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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

How to Transition into Product Marketing

My first job out of college I was a online marketing web analyst. It was a great first job but after a year and a half I was ready to look for something else. At the company I worked for, internal transfers were encouraged. Naturally, I looked first at the different functions I interacted with every day. After working with Product Marketers, I always thought it seemed like a cool role. The role seemed strategic, analytical and creative. I liked the kinds of people that were in Product Marketing. Eventually, I was able to transition into a Product Marketing role, but it was no easy task. Below are a few tips I learned during my transition and from helping others make the move into Product marketing.

meme about transitioning into Product Marketing


Make the transition at your current company. In my experience, companies are much more willing to bet on an internal employee transitioning into a new role, than an outside hire. It's no secret that recruiters are not incentivized to read between the lines. If you apply for a Product Marketing job at another company, you probably won't make it past the screeners, especially if you have no prior explicit Product Marketing experience.

Get to know every Product Marketer at your company that you can, at all levels. You want to have as many "lines in the water" as possible. Especially in large companies, the more Product Marketers you talk to, the more your name will come up when they are looking for new team members. While I do encourage you to talk to PMM hiring managers, lower level Product Marketer will often have a say in hiring decisions and even more importantly can have the ability to put in a good word that can mean the difference between getting an interview or not.

Succeed at your current job. A hiring manager I know was considering hiring an internal transfer, but after asking around about this person she learned that this person had a reputation of being hard to work with. If your reputation is not stellar or you're underperforming, you will be unsuccessful making the transition into a strategic, in demand role, because the hiring manager will always ask around.

Get your current manager to be your advocate.  This advice will help for trying to transition into any role, but it will go a long way if your manager and further up the chain think you're great and are willing to put in a good word for you.

Connect the dots on your relevant skills. In your resume, interviews, and casual chats with PMM's help them connect the dots on how your experience will help you succeed as a Product Marketer. This might mean highlighting transferable skills, spending more time talking about your work at a previous job or talking about a side project. I helped hire a Product Marketer from our sales team, that connected the dots by wisely positioning her popular food blog as an example of her marketing abilities.

Develop relevant skills. Pick up a side project at work. Help a friend's start up, or launch a blog. If you don't have any of the skills on a Product Marketing job description. Get busy!

Become a product expert. Product Marketers need to understand the product and the needs of the customers. Your position will be much stronger to make the transition if you are an expert in the product.

Be patient. The first time I tried to transition into a Product Marketing role, the hiring manager was a good friend and I was the company's expert on the product. I thought I was a shoo-in, but ended up getting beat out by someone with an MBA and more marketing experience. I was devastated. I almost quit. I called up a mentor and he told me to be patient. Sure enough, a few months later another role opened up and I got the job. Keep at it!

Hope this helps. If you are interested in other ways to get into Product Marketing other than transitioning within your company, check out my other post How to Get a Job in Product Marketing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

That Awkward Moment: Who Should Respond First in a Digital Introduction?

It's that awkward moment. Someone just introduced you to another person over email and you don't know who should reply first. If you're the one asking for the intro, I know what you're thinking, that you don't want to bug them or seem too eager. Better just wait for them to reply...right? WRONG. Well...at least in my opinion.




Here are the three reasons why I think the person being introduced should be the first one to respond to an introduction that someone else makes for you.

It shows you are really interested. It's not uncommon for people to make introductions and the person who asked for the introduction never responds. A quick email leaves them no doubt that you are ready to engage.

It gives you the chance to show your relevance. You can add anything else that was left out in the introduction that you feel could make you more relevant. See the great example below.




It will make it easier for the person making the introduction. What's easier, one email response or two? If you respond first, you can suggest times for your meeting, call, or ask the question you want to ask. If you do that, the person will only have to respond once to the introduction to set something up. If you don't there will be a bit more back and forth to figure out a time to meet.

Now don't stress if the other person was really fast and replied before you got a chance to respond. Keep in mind though, that for most introductions, showing extra relevance, interest and making it easy for them, might get you a little further.

Monday, September 14, 2015

How to Be Easy to Mentor

In this series, professionals thank those who helped them reach where they are today. Read the posts here, then write your own. Use #ThankYourMentor and @mention your mentor when sharing.
In my first job out of college, there was a reorg where I got a new manager (Dave Kellogg) that I had never met before. He was not just one or two levels above me as you might expect, but a SVP and GM of Salesforce’s Service Cloud business.
I was eager not just to get aligned with my new manager, but to learn from him. I just had one big problem, it was quite challenging to get on his very full schedule. After a few weeks of trying to schedule a few minutes here and there, I had an idea. I thought it was a bit crazy, but I was ready to give it a try. I asked him if I could get a ride with him to work. In a previous conversation, I found out that he lived near me and we both commuted to San Francisco. I remember waiting to hit the send button on the email wondering if I would get a response back with a link to buy a Caltrain pass, but instead he responded, “No problem.”
To make a long story short, I hitched a ride many times to work with Dave. The conversations developed over time from alignment, to Dave providing invaluable advice about marketing, Silicon Valley, business school and how to make everything work while taking care of your family. He is still a mentor today and I am so grateful he was willing to give a ride to a young employee that was eager to learn.
I share this story because I want to thank Dave for being a great mentor, but also to encourage those looking for a mentor to take the initiative. Often, we put too much pressure on our mentor finding and helping us instead of what we can do to be easy to mentor.
To give you a few ideas, I asked three senior executives that I know are great mentors to share what the mentee’s can do to make life easier for the mentor.

“In order to be a great mentee, be proactive and clear about what you want to get out of the relationship with your mentor. Don’t expect the mentor to figure out where to focus your work together, but instead, you should help drive that discussion and be clear about your goals from the outset.”

Shannon Stubo, CMO LinkedIn


“If you want to be easy to mentor you need to...

  1. Prepare: come to a meeting ready and armed with 1-3 pithy questions.

  2. Listen non-defensively: defensiveness kills communications. If you're always interrupting and explaining (e.g., "but we only had one week to get that done"), it means you're not listening

  3. Act: put the ideas in practice and come back with feedback and questions based on those actions.


Most mentors love teaching, so being easy to mentor means becoming a good student.  Good students come prepared, are motivated to learn, do their homework, and challenge their teachers.  It’s a win/win relationship where both parties learn from each other.  On the flip side, nothing is worse for a mentor than someone who’s just going through the motions and not genuinely interested in learning. After I’ve given the same feedback twice, if the person hasn’t tried anything or changed anything, then it’s time to move on.  It’s a waste of everyone’s time if you don’t really want to change and learn."

Dave Kellogg, CEO Host Analytics 


“In my experience, each member of the mentoring partnership contributes to the relationship and shares responsibility for its effectiveness. Both the mentee and the mentor learn and benefit from the experience. I have found that the best relationships occur when both mentor & mentee establish a mutually beneficial partnership where they can OFFER and GIVE during each engagement.”

Shawn Bryant, VP American Express

 

To all my mentors past and present, thank you!
This post was originally posted on LinkedIn.

Friday, July 10, 2015

6 Important Financial Steps to Take After Having a Baby

So.....according to CNN it will cost $245,000 to raise a child in the US. While that sounds a little high, it's a for sure thing that having a child is going to increase your expenses. Ever since my wife got pregnant, I've been thinking about how our little one might impact our finances and what I can do to prepare. After researching the topic, I think there are 6 basic financial steps you need to take after you have a baby. 


picture of baby with money




Add the baby to your insurance. If you have insurance through your company, many insurance providers will require that you do it within 30 days of the little guy or girl being born. Do this on time to make sure hospital expenses for the baby will be covered and you'll have continued coverage

Update your W-2. There are some serious tax breaks for having a child, why wait until the end of the year to get them and let Uncle Sam earn interest on your hard earned money? Update your withholding to put more money in your pocket now. Use this calculator to help figure out what the right amount of withholding might be for your situation.

Buy life insurance. If you already have it, you might want to increase it, especially if you are the primary bread winner. If something were to happen to you, you would not want to put your spouse and child in such a difficult financial position.

Open a 529 College Savings account. No matter what higher education looks like in 18 years, it'll probably cost money. 529 savings accounts are a fantastic way to grow college savings for your little one tax free. Check out this Forbes article with details.

Create a will. This one is no fun to talk about, but do you really want to leave it up to a state government to decided what happens to your child and assets in the worst case scenario that something happens to you and your spouse.

Re-do your budget. There are new expenses, new tax breaks and now you're saving for your child's college. It might be a good time to revisit your budget and make sure everything is aligned.

If you think I might have missed any important steps, please add them in the comments!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

I Watch Telenovelas to Improve my Spanish

My wife and I both speak Spanish fluently, but admittedly, we don't speak it that often. Ever since we got pregnant last year, we decided that we are going to make an effort to teach our son Spanish once he was born. This has been a challenge since it feels a little forced for us to speak to each other in Spanish. We've been experimenting with other ways to improve our Spanish in preparation for his arrival.  Our current favorite is watching Telenovelas. Here are a few reasons we like this option.


Image of telenovela we are watching to improve our spanish
It's easy. There were plenty of free options for Telenovelas on Hulu that we can watch on demand.

It's entertaining. I don't think we'd be watching it if we were not trying to improve our Spanish, but it's reasonably entertaining. Definitely better than studying some book, or flashcards.

It's helping with comprehension. We are hearing native speakers speak at their normal speed. We've already seen improvements in our comprehension.

It's expanding our vocabulary. As we are watching the show we'll look up words that we don't understand. We quickly learned the words "chantajear", "asesino" and many others.

The only downside so far has been that watching does not get us speaking. Expanding our vocabulary and comprehension is important, but we need to do more to speak. I'd love to hear ideas about others do to keep up with their languages skills.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

5 Reasons to Have a Waffle Party

Having waffles as the center piece to any social occasion is bound to be successful. I recommend them for weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvah's and single Mormon gatherings for the following reasons.



1. Who does not like a waffle? Are waffles more universally loved than pizza? Probably.

2. You can feed a crap load of people for almost nothing.  In fact, you can even rent your high end waffle maker out when you're not using it to pay for your luxurious lifestyle. It pays for itself!

3. People can bring stuff and it's really easy. Even your one friend who never thinks ahead and usually shows up empty handed to such gatherings might show up with a half used bottle of strawberry jam, and that's OK.


4. You can keep waffle supplies on hand at all times. All you need is waffle mix that is shelf stable for 70 years and water. This comes in very handy for unexpected guests or a zombie apocalypse.


5. Waffles start friendships. This guy and I became friends at a waffle party, it's true, no matter what Kevin Chesnos or one of his kids says.



A big thanks to Brad and Mandy Morris for giving us an epic waffle maker for our wedding.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

10 Things You Should Do Before Heading to Business School This Fall

This post was originally published on LinkedIn

Before you hit that pause button on your career and head to two years of business school this fall, there are a few things you might want to consider doing in the next few months to help you hit the ground running.


BYU MBA Tanner building lobby
Jaren Wilkey/BYU

Strengthen your network. Sometimes it’s easier to get meetings with people when you’re already gainfully employed. If you have any contacts at the companies you might want to pursue after business school, you might be better off reaching out now before you leave your current job.

Hold off on some purchases until you get your student discount. There are some steep student discounts on software, Adobe and Microsoft products in particular. You may even want to hold off on buying that new Macbook pro, since being a student is one of the only ways to get discounts on Apple computers.

Spruce up your online identity. Your online presence is going to be an important part of your recruiting, be mindful of your online brand. Take some time to clean up your social media profiles. Add a professional looking picture to LinkedIn and other social networks.

Get copies of past performance reviews. It’s amazing how quickly you can forget about even your own accomplishments. Past performance reviews will give you some great ideas on what to include on your resume, which will be getting quite the makeover in the next few months. Also, it’ll give you ideas of stories and experiences you can share in your upcoming job interviews.

Maximize benefits from your current job. Chances are that your current benefits are better than the student plan or private insurance you’ll have to buy during business school. Go to the dentist for a cleaning and get that last cavity filled. Get a physical to make sure you’re healthy. Lastly, if you wear contacts or glasses, use your full yearly allotment before you quit, to buy back ups.

Do a mini internship. If you’re planning on making a drastic career switch, doing an internship, even if it’s short or unpaid can help you be more marketable for your internship in between your first and second year. Look for an internship that is spot on with the experience you lack.

Prepare your finances. Depending on your situation you might want to speak to an expert, but in general you should think about moving money you know you will need over the next two years out of risky investments and into cash or very stable investment classes. You want that hard earned money to be there for you in a few months when it’s time to write that first tuition check, regardless of unexpected market swings.

Plan a vacation. There are not that many times in your life where you’ll have the ability to take off significant chunks of time for a vacation, penalty free! The few months right before business school is one of those times, plan accordingly.

Start exercising. Chances are you will not create an amazing health and exercise routine during business school without conscious effort. The counterpoint, if you build the habit prior to starting school it will be that much easier to build on it in school and for the rest of your life.

Build in reflection. Everyone has their own method, maybe writing, talking, reading, meditating, or 
listening. One of the advantages of business school is reflecting on both where you are and where you want to be. If you start the habit prior to beginning the program you will not only gain more from the program, you will probably find a more fulfilling and happier version of yourself.

The next two years will probably be some of the most memorable in your life, take the next few months to prepare to hit the ground running to help you find your dream job, have some fun and save some money.

A big thanks to Ben Faw for his help in writing this post.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

LinkedIn Summary Examples for MBA Students

I've been asked by several MBA students for advice on what to put in their LinkedIn summary. First, if you're thinking about your summary you're on the right track. There are a lot of different ways that you could tackle it, but I wanted to share three examples of profiles that I think have a great summary. As always, this is my personal opinion and not the opinion of LinkedIn.

Also, check out these two articles for more advice on how to write a great LinkedIn summary.

Three Steps To Writing The Perfect LinkedIn Summary
4 Tips for Writing a Compelling LinkedIn Summary

Check out Abby Stern's summary below. She's a a MBA student at Stanford. A quick read of her profile and you have a great sense of what she's passionate about. After her reading her summary it's very clear the sort of companies and roles she is interested in.

LinkedIn Summary Examples MBA students Stanford

Check out Joung Park's profile below.  He's an MBA student at UT. His summary is really tailored to his finance/consulting audience, it pulls out the highlights from his entire profile with plenty of data points to back it up. 

LinkedIn Summary Examples MBA students university of texas

Check out Tori Dumke's profile. She is a MBA student at BYU. She does a great job of telling her story. She moved from PR to technology marketing, but quickly connects the dots in her summary. In a lot of ways her summary is her elevator pitch. 


LinkedIn Summary Examples MBA students BYU

No matter what angle you take, the best way to improve your LinkedIn summary is to have a few people read it quickly, then tell you what they got out of it. This will help you know if what you'd like to convey to colleagues, recruiters and other professionals is coming through in your summary. If you'd like to learn more about how MBA students can improve their LinkedIn profiles, check out Advanced LinkedIn Tips For MBA Students.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Book Summary: Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman

If I face the facts, I'm a rookie. I've only been in the workforce 5-6 years and that's only if you count 2 years of business school. I read Liz Wiseman's book Rookie Smarts hoping to get some ideas on how to navigate a fast paced workplace as a rookie and I got exactly that. Here are my high level takeaways.

picture of liz wiseman book, rookie smarts


You have more to offer as a rookie than you think. Often, when you're early in your career all you can think about is the experience you don't have and the questions you don't know the answers to. In reality, being a rookie can be a competitive advantage.

Hire an expert....get one expert, hire a rookie, get 5 experts. One of the main advantages we have as rookies is that we don't think we know everything. Our instinct to learn from others when we don't have the answers will actually give us a broader perspective and lots of fresh ideas.

Quick wins are important. If you're in a situation where you're in over your head, look for some quick wins to build momentum, something that can be done in a few weeks.

Take small steps and increase the frequency of feedback. Instead of asking your manager how to do something, consult with experts, do your homework and come back with a recommendation. Do this every few days if needed. If you're checking in for feedback frequently, it's unlikely you'll fall flat on your face with a project since you've had so much time to implement feedback and iterate.

Rookie's need a network to succeed. Rookies are successful because they aren't afraid to leverage those around them. If your network is small, don't worry. Leverage classmates, colleagues and friends. Start building your network by going out to lunch with fellow employees. The bigger the network, the more of an asset it will be to you as a rookie and beyond.

Since I write a lot about the advantages of working in fast growing tech companies early in your career, I just want to point out that if you're in a fast growing tech company you might always feel like a rookie. This book will help you think like a rookie, even when you've got more experience under your belt.

I'm about to take on a new project at work that is definitely going to stretch me. After reading this book, I now have a better understanding on how to make being a rookie into an asset.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Silicon Valley's Most Famous Perk is More Than a Free Lunch

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. 

One of the most well known perks that you can find in many Silicon Valley offices is free lunch. At LinkedIn (where I work) this is the case. The lunch that is served at headquarters in Mountain View is superb. I think for those that have never experienced working at a company that feeds you, there are a few misconceptions about the real value of this perk.

Source: Flickr Maaco
Most people think that it's about getting free meals every day. That is certainly convenient.

You might also think it's about saving some $$. I'm always looking for a deal and it's true that I spend less on food because I'm eating lunch at work.

To me though, the real value of a free lunch is the relationships it helps me build and maintain. Here are a few examples.

A few weeks ago I bumped into a senior executive in the kitchen. We had a nice chat, so later that day I emailed him and asked him if he'd like to grab lunch sometime. He said "sounds great" and we got it scheduled right away. Having the food onsite and free makes having lunch with someone else (even senior executives) at the company easy and comfortable.

Every other week or so I eat breakfast with a colleague that works in a completely different part of the company. It's not a scheduled breakfast, we just happen to be getting breakfast at the same time about every other week. There have been many times after chatting about what she's working on, I go back to my desk to chat with my team about how some of the things she's working on will impact our group. This informal channel to share company information breaks down silos that can exist as companies grow.

Our founder, Reid Hoffman, said in The Start Up of You, "one lunch is worth dozens of emails". I'm able to strengthen my relationships not just with coworkers, but with friends and acquaintances that I frequently invite to join me for lunch at LinkedIn. Free lunch and a policy that allows me to bring guests greatly expands the number of people that I can maintain relationships with through this perk.

Free lunch is great, but to me, what matters the most are the relationships you can build over those meals

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

When You Might Not Want to Work for "the man" After Graduation.

This is a guest post by Jon Bradshaw. Jon is the co-founder and CEO of TinyTorch and an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management. He is a huge advocate for entrepreneurship and very involved in the entrepreneurial community in Utah.

Derek is a good friend of mine that graduated from BYU's Marriott School of Business around the same time as I did back in 2008. Since then, we have often debated when the correct time is for someone to walk the path of entrepreneurship.

Derek recently wrote an article called, "Why You Might Want to Work for "the man" After Graduation." He made many solid points that I would like to expound upon. Here is what I recommend you think about if you want to lead a start up, join a startup or get work experience first.

keep calm and hire yourself

Lead a Startup

Out of the hundreds of students that I have taught at BYU, I believe that venturing out on your own is only advisable for about 5-10% of the student population. How do you know if this is you? Here are my thoughts (these are guidelines, and there are always exceptions):

You have always worked for yourself since grade school. You began with a lemonade stand, saved your pennies to build a lawn-service company, and then found bigger and better ideas from there. You have at least two years of real-work experience for the industry that you're wanting to pursue. For tech entrepreneurs, you have a marketable skill like coding or design, which allows you to easily fall back on to help fund your company

Join a Startup

For most graduating students, if you're interested in startups this is the route that I'd recommend. Reasons for this include:

There is no better teacher than a proven entrepreneur starting another company. Your experience here turns into paid training which means that you can make costly mistakes on someone else's dime. Even if you end up working for a dud company, in many ways you'll learn more from a bad entrepreneur than from a seasoned veteran

Get Work Experience First

If you decide to not work for a startup, then go big. Shoot for companies like Salesforce, LinkedIn, Google, or another large tech company. Reasons for this include:

They will pay to train you in many important skills. You will learn how important processes are to making a venture successful, which is something that many entrepreneurs miss. You will get a great paycheck, which you can stash 70-80% into savings, helping you launch a startup later in life. You will develop a strong network, which will help you form partnerships in the future

So after working in startups for 6 years, do I wish that I corporate job? Rarely, but those moments do happen. Watching your friends go on trips to Europe without you, seeing them upgrade to flashy cars, or having the stability to not have to worry about being able to afford the necessities in life would be great. But when I look back at where I've been, and the lessons I've learned, I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why You Might Want to Work for "the man" After Graduation

Obviously I'm terribly biased because this is the path I've chosen. I decided to write this post because in the last few year, I've talked to many undergraduate students who have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug in a big way. I was exactly the same way. I had started several cash flow positive business in high school so I thought I might as well repeat my success after I get my undergraduate degree.

job after graduation, holding a sign that says "now what?"

That all changed after I worked for a start up during my undergrad. Lets just say I saw the good, the bad and the ugly. Overall it was a positive experience, but the start up crashed and burned. I even saw a hostile takeover that outed the founder. At one point, most employees were working for free in exchange for equity. After I crunched the numbers, I realized that even under the most optimistic circumstances, the equity I owned would not be worth more than one year's salary I could make working for another company.

In my opinion, inexperience, a rogue founder and a poor market assessment led to it's downfall. After this experience, I found an internship with a high growth tech company, which has lead to a career at high growth public tech companies. Here is why I think you should consider working for "the man" after graduation, especially at a high growth technology company.

Marketable skills. Following  this route, you'll likely pick up skills that fit within a job title that will be an asset to you for the rest of your career.

A strong network. With a little efforta strong network of talented people in your field from all functions and levels can be built within a few short years.

Financial stability. Earning competitive wages in the tech industry will not make you a millionaire, but will enable you to save aggressively.

The entrepreneurial spirit is rewarded. At many tech companies having an entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged and even rewarded. You'll be able to climb the ranks faster if you bring that entrepreneurial spirit to your job.

The halo effect. If you go to a start up and it fails, you'll get more credit than you deserve. If you go to a growing company that succeeds, you'll also get more credit than you deserve.

Do I still have the entrepreneurial bug? Of course! Joining a start up or doing my own are still in my future. I believe when that time comes, I'll have the skills, network and emergency fund to have a better shot at being successful.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Building Strong Professional Relationships Starts with the G-Word

This is a guest post by Tom Yang. Tom is in the Leader to Executives Program at T-Mobile. He strives to give more than he receives in all of his professional relationships. He recently graduated with his MBA from the Chicago Booth School of Business. Before attending business school he worked in the automotive industry for Nissan and Mazda. 


You just met someone you feel you could learn a lot from. This person might be a rock star in your industry or just a higher-up at your company. He or she just handed you their business card and suggested you two keep in touch. What do you do now?

Well, the first thing that comes to mind should not be what you can ‘ASK’ of them. Rather, it should be what you can ‘GIVE’ them. The reason for that is simple. The foundation of any relationship is trust. Trust builds over time and through reciprocity. To set reciprocity in motion, start by giving first:


Give Information: Even though information is abundant and easily accessible these days, there is still a shortage of people who can actually draw strategic insights from facts and figures. The next time you send a link of an article to someone, don’t just copy and paste the link to the body of the email without adding detailed context. The better approach would be to write a summary of the article in your own words and communicate why you think the article is relevant to what this person is trying to achieve. He or she will certainly appreciate the thoughtfulness. 

Give Intellect: My favorite question to ask someone whom I admire and want to learn from is “what book would you recommend me”? I ask this question because I believe people recommend books that reveal quite a bit about who they are and what they are passionate about. Once I get the recommendation, I read the entire book from cover to cover. I take copious notes along the way, so I could share what parts of the book resonated with me with the goal of stimulating an intellectual conversation with that person. As a ‘thank you’ gesture, I find another book that is cut from the same thread, read it, and mail a new copy to him or her to continue this virtuous cycle of intellectually invigorating conversations.

Give Inspiration: We all need a little motivation from time to time. We need people to believe in us when we are having trouble believing in ourselves. As such, it is of no surprise that we seem to build stronger bonds with those who were there for us during challenging times. Just recently, an acquaintance informed me that he was planning to apply to his dream business school. Having gone through that arduous process myself, I knew he would need a boost during those early morning, pre-work, GMAT study sessions. I decided to mail him a coffee mug from his dream school to remind him every morning to keep moving towards that goal. This small gesture made a sizable impact and I can say he is currently making strong progress. The key is to find out what people’s aspirations are and support them in a memorable.

Most importantly….

Give Appreciation: I feel the most gratitude during the month of April because that is when TIME magazine releases its list of 100 Most Influential People. This is the period when I reflect on the people who had the most positive influence in my own life in the past year. After I compile a list of 5-8 people, I hand-write a thorough letter to each person expressing the impact he or she had on me. As a final touch, I attach a copy of the special TIME 100 issue along with the letter and send it priority mail. I enjoy doing this every year and I can tell you that people really do appreciate this gesture. As you come up with your own creative ideas, just keep this principle in mind: when someone moved mountains to help you in a major way, that person deserves more than a ‘thank you’ email or text. By showing appreciation in a special manner you move one big step closer towards cementing the relationship.

The old saying, “anything in life that is of value takes time,” rings true in building relationships. I would just add “…and acts of giving” and you have yourself a winning formula.