Office Dress Decoding

Yesterday was Halloween. Some of us dressed up, some of us didn’t. But what about the other 364 days of “costuming” at the office? AlumniUBC recently hosted a career-focused fashion event, Dress for Success, at the newly re-vamped Park Royal in West Vancouver.  The event – part of their “The Next Step” series for recent graduates – brought together local fashion experts to talk about how what we wear can make or break our success in the workplace. Whether you’re a week-before outfit planner or you sit squarely in the “I-got-dressed-today” achievement class, there’s serious value in taking a second look at what your personal style might be saying about you. After all, the fashion police (aka HR, your boss, your co-workers) are in full-force 9am to 5pm; and when it comes to how you present yourself professionally, there are no days off. For the scuffed, wrinkled, stained and otherwise flood-ready of us, you can access the full-length event podcast here to undertake a total, personal fashion audit.  The podcast covers the in’s and outs of skirt lengths, shoe points, pant breaks, hem-lines, pleats vs. flat fronts, etc. For those of us just looking for a bit of a style-rule refresh, here is the highlight reel from the event’s panelists: Steven Schelling (Editor, Writer, Media Consultant, Stylist at THEY Rep, Fabulist) Catherine Dunwoody (Style Editor at CGA Magazine, stylist at TheyRep.com) JJ Lee (MArch’01, author of the memoir The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit, which was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award). Dressing up for the Interview Whether or not you’ll wear a suit and tie depends on the field. If the entire office is under 30, you might want to hold-off on the double-breasted jacket and hard-shell briefcase. Marketers and creatives have a bit more leeway when it comes to...

Love Monday #33 – Quick-Fix Your Work Week

This weekend Vancouver was fogged in by bad news on all sides. There was the canceled  Kayne West concert (who knew?), the report that British Columbians have become more rude (see Twitter feed on Kayne’s canceled show) and the loss of Vancouver’s favourite pirating site, isohunt.com. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure there are more than a few of us out there hoping for a big turnaround this week – starting today. Why not spend #LoveMonday learning something new…like how do VCs really work anyway? Or better yet, fix a problem… office infighting dragging you down? Here’s five ways to lift the fog and uncover your #StandApart week: Fix a problem: Does this sound like you? “In one of my jobs, I worked for a unit where we spent more time fighting with each other than we did thinking about how we were going to attack the marketplace.” Read more about the perils of ‘infighting’ and what you can do about it. … Get Inspired: Last week, WE Day rocked Vancouver’s under-16 age set. An initiative of Free the Children (founded by Canadians Craig and Marc Kielburger), WE Day is all about bringing your spark to light a spark (of social change, that is). Here’s a recap. … Learn something new: It seems like everyone has a side project these days. If you want to be startup savvy, but you’re still not 100% clear how Venture Capital (VC) Funds work, look no further. This post by Russ Wallace offers an easy-to-follow high level structuring overview of VCs, detailing things like how and why investment decisions are made and just how all those “partners” get paid. … Find Meaning: Dust off your personal or corporate manifesto and give those guiding principles another chance to shine. This Fast Co. post looks at 10 ways today’s purpose driven brands (i.e....

The scariest workday of the year

It’s not your first day of work or your last. It’s Halloween. And when it comes to dressing up, even the brightest minds can turn to skulls.  Save for a few Halloween enthusiasts, most people find dressing up for Halloween at the office to be the ultimate pressure test. After all, remember what happened to Mitchell in his Spiderman costume on Modern Family? You’ve got to get it right. In an ideal world, your costume would prove you’re a team player, highlight your great sense of humour and maybe even show-off your creativity (an especially important costume mandate for the marketing set). And that’s a tall order by any means. We feel deeply for all 100 of the new hires at Hootsuite. In a millennial driven workplace like theirs, Halloween at the office may as well be a second interview. And then there’s the dreaded group costume – a whole different variety of fright. If you thought working together to get that last pitch or project out the door was a challenge, try deciding on a multi-person theme costume. By the end of the day, you’ll definitely know which teams are tight and which teams could use a little re-jigging. If you’re an office leader, pay special attention. You’ll see shining examples of collaboration and maybe even a few red flags about corporate culture – lest we not forget that a law firm specializing in foreclosures should never dress up as a homeless camp. Ever. Lo and behold, this year’s fright fest falls on a Thursday, so chances are you’ll be at work. The DailyMuse has some great tips for getting your costume right, including doing some pre-holiday Facebook stalking to find out exactly how excited your workmates get about the whole affair. To ease your Halloween nerves (and hopefully curb...

Work Manners Matter

As we brush up on our table manners for the upcoming (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend, I can’t help but wonder how our corporate manners would size up to the same mom-approved measure? Just as you’d never scoff at a dry turkey or arrive halfway through dessert (for fear of bruising egos or seeming ungrateful), what we do and say in the office colours others’ impressions of us as well (not to mention, can end up hurting feelings too). There are rules of etiquette to adhere to even in the most GenX of open-concept offices, and it all comes down to this: perception matters. Those that fail to mind their ‘please and thank you’s’ (plus a number of other mostly unspoken office ‘norms’) aren’t very likely to get ahead. Doesn’t “Brand You” deserve some care and attention? If you think so, there’s no better way to build your personal brand, and ultimately your career, than to focus on everyday etiquette in the workplace. Here’s our roundup of the top 9 business etiquette suggestions for building your personal brand at the office: Darren Barefoot Darren Barefoot’s “How to be a Business Grown-up in 23 Easy Steps” is a great place to start when evaluating your office etiquette. Here’s our 6 favorite tips for smarting up your corporate class: Every meeting starts and ends on time – Literally could not agree more. We’re all busy. Being punctual shows others that you value their time. And while you’re at it, why not follow this advice too: “If you’re running the meeting, begin by describing the desired outcomes.” After all, if you can’t articulate what you’re hoping to achieve, then why are you having a meeting?  Always tell people why you’re sending them an email. Do you just need to convey information to them? Do...

500+: The Most Thoughtful App in Business?

Recently, I decided to take a look at my entire list of LinkedIn connections. I found a lot of people who represent powerful contacts for me but I couldn’t recall how we originally connected. Without a reminder of why I wanted to link up with those people in the first place, I feel that the potential value that could have resulted from that initial exchange is lost. Does this happen to you? Luckily, there’s an app aimed at changing that. Five Hundred Plus is a personal CRM system meant to eliminate the connect-and-forget mentality plaguing so many LinkedIn users. Its name comes from the ‘500+’ you see on the profiles of LinkedIn’s super-connectors (as in more than 500 connections) and it’s a super simple fix to managing all those would-be relationships on LinkedIn that never came to fruition. The offer is simple: never lose touch with your contacts again.  Social Solutions Collective recently laid out a great overview on the tool with lots of concrete tips on how to use it. Here’s the gist: You log-in to the service (free at this point) with your LinkedIn username and password Five Hundred Plus splits your screen into a bunch of columns: weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. The far left column is a searchable list of all your contacts (listed with name, title and thumbnail of their profile pic) Now, it’s up to you. Simply drag and drop contacts into the column that signifies how often you feel you’d like to be in touch. Old boss? Maybe once or twice a year. Your last mentor? Maybe once a month. That’s it! A handy Monday morning email seals the deal. You’ll get a reminder that it’s time to connect and, as Artic Startup writer, Greg Anderson, says “it makes LinkedIn actually useful” and not just...

Top 3 places to Digital Detox in Vancouver

Are you one of the 68% of people according to Time’s mobility poll that bring their phone to bed? If so this one’s for you. The phrase “digital detox” is making the rounds this week. First, there was news about the opening of Japanese Internet fasting camps for the nation’s thousands of web-addicted teens. Then, the US announced its first ever in-hospital treatment program for really serious web addicts in Pennsylvania. Finally, the phrase was granted official entry into the Oxford Dictionary (online dictionary, that is): digital detox (n): a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world: break free of your devices and go on a digital detox    I Can’t Put My Stupid Phone Down Turns out, we’ve got a bigger problem than CNN alerts waking us up in the middle of the night. In seeking to intensify our level of connectedness (by scanning, browsing, refreshing), it seems we’ve found ourselves, instead, in a disturbing state of disconnect. We email instead of call. We text instead of email. And, according to a study cited by Inc.com, “the mere sight of a smartphone limits how humans interact–impeding the development of interpersonal closeness and trust and leading people to feel less empathy and understanding.”   Overcoming your Digital Addiction Lucky for us, there’s a movement of people trying to save us from our email-checking and Facebook-refreshing ways.  They’re rounding up the red-eyed texters and analytics junkies and providing them with opportunities to unplug.  So, what does a digital detox entail? So far, we’ve seen week-long summer camps for adults, smartphone drop-boxes at popular hotel chains, and a recommendation for to-do lists with nothing to do.  Most importantly though, it’s about people...

Love Monday #26 – 4 TED Talks for your career

TED.com’s clearinghouse of “ideas worth sharing” is our go-to whenever we need a kick in the pants or a soft re-entry back into the work week. TED Talks are inspiring, they’re thought provoking and they’re told by some of the most brilliant minds around. But best of all, they’re accessible (meaning you can go from insight to implementation in the time it takes to press play and digest your lunch).  The rest is history – yours. Here are four of our favourite career-minded TED Talks and a gone-viral video that must be seen (we’re looking at you iPhone [ab]users). Happy day after Labour Day!   Can a two-minute power pose before a job interview or critical meeting affect its outcome? Both funny and wickedly smart, we’re labeling this talk a “change-agent,” meaning you may never slouch again. Here’s how body language can shape who you are. … What’s your formula for happiness and success? If you’re waiting on a raise, a new job title or any other ‘moveable’ outcome, then you need to watch this talk on “the happy secret to better work.”  Turns out, happiness is not “the end.” In fact, it may just be the only real beginning we’ve got. … Wrestling with the ‘thorny’ issue of work-life balance? This talk, by Nigel Marsh, argues, “certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible” with a fulfilling family life. We’re walking away with some brilliant but simple insights on how to live true to our own ideas of ‘balance’ when it comes to work, family, health and spirituality. … He wrote three Toy Story movies and then he wrote this: all are worth watching. Storytelling, disruption, making people care – skills you can learn in the next 19 or so minutes in this talk from Andrew Stanton. “Don’t give them 4 give them...

Love Monday – Teamwork

Pizza and innovation have gone hand-in-hand since Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com introduced the two-pizza rule: if your team can’t be fed with two pizzas, there are too many people in the room. His point is simple: smaller teams accomplish more. Far more. Especially when it comes to idea nurturing. Likewise, a team of one will leave you wanting. If your standard office mode is working head-down on your private island of get-the-day-done, your chances of succeeding (or impressing) are slim-to-none. There’s a lot to be said for what can be accomplished in a team – once you figure out your own #standapart contribution to the group scenario. Here are some #LoveMonday links to get you thinking about what’s to love about working together: Do performance reviews kill teamwork and crush morale? The ever-contradicting difference between team play and subordination. … You’ve been getting some major kudos on your ability to manage a team, but are you a leader yet? Follow this easy litmus test for finding out whether you’ve crossed over from ‘someone in power’ to ‘someone to follow’. … A great story about how one small Vancouver-based technology company disrupted the meeting industry to help conferences operate smoothly, foster faster collaborations and become all-around more interesting. … Set. Shoot. Score. A simple three-step playbook from the NBA for coming together as a team and re-setting your focus on how you’ll impress your teammates. … Two Vancouver outfits that are likely to be expanding their...

Fanning the Flames: Emotional Intelligence Online

It seems like you’re always ‘online’ but are you always ‘in-line?’ Text and emails sent at work can be “mis-read,” causing undo tension between coworkers. Say you’re charging along on a team project when an email string suddenly gets heavy. A ‘sarcastic’ comment about someone’s ‘contribution’ was taken at face value. Next thing you know, you’re looking at an email string full of ALL CAPS, bold words and sentences highlighted in red. You get the distinct feeling there’s an undercurrent of bcc’s to managers in every direction. And no one is looking good. These are all key signals, according to author Daniel Goleman, that you’re losing your head when it comes your “online” Emotional intelligence – and that you’re moving quickly from courteous online communication to what techies call, Flaming. In his post, Can we be Emotionally Intelligent Online?, Goleman describes how ‘flames’ – insults, off colour comments, ranting, finger pointing – can turn perfectly legitimate work discussions into ugly throw-someone-under-the-bus fiascoes. A tendency that can be even worse when voices are emboldened by a group setting, online forums or group email discussions, as opposed to the nakedness of in-person situations. “The problem with communicating on the web,” says Goleman, is that “from [his] point of view is it has no channel for the social brain to attend to. Aside from perhaps video chat, you have no emotional signal in real time.” That’s because during conversation, your “social brain” is actively (invisibly, constantly, sub-consciously) reading body language, tone, hand gestures and eye contact in order to understand what’s really happening, making face-to-face the most effective (and natural) form of communication. The main problem with e-interactions, says Goleman, is that you lose all that valuable data your brain needs to accurately ‘read’ a situation. Is your co-worker being aggressive, condescending or accusatory?  Or were they...

We’re Lovin It: Big Mac inspired Office Trick

Whatever your feelings about those notorious golden arches, I think we can all agree to agree that the consumption of McDonalds has no place in either movie theatres or the office. I’ll leave the ‘gray’ areas up to your discretion: post-Roxy recovery, milkshake cure-all, toddler happy-maker. I cannot judge. But as for the office, it remains some kind of unspoken no-fly/no-fry zone. That’s why, when I first about the McDonald’s Theory via Medium, I thought to myself: Brilliant! I’m going to use it. When can I use it? Then, I suggested to my fellow Smart Savvy-ers that we consider holding our next staff meeting over lunch (so I could use it). The genius of the McDonald’s theory is this: people suddenly become highly motivated to contribute solid, action-worthy ideas when they’re faced with less than ideal options. Here’s how it works: If you find yourself in a blank-stare contest when trying to decide, with coworkers, where to go or order-in for lunch, try recommending McDonald’s. And see what happens. Better yet, read this first hand account. When the author uses the McD’s experiment at work, he says: “an interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic! It’s as if we’ve broken the ice with the worst possible idea, and now that the discussion has started, people suddenly get very creative.” So, how can you begin using the McDonald’s theory to jumpstart your creativity and increase productivity at work today? Here’s 2 ideas on why you might be “lovin it” like we are: 1. Cure the Group Silent Treatment: That brainstorming session you planned was full of great intention until you heard it, the deafening silence coming from the floor.  Have the courage to grab a pen and...