Six Questions to Ask When Choosing a Job

Job search

Let’s be honest…choosing a job can be a nerve-racking experience. Whether you are a high school student getting a summer job, a college student looking for an internship, a recent college graduate searching for your first position, or an experienced professional taking the next step in your career, a lot hangs in the balance when pursuing a new job opportunity. As someone who recently when through this process myself, I can relate to the difficulty of narrowing down your options and ultimately choosing which direction to go. Rather than letting your emotions take control and paralyze you in indecision, it is best to go take a rational approach to help filter offers and make a decision. In their book “The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Job,” Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger offer six questions that can help you find, filter, and select a job. They break the questions down into two categories: the “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” Here are their questions:  Read more of this post

3 Reasons Allstate’s #MayhemSale Stole the Show…Literally

 

 

If you tuned into the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, chances are you also quickly opened your laptop to plunder Matt and Shannon’s house as a part of Allstate’s brilliant #MayhemSale campaign.

Just in case you missed it, here’s an overview: in order to raise awareness for the new Project Aware Share, Allstate staged a faux burglary by their Mayhem character of a real couple’s house (who found out the couple wasn’t home from all their posts on social media). Once inside, Mayhem put a sale price on each item and liquidated them one-by-one on the #MayhemSale website for a fraction of what they were worth.

Allstate’s #MayhemSale was one of the most brilliant marketing efforts in years. Here are three reasons it stole the show…literally:  Read more of this post

Is Social Media Making Us Less Social? [Part 3]

iPhone 4 Addiction

This is Part 3 in a three-part series on social media usage. Click here to read Part 1 on three main solutions to the overall problem. Click here to read Part 2 on the personal effects of social media.

We are the most connected generation that has ever lived. Think about all the new technologies that have been introduced in the past two decades that have allowed us to stay in touch like never before. Someone can literally get in touch with me almost any time of the day regardless of where I am in the world.

While these advances have created a plethora of benefits, the negative side effects associated with overusing them are beginning to surface. We all know that person who is constantly staring into the screen of their smartphone even when surrounded by friends and family. Or the friend who insists on taking a picture of everything they do and everywhere they go with you instead of simply enjoying the moment for what it is. The video below, while perhaps a bit over dramatic, puts our technology use into perspective.

Here are three major ways that social media is altering our ability to build and maintain interpersonal relationships:  Read more of this post

Is Social Media Making Us Less Social? [Part 2]

Cellphone

This is Part 2 in a three-part series on social media usage. Click here to read Part 1 on three main solutions to the overall problem. Click here to read Part 3 on the impact of social media on interpersonal relationships.

Back in February 2012, I wrote a post exploring if social media (and technology in general) is making us less social and offered three ways that we can disconnect from social media in order to reconnect with real people. At that time 46% of adults owned a smartphone. As of January 2014, the number of people owning a smartphone had increased to 58% (with 29% of cell owners saying that they “can’t imagine living without” their phone). A recent study found that the average person spends 23 hours per week emailing, texting, and using social media (with Facebook accounting for 7 of the 23 hours). In other words, people are spending 14% of their week online!

Despite all the benefits, has this increased dependence on technology and social media had any negative effects on us? I’ll break my thoughts up into two posts (since one of the downsides as been a decreased attention span 🙂 ). In this post, I’ll outline some of the personal effects of social media/technology addiction and in the next post, I’ll take a look at some changes to interpersonal relationships.

So here are three primary ways that our personal lives have been negatively affected by increased social media and technology usage:   Read more of this post

How to Develop a Personal Mission Statement

 

Arrow

Mission statements. Every company has one. Some are really good; some are really bad. Regardless of the quality of a mission statement, they all have the same purpose: to give direction to the daily actions of an organization.

Organizations aren’t the only entities that need mission statements to guide them. You and I need mission statements as well, especially as you think about building your personal brand. Having a personal mission statement is important for three reasons:

  1. It differentiates you from others
    One of the things I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that investors invest in people more so than products. For example, they would rather invest in an entrepreneur trying to create positive social change by selling widgets than an entrepreneur trying to get famous and make a lot of money selling the same widget. Having a personal mission statement helps potential investors, employers, friends, etc know your underlying motivations and what sets you apart from others.
  2. It gives direction to your career path
    Knowing what your true mission is will help you select jobs that will allow you to accomplish your goals, even if on paper they seem unrelated. I currently am involved in the agricultural technology, young adult ministry, experiential education, and social media arenas, but I am still able to fulfill my mission in these seemingly random combination of jobs.
  3. It reminds you why you do what you do when things get tough
    Your job isn’t always easy. There are some days you’ll want to quit or disengage. Having a purpose behind your work keeps you focused and moving forward even during the hard times. Your mission is a motivator pushing you toward a greater purpose than earning a paycheck.

Steven Covey refers to developing a mission statement as “connecting with your own unique purpose and the profound satisfaction that comes from fulfilling it.” Here are five questions to ask yourself in order to develop your personal mission statement:  Read more of this post

The Gospel at Work [Book Review]

The average person will spend over 90,000 hours of their life working. 90,000 hours! To put that in perspective, it would basically be like clocking in today and working non-stop for just over 10 years before clocking back out.

Not only does our vocation consume a significant amount of our time, it is also part of our identity. One of the first questions I always get asked when I meet someone new is: “What do you do for a living?” For better or worse, we are associated with the work that we do.

Many people tend to compartmentalize their lives. There’s a Work compartment, Family compartment, Friends compartment, Hobby compartment, and so on. We do our best to keep the different areas from overlapping.

However, for Christians, there is one compartment that should pour over into all the others–or rather be the foundation for everything else: our faith in Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul writes, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” According to this, everything we do throughout a given day should be based on the gospel and done to bring glory to God and not ourselves.

With that in mind, Christians must ask themselves: “How does my faith impact the way I do my job?” To help answer this question, Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert wrote The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to our Jobs. In this great little book, Traeger and Gilbert address the two main problems that everyone faces when it comes to work and then show how the gospel transforms our purpose and motivation for every aspect of our vocation. They close the book with practical application as it relates to choosing a job, managing people, sharing the gospel, and defining success.  Read more of this post

Lessons from Three Years as an Entrepreneur

Agricultural Food Systems has now been in business for three years!

It’s been an interesting year for AFS: we completely redesigned the TenderID prototype, took part in another round of testing with the USDA, continued fine-tuning our technology, and were featured on CNNMoney’s website with fellow John Brown University alumni businesses James+James and Craftistas.

Any entrepreneurial journey must be one marked by constant learning. Sometimes this learning comes through success, other times it comes through hardship and failure. As Winston Churchill put it,I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” In other words, every situation presents an opportunity to grow. During my first year running AFS, I learned the importance of thinking strategically, constantly moving forward, and staying humble. The second year as an entrepreneur taught me to not let my identity be defined by my work, the benefits of delaying gratification, and how collaboration is an integral part of innovation. Those six themes were prevalent again this year as we continued to move forward with our R&D. Here are three additional lessons I learned this year:     Read more of this post

Don’t Miss the Target [Guest Post]

 

On Target

[Guest post courtesy of Nvulane Nhlapo. Scroll to the bottom to learn more about Nvulane.]

While there is an older, more established generation of entrepreneurs who have devoted their lives to their craft, there is a growing new wave of young entrepreneurs who are taking their expertise into new territories. Along the way, some of these young businesspeople can get blinded by the strict formalities the business environment has put in place and, as a result, may never pursue their dreams or work on that ground-breaking project they once saw potential in. At the end of the day, they miss the target.

Here are a few tips that have personally helped me to never miss the target:

  • Keep it Simple
    The complexity around us can be overwhelming. As a result, many people are now looking for simplicity, not only in the products and services they use, but also in the way ideas are communicated. Simplicity is all about making sure that the whole message connects with an audience. One of the ways to excel as an entrepreneur is to keep things simple and promote simplicity in their young companies. Breaking a compound project into smaller pieces not only makes it easier to understand and communicate, it could get potential investors to buy into your vision.
  • Pursue Opportunities
    Always be alert. There are a lot of opportunities around. As long as people have needs, there will always be opportunities. Look for ways to improve peoples’ lives. Help to solve the problems in your community. Sometimes the opportunities come at a time when you may not feel ready, but you should still give it a shot and pursue them. These kinds of occasions help us grow even though we may be uncomfortable at first.
  • Start Small
    All entrepreneurs yearn for a massive launch of their projects. While this may seem like a decent idea, it is often better to start small and scale one step at a time. Often by trying to build up to a huge launch, you lessen your chances of getting started and at the same time delay the time until you product or service can hit the market and start making money. Working on a venture without the conviction that it works or that people will like it adds risk to the whole plan. Start small, scale in increments as time goes by and you meet milestones.
  • Help Yourself
    Potentially, the most painful part of the entrepreneurial journey is losing and forgetting yourself during the process.  The bottom-line is this: yes, you should help others; but help yourself too. Make allowances for the personal areas of your life.

If there was ever a time to follow your passion and work on something that matters to you, that moment is now. Do not wait for any other time. Incorporate these tips, do your research, and it will help you hit the target. Go for it!

Which of these tips are important to you? What are some of the principles that have prevented you from missing the target? 

___________________________

Guest post courtesy of Nvulane Nhlapo. Nvulane is a BSc (Hons) Information Technology student from Lesotho and he works at Basotho Crafts. He is growing as a young entrepreneur, blogger, speaker and a casual drummer. Follow Nvulane on Twitter: @NvulaneNhlapo

Want to write your own guest post on Lawson’s blog? Click here to make it happen!

[image credit: vizzual.com on Flickr]

3 Distinctives of Christian Business Ethics

Business ethics are a hot topic these days. With everything from insider trading to employee theft on the rise, it is no wonder that businesses are beginning to focus on the impact of ethical leadership. But along with this new focus comes a lot of “gray area.” Many times, managers are forced to decide on issues where there are arguments on both sides – a problem that makes ethical decision-making very difficult.

 “Business ethics” is often regarded as an oxymoron, in the way that “military intelligence” and “open secret” are considered to be counterintuitive. Given that business has to do with promoting one’s business for profit or self-interest, while ethics concerns serving or caring for others, the term “business ethics” sounds contradictory. For this reason, important questions arise concerning the possibility of business ethics as such: How is business ethics possible? Is there such a thing as business ethics?

Philosophers would try to answer this question through the so-called bottom-line approach (aka someone is ethically good as long as he or she does not break any of the laws of society). How should a Christian, then, respond to the question? Is it good enough for a Christian not to break any laws in the business world? If not, what makes Christian business ethics unique and distinguishable from the general philosophical approach?

First we’ll look at general business ethics, followed by what I think are three important Christian distinctives.

Read more of this post

6 Tips for Empowering Employees

DSC_5896

Once or twice a month, I go to Waffle House with Chad Mann, the youth pastor at Harvard Avenue Baptist, after the Wednesday night service. I always get a chocolate chip waffle. Chad orders a bacon, chicken, and cheese wrap with ranch dressing. Last week, they didn’t have any ranch dressing. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but here’s how the conversation with our waitress went:

CHAD: Can I get a bacon, chicken, and cheese wrap with a packet of ranch dressing please?

WAITRESS: We don’t have any ranch dressing.

CHAD: Bummer. You didn’t have it last time I was here either.

WAITRESS: Yea, we haven’t had any for a few weeks. Our manager is on vacation, so we haven’t ordered any.

ME: Couldn’t one of you all just run over to Walmart and get some so customers can have ranch on their wraps and salads? (This particular Waffle House is in the parking lot of the Siloam Walmart)

WAITRESS: I guess so, but the manager isn’t here, so we don’t know if that’s ok. He always makes us ask for permission to do stuff like that. Plus, it’s getting cold outside.

CHAD: That’s fine. I’ll use salsa instead.

Fear-Driven Management

Why do I share this example? It highlights the problems that result when employees don’t feel empowered by their managers. Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: