Archive for June 2010

Keep Your Cool! (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

June 29, 2010

It was Wednesday, December 6, 2006, and my breaking point was getting closer and closer. 

In less than 48 hours, there would be nearly 3,000 students attending my Sports Careers Day event for the NBA’s Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center, and there was still a lot that needed to be done. 

Nearly half of the attendees for the event had registered after our requested deadline, and it would have been a logistical nightmare for all of those tickets to be picked up on game-day.  As a result, I still had to “fed-ex” 1,500 tickets all over the mid-Atlantic area, and it had to happen within a matter of hours.

In hindsight, the Wizards probably should have had 5 people in charge of this event, but I was doing nearly all of it on my own.  Given my very limited time and my very lengthy to-do list, I was desperate for help.

In fact, I was so desperate that I asked our lead receptionist at that time if she would “fed-ex” 25 batches of tickets for me.

It seemed like a reasonable request to me, but given this woman’s miserable attitude, I should not have been surprised by her response: “That’s not part of my job.”

That was it.  Breaking point surpassed!

It was definitely not the first time she had been rude to me or a customer (I don’t know why she was the receptionist either!), so I responded with a snide remark: “Yes, I know you are really busy answering phones.  Please excuse me for asking for help, especially when you have so much to do.” I then walked back to my cubicle (it was only about 10 feet away from her desk), and I started talking to myself out loud in an attempt to relieve some of my anger.  “I am too $#@&!% nice.  Maybe that’s my problem,” I proclaimed.

The next few minutes were a blood-boiling blur.  All I remember is the receptionist saying, “You better watch how you talk to me, or else you’re gonna have a problem,” to which I responded, “Are you threatening me?  I wasn’t even talking to you!”

After our argument subsided, I stepped outside for 10 minutes to cool down. I then came back to the office and finished the job with the help of an intern, a student who earned MAJOR points with me that day by volunteering to help however she could.

The next morning, our Vice President called me into his office to discuss the situation.  He considered firing the receptionist, but I  insisted that he did not.  We moved on as amicably as possible, and she was actually transferred to another department 1 month later. 

I acknowledged with my boss that I should not have lost my temper, and I thought the issue was forgotten.  However, my next performance review told a different story.

The year before, our Vice President had written in my review that I was the “smartest, most creative, hardest-working sales rep we have had in 15 years.”  This time, my review was complimentary, but it also stated that I needed to “improve attitude toward colleagues.”

While that incident certainly didn’t ruin my reputation, it was definitely not forgotten by senior management, and it did some damage to my image at work. 

So… what do you do when (not if) you are confronted with a situation at work that makes you feel like you are going to explode? 

You should excuse yourself and step outside for a few minutes to cool down and gather your thoughts.  Passion for your job is integral for success, but  keep that passion positive, and never let it turn into anger!  Remain in control of your emotions at all times, no matter how hard that may be.

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

– Career Expert and College Speaker


How to Handle a Conflict with a Colleague (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

June 28, 2010

Conflicts at work are inevitable.  Make sure you handle them the right way!

When I worked in sales for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, we had a computer database shared by the department’s 20-30 sales reps.  We had to enter full contact information for each of our customers and prospects, and we also had to track our discussions with our accounts.  These policies were in place so that management could check our progress at any time and so that we did not have multiple people calling on the same customer.  Nonetheless, the system was far from perfect.

During my first season with the team, I was trying to establish a program with a youth leadership organization.  One day, I looked up my account in our database, and I noticed that one of my colleagues had set up a separate account for the same exact organization.  Her account also indicated that she had recently spoken with one of the group’s leaders. 

Annoyed at what I assumed was a blatant attempt to “steal” my customer, I chose not to approach her professionally and ask what was going on.  Instead, I went directly to my manager for his opinion.

In a questionable management move (note: your boss will make mistakes also!), my manager approached my colleague’s manager about the situation, and her manager then told her about my concerns.  Later that afternoon, she stormed over to my cubicle and started yelling at me, asking why I was telling people that she had “stolen” my account.

After things cooled down, I met with her and the 2 managers, and we amicably resolved the situation.  She had not seen my account when she created hers, and she recognized that she should have not contacted the group.

Do you want to avoid unnecessary arguments at work AND get your colleagues to respect you?  Then, speak with them in-person about any conflicts (rather than going to your manager initially)!  While this will not always be comfortable, it is much more effective than trying to go around someone.  You will also save your boss from dealing with another headache.  Having said that, there will be times when you will need management to intervene.  Just try to resolve the issue with your colleague first!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

– Career Expert and College Speaker

The #1 Way to Deal With a Difficult Colleague (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

June 17, 2010

No matter where you work, it is virtually guaranteed that you will have to deal with difficult people.  Here is the #1 way to deal with a difficult colleague…

I once worked with a man named “John.”  (Note: that was not his real name.)  No one in the office liked him because of his negative, abrasive attitude, and when I met him for the first time, it was pretty clear how he had developed his reputation.  Not only was he unfriendly, he was actually rude.  He NEVER smiled, and everything about his body language and communication was a turn-off.  As a result, I tried to keep my interactions with him as brief and infrequent as possible.

Let’s fast-forward 2 months from my first interaction with him.  I was sitting in a meeting with John and several of my colleagues, and we were “pitching” an idea for a group from a local company.

 John had played a large role in what we were presenting, and our project manager noted his contribution in front of everyone.  The leader of the group from the other company loved John’s ideas, and he looked right at John and told him in front of the entire room that he was “absolutely brilliant.”

I will ALWAYS remember what I saw next.  It looked as if John went through instantaneous plastic surgery.  Several wrinkles in his face evaporated, the usual redness in his cheeks disappeared, and he flashed a smile (the first one I had ever seen from him) that could have gotten him a modeling gig for Colgate toothpaste. 

John was not a bad person.  He just needed some genuine appreciation!  He had gotten caught up in the vicious cycle of poor confidence leading to a poor attitude leading to poor relationships with other people leading to even poorer confidence.

Do you want to have a more pleasant relationship with a difficult colleague?  Then, find a way to give that person some genuine encouragement.  Chances are you’ll be the only one willing to try that approach, and you may just be the spark he/she needs to start living a more enjoyable, confident life…

-Pete Leibman

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises

6 Essential Do’s and Dont’s for Using to Advance Your Career (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

June 16, 2010

If you are not among the over 65 million professionals (worldwide) who currently have a profile on, or if you have explored the web site, but you have yet to fully embrace it as a dynamic career-building tool, you are putting yourself at a tremendous professional disadvantage. 

Every day, LinkedIn is used across the globe (for free) to (a) generate leads, gain referrals, and drive revenue, (b) strengthen relationships with current contacts and former colleagues, (c) form brand new relationships, (d) enhance one’s credibility and/or position oneself as an expert in a given field or on a given topic, (e) find new part-time or full-time job/career opportunities, (f) stay updated on relevant industry news and trends, and (g) conduct “market research,” exchange ideas, and tap into expertise from others.  Here is a very short list on the best and worst ways to unleash the site’s potential.

Do: Determine what you want to achieve by using (see above for major benefits).

Don’t use LinkedIn without first establishing your objectives.

Do: Invest at least a few hours into creating a thorough profile that represents you as positively as possible.  Include a professional headshot, quantifiable educational, professional, or charitable accomplishments, your specialties, a concise professional summary, papers, articles, or presentations you have created, and recommendations from colleagues, clients, and partners.  Think of LinkedIn as your online professional identity and make sure your profile is always fully updated.

Don’t create a partial or uninspired profile.  How do you think that reflects on you professionally?  I would argue that it’s better not to use the site at all (even though that would be a tremendous mistake) than to create a profile that is incomplete or unnecessarily modest.

Do: Maximize LinkedIn’s “Groups” feature which allows you to participate in up to 50 “networking” groups at any given time.  You should also add value to your groups by posting well-constructed responses to questions posed by other members, and you should start thoughtful discussion threads of your own as well.

Don’t spam members on a group or individual basis to promote yourself or your company’s products or services.  Such a strategy will turn off potential prospects or partners, and it’s against the “rules” of most groups. 

Do: Connect with EVERYONE you currently know (or previously worked with), while also using LinkedIn to expand your professional network. 

Don’t assume that it’s pointless to connect with someone with less experience than you or someone where there appears to be no immediate benefit.  You never know who/what someone else knows now or who/what they might know in the future.

Do: Engage in actual discussions with your connections. 

Don’t connect with someone just for the sake of increasing the number of connections you have.

Do: Devote certain times each week to using LinkedIn and track your progress based on your objectives.

Don’t allow yourself to wander aimlessly on LinkedIn without any direction.

When used correctly, can help advance your career to new heights.  Make sure you are maximizing its potential today!

-Pete Leibman

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises

2 Rules You MUST Follow During A Job Search (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

June 15, 2010


This is me speaking at a graduation event at Marymount University in Virginia

Last month, Marymount University in Virginia brought me to their campus to be the keynote speaker for a graduation event.  After the presentation, I had the opportunity to speak to a number of the students individually. 

One student approached me with his resume and said “Hi, I’m Mike.  Thanks for your presentation.  Can you send my resume out for me?”  He then handed me his resume.

I said, “Mike, who would you like me to send your resume to?”

He replied, “I don’t know.  I guess whoever you know who might have a job for me.”

After asking him if I could give him some advice, I told him that if he is going to ask someone for help, he has to make it easy for the person to help him.

Even if I wanted to use my free time to send his resume to people I knew (note: people you just met will NOT want to do that), I would have had no idea who to send it to! 

After I asked him a few more questions, he said that he would like to work in sports marketing.  Despite the fact that I was unimpressed with his first effort, he seemed like an honest, hard-working person, so I offered to connect him to the employee responsible for entry-level hiring for a local sports team.  I gave him my business card, and I told him to email me to discuss next steps.  It is now 6 weeks later, and he has still not sent me a note…

In summary, he did not follow 2 rules of the job search:

Rule #1: Never ask people to send your resume out for you.  That is YOUR job!  If you speak with a professional who may have connections that can help you find work, simply ask him if he knows anyone who might be able to advise you on breaking into a specific field.

Rule #2: If you are supposed to follow-up with someone, you better do it right away.  Being unreliable is a major turn-off in any professional (or personal) setting.

In summary, getting a job, especially your dream job, is more dependent on knowing how to ask for help and being reliable and thorough in your follow-up efforts.  Without that, it does not matter how high your GPA is, what school you went to, or how much internship/work experience you have.

-Pete Leibman

College Speaker and President of Idealize Enterprises

How to Respond to a Weird Interview Question (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

June 11, 2010

My younger brother, Matt, has been searching for a new job lately (note: his current boss is aware of this or else I would not mention it online!), and he has shared a number of entertaining stories with me from his various job interviews.  While I enjoyed the one about the executive who was drinking scotch (while interviewing my brother in his office during the afternoon), my favorite story revolves around one of the most bizarre questions I have ever heard in an interview setting.

Recently, my brother was asked, “If I told you to prepare 50 BLT’s, how would you do it?”  Since he was interviewing for a corporate sales job (and not a position at McDonald’s), he was understandably caught off-guard.  However, he answered by discussing how he would line up all the ingredients in an assembly line in order to be efficient.

This was a decent answer, but he could have done better. 

What I recommended in any situation where you are asked how to do something (especially when the “task” is not connected to the job you are applying for) is to remain calm, and then to ask the interviewer several questions before you answer.  This takes the pressure off you and shows your thought process.  For example, he could have asked the following questions (before formulating his answer):

1. How much time do I have to make the BLT’s?

2. What type of resources (i.e. help or equipment) do I have to make the BLT’s?

3. Who am I making the BLT’s for?

4. Would you like fries or shakes with that?  (A little humor is always a good thing…)

I guarantee that the interviewer had not prepared answers in advance to any of these questions, so it would have been fun to turn the tables and see him squirm.  However, the main reason for asking these questions is to demonstrate your curiosity, attention to detail, and creativity in solving problems. 

In summary, when presented with a weird interview question, use the “Triple-C approach” and be calm, confident, and curious.  The interviewer just wants to see how you react in an uncomfortable situation and how you think when presented with a challenge.

Good luck!

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

-Award-Winning Career Expert and College Speaker

20 Tips for Perfect Interview Preparation: Part IV (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

June 10, 2010

You have made it to the last post in our 4-part series, featuring 20 tips for perfect interview preparation. 

If you have followed our first 15 tips, you will have done all the appropriate research on the person and company interviewing you, you will have prepared your opening statement, closing statement, and the questions you plan to ASK in the interview, and you will have developed an arsenal of powerful stories that demonstrate why you should be hired.  The last step is to practice answering the remaining questions you are likely to be asked in the interview.  Here are tips #16-20 for perfect interview preparation:

16. Use a stopwatch.  Practice answering questions (and telling your stories) while timing yourself with a stop watch.  Make sure you are answering all questions within 60 seconds.

17. Talk into the mirror.  Practice by yourself in front of the mirror.  Make sure your body language is “saying” what you want it to say (i.e. that you are confident, genuine, and friendly).

 18. Record yourself.  Record yourself (i.e. audio and/or video) as you practice.  Then, play back the tape and listen to how you are answering the questions.  Make sure you are choosing your words carefully and using as few “filler” words as possible.  (“Filler” words are words such as “um,” “like,” and “ya know.”)

19. Practice with a friend you respect.  Have your friend do a mock interview with you, and get their feedback as well.

20. Do a real interview (for practice).  You will become a more confident, successful interviewer with practice.  Therefore, I recommend that you interview with a few companies you have no interest in working for.  It’s a great way to get ready for a real interview with a company you actually want to work for.

Once you hve followed tips #1-20, stop preparing and try to relax!

While you want to be prepared, you don’t want to sound like a robot in the interview.  The ultimate goal is to be confident (the result of being well-prepared) so that you can have a natural, effective conversation with the person(s) interviewing you.

 Congratulations!  You are now MUCH more prepared than your competition.  Go out there and get that job!

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

-Award-Winning Career Expert and College Speaker