Is An MBA Worth it?

When making the decision to go for your MBA, make sure that you are ready for it because it will require a strong commitment of both, time and money.

In the beginning, when I first signed up for the program, there were some people who thought it wasn’t worth it. One of the main reasons was because, according to their experience, they got where they wanted with their undergraduate degree. In the beginning, since they had more experience than me, I started rethinking this idea; however, after doing a deeper analysis I came to realize something different.

Some people happened to join the workforce at a different time period. While many others were able to remain employed, they should be prepared because there is an incoming flow of employees with advanced degrees. Mostly due to the great recession of 2008; when unemployment was at the highest level, most professionals opted to go back to school to remain competitive in the future when the employment rate returned to normal.

Therefore, if you happened to graduate with your undergrads right after the great recession, your undergrad may not be as valuable as there were before. Now the probability of competing for the same job with professionals that hold advanced degrees are a lot higher.

For instance, the MBA program concentrate on the overall picture from a managerial perspective, then you oversee each function. And then, whichever function you like the most, you could use it as an area of study. Furthermore, the program also concentrates on building leadership skills to help you gain long-term success. And as I found in my research, what make good leaders it’s not their technical skills but their soft skills. By soft skills, I mostly refer to your attitudes and your intuitions. Therefore, you will be introduced to more psychology than before.

At the beginning I also didn’t think that books that included psychology could help me much; however, it helps you understand things such as how and why you and others think in different ways. Therefore, you gain a better understanding of how and why you and other behave in different ways.

Finally, this understanding allows us to make better decisions when dealing ourselves and with others. As I mentioned in my previous blog, success is not a destination or a goal, it’s the mindset you use to approach different situations. Therefore, building the right attitude needed to different situations is key to your success. However, as anything that is intangible, it’s hard to measure the impact of soft skills in the short term.

Consequently, when considering this program, make sure you are ready to put the time needed. It’s up to you how much you are going to get out of it. Keep in mind that it’s an investment in your personal growth, therefore, you should try to get the most out it.

Main short and long-term benefits of the program:

  1. Gain Knowledge– at the MBA level, expectations are a lot higher, therefore, the challenge is also greater. You read a lot more than in your undergrad. This practice opens up whole new ways of making intelligent and informed decisions. You also concentrate on critical thinking and how to use data to analyze complex problems, and, it also helps you to project more confidence in your relations with others.
  2. Network – As you are aware, most jobs don’t require you to have an MBA, (they always put it as a plus) therefore those who do it, are those overachievers that, without even trying, they encourage you to keep going. You meet amazing people that are also professionals that are currently in the workforce and hold different positions. They not only bring a broader perspective and knowledge to the class, but they also open door to future work opportunities.  Moreover, you also create strong connections with your professors, which most of them are well connected in the community. The best part is that you do this network in an organic way, which is the most effective one. These connections are extremely valuable because as you may know by now, in most instances, is not what you know, but who you know.
  3. Increase salaries– Research indicates that on average most MBA holders gain higher salaries in the long run. For instance, the research conducted by Forbes indicated that that full-time MBA graduates typically realize starting salaries 50% higher than what they were earning in the year before starting business school. Then, over the next five years, their pay nearly doubles. Also, the same research indicated that an investment in an MBA degree—including tuition and forgone salary—it typically paid back in about 3.9 years or less.

In conclusion, an MBA enriches your knowledge, broaden the connections you have with others, and permanently impact your life choices in the future. While financial incentives are important you should mainly do it for your personal growth. And remember, it’s an expensive investment, therefore, be ready to put the time and effort in order to get the most out of it. It is also the only long-term investment that doesn’t have much risk because when you invest in yourself, you can manage all the possible risk. Finally, yes, I believe that an MBA is worth the commitment in time and money.

Do you also think that an MBA is worth it? Please leave a comment.

 

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What Is Holding You Back?

As an MBA student, I have been working on improving my leadership abilities. Therefore, I have been doing some research on the leaders I admire in order to understand why they have been so successful. Something I found is that while technical skills are important, soft skills are the ones that will set you apart in the long run. The research indicates that most of these successful people have similar soft skills, which I have been writing about on my previous blogs, that when integrated together, sets them apart from the rest. However, there is a main component that they all share; a powerful mindset.

What do we mean by mindset? Mindsets are beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities. In other words, these are the beliefs that you have about how smart or talented you are and whether or not you are capable of doing something. Then, these beliefs start shaping your behavior as you use them as guidance to approach different situations. However, there are two ways to look at these beliefs; from a fixed perspective or from a growth perspective.

“Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds” – Napoleon Hill

A fixed mindset is when you think you were born that way and there is nothing you can do to change it, so from your own perspective, you are either smart or you are not. The main problem here is that if you think you are smart, you tend to assume there is nothing else you should be learning, therefore you stop growing. On the other hand, if you think you are not smart, chances are that you are not going to even try it. Moreover, they see failure as a limit of their own abilities. For instance, you may not even try to apply for that job because, according to your perspective, you don’t have the skills, so there is no way you will get it. Therefore,  people with a fixed mindset have a hard time succeeding, because if you don’t even try it, you can’t win.

However, a growth mindset is when you see these qualities as things that can be developed through dedication and effort. For instance, you never think that you are too smart because there is always room for learning. Also, if you think you are not smart, you know that if you put the time to learn new things, you can get there. Moreover, they see failure as a cue to try harder.  As Dr. Dweck pointed out in her book, “you move from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework”. In other words, you understand that no one has ever accomplished great things without years of passionate practice and learning.

When you have a growth mindset, you tend to focus on growth, solving problems, and self-improvement, which are key characteristics that set successful people apart from the rest. However, if you think about it, a mindset is a belief, and beliefs can change, and guess what? You have all the power to change this belief because you are the only one who can control what is in your mind.

Consequently, success isn’t a goal or destination — it’s a MINDSET you take on to achieve your goals. And like all other mindsets, you don’t just drop it once you’ve achieved your goals. Instead, you adopt it so you can carry it with you forever.

Therefore, whichever mindset you choose will be critical to your success, because the belief you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. And this belief is what sets apart successful people from those who fail to reach success.

Do you also agree that the power to succeed is in your mind? Please leave a comment.

 

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Where is the right place?

Throughout my blogs, I have been writing about skills which I believe are important to help you succeed and reach your goals.  However, a big part of being successful is to enjoy what you do! In fact, it’s the most important aspect that you need to keep in mind in order to gain real success.

Studies have shown that “happy people tend to earn higher salaries”, and it stands to reason that these high-earners are happy, at least in part, because they have jobs they love. Therefore, enjoying your career should be a priority over earning a high salary or fancy title.

“When you love what you do, you are compelled to push against yourself,” – Amir Zonozi

We tend to think that the more we work the more successful we will be, however, sometimes what we need is some time off to recharge, in order to be more productive and to keep going. Consequently, an increase in productivity increases your level of efficiency, which makes room for downtime and encourages good work-life balance.  Therefore, your career should reward you emotionally, both inside and outside of the office.

1. Identify your company’s culture

When asking yourself whether or not you are in the right place, the first thing to do is to look into your current company culture. According to Omega Solutions,“you must fit the culture to the organization, know who you are, and also demand change” if needed. Furthermore, look into the company’s mission and vision statement in order to see what impacts you will be making on others and how you will be making them.

Moreover, look into the company’s values and norms, does the company share your values and makes you feel comfortable?  An important aspect is whether or not the company values a work/life balance, which one can easily research. If you think that you are not in the right place, don’t try to fit in, instead, start looking for a place that shares your values and makes you feel good with the impacts you are making.

2. Smile more often

Even the place where we feel the most comfortable can be stressful sometimes. In fact, our main job, in most instances, is to provide solutions to problems, therefore, if we don’t know how to handle them in the best way, it can create an oppressive environment that will only increase stress.  Smiling is contagious; when you always bring a smile, chances are you will make others smile. And yes, you can’t solve problems by just smiling, but you will change the environment and the way people approach these problems. Consequently, you will find yourself in a fun place to work, with fun people.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Vivian Greene

3. Take time off

Sometimes we are too strict with ourselves, we get so busy working that we forget what we value the most. We shouldn’t be afraid to take time off when needed; it will help you recharge both your mental and physical batteries. Keep in mind that happiness increases your productivity, which allows us to have more free time. So enjoy that family vacation, event, or just anything that makes you happy outside of work.

Finally, if you are not in the right place, start looking for it because if you are not happy, you are not successful, therefore, make sure you enjoy the journey!

How happy are you right now? Please leave a comment.

 

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Building a New Routine

backlit-early-fog-878151After reading many articles about morning workouts and their benefits, I decided to give it a try to see whether or not the claims were true.

Therefore, I set myself a tangible personal goal–to run for 1 mile every day, as soon as I woke up. In the beginning, it wasn’t as easy as I thought; you need to wake up earlier than usual, which affected my morning routine, and at that time I didn’t have a lot of room for error. That is, back then I didn’t consider myself a morning person, and waking up earlier than necessary did not excite me.

A new challenge

The first week was very challenging, I had to force myself to go the gym, even though my body wanted to take full advantage of that last minute of sleep. Also, the place where I lived at the time was cold most of the year, which, coming from a tropical climate, made my goal even more challenging. By the second week, I was still forcing myself, which meant I wasn’t really enjoying it. However, by the third week, I started getting used to it; I was able to start building a habit.  Then, by the fourth week, I actually started enjoying it to the point that now I’ve become addicted to it.

Benefits–short term

Here is when I started to see the benefits of working out in the mornings. The first difference I noticed was an increase in my productivity. As the research states, “exercise releases feel-good compounds like endorphins that improve your mood and energy levels, an effect that can last well into the afternoon if you get your workout in early. When your energy levels increase, you increase your mental focus and acuity for up to ten whole hours post-workout”. An A.M. workout means that both your brain and your body are in good shape all day.”

Consequently, with higher levels of energy, you start to take care of things a lot earlier and easier than before, and this is when your productivity level increases.

The second main benefit I noticed was an increase in my confidence level.  I used to work in an office where I was sitting on my desk for eight hours. In the beginning, during the first few months, it’s hard to notice an increase in weight. However, as time passes by, you start to realize that the tightness of your clothing starts to slowly increase. This, in turn, affects your confidence level–you start feeling uncomfortable wearing your normal size.

However, after building the habit of running in the morning, I started to lose weight and managed to remain the same size for a consistent period. Actually, running in the morning has a greater impact on weight loss because your body will burn calories faster and more efficiently throughout the day. Also, an early morning trip to the gym has been shown to result in fewer food cravings throughout the day.

You become more conscious of the kind of food you eat. Therefore, the benefits of a morning run last through the afternoon and the evening. However, it doesn’t happen overnight, so if in the first month you don’t see any changes, don’t get discouraged. In my case, I didn’t see results until after the third month. By then, I started to notice some muscle definition in my legs, which shows just how effective these runs can be. Finally, the third main benefit is that it makes you healthier overall. Eating better and working out more makes your immune system a lot stronger, which reduces your chances of getting sick.

Benefits–long term

Consequently, I highly recommend any kind of exercise as soon as you wake up. Even five minutes will become very valuable in the long run, so there’s no such a thing as “I don’t have time”. All you need is willingness and persistence to build a habit. Research tells us that it takes about 66 days to build a habit, but we can start seeing the benefits after only a few weeks. You’ll be surprised by all the changes you see in yourself just by dedicating a couple minutes of your morning to help build your new habit.

Do you have a morning workout routine? Please leave a comment and tell us about it!

 

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This Skill Will Help You Boost Your Career

On my previous blog, I talked about the importance of having a strong presence on social media to start building your personal brand. However, a strong presence on social media will not only help you build your personal brand, it will also help you build a skill that is increasingly important in today’s market.

To build a strong social media presence you need to consistently share and provide valuable information. However, in order to build a reputation of being a person with intelligence and thoughtfulness, it has to come from your own thoughts, the best way to do so is by writing your own content.

In fact, experts in the subject advise that to build your own brand, you should write at least three blogs per week; this will help you start building content and to get noticed. However, to provide valuable information you will need to do some extra research to add the value that these blogs need in order to be useful. Therefore, the more blogs you write, the more expertise you will gain. And this is when the skill becomes highly valuable.

How is this skill valuable?

According to the book “A World Gone Social” by Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt, this new Social Age has brought new marketing strategies for corporations to reach their desired audience. This new strategy focuses around engagement, building relationships, credibility, and trust.  However, this trust and credibility won’t happen overnight, therefore, corporations have to put the time to build, nourish, and expand it over time.

The best way to earn trust and credibility is by being more useful to the customer–providing value that is beyond the product. Therefore, corporations are now concentrated on not just proving valuable information, but also trying to introduce solutions to fix challenges readers face. Consequently, blogs have become the best way to provide this valuable information and to help with any challenges or questions the readers may have.

However, in order to create this valuable content and to reach a broader audience, corporations need to integrate every department in the company. Therefore, corporations should use their subject matter experts in each department to help them build the desired brand.

How this skill increases your chances to lead?

This skill won’t only apply to lower management levels in the corporation. It will also apply to higher levels of the corporation; the leadership team. Since the leaders in a corporation are the ones who decide where the business is going, there is a greater need for them to not only have a strong online presence but also to have a deep understanding of how to get valuable information from their customers. Once leaders embrace the system, they become what is now known as social leaders.

According to Coine and Babbitt, “a social leader is the one that listens to social signals and also empowers employees to listen for signals to increases a company’s ability to spot new opportunities”. Also, social leaders are important because consumers want brand captains with an opinion. They crave visionaries, they want to know what the company stands for–the company’s values and beliefs.

Furthermore, an engaging presence on social media will not just be “nice to have,” it will be considered a leadership skill. Also, social media will also be the way leaders communicate with stakeholders, develop relationships, and form partnerships and alliances. Consequently, social media is no longer the marketing department’s job, it will include every department, every operation, every employee, every day.

Therefore, corporations are now building strong social teams with employees who have the skills and capabilities to compete well in the Social Age. The first step they are taking to be competitive is understanding their current status. Then they need to look into what tools and assets are currently in place. Then, look for team members already engaged on social.

Consequently, corporations are making sure they select their future employees carefully by placing a greater importance on the hiring process. Therefore, the hiring process has become less about messaging, advertising, and compliance, and more about picking from the best available talent. So, in reality, social recruiting isn’t recruiting at all–it’s sourcing. And this is when your blogging skills become extremely valuable for any corporation in today’s market.

Are you ready to make yourself more valuable, to build stronger leadership skills, and to help your company succeed? Now is the perfect time to do so!

Please leave a comment about how you think social media is changing the way business is done.

 

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Why Is Social Media So Important? Should You Care?

An important aspect for professionals to remain competitive in today’s market is their ability to use social media in an effective way.

As the book “A World Gone Social” by Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt pointed out, “we’re no longer in the Industrial Age, we’ve moved to what’s now known as the Social Age.” Therefore, just as the Industrial Age brought many changes, the Social Age has changed how we work, learn, lead, connect, and communicate.

Our entire ecosystem has evolved and yet many organizations are clinging to the remnants of eroded business models and HR practices. Consequently, those that are unable to adapt, unable to recognize and respond to the evolution will fail. However, from a personal perspective, one of the most important aspect to keep in mind, especially for professionals, is the new recruiting process.

Social Age has brought a new way for recruiters to identify the right candidate for the role. Unlike before, where the system looked for keywords that people had to have on their resume to be considered for the job, today we’ve moved to the “social networking” process. A system where instead of just posting the open job, companies will also invest in building relationships by posting blogs, mentoring, and advising future candidates. Therefore, in order for professionals to be successful finding their desired job, they will need to have a stronger presence on social media.

Understanding different social platforms

First, you need to understand how different platforms work. For instance, LinkedIn is the social network for professionals. This is a great platform to explore future career options. Therefore, LinkedIn is for anybody and everybody who’s interested in taking their professional lives seriously by finding new opportunities to grow their careers and to connect with other professionals.

On the other hand, Facebook is a social networking site and its main purpose is to make it easy for you to connect and share with your family and friends online. Then, Twitter is known as a micro-blogging site where people make connections by following other people’s twitter feeds. Once you click follow, anything that person or organization says will appear on your timeline.

While these platforms may be used for different purposes, they all have something in common; they all provide information on the kind of person you are. This is because anything you share, comment, or post will show your values and what you are interested in. This provides a wealth of information for recruiters to learn who you really are. Therefore, in order to make yourself more attractive for that special job, you need to pay attention to anything you post, comment, or share on social media.

Here is when building your personal brand becomes extremely important. This will allow you to show yourself in the way that you want others to see you rather than letting them decide this aspect for you. Once you have done so, you need to identify the audience you are trying to reach, and then you need to start connecting and networking with them in a continuous way.

How to start building your brand?

As Karen Gately, an educator in human performance and leadership pointed out on her blog, these are the first things to reflect on to start building your own brand:

  1. Reflect for a moment on what your social media posts say about you. What values and beliefs are reflected, and to what extent are people likely to regard you as being fair and reasonable?
  2. Reflect also on the value you are creating through the information you share. Build a reputation of being a person with intelligence and thoughtfulness by sharing information that others are likely to benefit from.
  3. Never lose sight of the permanency of online posts – once you’ve said it, it’s impossible to take it back. Choose to have an unfounded rant and you’re likely to be judged harshly by the (at times) unforgiving world of social media.

Now that you’re aware how important social media is in today’s market,  are you willing to embrace the system? Please leave a comment and follow me on twitter.

 

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Just Keep Going!

“I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things, you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there are two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die.” – Will Smith

Have you had the feeling of giving up? I am pretty sure we all have at some point in our life.

I have felt like giving up many times, however, in two instances, this feeling was a lot stronger. The first one I recall was in my first year of college. While I was able to survive my first semester, the second one introduced me to one of the toughest class I can recall.

Anyway, by then I was mentally prepared for the class, as I had just read the reviews from previous students. Therefore, I made sure I was ready from day one. However, it turned out that everyone was right– it was a tough class, and it was only getting harder as we progressed.

No matter how hard I was trying, things only seemed to get worse. Even though I put so much time in to prepare myself for those exams, my grade wasn’t even close to what I needed to pass. The only hope I had was the final because it was going to be worth a lot more than the two previous exams, therefore, if I were to do well, I could pass the class.

However, after thinking about all the time I spent studying for the previous exams and still ending up with poor results, the hope of doing great on the final only kept decreasing. The idea of quitting became more relevant, and tempting, at that time. Then, after putting some more thought into it, I decided to study as much as possible and just go for it.

Consequently, I showed up to the classroom that day. For a second I was very confused, there were only four students in the classroom and only three minutes for the final to start. First, I thought they might have changed the date or something. However, things changed when I saw the professor walking in, followed by two more students.

Although the situation was still odd, I felt a lot more comfortable. Then he closed the doors and started passing the exams around. And he said: “Congratulations! This class started with thirty students and only seven of you showed up for the final. Even if you don’t do well, you deserve a passing grade just for showing up.”

“Grit is passion and perseverance, and it is the hallmark of high achievers”

-Angela Duckworth

After graduating, I had a similar experience at work. There were many changes happening, things started to get messy, people started quitting, and it was very stressful. At that moment, I just wanted to get out of there, it was just too much to handle. However,  I thought, how much worse can this get? So, I stayed. Two months later, after many people left the company, I was promoted.

“Grit predicts job retention as well as any other personality trait”

-Angela Duckworth

In both situations, I went through very similar experiences, which made me think differently about how everything works. For instance, every time we feel like quitting, it’s because things have gotten harder, or more complex, and challenging to the point that we can’t do it anymore; you feel frustrated and you just want to get out of it. It’s almost certain that you aren’t the only one, therefore, whatever you end up doing will set you apart from the rest.

“Our potential is one thing, what we do with it is quite another”

-Angela Duckworth

Also, if you think about it, people don’t shine when things are going smoothly, they shine when everything is a mess, yet they’re still able to come out with something awesome. For instance, Batman and Superman wouldn’t be as famous if their cities were free from crime, right?

Therefore, next time you think about quitting, remember, “Grit is passion and perseverance and it is the hallmark of high achievers”. Just keep going!

Are you ready to die on the treadmill? Please leave a comment.

 

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