Archive for May 2010

Is This Good Or Bad? You Decide… (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 28, 2010

We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we respond to what happens to us; we ultimately have the final say on whether any incident is “good” or “bad”… 

It was a beautiful fall day in October 2009, and I was leaving the gym after a nice Sunday morning work-out.  It was noon, there was not a cloud in the sky, and the temperature was a nice, breezy 75 degrees.  It was perfect convertible weather.

I got into my car, put the top down on my convertible, and began a nice, leisurely drive back to my house.

Several minutes later, I was stopped at a light and I happened to glance behind me.  I noticed something on the cushion right behind the driver’s seat.  After closer inspection, I realized that a bird had decided to leave me a “present.”  Immediately, I got really annoyed.  I thought to myself, “Wow, how unlucky is that?  It landed on my backseat!  I can’t believe I’m gonna have to clean that up!”

The light turned green, and I started to drive the remaining distance back to my house.  I asked myself what good could come from what had just happened, and I started to laugh out loud.

I suddenly realized how lucky I was that the bird had used my backseat as its toilet.  This was actually a great thing!

Why was this “good?”  Well, if the bird had aimed about 2 feet further north, it would have crapped on my head…

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises


1 Word Your Boss NEVER Wants to Hear (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 27, 2010

As a new employee, you want to give the impression that you have everything under control.  It is certainly okay to ask for help occasionally, but you should always try to solve problems on your own first, and if/when you ask for help, stay calm! 

Several years ago when I worked for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, I was in a private meeting with one of the team’s Senior Vice Presidents at 3:15 pm on a Thursday afternoon.  The door to his office was closed, and we were discussing a new business development project. 

As someone knocked on the door to the office, the SVP rolled his eyes, and said, “Come in.” 

One of the sales department’s newer employees entered, and he was visibly flustered.  He said, “Rick, I have a disaster, and I really need your help.  My client is in the lobby.  He wants to pick up 2 tickets for tonight’s 7pm game, and they have not been printed yet.  I’m flipping out.  What should I do?!” 

Rick looked at him calmly and said, “Jeremy, have you gone to the customer service department and asked them to print the tickets for you?” 

Jeremy responded, “No, I guess I hadn’t thought of that.  Thanks for your help.” 

When my colleague left the office, the Senior Vice President looked at me and said, “I have no idea why he called that a ‘disaster’ and why he needed my help to figure out what to do.  That guy needs to get his act together.” 

Lesson #1: If your boss’ office door is closed, you better have a really good reason for interrupting him. 

Lesson #2: Choose your words carefully.  Your boss NEVER wants to hear that you have a “disaster,” especially if you just have a minor problem that you should have been able to fix on your own. 

Thanks for reading!  

-Pete Leibman  

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises

A “Great” Answer to a Tough Interview Question (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 25, 2010

“Whether someone is the ‘right person’ has more to do with character traits and innate capabilities than with specific knowledge, background, or skills.”

–Jim Collins in Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

You're Hired!

I recently read Good to Great, which is widely considered to be one of the best business/leadership books of all-time, with over 3 million copies in print.  Through extensive research, Collins and his team proved, among other things, that the best companies in the world became “great” because they focused on hiring people based on applicants’ personality attributes and inherent abilities rather than hiring people based on their learned knowledge or skills.  Unfortunately, few companies subscribe to this philosophy.

If I was in a job interview and someone told me (or implied) that I was not “qualified,” I would respond by referencing Collins’ research and the quote above.  Then, I would use a few specific examples to demonstrate how I had certain qualities that would make me very likely to succeed if hired for the position I was applying for.

Will this work every time?  Of course not!  However, isn’t it much better than agreeing that you are not qualified?

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises

4 Tips to Make Sure Facebook Does Not Hurt Your Career! (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 24, 2010

Note: This would not be a good profile picture for your Facebook page!

A 2009 study by Microsoft showed that 70% of hiring managers have rejected a job candidate based on what they found when looking the candidate up online.  Another recent study showed that nearly 10% of U.S. companies have fired someone due to online behavior.  Here are 4 quick tips to make sure your career does not suffer because of your activity on Facebook:

  1. Use a professional profile picture.  You don’t have to be in a suit, but your picture should still represent you well.  In other words, it’s not a great idea to use a picture of yourself from a recent “pimps and hoes” costume party that you attended!
  2. Keep your privacy settings strict.  Employers are only looking at your page to see if there is a reason to disqualify you; except for your profile picture, keep your entire page private to people who are not “friends” with you.
  3. Assume that everything (pictures and content) on your page can be seen by everyone.  Just because your profile is set to private does not mean that an employer still can’t access your profile.  My younger brother interviewed for an internship position back in 2005 (when Facebook was in its infancy), and he had his profile set to private, except for people in his network.  (At that time, his network was “Villanova University.”) He was stunned when the hiring person told him that one of the company’s employees had been able to access to his page.
  4.  Assume that everything you post on other Facebook pages can be seen by everyone.  One of my former employees for the Washington Wizards ended up as a headline on last week for posting an inappropriate message on another Facebook page.   In addition to the extreme embarrassment he has experienced within the company, it remains to be seen what punishment he will receive from management.

You can still have fun on Facebook, but you have to be smart about it.  Assume that anything on your Facebook page and anything you post on other pages can be seen by EVERYONE.  Otherwise, you run the risk of missing out on job opportunities or even getting fired after you have been hired! 

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises

5 Easy Ways to Start Networking and Stop “Net-lurking” (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 21, 2010

Don't stand in the corner alone at networking events!


Have you ever gone to a networking event by yourself and stood in the corner nervous about how to start conversations with people you don’t know?  If the answer is “no,” then you have either never gone to a networking event alone or you are a liar! 

You should be going to networking events on your own so that you are forced to talk to people you don’t know.  Here are 5 ways to break the ice: 

  1. The registration table opener: Introduce yourself to the person at the registration table and tell him/her that it is your first time attending the event.  He/she will likely introduce you to several people you can talk to.
  2. The host opener: Introduce yourself to the person in charge of the organization hosting the event.  Chances are that this person knows most (or all) of the people in the room, and he/she is likely a very friendly person who would welcome the opportunity to introduce you to others.
  3. The food opener: There are always people milling around the food/drinks area of any networking event.  Look for an opportunity to break the ice with someone grabbing something to eat or drink.
  4. The savior opener: Look for someone else who also seems to be alone and walk over and introduce yourself.
  5. The group opener: Walk up to a group of 3 or more people and ask if you can “join” them.  When 2 people are engaged in conversation, it is not a good idea to interrupt, but if there is a group of 3 or more people, chances are that they will welcome 1 more person.

Several upcoming blog posts will discuss additional strategies for effective networking.  For now, just get the conversation started! 

Thanks for reading! 

-Pete Leibman 

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises

The first call is the hardest! (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 20, 2010

I was not this happy about making my first "cold call." But, I did it anyway!

I remember June 19, 2003 like it was yesterday.  It was my 2nd day working for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, and I was about to make my first “cold call” (aka telemarketing sales call).

As I prepared to dial the prospect’s phone number, I felt a huge knot form in my stomach, and I felt my heart rate shoot up.  My workspace was in ear-shot of about 10 colleagues, so everyone around me would hear every word I said on the call.  All sorts of “what if” worries swirled through my head.  “What if I say something stupid?”  “What if I don’t know what to say?”  “What if the person on the other end of the line hangs up on me?”

I dialed the number, desperately hoping that the person on the other end of the line would not pick up, allowing me to leave a phone message instead.  Unfortunately, I was met with “Hello?”

The next 2 minutes were a blur, but I managed to speak.  The prospect ultimately said she was “not interested,” but she was polite.  I thought to myself, “that actually was not that bad.” 

Let’s fast-forward three years to June 19, 2006.  It had been 3 years since the day of my first cold call.  Since my start, I had made thousands of calls, and the year before, I had ranked as the company’s #1 Salesperson out of a staff of 25 sales reps.  That morning, I was seated at my same workspace, preparing for the day ahead of me, and the director of inside sales for the Wizards came over to my cubicle to introduce a new colleague to me.  He asked me to teach her how to make a cold call. 

As I made the call, I felt completely different than I did on that same day 3 years earlier.  There was no knot in my stomach, and my heart rate stayed constant.  That morning, I actually wanted the prospect to pick up the phone.  I was prepared and I was confident.  I had faced a fear head-on, and I had run right through it.   Telemarketing had “slowed down” for me to use a phrase often uttered by NFL QB’s after their first few years in the league.

The only “what if” that entered my mind that morning was “What if I had never made that first call?”

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises

Don’t Be THAT Guy (Or Girl)… (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 19, 2010
Keep one in your desk at work…and use it after lunch every day!
  When I worked for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, management sent out memos to the ENTIRE company on 2 separate occasions to report that HR had received multiple complaints from employees about body odor and bad breath problems amongst the staff.

Do you want to know the scariest part about this?

Right after the first time the memo was sent to staff, one of the biggest culprits in the “B.O.” department came running over to my workspace.  Hysterically laughing, he said, “Pete, can you believe that people aren’t showering before work?!  I wonder who management is talking about!”  I chose not to break him the bad news, and I simply replied that I did not know either…

The second time the memo was sent to staff, it was sent out by a manager who was notorious for having bad breath!  The staff got a big kick out of that one since this guy was not even taking his own advice.

It sounds extremely obvious to mention that you should keep your hygiene under check in the office, but it is worth mentioning since there is always at least 1 person in every office (sometime several people unfortunately) with a body odor and/or bad breath problem.

Do yourself and your colleagues a favor and shower before work each day, go light on any perfumes or colognes, and keep a toothbrush in your desk drawer at work so that you can brush your teeth after lunch each day… especially if you eat something with garlic in it!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises