The Center of the Circle

I often get requests from friends or acquaintances for career advice. How can I find a job or I’m not sure what career path to follow?  I don’t have any great expertise in this area but the universe seems to bring a lot of people my way for help. I am always happy to help if I can.

I thought I should write these thoughts down and maybe they will help someone out in the blogosphere. These suggestions are based on ideas I have read (see credits below) or advice I received from others over my career. I thought I would highlight the top two topics: Drawing a Circle and Digging a Well.  My intention is to be helpful and all I ask in return is that you pay it forward at some point in your life.

What inside your circles?

    Draw three circles that overlap in the middle. In each circle write one word that describes a passion or important interest to you; reduce it down to one word or a short phrase. It should represent something so vital to your being that you can’t imagine living without it. Whether it takes a second to find your key words or several months, take yourself time to think about it. Sitting quietly is a great way to do this homework since it forces you to go deep within and to really listen to what matters.

    My three words would be creativity, mentoring and communications.

    I need to be creative and in my life it takes many forms from cooking, photography, writing and many other outlets. Being creative is like oxygen to my body. I need it to live.

    I love to mentor or provide guidance to others like a teacher or counselor since it feels like I am being productive if I can steer people in the right direction; helping them get where they want to go…sort of a human GPS. In doing this, I am paying back to the universe some of the wonderful guidance I received from my wife, my father, my grandfathers and so many friends and colleagues who have been my career compass. 

    Finally, I am fascinated by communications which has a commercial aspect as well as a personal or spiritual dimension. Whether it is selling products, ideas or services or sharing of stories and experiences, communications provides strong intellectual challenge that involves understanding human behavior, looking for unseen patterns and imagining the future. From Steve Jobs, James Dyson, Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Ariely and many more brilliant marketing minds, I get a charge out of watching people who are the great marketing masters. Learning about spiritual leaders like Lao Tzu (Tao de Ching) or following the Dalai Lama on Twitter and his messages about compassion- these are all form of communications that intrigue me.
    When I ask people to do this simple task of picking their three circles, it forces them to think carefully about what they really love and what might make them happy. The intersection of the circles is like a place on a map that they should head towards. The center of the circle can feel a bit unclear but over time it will come into focus. For me, I want to use my creativity to support an organization's communications activities and where I have opportunities for mentoring others. The simplest way to say this is that the center of my circles helps me head toward my true north.

    Fanny jumps for joy when she talks about food
     My youngest daughter Fanny’s three circles are acting, food and writing. Her recent move to Hollywood is taking her on a path to find where her circles will intersect. Sometimes it’s a bumpy road and it’s hard to see how the pieces fit together but it gives her a goal, a direction and a destination to follow. She is a wonderful actress, a fabulous cook and a very funny and thoughtful writer. Her blog called From Raleighwood to Hollywood is a chance to play with these ideas. Will she become a food critic, a host on a food show, an actress in a movie about cooking or will she invent work that meets all of those needs?

    Sarah with her almost six year old Persian cat Nani

    My oldest daughter Sarah’s three circles are children, mentoring and outdoors. She is a teacher at Punahou on Oahu, the K-12 school that President Obama attended when he was a child living in Hawaii. She gets to teach students advanced psychology, takes them on outdoor adventures and is a counselor and advisor to these kids from over a dozen different cultures. In the last few years she has been co-creating programs to help young girls with self-esteem challenges. Clearly this school is providing her with a platform to work within her circles.

    Think about digging a well before you are thirsty
     About 17 years I read a business book filled with pretty basic advice. But it had one idea that has stuck with me and has become my little mantra.  The idea was simple as most great thoughts are- the author wrote that you should dig a well before you are thirsty.
    Connect with people every day ask them how you can help them. Do they need an introduction to someone you know, could you provide them with some information that could make things easier for them or do you have some talent that you could volunteer to assist them. What can I do for you?

    This idea was pre-Internet and pre social media. Connecting with people is critical because generally speaking, most people do want to help you on your journey. Every day we meet people who we casually get introduced to whether it is in person, through email, the phone, etc. Did you ever ask them how you could be helpful to them?  Will you be able to get back to that person if you needed their help in the future?  What can you do to build that connection? How good is your record keeping so that you know how you got to that person? Linkedin is the perfect solution along with keeping good notes in some type of contact software. But the key to this idea is offering help before you need help yourself.

    I admit to having selfish reasons to offer my help although I am not looking for a personal benefit. My true intentions has always been to put some good karma out there and hope that it comes back to my daughters or others who need help. I enjoy helping others but I also like the idea that maybe someday, that person will help someone in need and that I can be part of that chain. It is really a very human need- to be connected. Doing some good and hoping the energy of that good comes back around to someone in need is powerful motivator.

    Let me give you an example.

    About 12 years ago a young woman who worked at the advertising agency our company used was ready to go out on her own as a moderator doing focus groups for consumer research. I always thought she was very skilled at analyzing behavior and terrific at putting consumers at ease in focus groups. When she got started, I took a chance. I believed in her and was confident that she could do the work and helped her with some projects.  At the time, I hoped she would someday be in a position to help someone else getting started.

    This woman was also a budding screen writer and was working on a script for a movie. I offered to have my Aunt (a professional lyricist) review one of her script and give her some advice. My Aunt was happy to oblige and my friend got some good insights.

    Today this woman runs a successful research firm and lives on the west coast. When my daughter moved to Hollywood, I reconnected with my friend and she and my daughter hit it off. First she invited Fanny for Thanksgiving since it was her first time away from the family. Then she offered to have her husband (who directs film trailers) introduce Fanny to some of his acting friends. One of those friends has offered to coach her and help her with her acting career. And this same woman got her book published and actually had a well-known actress pick up the rights to her screenplay. Talk about coming full circle.

    For job seekers, you have to start connecting with people who know the very type of people you want to meet. Linkedin, Facebook or any connecting technology is amazing for being able to find people, companies, groups or even jobs. But build that network now and build up some of those IOU’s where you are doing for others with the hope that that investment will come back to you.
    Is there some way I can help you?


    I believe that this idea of the circles comes from a book called What Color is My Parachute  by Richard Bolles. I read it a long time ago and recall that It is a wonderful guide for job hunters.

    The other book I mentioned is called Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty by Harvey Mackay.

    Labels: , , , ,