Rising Pro

5 Tips for Acing Your Next Performance Review

We all get one every year; the dreaded performance review.

Whether you’re giving one or getting one, performance reviews are stress enduring not only because it’s hard to give and receive feedback, but also because they require a lot of time and thought.

You have to dig up old ‘nice job’ e-mails, remember and write down all the things you’ve accomplished over the year and think about what goals you want to achieve by your next review.

This can take hours, and many of us don’t have enough time as it is. In effect, many of us do the bare minimum and go into a review with confidence in our performance, but only a few accomplishments to back it up.

Don’t do this.

You should be going in armed and ready to present all your hard work in a comprehensive package, especially if you’re asking for a raise.

I know this sounds time consuming, but here’s the trick; don’t wait until your review to collect all this information, do it throughout the year. Then when it’s time, all you have to do is review and finalize what you’ve gathered.

Not sure how to start? Below I’ve provided five tips to help you ace your next performance review.

1. Keep Track of Your Accomplishments:  Sharing a list of accomplishments during a review is a great way to show how much progress you’ve made over the year. But it’s much easier to remember everything you’ve achieved if you record your accomplishments as they happen.

  • How to do it: Start a Word or Google doc that you can just throw accomplishments into as they happen. Then when it comes time, review and clean them up by adding additional details, like context and figures, to give them some added punch.

2. Maintain a List of Goals: Similar to a list of accomplishments, create and manage a list of goals. Seeing your goals written down and tracking them throughout the year will give you the added push to make them happen.

  • How to do it: This list can live in the same document where you keep your list of accomplishments. This makes it very easy (and gratifying) to move a goal over into the accomplishment category. Present your list of goals to your manager during a review to show them you’re thinking ahead and motivated to advance. In addition, your manager can see where you need support to achieve your goals.

3. Start a Happy File: The best part about the review process is reliving all your wins. Sharing positive feedback you’ve received throughout the year is a great way to give your accomplishments some weight. It shows you’re not the only one who thinks you’re doing a good job.

  • How to do it: Whenever you get a praise or appreciation e-mail, text, written note or message, save it in a ‘happy file.’ Don’t wait to find it in a few months because you may forget about it or not be able to find it. You can create both digital and hard folders, just make sure to merge them when it’s time for your review. Then use each note as a supporting statement for your work during the review.

4. Fill in Your Job Description: Your job description is one of the best tools to figure out and demonstrate how well you’re performing. It takes some time, but treating your job description like a worksheet can help you see where you’re doing well and where you can improve.

  • How to do it: Find or write out your job description and leave enough room under each responsibility to record how you are exceeding, meeting or not meeting every aspect of your role. This is great to do a few months before a review because if you’re not meeting a lot of requirements, you still have time to meet more. Then share it with your boss during your review to visually show them how you’re killing it. But don’t forget to also discuss the areas you’re actively working to improve. This shows initiative and will help your boss see where you need more training or mentoring to fulfill all your requirements.

5. Fill in Your Next Job’s Description: The above exercise is also helpful to do for the next position you want.

  • How to do it: Repeat the above, but note you will most likely not meet as many of the requirements. Don’t get discouraged, this exercise is a great way to see where the holes are in your skills and expertise and can trigger you to fill them in. Sharing this with your boss in a review is also a good way to show them how you’re already doing, or learning how to do the job above you, which can help your case for a promotion.

What are your tips for acing a performance review? 

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Rising Pro

Stop Saying ‘Sorry’ at Work

“I’m sorry, can I have a minute of your time?’

‘Sorry, can you repeat that?’

‘Can I sit here? Sorry!’

Sound familiar?

I’ve been hearing the word ‘sorry’ a lot lately, from both men and women, and it’s been making me wonder; why is everyone apologizing so much?

I think most of us are saying ‘sorry’ without realizing it, it’s a default response. But this simple word we throw around like it makes us look good is actually hurting us.

Comedian Amy Schumer even made fun of how women specifically over-apologize in her sketch, “I’m Sorry.” Although funny, it’s also a little scary how close it is to the truth.

Constantly apologizing doesn’t make you look or feel good at work.

You may be thinking, ‘I don’t care what others think of me,’ but if you constantly come off as timid rather than confident, your boss is going to notice. As a result, you may not get the responsibility you want because to them it looks like you aren’t confident in yourself.

Saying ‘sorry’ also doesn’t make you feel good.

Whenever I apologize for something unnecessarily, I instantly feel submissive and like I’m taking up space. It isn’t good for your self-esteem or career if you constantly feel like this. You should be using words that help you feel more confident, not less.

So what should you say instead? It’s simple; drop the ‘sorry’ off your sentence.

Believe me, no one will miss it.

You can say each of the statements at the top of this post without apologizing and no one will think twice (try it).

You shouldn’t have to apologize for going about your day. Save ‘I’m sorry’ for when you actually need to use it.

Do you say ‘I’m sorry’ too much?

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Rising Pro

How to Help a New Hire Succeed

It’s hard starting a new job.

Everything is new, you’re not exactly sure where to go with questions and you often feel overwhelmed with all the information coming at you. But after a few months, you start to get your bearings, learn where to go for answers and feel more secure in your role.

I remember experiencing all of this recently when I started working at Salesforce this past summer. I went from confused to confident in a matter of months, but what made it easier was having coworkers who were willing to help me get up to speed. Without their guidance, I might still be lost!

Although it can be time consuming, annoying and even stressful to help out new hires, it’s important to remember how lost you felt on your first day, even during your first month. Just the thought of it will put you in the mindset to help someone feel confident as soon as possible.

But there’s something else you should keep in mind when offering help; don’t fall victim to the curse of knowledge.

The curse of knowledge is a “cognitive bias that leads better-informed parties to find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed parties,” (Wikipedia, July 2015).

Basically, it’s hard to remember what it’s like to not know what you already know. This happens more often than you think, especially if you’ve been working somewhere for a while.

But what seems obvious to you as a veteran employee may not be so obvious to a new hire. So when you’re addressing a question, make sure to give a comprehensive and clear answer that’s easy for anyone to understand, even someone outside your company. Here are some quick tips:

  • Don’t use internal acronyms or lingo unless you’re spelling them out
  • Give them some context
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Anticipate questions and address them in your response
  • Ask if everything makes sense

Also, although it may be hard at times, give people your full attention when addressing their questions. This will help you focus on providing more helpful insights and get them on their way faster, since they won’t have as many follow-up questions.

It’s easy to forget what it was like to be a new hire and how hard it can be, but try to always remember that feeling. Don’t let the curse of knowledge keep you from helping new coworkers be just as successful as you are.

How have you helped a new hire succeed?

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Rising Pro

Two Things I Learned From My First Dreamforce

Well, I survived my first Dreamforce.

The Golden State Warrior’s NBA Championship Trophy

I must say, it was one of the most stressful, yet amazing experiences of my career so far. Apart from being sleep deprived, developing some new blisters and being pulled in 100 different directions, it was so much fun to play a part in such a huge event.

In case you didn’t know, Dreamforce is an annual Salesforce event and is the largest software conference in the world. It brings in over 150,000 professionals to San Francisco from all over the globe to close deals, learn, promote their company, be inspired, network and give back.

My role leading up to Dreamforce was to manage all the main VIP speakers, including Actor Adrian Grenier, Fashion Designer Donna Karan, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Actress Patricia Arquette, The Honest Company Founder and Actress Jessica Alba, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Actress Goldie Hawn, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and many others.

On Stage Before the First Session
On Stage Before the First Session in YBCA

Once I got on site, my role shifted to production lead in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) Theater, where I helped produce sessions with the Golden State Warriors, Salesforce Chairman, CEO Marc Benioff & Salesforce Co-Founder Parker Harris, and five of the six Women’s Leadership Summit sessions, among others.

I was busy to say the least. But amidst all the craziness, I learned two very important lessons:

1) Let people help you

During the event, there were a lot of fire drills, unexpected requests and countless issues, but instead of trying to tackle everything by myself, I recruited the help of my team to address each challenge quickly and creatively. This helped calm my nerves and made me feel like I wasn’t alone in all the chaos. If even you think you can do everything, delegating will keep you sane and help you find solutions faster.

2) Don’t forget to enjoy your creation 

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

When I wasn’t running around backstage in 4-inch heels, I made sure to leave the building and take a walk among all the awe-struck attendees. It was a great way to take a step back and enjoy what I helped create, and also see the amazing effect Dreamforce had on its attendees. This gave me a new perspective and also helped me reboot and stay focused throughout the event.

Although I learned a lot and it was an amazing experience, I’m so glad Dreamforce is over so I can start focusing on the next big event!

700+ Person Audience
Jam-Packed Sessions in YBCA


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Rising Pro

You Are What You Wear

What do you wear to work?

The answer is a little bit different for everyone.

Just looking around on your way to work, you can see dozens of different looks. Some professionals are suited up, others are upscale casual and some are rocking a T-shirt and jeans.

Even though some people are a little less polished than others in the workplace, they are usually just as smart, productive and successful, if not more, than their pencil-skirt, collared-shirt wearing counterparts.

But like it or not, what you wear at work can impact how others perceive you.

Who would you respect more?

I can still remember meeting one of my first managers who didn’t care what he wore.

Before we were introduced, I imagined meeting someone who was put together and wearing something that made others respect him, like a tailored jacket, a crisp button down shirt or some nice dress shoes. But I was met with something quite different. He was wearing a sweatshirt, jeans and running shoes. I remember thinking; ‘How can I look up to someone who’s wearing a hoodie?’

Harsh, I know, but it really was my first thought.

As time went on, I came to respect him for his experience and management skills, but that initial meeting made a big impact on my perception of him.

Every time you walk out your door to go to work, think about the statement you’re making with your clothes and ask yourself if you’re ok with it.

My rule of thumb is this; if I’m not coming into contact with anyone outside of my organization, i.e. conducting a meeting, job interview or meeting a business contact for lunch or coffee, it’s alright to dress down for the day. Although I also like to dress professionally around my colleagues, they’re less likely to judge me on my outfit compared to a client or potential new hire.

Even though you may not care what others think about your work outfit, sometimes what they think can affect your career.

Do you think what you wear at work matters?

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Rising Pro

Three Thoughts From Nathan Clapp

Nathan ClappThis past week, I had an e-mail exchange with Nathan Clapp, who is an art director at PJA Advertising and Marketing. Originally from Boston, Nathan moved to San Francisco in January 2015 after PJA, headquartered in Cambridge, offered him a job opportunity in its SF office.

Now seven months later, I decided to see how he’s doing and ask him a few questions for my ‘Three Thoughts‘ series, where I quickly connect with rising professionals and get their candid insights on career-related questions.

1. What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career and did it work out?

The biggest risk in my short career has been moving [to San Francisco], of course.

I was feeling anxious for some sort of change in life for about a year or so before my move. I knew I wanted to do something bigger than I had before, so when I got an offer to work in San Francisco, I sort of just jumped on it. In hindsight, I don’t think I ever fully grasped how much of a change that it would actually be, but I think that’s honestly the best way to go into a situation like this. Moving here put me in an entirely new mindset. I’m no longer trying to plan my future so diligently, that never leads to anything good. You end up regretting all the things you’re not doing, instead of enjoying what you are.

But my big decision to move to San Francisco stems from a lot of smaller risks that all laddered up to get me here. The company I work for now [PJA] I actually left about a year ago. I was not getting paid enough in the Cambridge office, and when I got an offer for a better paying job in Boston, I decided to take it. It was only 3 months later that PJA came back to me and offered me this new job in San Francisco with a raise on top of that! It just goes to show how important it is to leave a company on a good note.

2. Would you still work if you had all the money in the world? 

I would definitely still work, and I’m not just saying that to sound humble. I would just be too bored otherwise. I think work is good for us, I think it’s stimulating and rewarding. You can definitely work too much, and of course not all jobs are as stimulating as others, but I think it’s good to work. If I had all the money in the world though, the question is, what would I want to work on?

3. What do you think is the best way to stand out at work?

Keep your cool as much as you can. I try to be someone who people feel is consistent. I have had people tell me how much they appreciate how I can deal with situations without getting heated up or lashing out at others. It makes people want to work with you more, and that’s definitely a good thing, in any field.

Interested in connecting with Nathan? Find him on LinkedIn.

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Rising Pro

How to Leave a Job with Grace

I can’t believe it’s already been a week since my last day at MSLGROUP (If you haven’t heard, I’ve taken a job at Salesforce).

Making a career change is exciting and emotional. It’s also very easy to mentally ‘check out’ of your current job and put all your energy toward the prospect of a new one. But just because you’re moving on doesn’t mean you should slack off.

I will admit, as soon as I gave notice I starting feeling detached from my work. However, I made a conscious effort to make a graceful exit so I could keep my relationships and reputation intact.

To ensure you leave a positive, lasting impression on your company, here are a few simple ways you can leave a job with grace:

  • Develop solid handoff documents: Some companies require employees to develop handoff documents when they leave, other don’t. But regardless of what’s required, you should always develop them. Giving your colleagues a clear guide to what you’ve been working on and next steps will make them respect you even more and show them that you’re a true professional. Even if you don’t think your company or colleagues deserve a handoff document, don’t burn any bridges on the way out. Give them something to work from after you leave.
  • Send thank you notes: If you’ve worked somewhere for at least a few months, chances are you’ve probably had a boss or colleague you really admire or like working with. Make sure you tell them how much they mean to you in writing. Sending a personalized e-mail or letter to a manager or coworker is a great way to cement your existing relationships and share how much they mean to you and your career.
  • Always say goodbye: When your last day finally comes, don’t slink out of the office. Make an effort to say goodbye to your colleagues in person. If you’re remote, send out a mass e-mail and/or pick up the phone. Saying goodbye is a simple way to leave a good impression on your way out the door.

How else can you leave a job with grace?

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Rising Pro

Goodbye MSLGROUP, Hello Salesforce

I have a big announcement.

After almost two years at MSLGROUP San Francisco, I’ve decided to take an amazing opportunity at Salesforce.

For those of you who don’t know, Salesforce is a global cloud computing company, headquartered in San Francisco. It’s best known for its customer relationship management (CRM) solution, which helps companies track and communicate with current and prospective customers. Salesforce has been recognized as the world’s most innovative company four years in a row by Forbes, and was named one of the “Best Places to Work” by FORTUNE. 

It’s an exciting change not only because it’s an awesome company, but also because I’m taking on a whole new type of role. I will be a keynote events manager, which means I will be on the team that plans and executes keynote presentations at major Salesforce events, including Dreamforce. The job is fast-paced, requires a lot of travel and provides the opportunity to work with senior executives.

Some of you may be thinking, what about PR? After a few years of soul searching, I’ve come to the realization that PR is not my true passion. Although I’ve learned a lot of great skills that I can take with me to any job, I have found that event management is what truly makes me happy. My last day at MSLGROUP is Thursday, July 2.

Leaving MSL will be bittersweet; it’s an amazing company that goes out of its way to help its employees succeed, learn and have fun. I have learned so many invaluable lessons from some truly brilliant people and I will never forget my time there. With that said, I’m happy to be moving on to a company that I’ve aspired to work at for years.

After submitting dozens of applications without success, completing a full round of interviews but not being selected, and then interviewing again for this position, I’ve learned one important lesson; persistence pays off. If you want something, don’t give up on it. Keep trying and don’t let setbacks discourage you. Believe me, it will pay off.

I would like to extend a special thank you to my friend, Kristen Boyen, who has worked at Salesforce for five years. She has been an amazing confidant and resource during my entire application process and I am forever grateful. I appreciate all the support and well wishes I’ve received thus far, and I look forward to sharing my adventures at Salesforce with all of you.

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Rising Pro

Three Must-Read Books for Summer

There’s nothing I love more than curling up after a long day at work and reading a non-fiction business book.

This may seem a little strange, but hear my out.

Reading business books in your free time may sound boring, but there are some great reads out there that have nothing to do with dragons, wizards, love affairs with billionaires or vampire romances. I’ve read dozens of them over the years and have found many to be entertaining, enlightening and an amazing career development tool.

Although many of us don’t like to think (or read) about work when we’re off the clock, there’s something satisfying about uncovering new ways to conduct business, advance and thrive in your career.

Summer is the perfect time to start a new book; why not read one that will benefit your career?

Recently, I’ve read three books I think are worthy of reading this summer. Each of them have challenged me to look at my idea of success, career and life in a whole new way.

1. Thrive: I absolutely love this book! Author Arianna Huffington makes a compelling case for the need to redefine success in today’s world, and candidly shares her own challenges with managing time, career priorities and raising two daughters. The book cites the latest groundbreaking research and scientific findings in the fields of psychology, sports, sleep, and physiology that show the profound and transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness, unplugging and giving. This book is a must read for men and women, and has totally changed how I think about success in career and life.

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People: I have been hearing about this book for years, so I finally decided to read it. It really has stood the test of time. Written by Dale Carnegie in 1936, the book has since been updated over the years to include more modern phrases and examples. There are so many ‘life hacks’ in this book for dealing with people and getting what you want, it’s uncanny. Filled with countless anecdotes, and formatted for quick-reference, it’s one of those books that will change your life.

3. Drive: This book really opened my eyes to what actually motivates people in business and life. Spoiler alert, it’s not money. Drawing from scientific research on human motivation, author Daniel Pink exposes what science knows about motivation, which challenges what companies do to motivate employees. He examines the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery and purpose—and offers techniques for putting these into action. This book is a quick read and very helpful if you’re in management.

What other business books should we be reading this summer?

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Rising Pro

Advice to New Grads on Finding a Dream Job

Last weekend, I attended my good friend Lorel Grande‘s graduation from Dominican University.

Lindsay_LorelAlthough she finished her Master of Science in counseling psychology back in December 2014, it was still fun to attend her special day and see her handed a diploma after years of hard work.

Although some graduation ceremonies are brutally long, they can also be nostalgic and inspiring. I found myself sharing stories about my own graduation and thinking about how I felt that day. It was a mix of achievement, happiness and fear of the unknown.

I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who found a job right out of college. But I was dead set on finding my dream job as fast as possible. I started my career as an office assistant at an organic pork ranch in Chico, CA. Not what you would call a dream job, but it allowed me to support myself while I looked for my ideal role.

Six months later, I landed a marketing position at a healthcare software company. After nearly three years, I wanted to see what else was out there and decided to make use of my degree in public relations. Now, one and a half years and two promotions later, I’ve grown as a professional and accomplished a lot, but I still don’t feel like I’ve found my true calling yet.

As I sat in the audience last weekend, listening to speeches filled with advice for the new grads, I starting thinking about what advice I would give them.

Looking back at my career over the past five years, it dawned on me. I would tell new grads, “Don’t worry if you don’t find your dream job right away.”

We all want to find our purpose and be in a job we love. But for many of us, that’s not a reality until later in our careers, when we’ve had many experiences and learned what makes us happy in the workplace. I’ve learned a lot from my non-dream jobs. They have all taught me so much and helped me realize what’s important to me and where my strengths lie.

If you find your dream job right out of school, you’re one of the lucky ones. If you’re still looking:

  • Take every job experience seriously and learn as much as you can.
  • Never stop looking and exploring your options.
  • Think about what kind of work is truly important to you.
  • Identify your biggest strengths and let them lead you to your calling.
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself. If you’re patient and persistent, it will happen.

Your career is a journey, enjoy the ride.

What advice would you give new grads?

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