Category Archives: Career Assessment

Career Assessment

Finding Work You Love, Measuring Your Life

Clayton Christensen

Clayton Christensen

Clayton Christensen is a Harvard Business School professor, acclaimed for his ground-breaking work on innovation.
His recent book, How Will You Measure Your Life links his years of research in business strategy and innovation, to identifying values and priorities in work-life.

Although this new focus may seem unexpected, Christensen may have pointed to a source of inspiration when he revealed in 2010 that he had been diagnosed with follicular lymphoma and had suffered an ischemic stroke.
In addition, he has been highly visible in his decades of service to The Church of Latter Day Saints.

He reviews “powerful anomalies” in popular conceptions of workforce motivation and incentives designed to drive performance.

He notes that “some of the hardest working people on the planet are employed in charitable organizations. They work in the most difficult conditions imaginable; they earn a fraction of what they would if they were in the private sector. Yet it’s rare to hear of managers of nonprofits complaining about getting their staff motivated. The same goes for the military.”

He points out that incentives are not the same as motivation, and that true motivation involves moving people to do something because they want to.
Hertzberg’s classic article in the Harvard Business Review, introduced the distinction between hygiene factors (if not done right, will cause us to be dissatisfied) and motivation factors (challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth).

Frederick Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg

Christensen concludes that Herzberg’sHerzberg theory of motivation suggests such questions as:

• Is this work meaningful to me?
• Will I have an opportunity for recognition and achievement?
• Am I going to learn new things?

Evaluating the place of personal motivation factors in relation to the priority of hygiene factors is the foundation of career and life satisfaction.

-*What elements of your “work contract” are motivating?-*What helps you determine value and meaning in your work life and personal life?

LinkedIn Open Group – Psychology in HR (Organisational Psychology)
Twitter: @kathrynwelds
Facebook Notes:

Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds


Positive to Negative Feedback Ratios – 3:1 @ work, 5:1: @ home

Sandra Mashihi

Sandra Mashihi

Envisia’s Kenneth Nowack and Sandra Mashihi provided “evidence-based answers” to 15 questions about leveraging 360-degree feedback.

Kenneth Nowack

Kenneth Nowack

Their first question was “Does 360-degree feedback do more harm than good”?
Nowack and Mashihi concluded that found “poorly-designed 360-degree feedback assessments and interventions can increase disengagement and contribute to poor individual and team performance.”

Specifically, individuals can “experience strong discouragement and frustration” when feedback is not as affirming as anticipated.
In addition, negatively-perceived information may be discounted and disregarded.

John Gottman’s studies of positive-to-negative interaction ratios in marriage suggest that intact and well-functioning marriages have a a 5:1 ratio, and research by his colleagues, Schwartz and team, found a similar effect for 360-feedback sessions, though the ratio was closer to 3:1 to encourage  enhanced individual and team performance, individual workplace engagement, effectiveness, and emotional “flourishing,” according to Frederickson and Losada.

Proportions of negative feedback and interactions that exceed these ratios can interfere with insight and motivation and diminish willingness to engage in work-related practice and performance effectiveness.

Barbara Fredrickson suggested in Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive that this 3:1 ratio of positive to negative feedback is a “tipping point.”

UCLA’s Naomi Eisenberger and Matthew Lieberman collaborated with Kipling Williams of  Macquarie University to demonstrate the physical and emotional impact when people are overloaded of negative feedback:  The same neurophysiologic pathways associated with physical pain are triggered.
Under these circumstances, volunteers reported higher levels of physical pain and demonstrate diminished performance on a cognitively-demanding task, according to Purdue’s Zhansheng Chen, Williams and  Julie Fitness of Macquarie University, and University of New South Wales’s Nicola C. Newton.


Anyone providing evaluations or 360-degree feedback may organize and “titrate” negative (“constructive”) feedback to remain within tolerable ratios so that those receiving this coaching can assimilate and execute recommendations.

-*What ratios of positive to negative feedback do you apply in helping others improve performance?

Twitter: @kathrynwelds
LinkedIn Open Group – Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds

Questions to Discover, Communicate Personal Mission, Brand

Tina Su

Tina Su, former software engineer at and author of Think Simple Now: A Moment of Clarity blog, shared self- assessment questions that have helped her and others focus on life purpose and mission.

From these, she developed a personal vision “to ‘never work again’, by living a life following one’s inner calling, exploring one’s potential, generating massive value, and living fully in every moment.”

• What activities, people, events, hobbies, projects make you smile?
• What have been your favorite activities in the past?
• What have been your favorite activities now?
• What makes you feel great about yourself?
• Who inspires you: family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, historical figures?
• Which qualities inspire you?
• What are your natural skills, abilities, gifts?
• For what do people ask your advice, help?
• What would you teach?
• What would you regret not fully doing in your life?
• What would you regret not being in your life?
• When you are 90 years old, what achievements will matter most?
• What achievements relationships will matter most?
• What are your 3-6 deepest values?
• What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming?
• How did you do it?
• What causes do you strongly believe in or have personal meaning for you?
• What message would you like to effectively convey to a large group of people?
• How can you use your talents, resources, passions and values to serve, to help, to contribute to people, beings, causes, organization, environment?

The answers to these questions can answer the questions addressed in a personal mission statement, as Tina demonstrated in her bold direction.
• What do I want to do?
• Who do I want to help?
• What is the result? What value will I create?

Randall Hansen

Randall Hansen

Randall Hansen offers a different, but compatible The Five-Step Plan for Creative Personal Mission Statements.
• Identify Past Successes
• Identify Core Values
• Identify Contributions
• Identify Goals
• Write Mission Statement

Like any self-assessment process, developing a personal mission statement is an investment of time and attention spanning several days or weeks.

-*What questions have been more revealing in developing your personal brand?

LinkedIn Open Group Brazen Careerist
Twitter: @kathrynwelds
Facebook Notes:
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds

Six Neuropsychologically-Based Emotional Styles

Richard Davidson

Richard Davidson

Richard Davidson, professor at University of Wisconsin’s book, The Emotional Life of your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way you Think, Feel, and Live–and how You can Change Them suggests that people favor one of six “brain styles.”

• Resilience – speed of recovery from adversity

• Outlook – duration of positive emotion

• Intuition – accuracy of decoding others’ nonverbal signals of emotion

• Self-awareness – accuracy of decoding internal signals of emotional reactions: heart rate, breathing, sweating, muscle tension

• Context – modulate emotional response tailored to environmental demands, constraints, options

• Attention – ability to focus, modulate emotional stimuli

These categories represent interacting elements that form an integrated cognitive-emotional processing pattern, rather than a discrete “style” as Davidson suggests.

He offers a quick assessment of your “brain style” via these surveys and other resources on his website and related locations.
Related Post:
“Contemplative Neuroscience” can transform your mind, change your brain

-*Which Emotional Style is most prevalent is your work organization?
-*Which Style is more effective in your workplace?

LinkedIn Open Group – Executive Coach
Twitter: @kathrynwelds
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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds

Considered “Pursuit of Less”

Jim Collins

Jim Collins

Jim Collins in his book How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, outlined how once-successful companies failed, and discovered that one significant contributor was what he labeled “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”  It is true for companies and it is true for careers.
“The Pursuit of Less” can be easier after separating “The Trivial Many from The Significant Few, as Vilfredo Pareto‘s

Vilfredo Pareto

Vilfredo Pareto

principle outlines.

Greg McKeown

Greg McKeown

Greg McKeown, co-author with Liz Wiseman (former VP at Oracle Corporation) of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, suggests the following steps:

Liz Wiseman

Liz Wiseman

Use more extreme criteria:

  • Do I love this career?
  • Do I love these career activities?

• “What am I deeply passionate about?
• “What taps my talent?
• “What meets a significant need in the world?

These can be organized as a Venn diagram of Talent x Market x Passion to reveal an intersecting area of optimal contribution.

  • What is essential?
    Eliminate the rest
  • Conduct a life audit.
    Eliminate an old activity before you add a new one.

Beware of the endowment effect or divestiture aversion, the self-confirmation bias of valuing something more once we own it.

Kahneman, Knetsch and Thaler found that when coffee mugs and pens of equal value were randomly distributed to volunteers, people were less willing to trade the item they were given for the other item.

The researchers concluded that “owning” either the pen or the coffee mug decreased the volunteers’ willingness to part with their objects, contradicting

Ronald Coase

Ronald Coase

Nobel prize winner Ronald Coase’s economic theorem which predicted that 50% of the objects would be traded.

To break this cognitive bias, Tom Stafford, psychology professor at

Tom Stafford

Tom Stafford

University of Sheffield and author of Mind Hacks, suggests asking “If I did not own this item, how much would I pay, invest, or sacrifice to obtain it?”

Similarly, McKeown argues for considered minimalism and simplicity in organizations, careers, and life.

-*How are you selective about your pursuits in career and life?

LinkedIn Open Group Brazen Careerist:
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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds

Passion, Purpose, “Personal Mastery” in Work and Life

Srikumar Rao

Srikumar Rao

Srikumar Rao gained acclaim at Columbia, Haas, Kellogg, and London Business Schools for his innovative course, Creativity and Personal Mastery (CPM), which he transformed into his book, Are You Ready to Succeed? Unconventional Strategies to Achieving Personal Mastery in Business and Life
TED talk

According to Rao, those who pursue Creativity and Personal Mastery (CPM) practices:

1) …find that their judgment improves.
While they become deeply passionate about what they do, they also become more objective and less wedded to any particular outcome.
Their newfound ability to entertain many different perspectives makes them vastly more creative.

2) …experience an increase in their ability to inspire others and release pent-up creativity.
They relate better to others – subordinates, peers and bosses – and become more adept at enlisting them to achieve a common goal.

His program is based on 10 principles, which are illustrated in 90-second Inner Espresso Video Clips, listed below:

1: Actions and Not Outcomes

2: Fallacy of Expecting Thanks and Gratitude

3: Whatever you focus on Expands

4: The Power of Labels

5: Time of Attitude

6: The Power of Shifting your Focus

7: Mental Models

8: Miracles Happen Every Day

9: What are others thinking about you?

10: Your Boss is the FedEx Guy

*What practices help you “master” your work and life challenges?

LinkedIn Open Group – Leadership Think Tank
Twitter: @kathrynwelds
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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds

Igniting Purpose and Passion

Robert Fried

Robert Fried

Robert Fried drew on principles articulated in his previous book, A Marketing Plan for Life, linking a 12-point business marketing plan to clarify life purpose and interests.

He suggests applying these marketing principles to defining personal life purpose, value proposition, brand, and “elevator pitch”:

Define the business you’re in:

• What’s unfinished for me to experience?
• What’s unfinished for me to give?
• What’s unfinished for me to learn?
• What’s unfinished for me to heal?
• What ignites my passion?
.When did I experience joy?
.When did I lose track of time?
.What were my childhood dreams?
.Who do I admire?
• What can I do best to serve others?
• What is my true purpose in life?
• What actions do I need to take to realize my true purpose?

Peter Montoya

Peter Montoya

Fried cited recommendations from Peter Montoya and Tim Vandehey‘s book, The Brand Called You

What business am I in? What do I offer? Who am I?
What do I “stand for”? What are my core values?
What talents, strengths, character traits make me “unique”?

Tim Vandehey

Tim Vandehey

What is my specialty? How do I demonstrate this expertise?
How do I demonstrate the value? How to I communicate the benefit?
How do I “make a difference”?
How do I consistently communicate the alignment between my “offering” and its value?
What should people care? What is my cause beyond profit-making?

  • What are my demonstrable differences? “Features”? “Benefits”?

Opinions different on the optimal duration of responses to these value-clarifying questions, but one benchmark is “more than 25 words and fewer than 25 seconds.”

-*How do you clarify your purpose and mobilize your motivation?

LinkedIn Open Group – Leadership Think Tank
Twitter: @kathrynwelds
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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds

Questions to Answer in Personal Brand, “Elevator Pitch”, Resume

Colleen Aylward

Colleen Aylward

Colleen Aylward asserts that the following questions must be answered in your resume, “elevator pitch”, information interview, and online presence in her book, From Bedlam to Boardroom: How to get a derailed executive career back on track!

  • What is your [narrow, deep] expertise?
  • What are your strengths?

Career Leader by Harvard Business School professor Timothy Butler

  • What is your unique business differentiator?
  • What problems have you solved? How?
    [Note accomplishments and quantified impact, not responsibilities;
    Specify numbers, even if <10 – contrary to style rules]
  • How have you increased revenues, profit?
  • How have you improved processes?
  • How have you demonstrated creativity, innovation?
  • How have you reduced costs?

The last four items, indicated by *, are considered critical Key Performance Indicators that you must convey clearly, repeatedly, and memorably in all in-person and online activities.

-*What assessments and tools have you used to uncover your strengths, expertise and key differentiator?

LinkedIn Open Group – The Executive Coach
Twitter: @kathrynwelds
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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds

“Tour of Duty” Career Model

Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman, venture capitalist and entrepreneur behind such Silicon Valley start-ups as Facebook, PayPal, LinkedIn, Zynga, suggests “a tour of duty as a model for…composing work and a career” in his 2012 book with Ben Casnocha, The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career

He proposes asking “What’s the right next step — stay in this job, do another job for the company or do a good job at another company?

In conversation Ethan Mollick, Wharton management professor, Hoffman recommends the intersection among “my assets”, “my aspirations”, and “the market realities” to identify career focus.
He advocates taking “intelligent risks” while “thinking a lot about ‘What are the risks?’, ‘What your variations are in Plan B?’”

As the co-founder of LinkedIn, a leading social network for business connections and job searching, he considers networking as “a mutual alliance…you help each other.”
Providing mutual benefit is a key for sustained relationship building for business success, according to Hoffman.

-*How do you develop a “Plan B” when taking “intelligence career risks”?

LinkedIn Open Group – Women in Technology (sponsored by EMC)
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©Kathryn Welds

3P Marketing to Define, Communicate Personal Brand

Rita Allen

Rita Allen

Rita B. Allen defines 3 Ps Marketing to create personal brand and effectively market yourself in an increasingly competitive, global employment landscape.

-Conduct self-assessment and “due diligence”
-Define brand differentiators and subject matter expertise
-Articulate positioning statement (“elevator pitch”)
-Curate your professional network

-Create your portfolio (resume, CV, performance reviews, awards, presentations, articles, references, testimonials, community and professional service, continuing education)
-Expand alliances with relevant thought leaders

-Practice and refine delivery of your brand message
-Develop strong active listening, presentation, and interpersonal skills
-Continuously enhance your brand

This approach helps answer:
• What are your “value-adds”, your unique differentiators?
• What is your personal brand?
• How comfortable are you articulating your brand?
• How do you continuously enhance your brand?

-*What elements do you consider when communicating your personal brand?

LinkedIn Open Group – Social Media Marketing
Twitter: @kathrynwelds
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©Kathryn Welds