Archive for May 2010

Who are you hanging out with at work? (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 17, 2010

Stop hanging out with the wrong people at work!


It was August 2003, and I was 2 months into my tenure working in the sales department for the NBA’s Washington Wizards.  An afternoon staff meeting had been called by Team President, Susan O’Malley; the plan was for Susan to meet with the sales staff to discuss several new policies and for us to brainstorm new strategies for the upcoming season. 

I happened to walk to the meeting that day with one of my colleagues named Mike (not his real name), and I sat next to him once the meeting began.  In total, there were 30 people seated around a large table in a conference room. 

At the meeting, Susan told the staff about a new commission policy that was unfortunately going to reduce each person’s earning potential for the following season. 

Mike raised his hand and said the following: 

“Susan, I do not understand the philosophy of this organization.  Why does the company always look for ways to nickel-and-dime us every chance they get?” 

There was complete silence in the room, as 29 heads turned to Susan to see her response.  However, being the pro that she was, she remained calm, as she politely thanked Mike for his comment and explained the policy 1 more time.  Then, we moved on to another topic. 

I remember sitting in the meeting being blown away that my colleague had the nerve to question the President of the company in front of the entire staff.  However, I learned a bigger lesson that afternoon when one of the older sales reps came over to me and asked if he could talk to me for a moment.  

We walked to a quiet spot in the office, and he asked me what I thought of Mike’s comment.  I responded by saying that I could not believe what he had said. 

My colleague then gently reminded me that I had walked into the meeting with Mike, sat next to Mike, and left with Mike as well.  He pointed out that Susan did not know me, given that I was a new employee, and he added that it would be wise for me to keep my distance from Mike in the future.  He said that it was just a matter of time before Mike either left the company or got fired, and that I could potentially be lumped in with Mike if senior management saw me hanging out with him often. 

In summary, be VERY careful who you are seen with at work!  Fair or unfair, we all make judgments about other people based on who we see them with.  Especially when you are a new employee, make sure to surround yourself with people who are respected at work.  You cannot avoid certain people altogether, but when going to meetings, office parties, networking events, and so on, you can always control who you go with and who you hang out with.  Make sure you aren’t hanging out with anyone who has an attitude like Mike did! 

Thanks for reading! 

-Pete Leibman 

President of Idealize Enterprises 

College Speaker and Career Expert for Gen Y


A Mistake at Work Can be a Good Thing… (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 11, 2010

Mistakes at work are going to happen, and when they do, you can try to run away from them and allow them to hurt your career, OR you can use them to advance your career.  In other words, an honest mistake can be a good thing IF you handle it the right way.

When I was working for the Washington Wizards, I had a new VIP account who was taking his daughter to an upcoming game to celebrate her 7th birthday.  When he mentioned this to me, I suggested that we have a “Happy Birthday” wish appear on the scoreboard at halftime of the game.  We both agreed that she would be excited to see her name up in lights.

I followed my company’s protocol for entering the message into the scoreboard, but the following week, my client emailed me and said he was disappointed that they never saw it.

While it is quite possible that my client and his daughter just missed the message (it would only have been on the screen for 1-2 seconds), I decided to use the mistake as an opportunity to demonstrate how much I cared about him as a person and customer.

So, I got approval from our Vice President to get my client 2 free front-row tickets to another game, and we also allowed my client’s daughter to be an honorary ball-girl for that game, allowing her to hang out on the court with the players for 15 minutes before tip-off.

The day after that game, my client emailed me to thank me and tell me how much he appreciated my gesture.  Several weeks later, he also emailed the President of the franchise to tell her how impressed he was with me, and he joked that he was going to “hire me away from them” if the Wizards did not take good care of me.  Our President cc’ed me on her email reply and thanked him for the kind words, as she politely told him to stay away from me!  It’s not a bad feeling to have 2 very successful people fighting over your services!

In conclusion, an honest mistake can be a GOOD thing if you use it as an opportunity to make a relationship stronger.  Rather than trying to run away from the mistake with my client, I looked at it as a way to grow the relationship. 

On a side-note, that client’s company tripled their investment with our team the next season, and they spent almost $200,000 on tickets with the Wizards in 2009-2010 alone, which was 10 times as much as what they spent with the team that first year we worked together!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

President of Idealize Enterprises

College Speaker and Career Expert for Gen Y

The Easiest Way to Impress Your Boss (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 10, 2010

Do you know how long you should be in the office every day?

In 2008, I worked for the best boss of my professional career.  Tom was smart, successful, and professional, and he invested a significant amount of time and energy into developing his employees.  He also gave us a lot of freedom to do our jobs independently.  In other words, he was there when we needed him, but he was not a micro-manager.

The company I worked for with Tom had a standard “9-5” schedule, so employees were allowed to leave at 5pm each weekday. 

One afternoon, I was in Tom’s office for a 4:30pm conference call that ran late. 

When the clock hit 5pm, Tom and I watched 4 people immediately get up and start making their ways to the door. (If you have ever worked in a corporate environment, you know that when people are “allowed” to leave for the day, it’s basically a mad sprint to see who can get out the door the fastest.)

When our call concluded, Tom looked at me and said, “Pete, you know that I give people their space at work and that I’m a very laid-back boss, but nothing annoys me more than people who can’t get out of here fast enough when the clock hits 5 pm.  If they are looking at their watch all day counting down until they can go home, why don’t they do me a favor and do themselves a favor by finding another job.  I want people who actually want to work here.”

Given that this was the angriest I saw Tom in the 12 months I worked for him, this moment really stood out to me.  It also made me wonder how much the typical, micro-manager boss hates it when people leave at 5 pm on the dot every day.

When I speak to students and young professionals, I end this story by asking them what time they think I left work that day, and I ALWAYS get the same answers.  Students raise their hands and guess that I left at 6 pm, or 7 pm, or even as late as 9-10pm.

However, while I certainly had my days when I stayed until 6pm or 7pm to get a project done for Tom, the truth is that I left that day (and most other days as well) around 5:15 pm.

You don’t need to work a 15-hour day to impress your boss!  Just get to work 10-15 minutes early, leave 10-15 minutes late, and use a little less than your full time allotted for lunch, and you will be putting in more time in the office than 95% of your company.  You’ll also give your boss the impression that you want to work there, even if you really don’t.  A little extra effort goes a long way in gaining the respect of your boss!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

President of Idealize Enterprises

College Speaker and Career Expert for Gen Y

How do you get hired and promoted at your dream job right after college?

May 9, 2010

This will be the theme for my book which will be finished in 2010.  My tentative title is: 

Keep it S.I.M.P.L.E., Students!  The S.I.M.P.L.E. Way to Get Your Dream Job and Advance Your Career Right After College!” 

Details to follow soon… 

-Pete Leibman  

President of Idealize Enterprises  

College Speaker and Career Expert for Gen Y

Be careful with what you write in your emails! (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 7, 2010
When used incorrectly, email can endanger your career…

While employed at a previous job, I received an email one afternoon from one of my colleagues. The email was entitled, “New account”  and said the following:

                “Hey Pete, I noticed you just inherited the account for Bill Jenkins  [note: this was not his real name].  I just wanted to let you know what a jerk he is.  He is very dishonest, always telling me that I promised him things I never did.  You really have to be careful around this guy. Let me know if you have any questions.”

After reading this message, I happened to notice that someone else had also been cc’ed on the email.


It was Bill Jenkins of course… My colleague had mistakenly cc’ed the person she was complaining about!

I called her up immediately to break the bad news.  As one might expect, she freaked out.  “Oh, no!  What do I do now?”

She then decided to send him another email, claiming that she had been speaking of another “Bill.”  I’m sure he bought that…

Email is a terrific tool that allows us to be much more efficient and productive IF used correctly.  Sending an email for something trivial is a smart use of time (i.e. “John, I received your fax.  Thanks.”)

However, email should NEVER be used for something that could be misconstrued or for something controversial or negative. 

In addition to the fact that people get cc’ed on emails accidentally (this happens more often than you might think), we can accidentally hit send before completing an email, and we also lose control over our emails after sending them out: they can be forwarded to other people.

Do you want to guarantee that you never make the mistake my colleague did that day?  Then, do not type the email address of the recipient of your email until you have written the entire email and proofread it one time.  Make sure you are being careful with your emails!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

President of Idealize Enterprises

College Speaker and Career Expert for Gen Y

Assume people are always watching…because they are! (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 6, 2010
You are always being watched at work!

In 2008, I fulfilled a lifelong dream to travel to Africa to do a safari.  I got 10 days off from work, took a 16-hour plane ride from Washington, D.C., to Johannesburg, South Africa, and then I took 2 more flights to get to Moremi Reserve in Botswana.  I stayed at a very secluded private lodge that only had 15 guests at a time. 

One afternoon, I enjoyed lunch outside as a boat pulled up to the shore right next to me with the following night’s guests.  As the group of 10 people walked over to me, I could not believe my eyes.  1 of the 10 people was a girl who played in my co-ed softball league!  I had gone halfway across the world and I still ran into someone I knew…and I’m really not that popular! 

 What does this have to do with your career? 

If you think you can get away with something at work because your boss is not standing right next to you or because your boss left early for the day, you are out of your mind! 

People are always watching you, and people you know are always around.  

Never do anything at work that you would not feel comfortable with other people knowing about.  You’ll be less stressed about anyone finding out, and you’ll always make decisions that serve your best interests. 

 Thanks for reading!  

-Pete Leibman  

President of Idealize Enterprises  

College Speaker and Career Expert for Gen Y  

What can students learn from the Gilbert Arenas gun scandal? (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

May 6, 2010
When you mess up, fess up! Don’t joke about it…

What can students entering the workforce learn from Gilbert Arenas, the Washington Wizards’ NBA star who admitted to storing firearms in his locker room at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.?

Well, first of all, you can learn that it’s not a good idea to bring guns to work.  Hopefully, you already knew that though!

On a more serious note, the main lesson to be learned here is that when you make a mistake at work, you need to handle it the right way.

The picture to the right was taken 2 weeks after the Washington Post reported the “gun incident,” and it shows Gilbert in a huddle with his teammates, mocking the incident and laughing, while pretending his hands were guns.

Unlike Gilbert and his teammates, the commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, didn’t find this image very funny, and Gilbert was promptly suspended for the rest of the NBA season, a move that resulted in Gilbert losing over $10 million in salary. 

Since then, Gilbert has also lost endorsement deals, been sentenced to time in a halfway house, and lost a lot of respect from fans across the world.  Although unlikely, it is also possible that his entire contract could be voided by the Wizards (a deal worth over $100 million).

Had he owned up to his mistake right away, been contrite, and used the situation as an opportunity to improve himself,  his financial loss, punishment, and fall-out with fans would have been much less severe.

When you are in the workplace, and you make a mistake, you have 2 choices.  You can either joke about what you did and try to pretend it was not big deal or you can own up to it, apologize, take responsibility, and vow to get better.  When you mess up, fess up, and do it right away.  You’ll be able to move on much more easily!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

President of Idealize Enterprises

College Speaker and Career Expert for Gen Y