A Commonsense Guide to Personal Effectiveness


Dilip G. Saraf
Career & Life Coach Career Transitions Unlimited
Rev-3: 2009/08/17

This short guide to personal effectiveness stemmed from my own experiences with nearly 4,000 clients globally with whom I have worked during my latest career reincarnation—my fifth. Although most of these engagements have been for career coaching, many extended their scope by integrating life coaching as well, which gave me additional insights about how to approach this topic with some perspective. Each nugget that is in this book came from some insight resulting from actual behaviors (or misbehaviors). Therefore, I have codified here what behaviors will help you improve your effectiveness in your life as you navigate through your daily challenges in your career, your personal and business dealings with others, and in getting what you seek to achieve. There is nothing magical about this list of To-does as well as NOT to-does! They came out of how I found people working with me or how they otherwise should behave that enables to get them what they were looking for without putting in extra effort in what they are looking for. If you understand this list, the thinking behind it, and practice it consciously enough to make each one a habit, I can assure you that you’ll increase your personal effectiveness greatly. Although I cannot claim originality for any of the numbered statements in this Guide, most are derived from the realizations or even epiphanies I had after dealing with challenging situations myself. Any quotation which is timeless or universal is verbatim, with the author’s name next to it. All such quotations are in italics. To make it easier for the reader to look-up the desired behaviors I have made broad categories of areas in which these behaviors can be practiced. Of course, there are books and many publications written on each topic, with experts going on and on about their reasons and their explanations. I have not mentioned the “whys,” but just the “whats” in each category. If you have trouble relating to the “whys,” I suggest reading some authoritative books on the topic and others. As always, I am grateful to my beloved wife, Mary Lou, and our supportive son, Rajesh, for their help and insights through this project. Happy reading! Dilip Saraf Silicon Valley, CA August 15, 2009

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


Table of Contents

1. Managing your life 2. Managing you career 3. Developing and Nurturing Relationships 4. Social Events 5. Job Interviews 6. Telephones 7. eMails 8. Social Networks

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


1. Managing Your Life
Suffering is not ennobling, recovery is! —Dr. Christian Bernard

1. No matter how bad your own situation is keep a happy face and show that you are empowered. Playing a victim or moping in martyrdom merely delays your recovery. Also, you attract more people afflicted with this and start taking comfort in the growing circle of “friends,” who share this malady! 2. Be a master, not a martyr; be a victor, not a victim! 3. Look and act powerful and surround yourself with positive and empowered people. This is especially true when you are out of work and looking or when you are not doing well in your career or business. Do not wallow in events that attract others facing a similar plight—the schadenfreude club.” 4. Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve near-term and long-term. Paint vivid pictures in your mind of this vision and imagine yourself realizing vision. The human brain cannot distinguish between the reality and an imagined reality. 5. If you seem to be fighting the same torrent of forces that constantly defeat you, try surrendering to them and see if you get a different perspective and energy to charge ahead in a different direction. 6. When things are in a downward spiral we often get paralyzed by all the things that we should be doing that we simply cannot—you can do only one thing at time— paralyzing us. Focus on the few that you can manage and do only one thing well until it is done or it is time to take a break. 7. No one makes you feel inferior without your consent!—Eleanor Roosevelt 8. Always take responsibilities for your own actions. 9. No matter how bad things are for you, find someone to help and feel empowered. 10. Do not let your temporary situation embitter you. Learn the lessons from each adversity and discover yourself. 11. Do not delude yourself by convincing that adversity will make you tougher! It does not. It merely lets you discover your own strengths. 12. In tough times, do not take out your wrath on those around you and those who love you. Take the time to show your appreciation for their love and caring despite your plight. Keep the vision that this, too, shall pass and soon and actively work on making things better.

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


13. Stay sober and deal with the adversity with all your faculties. Drowning yourself in substance abuse only makes things worse and you alienate those around you who can help you. 14. If you don’t know where you are headed any place you land will look strange and those already there will look at you askance! 15. If your misdeed gets exposed, lying to escape it will merely compound your future plight; admitting the truth will let you put it behind you. 16. When you commit yourself to a purpose that is aligned with your calling (your dharma) help will come your way in the most mysterious and surprising ways. This is how you validate that you are on the right Path. 17. When your beliefs, thoughts, actions, and resources are in full alignment you present the most authentic part of yourself to everyone else. 18. The difference in measured performance between the winners and the also-rans is often negligible; but the difference in their respective applied efforts is often immeasurable. 19. If you want someone to do something for you always find a way to ask it so that they see themselves benefiting from it. 20. Provide unstinting help only to those who reciprocate, either through their unabashed appreciation of what you do (or have done) or through giving back the specific help you need to keep your life going with the same quality and care as you do giving help to them. Avoid helping those who are merely using you to further their own agenda. 21. Leverage your time by getting specific help in return from those whom you have helped. You can also further your reach by stopping to help those who are merely exploiting you. 22. Get an electronic butler (www.timesvr.com or www.elance.com) to help you with routine tasks and use the freed time to do the work that only you can do. 23. Most people often give up what they are pursuing when they have completed 99% of they set out to do. The remainder makes the difference between mediocrity and excellence. 24. Martyrdom is the handrail of mediocre people. Victimhood is the badge of those who cannot empower themselves. 25. Its giving up on something that makes a failure complete! 26. Before taking a shortcut (an expedient) make sure that you know that it is only a matter of time before it comes back to bite you. 27. We pick our joys and sorrows long before we experience them—Ommar Khayyam 28. Spend at least 10 minutes each day doing absolutely nothing. 29. If you believe in the power of meditation and prayer, by all means spend time doing these. But, do not let these by your proxies to diligent and planned work to achieve your goals. 30. When you feel stuck (career, life, finances, relationships) seek professional advice. Handling such matters by trial and error is never effective. Reputable professionals do

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


this for a living and it is worth their fees if you’re ready for it and are able to follow their advice.

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


2. Managing Your Career
The secret to success is to keep on plodding and to keep the passions fresh! —Anonymous

1. A successful career is steeped in the right alignment between what you love to do, your gifts, and getting—and going after—the right opportunities. 2. Most people underestimate their value and overestimate their worth. Before you niggle over a one percent bigger raise with your boss, make sure that you have thought about how you could be creating far greater value in a very different environment. 3. Remember that nearly 80% of the managers are dysfunctional in some ways, some more than the others. This dysfunction ranges from sheer incompetence to knowing how to keep their boss happy at the expense of keeping their direct reports happy. So, if you are fed up with your boss, your odds are 5:1 that you will find a good manager in your next job. 4. Partner with your boss to forge a good relationship and complement them in how you bring about value to their own way of doing it. This way you’ll make yourself indispensable to your boss; a good thing! 5. Before you take on a task or are assigned to it make an assessment of if it is a Résumé Thriller, Résumé Filler, or a Résumés Killer. Avoid Killer assignments at all costs. 6. Each year see how your résumé is shaping up for your next move and make place for bullets that will showcase the experience you’ll need to claim the next job. 7. Do not rely on merely taking orders from higher-ups to do what needs to be done. Identify juicy opportunities—they abound in any organization—and evaluate how good the boss will look to their bosses if you helped with it. Then get it assigned. 8. Remember that the correlation between IQ and academic grades is nearly 95%. The correlation between corporate success and IQ is about 20%. Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Political Intelligence (PQ), Cultural Intelligence (CQ) and Contextual Intelligence (XQ) contribute about equally to this success. All four can be learned and are called nurtured skills; IQ is their nature’s counterpart 9. Learn how to complete a task—your commitment—on time and well even if you do not agree with the value of that task. Once you accept a task you must do your best to deliver it. 10. If you cannot keep your commitment notify those who are depending on it as soon as you know about it. Do not wait until after the deadline to announce why it could not be done. 11. If you do not know something, ask. Do not assume! 12. Act and look powerful; people will think that you are important!

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


13. Jelly fish is the only example in our animal kingdom of something that does not move on its own, but merely floats in the water, waiting for its food to come to it and for the surrounding currents to move it. When managing your career, don’t be a jelly fish; be a shark! 14. When negotiating your title and salary focus on your responsibilities and on the value you create respectively, instead. Let the title and salary fall out of that equation; it is irrefutable! 15. Proactively manage your résumé by writing your bulleted accomplishments in advance of completing an important task. Then make sure that you achieve the outcomes you have already written. 16. No matter how clever you are in concealing your real agenda you’ll be exposed sooner than you think.

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


3. Developing and Nurturing Relationships
You can destroy a decade-long relationship with a single act of betrayal in one second. —Warren Buffet

1. Individual relationships are like a network; as long as you keep giving to it, you’ll get something in return. How much you get back depends on the purity of your “giving.” How soon you get something in return depends on how you have built that relationship. 2. Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Once that trust is in place things move without delay between those involved. Remember, life moves at the speed of trust. 3. Constancy is the key ingredient that defines a relationship. If you want to build a great relationship, stand for something and deliver it, always. 4. If you do not have any enemies, it’s because you do not have any character.—Paul Newman 5. In a relationship make sure that your thought, intent, and actions are aligned. Any misalignment in any one factor will make you less than authentic. 6. Do not confuse a transactional relationship with a meaningful relationship that goes beyond that transaction. Even if you make a thousand transactions it is still a mercenary relationship. 7. Do not try to change a person. Enjoy who they are and be yourself in return. 8. If you think that you will like a person better in your relationship with them, if they changed something about their nature, do not expect that you will be able to do that to serve your own selfish needs. 9. Be the change you wish see in the world.—Gandhi 10. If you want to make someone’s day pay them a genuine and spontaneous compliment. 11. For relationships to grow it takes personal and emotional investment of time and energy. Do not expect to get anything back without making this investment first.

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


4. Social Events/Networking Events

Your reach should be greater than your grasp—Ralph Waldo Emerson

1. Assess the context of the event and make sure that you present yourself appropriately. 2. If you are not sure what the event is about, find out who is hosting it and why. 3. Dress appropriately for the event. If you realize that you have made a mistake in how you are dressed, do not draw attention to yourself by mentioning how you are dressed; others can see it! Try acting nonchalant. 4. If the event is hosted by someone at their home, make sure to take some appropriate gift. 5. Make sure to send a thank-you note to the host/hostess after the event mentioning something special about the event that affected you. 6. Stay positive throughout the event; do not say anything negative about anything or anybody, even if you run into a clique and want to be included in it to make yourself part of that clique. In such a case walk away and find another upbeat group. 7. During a business or networking event exchange your business card only after some introduction and conversation. Do not foist your business card into the hands of others just to collect a number of business cards. Ask yourself, Will this person accept my LinkedIn invitation (see Chapter 8)? 8. When meeting a senior or well-known person, do not foist your credit card unless asked and then ask for theirs. It is impolite to ask for their card unless the situation works out in that direction. 9. Make sure that you separate your company business from your personal business and use the appropriate card in such events. Have a clear connection strategy before just casually handing out your card. 10. Do not hand out business cards where your card is free, as is obvious from the legend on the card from the company making these free promotional cards (“Business cards are always free at www.xxx.com “). It signals that your identity is not even worth a few dollars for you to invest in a professional business image. It also signals that you are promoting this company on your own time to save a minuscule amount. 11. When someone gives you their business card observe what is says and comment on the message, design, or anything that is worth a notice, before putting it away. 12. After the event send some personal emails to those whom you met and with whom you exchanged cards. If you wish to invite them to join your social network this is a

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


good time to bring it up and to say that you would be sending a separate invitation for them to join. 13. Do not follow-up with those who do not respond to your emails (#13) 14. Do not go to a social or professional event without packing your business card case.

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


5. Job Interviews
In an interview the person doing the talking is doing the selling and the person asking the questions is in charge of the interview—Dilip Saraf The following checklist will help you with the process where it is a 1:1 interview: 1. Once you enter the interview room, take charge. 2. Get the name(s) of those interviewing you before you settle down and take their cards after giving them yours. Get the logistics clarified before settling down. 3. Let the host launch the formal part of the interview. For you to get into the questioning mode, ask a question in response to theirs at the end of your response. 4. Look at your host and smile. Breathe easy. Relax. These three Ts can destroy an interview: Tension, Terror, and Timidity. 5. There are three Cs of interview success: Chemistry, Compatibility, and Competency. The time it takes to establish each of these credentials increases in the same sequence as the one in which they appear here. 6. Watch the body language carefully. Learn how to confidently interpret body language. 7. A good interview is a 50:50 exchange of conversation. 8. Never provide a solution to a problem that the interviewer does not know even exists or owns! 9. Do not argue with your interviewer. 10. Do NOT ask how the interview went. 11. At the end, once again thank the interviewer for the time. 12. Ask for the next steps and take charge of the follow-up process.

After the Interview
1. Send a Thank-you email to the person who interviewed you. Expand on any points that need to be re-iterated. 2. Do not keep contacting the company or your interviewer to see where things are unless asked.

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


6. Telephones

In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.—Eric Hoffer

1. Record a personal greeting on your phone if you have voice mail. Replace the canned robotic greeting announcing just your phone number with a personal, but appropriately professional greeting. Not doing so indicates that you are too lazy to take a few minutes to assure that the caller has reached the right person in case your voice mail kicks in. Nearly 10% of the calls are misdials and transposed numbers. 2. Avoid doing interviews and making important calls on cell (mobile) phones. If must use a cell phone make sure that you have enough signal and battery strength to have an uninterrupted conversation. That is why the cell phones have bars on the screen. 3. If a call drops in the middle of a conversation, the original caller must call back. The called party must hang-up to make this possible. 4. Have a standard line phone (no cordless phones) in home or office for important calls. Cordless phones can get interference and are prone to blackouts on power failure. 5. If you are having an important conversation do not multi-task (doing emails, watching TV). It is not difficult for the other person to detect this no matter how clever you think you are. 6. When leaving voice mails repeat your telephone number TWICE. Once at the start of the message and once at the end. Announce slowly the numbers. Often, when calling from cell phones some digits can be dropped and your chances increase when you repeat your number twice. Also, too, about 10% of the people are dyslexic. Repeating your number is always a time saver on both sides. 7. No matter how well the person knows you must ALWAYS leave your callback numbers. Often, people retrieve voice mails remotely and may not always have access to the phone list. 8. Do not leave long (more than 15 seconds) voice mails. Summarize your message and leave enough intrigue to assure a call back. 9. Do NOT leave angry or upset voice mails. You may leave an urgent message and unleash your wrath when the person calls back. 10. If you are in a different time zone from the other party, make sure that your voice mail or telephone number conveys that. 11. When leaving a voice mail, speak clearly and distinctly with your mouth close the mouthpiece. 13

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com

12. Always identify yourself completely, not just with your first name or nickname. It takes a few seconds for the called person to get oriented and the time it takes to speak your full name provides that. 13. Do not slam your phone when finished, regardless of how upsetting the conversation was.

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


7. eMails

We aim above the mark to hit the mark.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

1. For all non-personal emails have your complete name and contact information at the bottom of your email as a template. 2. It is often easier for the recipient to respond to your email by just picking up a phone and calling you in some cases. Having a telephone number with your complete name at the bottom can make this possible. 3. Having your email address in the signature also helps in case your message is forwarded to someone by the recipient without the original header. This way the new recipient can respond to you directly. 4. Having your telephone number as permanent part of your signature in all outgoing emails also avoids the possibility of transposing telephone numbers otherwise written. Remember, about 10% of the people are dyslexic or transpose numbers when in a hurry. 5. Keep your signature line simple and clutter-free. With mobile phones short messages are the norm and signature template must be consistent with that format. 6. Do not blindly REPLY ALL without a careful review. 7. Do not send flaming (angry) emails 8. Do not SHOUT 9. If you must respond to an angry email try calling the person first. Other way is to wait overnight before sending your response to such messages. 10. Read before your SEND any email. 11. For long emails keep paragraphs short 12. Choose appropriate Subject Headers 13. If a new or different subject is initiated do not use an email with the old subject line just to be able to Reply and avoid typing the person’s address. This shows that you’re lazy; it can also confuse the reader(s). 14. For long emails and where action is required from the reader(s) summarize the actions required at the top in a numbered sequence to make it easy to get what you want.

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


15. When responding to long emails insert your responses below each paragraph or question from the sender. 16. Avoid abbreviations, no matter how familiar they may seem to you. Often, they can be misinterpreted or confused. 17. If response to an email will be delayed because you must do some work prior to responding, acknowledge the original email to the sender with a response date. 18. Avoid sending invidious, cryptic, or moody messages. Instead of responding, “Unacceptable, Redo entire report,” say, “This report needs to be revised to incorporate our latest guidelines.” 19. Avoid sending emails when you are intoxicated, under the influence, or tired. 20. Do not say anything in any email to anyone that you do not mind being displayed on national television. If you are still tempted, use an oral message, in-person or by phone. 21. Do not use company emails for personal exchanges. 22. Don’t text while driving.

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


8. Social Networks
Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation. —Charlotte Bronte

1. Social Networks are a great resource to build your relationships, both socially and professionally. Keep your personal information on these networks bound by your sense of privacy and propriety. 2. When inviting others to your network, especially on LinkedIn, make sure that the other person knows who you are and how you are connected with them. Merely saying, I’d like to invite you to join my network, is not enough reason for joining. 3. If you met someone important or someone you felt worthy of being in your network, make sure that your message is worded appropriately for them to accept your invitation. Merely saying, I met you yesterday, please join my LinkedIn network may not work. 4. When someone in your network asks for an introduction to someone within your network or to someone a few degrees away act on it with alacrity. If you cannot they do not belong in your network. 5. If you promised someone a Recommendation, provide it with alacrity. Do not let that person make you continue to beg for one! 6. When writing a Recommendation for someone, make sure that it is specific and is something of value to the person receiving it. 7. Do not post anything on any social sites that you do not want displayed on national television. 8. If someone in your network needs to correct their profile or the language that describes it please tell that person what that is without delay. 9. Refresh your Profile every six months or whenever there is change in your status. Update your write-up as frequently as is appropriate to keep it fresh and current. 10. Ask your close friends to provide you objective feedback on your Profile.

©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


©2009; Dilip G. Saraf; (510) 791-7005; www.Dilipsaraf.com


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