From a Mom
Karyn Schoenbart is CEO of The NPD Group, a global provider of information and advisory services to the world’s leading brands. A working mom, she often gave career advice to her daughter Danielle as she was growing up. By the time Danielle entered the workforce, she joked that she had received a “Mom. B.A” giving her a tremendous competitive advantage. Now years later, Karyn has written MOM.B.A: Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next, based on her “lessons” to Danielle as well as on her thirty years of experience building a successful career. The book, filled with wise advice and numerous personal anecdotes, is noteworthy for Karyn’s candor and her delightful sense of humor. I recently spoke with Karyn about her favorite tips for those just starting out or climbing the corporate ladder.
Make a Good First Impression
What’s the best way to make a good first impression?
It starts with how you show up. It’s important to dress appropriately for the occasion. But that doesn’t mean it is a “one size fits all” rule. Dress the way that matters to the people who matter. And when in doubt, find out! A few years ago, we were looking for someone to fill an executive position that would report to me. One of the candidates came to the interview in a very low cut dress. She was clearly qualified, but we didn’t know what to make of her choosing that particular dress for the interview. In the end, we all agreed: The candidate’s attire demonstrated a lack of judgment, and we didn’t want someone with poor judgment helping to run our company. We didn’t hire her.
How you speak is also a reflection on you. Avoid bad vocal habits like the dreaded up-speak (where every sentence ends as though it is a question).
In my experience, people like it when you call them by name – it shows you care. Make it a practice to remember and use people’s names. My tip for remembering names is to use it three times when meeting them; when introduced, during the conversation and finally when saying goodbye. It really works!
How do you build a good relationship with the boss?
Be the person your boss can count on. Step up and go above and beyond. Every positive interaction that you have is like putting money in the bank. Then if there is a problem, you have something to withdraw. Think of criticism as an investment in you. Your boss is taking the time to help you be better.
It’s also a good idea to get to know your boss as a whole person. Find out what matters to him or her and show an interest. One way to break through is to check in on a Monday or Friday, which creates an opportunity to interact on a more personal level (i.e. do you have any interesting plans for the weekend?).
“Focus on being a good listener, which includes being patient and attentive.” –Diane Bowers
Survive the Bad Boss
What advice do you have for surviving the occasional bad boss?