recruiter, I've seen this time and time again. The deer in the headlights look after the infamous "tell me about yourself" question. Why does such a seemingly harmless question become such a difficult one to answer? Well, we all tend to skip over things we feel like we know well. So in preparation for an interview, it is easy to tell yourself, "I'll know what to say when they ask me this question – because who knows me better than me?" When you take this approach, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. Here's why. This is your first chance to make an impression and essentially set the tone for the interview. You can either set a positive, well-meaning tone that impresses the interviewer(s) and make them more interested in you, or you can fumble the question entirely and have to work your way back up.
Here is a possible scenario:
"So, tell me about yourself."
"Oh boy, where do I start?" (As if you never knew that the interviewer would ever ask such a tricky question). Well… (INTERNAL DIALOGUE - where do I start, where do I start? Let's see - do I go back to where I'm from or where my first job was? OK, I grew up 40 miles away from here in a small community, wait a minute, how is that relevant? No, I'm not going to start there. How about a touching story about my first dog, Buddy – WHY WOULD I SAY THAT!? No….maybe that is good. Now I'm starting to get emotional about Buddy, I miss him so much! Wait a minute, what was the question again?)
OK – so that is an extreme scenario, but hopefully you get the point. Things can start spiraling quickly if you're not prepared to answer that question.
Brace yourself because I'm going to share some outrageously powerful advice and insight. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. As an interviewer, this is a way to see how the candidate communicates. Every interviewer is different, hiring managers are all looking for different things and they all have different personalities, so there is not a singular correct response. If you follow the below guidelines however, you will at least set yourself up well for the rest of the interview.
Touchdown! You're now ready to answer the 'tell me about yourself' question. Now keep going, win the game, and get the job! Good luck!
By: George Moore
With inarguable certainty, if you are reading this blog you are probably reading it on some form of electronic device. Perhaps a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This era of pulling out your tablet in an airport or being consumed by a mobile device at a coffee shop is becoming the norm. It's a fast and furious world we live in where we expect information to be sent and received instantaneously. We literally are addicted to our devices. Whether it is checking the instant feedback we get on social media, what the temperature is in our house, outside our house or even in Beijing, or that growing number of emails we have; our devices are constantly vying for our attention.
Email is an example of how our communication methods evolved into the electronic world, all thanks to one man who had an idea. Ray Tomlinson was a pioneering American computer programmer who implemented the first email program. His first email, sent in 1971 was a test message from one computer to another, while the machines were sitting side-by-side. At first, his email message system was not considered important by him or others, as he had only pursued it because "it seemed like a neat idea." Now, roughly 47 years after that "neat idea," within a couple of seconds, you can send a piece of mail electronically to almost anywhere on the globe.
Electronic platforms play a role in nearly every move we make. We have eLearning, eCommerce, eBooks, eSports, eDistribution, eProcurement, ePrescribing (eRX), eVoting, even eWaste! Everything that is anything seems to have an "e" in front of it. As for my role here at GROWMARK, I am focused on eLearning. I use specialized software to create complex, interactive web-based training programs you can take with you anywhere you go. You can take a one-hour online course at home on your phone instead of attending a half-day program that may require transportation and other costs to attend. eLearning opens up the world of possibilities to make it easy for anyone to grow their knowledge, skills and abilities with any given amount of time that is available.
So next time you are waiting for a flight, your coffee, or picking up your kids from practice, consider using that time and your technology to learn. And then, when you are done, you can eFile your taxes and check your investments on E*TRADE, or whatever other "e" action you want to take. The real "e" word behind all of this is: embrace it. The "e" is here to stay; anything less than electronic seems archaic.
By: Rhonda Catalino
What is my brand? What does personal brand even mean? How do I come up with this stuff? These may be some recurring questions flooding your brain while you're on the quest to define your professional career.
How do I want to be seen by others?
Ding, ding, ding! That's the big question to consider before you begin identifying your personal brand. Answering this question may seem daunting, right? Well, here are some suggestions to help you begin defining your personal brand:
Build your platform
Grow your network
Social media management is key
By: Kayla Portwood
If I said you could make tomorrow the best day ever by implementing a few simple habits, would I have your attention? Most of us would say yes, but the reality is most of us wouldn't make the necessary changes. The way we start the day impacts how we finish the day. So, to make the day great we must win the mornings!
Those who live great lives experience the power of the morning by creating strong habits and routines that set them up for an unbreakable day. The goal is to develop a routine that works for you. Here are some suggestions to help you win the morning so you can win the day:
Life is a journey and we want to enjoy it. Find the routine that works for you, so you can conquer the morning and the day!
By: Brandon Umphrey
We've all heard it before: it's not what you know, it's who you know. How true do you think this statement is? I never thought much of this phrase until I started working in recruiting. I am here to tell you this statement is important and could not be more accurate. It is amazing to me how networking creates connections that can impact your professional life in such big ways. Every time you turn down a chance to network with someone new at work, in the industry, or in general, you are turning down a future opportunity to grow as a leader or professional.
One experience that comes to my mind is a networking exercise I took part in at Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference years ago. Over 70 agriculture students from around the country were sitting in a hotel meeting room in Kansas City. The speaker threw a large ball of string at our group. We were confused. He had us go around the room and state our overall career goals and one fun experience on our bucket list. As we did this, others from the group would raise their hands to signal that they had a connection within their network that could help the person holding the ball of string complete their career goal or cross the identified item off their bucket list. The person holding the ball of string would throw the ball to one of the individuals with their hand raised. It was amazing. We heard so many different conversations starting. "I want to raise alpacas once I retire." "I want to work in Ag Law." "I want to hike the Appalachian Trail." "I want to work for Kraft-Heinz as a food scientist." As these statements were said, hands shot up in the air, and people identified their go-to people in the room and had the chance to network with them after the exercise concluded. By the time we were done, the room looked like a giant spider web. There wasn't a single statement mentioned in that room that someone didn't make a connection through.
This exercise opened my eyes to how important it is to take the time to get to know the people around you as they can help you reach your dreams. I would argue that networking is not only important, but more so your best linking to success.
By: Tori Streitmatter
Stephen Covey's book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" is so rich in content that I find myself still using and learning from it 11 years after my initial read. I cannot count the number of times I have referenced "begin with the end in mind" when coaching Subject Matter Experts (SME's) to develop training, advising colleagues on how to create powerful presentations or creating training myself. It's not just a cliche. It can be a powerful tool in the presenting and training worlds.
As an instructional designer for over 10 years, each time I sit down to create a training, I "begin with the end in mind". What do the learners need to know, do, and apply when they walk out of training? What is the end experience you are striving to create for them? There is so much information on every topic imaginable, it is often difficult to sift through it all to decide what is important.
Whether you are creating a training, a presentation or simply an agenda for a meeting, there are some helpful questions to ask yourself that will allow you focus on the end goal—thereby saving you time, while producing an impactful facilitation.
Step 1: Analyze
Who is my audience? What are the audience's characteristics that affect the content and how it is delivered? What is my topic? What is the amount of time allotted for the facilitation? What is the goal of the facilitation? Why would the participants want to attend the facilitation?
Step 2: Create/Develop
What are the objectives that will fulfill the goal of the facilitation? What do participants need to know/be able to do when they leave? How do you plan to accomplish the objective(s)?
Step 3: Execution/Delivery
Is PowerPoint visually helpful for this facilitation? Is this meeting necessary or will an email accomplish the goal(s)? Would an activity help the participants better understand the content? Does this facilitation need to be face-to-face, or can it be online or a webinar? How can I deliver the content without being a boring lecturer?
Asking yourself these questions before you even begin to sift through the plethora of information will help you focus and create a better product.
After all these years, I still get lost sometimes in the sea of information. I get caught up in reading, learning, the "ooh shiny" moments, and the "that's not what I'm looking for" frustration. What do I do? Take a deep breath. Regain focus. And remind myself to "begin with the end in mind".
By: Michele Hillary
Careers take twists and turns making your professional experience a path unique to you based on your aspirations and experiences.
While in college I was told, "Your degree will help you get placed in your first job – after that it will be based on your experiences." At first, I was unsure how this was possible due to my degree being the career path I was wanting to take. I knew the skillset it equipped me with prepared me to take on a communication based career. However, as my career path began to evolve the above statement has never been more true. GROWMARK has a variety of positions available across multiple facets of business. No matter the position you are in, you are developing valuable transferrable skills to prepare you to take on your next career move. Transferrable skills can be applied whether you are in accounting, energy, agronomy, etc. If you find an area interesting, talk with the team currently in place and learn more about it. Determine the skillset you need to develop that could be applied to a similar position.
Recently I took a different position in the company and many people saw the switch as an extreme change. Yes, it is very different from my former position. However, I was able to apply skills gained from one role and build new skills in my current role. All of which are preparing me for my future career goals. Again, the path is unique to you and no two people may have the same path.
A path is there for guidance not set in concrete. It is meant to be flexible and allow for the individual to make his or her decisions based on interests and new discoveries along the way. It is not meant to be straight and narrow but allow for curves along the way. If you have an interest don't be afraid to pursue it because you could end up finding a position that fulfills a passion you may not even realize you had!
By: Amie Hasselbring
Every day we engage others in conversation, presentations and meetings. You engage in communication where you need to make key points about your perspective, thought or idea. Your intent is to have credibility and impact with the direction or outcome of the interaction. You need to ERASE all doubt in communicating your key points that will increase your influence and outcomes. Below are five different forms of evidence to support your key ideas. The acronym ERASE will help you remember them.
Before your next conversation, presentation or meeting; take a few minutes to identify your key points you want to make, then select one of the five ways you can ERASE all doubt to increase your impact and credibility.
By: David Hansen