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Career Planning and Development in Today's Business World
An ACC Online Chat - December 15, 2011
Download PDF version of the transcript

  Michelle_Butler Welcome to ACC's latest online chat - Career Planning and Development in Today's Business World! During the next hour, we will discuss how you can make 2012 a successful year for your career. All are welcome to participate. We only ask that you remember that this is a professional forum and act accordingly.


  Michelle_Butler ACC has lined up three experts to help us dig deeper during this discussion. They are:

Christina Burz - Executive Search and Management Consultant, Carlsen Resources, Inc.

Rosa Gatti - Senior Vice President, Communications Counsel and Corporate Outreach, ESPN, Inc.

Carol Vernon - Certified Executive Coach & Principal, Communications Matters, LLC

  Christina_Burz Hello everyone. Lovely to be here. My name is Christina Burz and I've been a media/entertainment recruiter for the past 20 years. Currently I work with Carlsen Resources, which recruits senior-level executives at the cable networks, distributors, studios as well as companies where content crosses technology. We recruit all functions including corporate communications and PR. I've never done a chat format so please bear with me as I get the hang of it

  carol_vernon hi, I'm carol - glad to be with you today. as michelle said, i'm an executive coach which means I help people thrive in their work. I work with leaders in the cable industry, as well as other industries. earlier in my career I worked at ncta and cable in the classroom.

  rosa_g Hi, all. I'm Rosa Gatti. I've been at ESPN for 31 years - never dreamed I'd be in one place so long. Have worked for 5 presidents. Most of my career spent on media relations, crisis management. Did community simultaneously. Launched ESPN's 1st diversity committee in early 90s. Oversaw and reorganized HR for a few years. Growing ESPN Corporate Outreach globally.

  Michelle_Butler Welcome, Everyone! Please feel free to ask any questions!

  Michelle_Butler What can you do to plan and develop your career in the next year? How can you make 2012 a success?

  rosa_g Be proactive. Stretch your goals. Then deliver tangible results. Exceed their expectations.

  carol_vernon the key actions are TO PLAN in order TO DEVELOP. you need to take the time to step back and look at where you are--what's working, what do you need more of, less of?; next you start visioning around where you can be--what do you want to create in your career, how does your career impact your overall life plan; then you move to the action steps--clarify how you will get there; and finally you create accountability--are you getting there; if not, what help do you need to get there and if you are getting where you want to be, be sure to take the time to celebrate your success!

  Michelle_S Hi ladies! I've been w the same company for 7 years and I'm at a crossroads - do I stay or do I go? How do you determine if you should cut and go?

  Christina_Burz It all depends on what your career goals are. What your end game is.

  rosa_g Several times I almost left. Important to know where you are going. I waited and other things developed. Patience is key. Judgement

  Christina_Burz Michelle: what is your frustration where you are?

  carol_vernon I agree with Christina's starting question---without knowing where you want to be, it's tough to create the right plan

  Michelle_S I'm with #?%&* Channel - was the 8th person hired - now the company is in almost 30 mm hh. My cheese has been moved too many times to count - which is fine - I just feel I've grown as far as I can w the company

  Michelle_S And I moved from one city to another I'm working from home. Very new for me

  Christina_Burz I work from home as well and I know it's not for everyone. Especially if you are a social being and derive enthusiasm from your co-workers. Is it absolutely necessary that you work from home or was it an option you thought you would like and now want to reconsider...

  rosa_g Ask yourself if with these moves, you have continued learning new things. If you have not, you should explore other opportunities. Also have you talked with your boss about your career aspirations and for advice?

  Michelle_S I moved b/c of my husband's job - so it was GREAT the company values me enough to keep me on...but a part of me saw moving also as an "easy out" to start over. How sad is it to say that?

  Michelle_Butler Michelle_S, I don't think you need to label that as sad. It may be a great opportunity.

  Christina_Burz Michelle: I am a big believer in career coaches who can help you focus in ways that you can't do on your own...

  Michelle_S Rosa - oh yes, I've been VERY open w my boss. We are even talking consultant opps, but I don't even know if I want that! How conflicting!

  Michelle_Butler Carol, you mentioned you need to know where you want to go. What if you don't have an answer for that? How do you figure that out - where you want to go?

  carol_vernon Michelle, thanks for asking about clarifying where you want to go. best way to do it is to set aside designated planning time to explore on your own, talk with others, see what things have been of interest to you in the past.

  Michelle_S I think I'm going the way of career coaches - in the past it's been too expensive, but I really need guidance other than reading a book.

  Michelle_Butler A lot of self-exploration then, Carol? Do you have any books to recommend?

  Christina_Burz I know coaches can be expensive but you can spend a lot of time spinning your wheels...

  Michelle_Butler Another inexpensive way to get advice, Michelle_S, is to network. I've met some great people through alumni organizations.

  Michelle_Butler Certain volunteer organizations can introduce you to other professionals as well.

  carol_vernon Michelle, I love the book finding your north star by Martha Beck--it's much more than a career book---it allows you to think about where you are already strong and where you already know you want to focus your future.

  Michelle_Butler I liked that book, Carol!

    Working with a Recruiter

  Steve_J Regarding some of Michelle_S' question, can a recruitment firm help someone with the direction for their next career options or should they come in with a firm direction of where they want to go?

  Christina_Burz Steve: great question. it depends on whether you know the recruiter or not. If you don't know the recruiter than you should be very buttoned up when you talk with them. If you do know the recruiter well, then ask them if you can spend a few minutes on the phone asking some very particular questions.

  Michelle_Butler Another question one may ask about career planning and development is what skills does he need to expand. What skills does a pr manager need to develop to become a director? A director to become a vice president?

  rosa_g Be proactive. Present viewpoint with substance - facts. Have conviction. Speak up with relevant win-win points. If don't position well first time, can always follow up with email. Discuss your career aspirations. Ask their advice on how to get there. Push your boss for what you need to work on. Many bosses uncomfortable answering. Let silence happen for them to speak. The answers may be painful but at least you know.

  Christina_Burz Michelle: do you need to motivate yourself to find another job and that feels daunting in this marketing or do you need to motivate yourself to find ways to enjoy and grow in the job you currently have?

  Michelle_S Oh Christina - you are good

  Michelle_S As a career coach, what do you do to get yourself motivated when down?

  carol_vernon thanks for the question--it's easy to 'get down' -- need to step back and create a vision for yourself about what you want that is so powerful you gain the motivation to get there!

  Michelle_S I think I need to motivate myself to find another job. I need a kick in the you know where

  Michelle_Butler Michelle_S, coming up with a plan may help. Giving yourself deadlines and goals.

  Christina_Burz Michelle: be reflective. there are a number of times in our lives when you need to take yourself to the mountain, so to speak, and talk with yourself about what you want, what is keeping you trapped. this is a critical time for you and you have to be rigorous with yourself.

  Steve_J Christina...So it would be okay to talk with a recruiter (someone you don't know) about a specific opportunity they may be looking to fill or a specific type of position (that they may or may not have an active client), but best to be very focused on what you want to do?

  Christina_Burz Steve: yes, you're correct. You can tell a recruiter that there are different roles that you would be interested in exploring in your next move but be specific. It's hard when people come to me and they say, I'm not sure what I should be doing next. Or can you tell me how to leverage my skills into another role. Talking to recruiters is like a new business call just like to a hiring manager. Not great to ask the recruiter to do your homework for you. know what I mean?


Christina_Burz, I've always heard that the best approach for recruiters was don't call them, let them call you. Is this not realistic? If one wants to transition jobs, should he consider calling a recruiter?

  Christina_Burz Michelle: You can email a recruiter to introduce yourself and say that you are interested in getting on their radar for future opportunities. They may even have a quick general conversation to get to know you better. that would be rare. most of the time they will include your information in their database and reach out to you when they have an appropriate assignment. Definitely email and don't call. best to have a referral. Always offer to be a source to the recruiter on any searches.

  Michelle_Butler What are some other tips, Christina, for how to work best with recruiters?

  Christina_Burz most retainer firms only work with VP level and above. that's not our choice. It's just that retained recruiting is time intensive and expensive so most companies only hire us for senior level roles. I don't know any retained search firms who deal with director level. That being said, I have spoken to some people who were referred by their bosses. They referred them to me because they thought they were terrific and I like to get to know people who are up and coming...

  Christina_Burz also important for mid-level people is exposure: joining associations and being an active member is a good way to do this.

  Michelle_Butler Let's take this topic from a different approach. How can you be happy and grow where you are?

  rosa_g Look for gaps or needs in the organization. Make a proposal to fill them or take on the added responsibility. Reach out to other leaders in the organization to discuss possibilities. Volunteer at community events to keep perspective.

  carol_vernon great question! in today's world many people are challenged in their work---they may think they have outgrown a job---my advice is always to actively seek out more responsibility right where you are --- remember, clarify what you love to do and then do more of it. Say no to the things that don't matter to your organization's success .. and that you can actually say no to!

  Michelle_Butler Great advice, Carol and Rosa, about looking for ways you can take on more responsibility in your current position. It does seem like a common trend right now is being asked to do more with less. This may be an opportunity to grow.

  Michelle_Butler At the same time, some folks start to suffer burnout from constant requests to do more with less. What are good ways to respond to requests to do more with less when you are overwhelmed with just getting done what needs to be done?

  carol_vernon absolutely---doing more with less can be a good opportunity to grow. step back and see what matters most to the company and see how you can contribute in this new world

  rosa_g Michelle B: I used to think I was so busy. As time has gone on, you find the busier you are, the more efficient you become. If you have staff, the more you delegate. If it is too much, look for advice from your boss on what may not be necessary. Good to get joint buy-in.

  rosa_g For people at mid-level, they may want to reach out to ACC and apply for the mentoring program. Valuable coaching and guidance takes place in these one-to-one programs.

  Michelle_Butler And, there are always ways to network in ACC via the new online directory and community, at FORUM and other online chats and webinars.

  carol_vernon as Michelle b talked about earlier, networking is key to your success. we need to be realistic, we need to toot our own horns. we need to be out there and allow people to experience what we can bring to an organization.

  Michelle_Butler One of the other challenges of being asked to do more with less is creating a good work/life balance. Conversely, I know of some people who have found ways to enrich their personal sides of their lives during professional slowdowns like the current economy. Do you have any advice on work/life balance?

  Christina_Burz adding to Carol's point about networking: The most important tool is still your network. Recruiters are helpful when you're already employed and can afford to be somewhat passive and opportunistic in your job search. But when you're actively looking you can't rely on them. And it's important to maintain and grow your network when you're working so you can access them right away when you are unemployed.

  carol_vernon I don't believe in balance---think balance is boring, we're always challenged to keep things 'in balance'---sometimes work demands a lot from us and sometimes the personal side of our lives do! need to be very clear about what

  carol_vernon need to be intentional about what parts of your life need your attention. End of year is a great time to step back and review what worked and mattered most to you in 2011 and what you want to focus on most in 2012

  Michelle_Butler We've touched a little about how you improve where you are. What are some of the skill sets that one needs to acquire to move up? For example, office politics seems to get more intense the more senior you are. What are the best ways to manage office politics?

  rosa_g Keep your antenna up. If you suspect someone undermining you, reach out and resolve. I used to avoid people who played games. Good to reach out to them. Suggest going for a cup of coffee or lunch and have heart to heart. You won't necessarily change the person's behavior, but you should gain his or her respect. Try to solve or suggest middle ground if you disagree. Listen to what's on their mind. Often I didn't think of their perspective.

  carol_vernon understanding the ritual of office politics is essential--can't ignore it!. play nice, play fair--and observe how the most savvy office players in your office do it!

  rosa_g People want to be around positive - team players. Eventually the game players, misleading people get found out.

  Michelle_Butler One of the most helpful business books I ever read explained office politics a lot. It was called Play like a man, win like a woman. I highly recommend it! It helped me survive one of my first professional jobs.

  Michelle_Butler Christina, you mentioned the importance of building up your network. What do you think of the new ways to build networks online such as LinkedIn? What are their merits compared to more traditional networking through organizations such as ACC or alumni organizations?

  Christina_Burz the more ways to network the better! LinkedIn is a must but you can never forget the traditional ways. You want to make sure that you meet people face to face. You don't want to spend all your efforts online. Especially if you're actively in a job search. Spending too much time online can make you feel like you accomplished something but you haven't really connected. Meeting people, talking with people is still the best way to network. And it will also help with the funk that people often feel when looking for a job.

  Michelle_Butler What are some other skills you need to develop to move up besides office politics?

  rosa_g Michelle: Be proactive. Present viewpoints with substance - facts. Have conviction. Speak up with relevant win-win points. If don't position well first time, can always follow up with email. Learn presentation skills!!!

  carol_vernon I believe one of the keys for moving up is knowing what you do well---identify your strengths and then leverage them!! a great tool for identifying your strengths is the strengthsfinder 2.0 online assessment by tom rath

  rosa_g Also, Michelle, years ago, reorgs would happen and people/myself would be surprised. I learned to say to my previous boss, "If you're thinking of reorganizing, keep me in mind for other opportunities." He said, "Wow. I thought u were so busy." I said, "Yes - but I can do other things." He said, "Like what?" I suggested 3 possibilities. Be prepared for that. 4 yrs later, he gave me HR to reorganize in addition to PR.

  Michelle_Butler I like using the online networks for research but it doesn't make you feel better like face-to-face interaction can. What are some other ways, Christina, one can keep himself up during a job search in today's business environment?

  Michelle_Butler keep himself up = keep motivated, upbeat, optimistic

  Christina_Burz Michelle B. Looking for work is daunting and keeping a positive perspective is absolutely necessary. Each person has to answer how to do if for themselves. And it's absolutely key to know the answer. Be honest about what keeps you motivated and do that. If you need to be part of a group then join one or form one. If you like to do things on your own then structure your day so that you feel supported. Periodic anxiety is normal. If that happens, take a break, do something to get a different perspective or talk to someone or work out, take a walk. Don't get obsessed with reading bad news about the job market. Don't spend all your time on the internet. Get out and meet people whether an informational meeting or attending a conference. Get a coach. They can help you focus your efforts, help you be realistic, keep you motivated, and sharpen your interviewing skills. Some coaches are expensive but even one or two sessions on interviewing skills will be enormously helpful. Or perhaps there is an HR or internal recruiter that you worked with in your former company who can do a mock interview. Or perhaps there's a colleague who you trust who can do a mock interview. Get the help you need so that you don't use a job interview as a practice session.

  Michelle_Butler Thanks, Christina! Some of my questions have assumed that the current job market is tough, but I should ask. What is the state of the job market? in cable? communications? elsewhere?

  Christina_Burz Michelle B. I don't have research to answer this but based on our business I would say it's steadily growing. In 2011 we handled 4 PR searches which is a record for us. We are currently doing 2 searches: a global VP of PR for Microsoft's interactive entertainment business and we just started an SVP of PR for TVOne.

  Michelle_Butler So, Rosa or Carol, a lot of this may be to learn how to communicate better?

  rosa_g Yes. Communication, Communication, Communication!!! presentation, one-on-one, emails, proposals for new ideas, every form.

  carol_vernon communications is key! need to understand how other people communicate and then communicate with them that way!

  rosa_g Agree, Carol. I had to learn how to vary my style of communication with 5 different presidents. Not change who I was but modify.

  carol_vernon remember the silver rule -- communicate with others as they would communicate with you!

  Michelle_Butler Carol and Rosa, do you have any tips on how to figure out what style of communication is best for whom? How did you figure out how best to communicate to those 5 presidents? Some people may find this to be intuitive, but I bet others do not.

  carol_vernon listen for how they communicate to you---are they direct, systematic, or more considerate in their approach? remember to watch out for body language---what are they saying to you before they even say a word??

  Christina_Burz Michelle B. Also one of the things we ask new clients is: how to you want us to communicate information to you? some people like lots of information, others want bullet points. Some people want weekly phone calls and other say: don't bother me until you have a slate of candidate. But we always ask...

  rosa_g Also, often I tried to communicate with the many colleagues to my right and left and to many younger, newer employees joining the organization to help them. You have to balance it and also communicate upward to the key leaders. Don't forget to focus there as well.

  Michelle_S What's been the temperature for your clients when asked "can this position work from home?" Are people still very hesitant?

  Christina_Burz I don't find that clients are hesitant about it. it's just no longer a selling point for a job like it was in the late 90s.

  Michelle_Butler For the past couple of years, two of the hottest skill sets in communications have been social media or storytelling. Are they still hot? Are there other equally or more important skill sets to have?

  rosa_g Communication principles are the same. Concise when needed. Story telling when appropriate. It's the tools that have changed and the timing / pace / immediate response nature. We all have had to quicken our communication.

  carol_vernon the ability to communicate clearly, directly, and with impact remains a key skill.

  Christina_Burz Story telling has always been hot for me. As long as the person can point to quantifiable results.

  Michelle_Butler Quickening our communication without increased mistakes can be a challenge!

  rosa_g Indeed as you have noticed here with my responses. check before hitting send

  carol_vernon no question about it...staying on top of everything is a challenge!

  Christina_Burz The pace of everything nowadays is quick but I believe in finding moments to be reflective. I've meditated for years and it helps me not be so reactive. You need to know when a quick answer is appropriate and when you need to take a step back and reflect...

  Michelle_Butler Are there skills sets that communicators tend to sell themselves short on? For example, they may just assume they are great communicators because their job requires it.

  rosa_g It's another communication skill. Blow your own horn in a polite way. List your results each year. Share great feedback that you receive periodically. Credit your people, e.g. Jane suggested this and it drew xx results and this letter or publicity.

  Christina_Burz I find the most important thing is where or not you can build out a strategy. Being tactical is one thing but setting a vision and working against that is crucial. I interview PR people who talk about a lot of wins but those wins weren't part of an overall strategy...

  rosa_g PR people and often women don't sell themselves enough. they think people just notice.

  Michelle_Butler Earlier, Carol mentioned now is a great time to reflect on the past and set goals for the future. Christina mentioned it is important to find moments to be reflective. Do you have any recommendations to share on how best to do this or anecdotes of how that has helped you?

  Michelle_Butler For example, for the past few years, I've spent some time to write in a journal about the successes and challenges of the past year and used what I learn from that to set goals for the next year. I divide it into 6 or 7 areas. It's very insightful and seems to build on itself each year. I will admit the assessing the past is not always as fun as setting goals for the future.

  carol_vernon year end is an ideal time to take stock of what's worked and what you want to work on for next year! happy to share my year end personal strategic planning tool with you---email me for a copy at

  rosa_g Celebrate your many achievements for the year both personally and with your team.

  Michelle_Butler Thank you for participating in ACC's latest online chat. ACC's next online event will be a webinar in January about the 2012 CES Show. Check for more details. Please feel free to contact me at or 202-222-2372 if you have any suggestions for future topics, feedback on this chat, questions, etc.

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