Is Your Professional Drive Moving at a Snail’s Pace?

By | Culture, Grow Your Career, Professional Development | No Comments

Do you have drive, but feel like you continue to stay in the same place? Or, have you somehow lost the pace of your driving force?  You still have goals and you still have ideas, but you just can’t seem to dig your heels into anything and deliver results like you used to.

Well, that’s where I have been the past six months.  I still have my 3 and 5 year plans as well as my ultimate career goal, but most recently I haven’t had the gumption to get things done or, more so, a way to measure the things I was getting done.

Here’s a little background to add to my situation: I graduated with a degree in Accounting – yes, Accounting.  (You probably think it’s odd for an accountant to be a “people person” and choose HR as a profession, right? There’s so much I can say about the misconception that HR is inherently a “people person” role, but I’ll save that for another post.) Back to my history… I find that I perform at my best when I am pressured or challenged.  If my first accounting job, I was challenged to make the department more efficient and continue to learn so that I could move up…Touchdown! I was then challenged as an Accounting Manager  to install a new billing system, manage a team of 5, continue with my work load, and make our reconciliation process cleaner…Home Run!  When I was promoted to Controller, I was one of the youngest in the corporation. It’s easy to see my challenge there, right?

Now, I am in a role that challenges me in different ways, and I’m unsure of the career path to attain my goal. I’m challenged to move into new areas that are uncertain and uncomfortable. I’m challenged to make “big wins” with projects where I determine the finished product.  I’m challenged to prove ROI without numbers – that’s an accountant’s worse nightmare!

In thinking about these opportunities, I see that I am still being challenged. I am still growing. And I have some great resources in my team and company leadership, professional development opportunities and professional organizations.  Once the bulb light clicked on in my head, with a little help from my Team Lead, my drive goes from first gear to fifth gear overnight!

So my questions to you are:

  • What fuels your drive?
  • What is your destination?
  • Why are you even doing what you do or working where you are if it dampens your fire?
  • Are you an up and coming star or a reliable, steady worker? (There is a difference.)

Ask yourself these questions ever so often and then restructure.  It’s no good to remain a Nu Professional forever.

Live United: Impacting the Community

By | Community, Culture | No Comments

Who hasn’t heard of the United Way? I would guess that more than half of you reading this could recognize their logo and have probably even been asked to donate to the United Way. Now let’s see how much you actually know about this great organization…

  • The United Way Worldwide is an organization that spans across 45 countries and supports nearly 1800 community based United Ways.
  • The United Way uses a model where they raise funds for nonprofits in the community then the total amount is allocated across all the partners served based on need.
  • For you fellow Alabamians: the United Way of Central Alabama supports more than 80 nonprofits in our area and those partners received over $32 million last year to help improve lives and community conditions.

Of course you could have read all of this in one of their brochures, but did you know how much this organization actually involves the community in their daily operations?

The allocation process at the United Way calls up over 600 volunteers every year to help decide how the funds raised will be distributed to each area nonprofit. This fall I participated in the United Way of Central Alabama’s allocation process and was a member of a Visiting Allocation Team (a.k.a. VAT). A VAT is a group of 20-25 volunteers that donate approximately 20 hours of their time in a two-month time frame to audit three different nonprofits.

“Audit” is a very harsh word, so let me explain… The team is responsible for reviewing an application completed by the nonprofit that contains financial statements, people served, description of services provided, outcomes of programs, and the dollar amount requested from the United Way. The VAT will review the entire application and ask questions like:

  • Are program goals aligned with the agencies mission?
  • Are there clear, measurable program results/outcomes?
  • Is the budget consistent with the type of services provided?

Of course, after reviewing the application, there are a host of questions that can be asked when the VAT conducts a site visit to the nonprofit agency.  Once the team is comfortable with all the information, they make a recommendation to the United Way to either increase or decrease the amount of funds the nonprofit receives.

Sound a little intimidating? Think of how the nonprofit feels… 20 people show up at your door, ask you questions about how your organization operates, and ultimately decides how much money you receive for the next year. If you are looking for an opportunity to help in the community and are looking to learn something at the same time, I definitely recommend the Visiting Allocation Team. Be prepared to fall in love with each organization, cry at their stories, and leave feeling like we could all do so much more!

Hey, Coach – I’ve Got Some Interview Tips for You

By | Culture, Interviewing, Job Hunt | One Comment

What’s been monopolizing my time lately?  Two things… phone interviews and football.  First, DAXKO’s been on a crazy busy hiring streak the past couple of months.  I’ve been burning up the phone lines talking to some very interested and interesting job candidates.  Second, it’s football season and I’m married to a fan of the sport – a big fan.  If I want to watch TV when I get home, I should be prepared to watch football.  (And truth be told, I’m okay with that.)

Earlier this week, these two “pastimes” intersected as I began thinking about the interview process for coaches – specifically college football coaches.  With the recent “release” of Memphis head coach, Tommy West, and rumors of more college coaching spots to open up at the end of this season, I wondered how the initial contact between universities and coaching candidates plays out.

My guess is there’s an initial call – a phone interview of sorts. Sure… it’s not exactly like the phone interviews I’ve been tackling lately, but there’s got to be some similarities, right?  If so, I’ve got some advice to offer these coaching hopefuls – based, of course, off the recent experience (good, bad and really ugly) of yours truly – plus some lessons from their peers in the coaching world.  For all you other job seekers out there – those not looking to occupy the hot seat that is college football coaching – I think there are some nuggets here for you as well…

  1. Be honest. Take a page from OK State Coach Mike Gundy’s playbook and get your facts straight – tell the truth about employment gaps, why you really left that last gig, and how much bank it’s going to take for you to move. If you remain in the process long enough, the truth will eventually come out.  And trust me… it’s better if it comes from you and from the start.
  2. Steer clear of the slang. In recent weeks, I’ve talked to some candidates with good experience that I simply could not pass on to the hiring manager – especially for customer-facing roles. Keep the “youse guys,” “super,” and “awesome” to a minimum. And, Coach, no swearing please. Talk like the educated professional that you are, and save the casual lingo for your buddies.
  3. Scale back the D-FENCE. Football teams should put up a strong defensive front – not you. Don’t respond to uncomfortable questions in the same way as say… Alabama head coach Nick Saban handles inquiring reporters.  It’s the interviewer’s job to ask the difficult questions. For tips on how to respond to those questions, see #1.
  4. Convince me you want to work… hard. Nothing makes me question your work ethic more than phrases like “I just want to make sure this is an 8 to 5 job” and “I make it a point to leave work at work.” It’s okay to ask about the expectations of the position, but don’t approach the opportunity expecting a cushy job.  If you do, expect a reaction similar to Buffalo’s Dan Hawkins on what it takes to play Division I football.
  5. Accept that you can’t win them all. If, at the end of the call, the interviewer tells you that you don’t have the necessary skills, don’t argue – don’t tell them you’re a quick study or rattle off a laundry list of other traits in hopes they’ll outweigh the gap.  Yes, for many jobs, individuals can be trained and learn new skills.  However, there are some jobs that require a very specific skill set with a certain amount of experience.  No amount of begging or talking yourself up will change that.  Accept it and move on.  If you’re bringing your A game, you’ll ask if there are other jobs that are more suited to your skill set.

What Do We Want? Food! When Do We Want It? Now!

By | Culture, Healthy Stuff | No Comments

If there’s one thing that all of DAXKO loves to do it’s eat. That’s right, here at DAXKO – we’re big fans of food.

You’ve probably heard about our endless supply of free fruit, soda and coffee, but did you also know about our weekly Family Lunches? At the end of every week, we all get together in our Garage Café for a yummy catered lunch. It’s always at 11:30 am sharp. God help us if the caterers are ever late, because there will be a line of hungry, impatient Team Members standing outside the Garage Café just waiting to pounce. I believe I’ve even seen drool pooling at the corners of their mouths.

Naturally, we have our favorite caterers – Chappy’s Deli, Taziki’s, and Full Moon BBQ, just to name a few. And Salsarita’s Cantina is always a smash hit. Apparently DAXKO is a big fan of Mexican food, so no one ever misses out on a Salsarita’s lunch.

As our company continues to grow in size, it’s become harder for Office Manager Melissa to keep the fruit bowls stocked. She makes several fruit runs a week and returns to the office with both arms full of heavy sacks of bananas, apples, oranges and raisins. Once, a curious supermarket cashier couldn’t help but ask her, “Honey do you work for the zoo?”

I’ve only been at DAXKO for about four months now, but in that short time, I’ve picked up on a few unwritten rules about food at the office that I’d like to share.

  1. Always, always put your name on anything you store in the community fridge. Food without a friendly little reminder like mine – “Barb’s lunch: Eat it and DIE!!!” – is considered up for grabs at DAXKO. I’ve seen DAXKO men devour unattended, unlabeled food in seconds flat. Not even a little mold can stop these hungry, hungry hippos; so always put your name on your food.
  2. Always RSVP to the DAXKO Family Lunch. I’ve heard of incidents when our Office Manager didn’t receive an accurate headcount. The result? Not enough food and fighting to the death. (Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration… but didn’t I mention food is very important here?)
  3. Got leftovers? Share! Bring your unwanted, leftover birthday cake, casserole or bagels to DAXKO and we’ll gladly take it off your hands. We delight in seeing the “Free food on 4th floor!” e-mails in our inboxes.
  4. If you’re trying to diet, GOOD LUCK! It’s extremely difficult to watch what you eat at DAXKO – there’s always a plethora of tempting food. Sure we hit the gym downstairs, but cut back on the food? Now that’s just crazy talk.